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Secrets of the Tombs
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Secrets of the Tombs

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Product Awards:  
Games Magazine Awards
Family Game Nominee, 2005

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 60 minutes 2-5

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Product Description

You are an explorer making your way along darkened passages of a pyramid in search of treasures from ancient Egypt. However, you have paid no attention to the tales of Ammut, also known as the 'Eater of Hearts', or 'The Devourer'. Will you be able to make your discoveries before being caught by this creature whose body was a dreaded combination of crocodile, and hippopotamus? You'll need skill and a little luck to collect the treasures and exit the Pyramid alive!

The game is not only immensely playable and fun for all the family: the carefully designed components surround the players with the beauty of Egyptian life and art, making it a truly memorable experience.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Family Game Nominee, 2005

Product Information


  • 1 game board
  • 65 artifact cards
  • 40 event cards
  • 5 explorer cards
  • 128 passage tiles
  • 1 Ammut figure
  • life & artifact counters
  • 5 explorer pieces
  • 2 dice
  • rules

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.5 in 2 reviews

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October 07, 2014
Thank heavens I found the rules to this board game! I bought this game several years ago when my family and I visited the British Museum during our vacation in London. However, we didn't play the game as we couldn't find the Rules..not sure what happened. It could have been misplaced when we opened it but didn't play. Anyway, glad to find the Rules. Hope my children will still be interested to play now that they have grown up.
A decent, family-oriented Egyptian-themed game
April 17, 2006

I really like ancient Egyptian stuff—pyramids, mummies, treasure/artifacts, art/hieroglyphics, and folklore—I love it all. In Secrets of the Tombs, you are an adventurer—an archaeologist (kinda like Indiana Jones)—exploring an ancient pyramid in Egypt in search of treasures and artifacts. The object of the game (for 2- 5 players) is to be the first player to collect 5 artifact counters (all different colors—a player may hold only one counter in a color) or 12 artifact cards—and make it out of the pyramid alive. You will be competing with other adventurers, and will also have to contend with Egyptian gods (who may help or hinder your progress), “trapped” or cursed treasures which weaken you— shortening your life, and last but not least—Ammut the “eater of hearts” wants to devour your soul (Ooooh! Ahhhh!)

Game play:

At the beginning of the game, the artifact counters are placed on their indicated spots on the board and the players choose a starting position right outside the entrance. Each player starts with a supply of 7 life counters. Ammut is placed at the beginning of her track on the top of the board. The Event Cards and Artifact Cards are placed in their respective stacks beside the board. The rules say that the youngest player goes first.

Each player can do the following things on a given turn: (1) place passage tiles and (2) move their explorer through the pyramid (with a roll of the dice).

The active player can draw and place up to 3 tiles, and each tile needs to be placed before the other is drawn. The player may also choose to take no tiles. A player may also choose to take no action other than taking 2 life counters and letting the next person go. When placing a chamber tile, it can be placed anywhere as long as it connects to at least one other passage tile, an empty square, or a chamber.

The player then rolls the dice. The player moves the number of spaces according to the number rolled, but the explorer must stop moving when he/she comes to (1) a grey square in the passage or (2) when entering a chamber that contains an artifact that he/she wants to collect.

When a player has to stop on a grey square, an Event Card is drawn. This card will feature an Egyptian god, and will describe some circumstance that results in either the gain or loss of a life counter (e.g., “Horus doesn’t like the smell of your aftershave. Lose one life”—just kidding). If you’re lucky, you will gain a life counter, or you might draw the goddess Hathor, who you can keep with you to protect you from a future “harmful event” that would otherwise result in the loss of a life counter token.

When a player stops on a chamber having a token/treasure he/she wants to collect, they draw the number of artifact cards indicated on the chamber tile. An artifact card with a T symbol means “trapped” (or cursed) and each T symbol means the player loses a life counter token. An artifact card with an A symbol means that Ammut moves one space along her track, or 2 squares along the pyramid passages. Some artifact counters have neither a T nor A symbol (Whew! What a relief!).

If one or both of the dice show the Ammut symbol, then Ammut moves. When 2 Ammut symbols are rolled, the player resolves any Ammut movement and then rolls the dice again. If Ammut is on the track, she moves one space along the track when an Ammut symbol is rolled. Ammut continues to move along the track each time the Ammut symbol is rolled, until she reaches the end of the track. When she reaches the end of the track, she can now enter any empty chamber of the player’s choice. If no empty chamber is available, then Ammut stays on the last space on her track. When Ammut has entered the passages, she moves 2 squares when one Ammut symbol is rolled. When both die show the Ammut symbol, then Ammut can move 4 spaces through the passageways (she doesn’t stop on the grey spaces) or be placed in any empty chamber of the player’s choice.

After finishing his/her movement, a player may wish to continue a turn by spending one life counter to (1) move again along the passageway, (2) place extra passage tiles (2 tiles for each life counter spent), or (3) find a secret passage—i.e., replacing a passage tile on the board with one that he/she has just picked up. The replaced tile is then placed by the side of the board. When all tiles have been used, all replaced tiles should be shuffled and recycled.

When a player enters a passage where Ammut is located, then the player rolls the dice. The player loses the number of life counters corresponding to the number on the dice (in this case, Ammut symbols count as zero). A player may choose to enter a passage where Ammut is located, but must subject him/herself to an attack.

If you run out of life counter tokens—you’re dead—but not out of the game. A dead player gets to control where Ammut moves when an Ammut symbol is rolled. A dead person gets to keep all his/her cards and counters.

Some comments on the game…


I think the components are good quality. The Artifact cards feature actual ancient Egyptian artifacts found in the British Museum, and have a description of what the artifact was used for, and what it symbolized. The board is sturdy and the tiles are of good quality. The scarabs, the artifacts, and the Ammut token contribute well to the Egyptian theme as well.


For the most part, the rules are straightforward and easy to understand, but I was confused about only one thing—If 2 Ammut symbols are rolled while Ammut is on her track, does she still only move one space? Two spaces? The rules seem to imply that when Ammut is on the track, she moves only one space whether it’s one or both Ammut symbols rolled, but I’m not sure.


I think luck plays a major factor in this game, but there is enough strategy and tactics to make it a fun family game. A player might get too greedy and make too many careless risks in trying to get treasures and artifact tokens, and when Ammut is nearby, you don’t want to be caught with only 1 or 2 life counters. I have played games in which someone quickly got all the required artifact tokens, but died trying to get out of the pyramid. You can foul up others’ plans by placing undesirable passages in their way at key times, or, using the Secret Passage option, change a tile so that it suits you at a crucial part of the game. A player needs to use good judgment when deciding to “gamble” a life counter, or to play it safe on a given turn.

The Fun Factor:

I think Martin Wallace has created a good family-oriented, Egyptian-themed game in giving us Secrets of the Tombs. I think this game works well as a family game, but (and no surprise here, considering there is virtually no commentary on this game whatsoever on BGG—and I’m the first and probably last person to review this game on BGG) it is definitely not a gamer’s game. I gave this game an “average” rating. It’s a game that I enjoy playing with my wife and daughter on occasion, but given a choice, I’d rather play other games. Bonified gamers who like Egyptian themes would no doubt go for games like Amun-Re or Ra. But if you’re into Egyptian themes and want something lighter and more ‘family-friendly’ than Ra or Amun-Re, I think Secrets of the Tombs is a good choice. You might want to check out Tutankhamen, too.

Other Resources for Secrets of the Tombs:

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