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Discover the treasures of Tutankhamen. Alabaster lamps, golden daggers and splendid masks lie waiting for you. But beware -- other players may snatch the most valuable treasures from right before your eyes. Riches and fame await the archeologists who chooses the best path.
Out of the Box Publishing
Players: 2 - 6
Time: 20 - 30 minutes
Ages: 8 and up
Est. time to learn: 10-20 minutes
Weight: 420 grams
Language Requirements: Manufacturer's rules are printed in English. This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are language-independent.
- 70 game tiles
- 90 tribute coins
- 1 pyramid
- 6 player tokens
- quick play rules
- artifact reference sheet
Average Rating: 3.2 in 4 reviews
Wow, what a great game. Definitely not quick and light fare, especially if you take your gameplaying seriously. With two players it is a brain-wrecking game of strategy. Very, very simple to play, but you are constantly watching the path of treasures and what your opponent has accumulated so far that it may take some time for a player to make his/her move (set a time limit). Absolutely no luck here, it's you and your brain, good luck!
I play most of my games with my family and they usually have a limit to the amount of time they will sit and listen to game rules. This hamstrings me in many ways, because I am forced to stick to games that are generally pretty simple. Therefore, I have a great affinity for Out of the Box (OOTB) games, as they usually have a very small amount of rules but are still entertaining and strategic despite their simplicity. Tutankhamen is my newest OOTB game and it still fits in the category of easy to learn, but it's got some flaws I didn't expect from OOTB.
I should clarify that most of my reviews are influenced SLIGHTLY by my wife, Rikki's opinion of the game (something I will mention briefly in all future reviews), and she did not like Tutankhamen at all.
Plus sides to the game:
- The build-your-own board is very cool as you can make a path snaking in all different directions around the table.
- The basic game mechanic is very interesting. Weighing the value of gathering a majority of one artifact to get the first-place points versus grabbing another artifact in order to get the second-place points is tricky.
- As a typical OOTB game it takes only a minute or two to explain all of the rules. Likewise, the plastic insert in the game box is just right to hold the components. Also the instructions are detailed and contain several colorful pictures that clearly depict what they are talking about. These three areas seem to be the hallmarks of OOTB games.
- Tutankhamen is one of those cool games that sort of picks itself up as you play, so when you are done the game's practically packed up already.
Down sides to the game:
- Most of the people I have played with do not like the unstructured feel of being able to move as many or as few spaces as you want. I tried to explain the reason for this, but to people who are used to roll-and-move games it can be very confusing and even a little unsettling.
- The set-up is WAY too long. Although the finished product looks appealing, the process of setting out 70 tiles (one at a time) is mind-numbingly tedious. Not to mention counting out the thin little plastic coins. For a game that takes 2 minutes to explain and maybe 30 minutes to play, the initial set-up should not take 5 minutes.
- The scoring mechanism is very awkward. You have to be extremely careful to keep track of the coins as one can easily be brushed off the table, and if this happens and you don't realize it right away it can seriously change the game. Likewise the process of slowly inserting a handful of coins one at a time into a slot is kind of annoying. My recommendation is to either pay your coins straight back into the bag they came from, or just keep score on a piece of paper and forget the coins altogether.
My overall feeling of Tutankhamen is good. I like the way the game is played, and I like the strategy. I was a little disappointed with some of the components, but I am willing to overlook that. 3 stars.
I stumbled across some folks playing Tutankhamen (Out of the Box Games, 2004 -- Reiner Knizia) at Origins and was immediately interested in the winding board that the players were using. The game looked unlike any other OOTB game I had played, and it was a bit difficult to understand what was going on merely by glancing at the game, so I stayed and watched the entire game. Then I stayed and played another game. Then, after getting my own copy, I played it several times with other folks. I wasn't a huge fan of the game, but something kept me playing it, over and over again.
Tutankhamen follows the traditional OOTB formula by being extremely simple, although the strategies are a bit more elusive than their typical game. It's a fun game that can easily be taught to anyone, and games are short yet satisfying. Scoring can be a bit fiddly (especially if players forget to score -- a common occurrence in our games); but if people watch carefully, Tutankhamen is very enjoyable. It scaled well between two and six players, although I believe that I like it more with fewer players (it's not a bad two player game!).
A hollow, plastic pyramid with a slit in it (reminding me of a piggy bank) is placed on one side of the table. A pile of keyhole-shaped tiles (seventy of them) are shuffled and placed face up, making a winding trail leading outwards from the base of the pyramid. A triangular tile (King Tut) is placed on the pyramid, and each player takes a pawn of their color, placing it at the end of the trail furthest from the pyramid. Each player receives a pile of coins (14 - 32, depending on the number of players); one player is chosen to go first; and the game is ready to begin.
On a player's turn, they must move their pawn forward on the track of tiles. A player can move their pawn as far as they wish but can never move backwards. The player takes the tile that their pawn lands on and places it face up in front of them with the turn passing to the next player. If the player is the farthest player back on the track, and they have moved past any tiles, those tiles are removed from the game.
There are fifteen "sets" of tiles -- some of them only have one tile in their set, others having two, four, six, or eight. Each set is distinguished by a different picture and color, and the tiles have a number in the corner, noting how many tiles there are of that set. Whenever the last tile of a set is removed -- whether by a player taking it, or it being removed from the game -- that set of tiles is immediately scored. The player who has the most tiles from that set scores points equal to the number of tiles in the set. They indicate this scoring by dropping coins into the pyramid. The player who has the second highest number scores half of the points on the tile. Ties for first place give players half the points each; ties for second place score nothing. All tiles in the scored set are then discarded.
