I was at the Origins Trade Show this year – we’ve been going there for over ten years and I’ve been attending as an author guest for the past three so we’re pretty familiar with the convention. As I wrapped up my table for the day I wandered over into the other hall where AEG was giving demos of their “One Hour Games”, a series of small boxed games both requiring little gameplay time along with little expense.
Not too long later I tripped out of the AEG area with three games – Agent Hunter, Maximum Throwdown and this game – Valley of the Kings. We’ve only been able to really get into VotK so far but I have to say we’re loving it so far and highly recommend it!
It’s plugged as a deck construction game, a title that brings to mind Magic: The Gathering or the many like it but it’s really more of a deck DEconstruction game… but let me explain.
The theme is Egyptian – you’re basically trying to get as many goodies into your tomb as possible. Once per turn you can “entomb” a card, putting it basically out of play. The more you entomb, the better. The more variety of items, MUCH better.
The mechanics remind me a bit of 7 Wonders in that you start off with a basic starting deck of simple cards such as an Urn and a Shabti. As you can see there’s many components to this card – the gold coin tells you what it brings to the table as far as it’s worth in gold. The top right number is how many gold you need to pay to obtain the card. The text is… well, the text. And the bottom details how many victory points it delivers. This is one of the cards you start with and you can see it’s pretty handy.
But wait, you say – what pyramid? Well, here’s the sweet goodness of the game – after you sort out the starter decks for each player you deal five cards to yourself and… look at the pyramid!
The Pyramid is built by placing three cards at the bottom, two in the center and one at the top. You can only buy cards at the bottom – once one is bought the cards “slide” down from the top and another one is placed.As you can see from the bottom of the box… this makes it very interesting!
There are color-