Some special tiles are included with the game. "Bag of Gold" tiles allow a player to "buy" a tile from another player. They may steal a tile of their choice from another player, but the player stolen from may place a coin in the pyramid as consolation. "Pharoah" tiles (including the King Tut tile, which is given to the first player to reach the pyramid, act as wild tiles. When sets are scored, the player may add these tiles to their tiles from any particular set to help them gain a majority.
When a player reaches the end of the track, they no longer move on their turn but can still score points when sets are completed. The first player to deposit all of their coins into the pyramid is the winner! Also (I've never seen this), if all players complete the track, then the player with the fewest coins is the winner!
Some comments on the game...
- Components: The plastic pyramid is not only a neat centerpiece for the game, but actually acts as a part of the game, basically proxying as a "piggy-bank" for players' coins. The bottom of the pyramid is open, so that when a game is over players can simply lift it up and gather up the coins deposited therein. The coins are small plastic chips, with "Out of the Box" emblazoned on them, and fit fairly easily into the pyramids hole. I do think that putting the coins into the pyramid, while fun, is a bit fiddly and takes a while -- perhaps a larger hole in the pyramid would have sped up gameplay. The tiles themselves have ancient Egyptian art on them and are easily distinguished one from another by their art and color. I enjoyed how the shape of the tiles made a winding track around the board; a board could have been provided with the game, but allowing players to determine the shape of their track allows them some creativity. The plastic insert in the box is very clever. It has a hole in it that allows players to throw the discarded tiles into; and then the rest of the insert traps them in the bottom of the box, making clean up and storage rather easy. The coins are stored in a plastic bag (provided), and they and the pyramid also fit easily into the insert. The box shows some ancient Egyptian artwork for added theme and is a very sturdy box of a small cubish shape.
- Rules: There are two rule sets included with the game -- each a three page cardboard foldout. One explains the basic rules of the game, while the other explains tiles, sets, and special tiles in more detail. The rules, nicely formatted with color pictures and examples, seem long for this type of game but merely make every aspect of the game clear. I found that the game is extremely easy to teach -- it only takes a minute or so, and everyone from children to adults understand both the rules and strategies easily.
- Strategy: The only luck in the game is how the tiles are laid out on the track, other than that, players determine the strategy of the game. With more players, Tutankhamen tends to be more chaotic, as you can't plan ahead too much; but with only a few players, players can strategize about which tiles are important to them. A player can move as far as they wish; but players often move very few tiles, as gaining a good tile is often mitigated by missing several others. How far should one move, and what tiles should you take? What sets should you use your wild tiles for? These are the only choices in the game, really, which makes it very simplistic (too simple for some, I'm sure), but hard choices in their own right.
- Set scoring: I like how the sets score -- it makes sense, offers a challenge, and yet retains a simplicity that allows the game to end quickly. My only problem is that occasionally everyone misses the fact that a set has finished, and then notices it later -- causing a scramble to score that set. Sometimes this can affect the end of the game, as sets that score first allow the player who scores the majority of those points the lead, and often the game. Careful watching of every tile will keep this from occurring, but I wish there was a better way to realize when a set has been completed. (Although we haven't had any problems noticing when a set of one has been completed. ;) )
- Fun Factor: The game is fun in a light-hearted way. There's some jostling for tiles, and players can laugh and have fun as they take tiles meant for others and use their wilds to beat someone else out for a set. Probably the most fun thing I like about Tutankhamen is that the game is so simple and easy that it allows players to socialize while playing, as long as everyone keeps an eye out for completed sets!
If you're looking for a light game that can be easily taught and scales from two to six (with an emphasis on two or three), then Tutankhamen is a good choice. The cool pyramid and simplicity of play allow the game to be used to draw new players into board gaming. In fact, that's what I found Tutankhamen is best used for. With a group of serious gamers, I could play Tut but would often pass in favor of games with a little more "meat". But when grabbing new people to play games, I can't think of many games that are as easy and simple to play, while offering strategy and fun in one small box.
"Real men play board games."
For value, this one only gets 2 stars, one for uniqueness and one for creativity from designer Reiner Knizia. I was fortunate to track it down some months ago when it was in the $20s, and that's where the 3rd star comes in. But at much more than that, the game is overpriced for what you get: thick cutouts of relics, several wooden pawns, and a colorful Tut scoreboard.
But you also get game play that's novel for a "boardgame" as there's no board, just a trail of relics in various sets of various point totals that you spread out at random in a meandering path. You move as far down the path as you'd like, but there's no turning back. There's also no luck, which I like. It's simply your choices vs. that of the other relic collectors. You have to pay as much attention to what they're collecting as to what you're collecting.
It has gotten mixed reviews from other folks I've played with over the course of a number of months. One avid gamer whose opinion I value didn't like it at all. I wasn't sure I really liked when I first played it, and even now--several plays later--I'm still not sure, and that's not good. The game's not bad, but it seems there's something lacking. I agree with a prior review, it can be a brain drain, and maybe that's what I don't like. I prefer games where the assessment of how the players are doing is readily apparent, and doesn't require neuron-draining calculations. Sure, you can see the scores on the Tut-board, but in figuring what you and they can do with what's available on the relic path is another matter... too much thinking! For some gamers, that may be a plus.
Still, I'm hanging on to it for now, and every once in a while I dust it off.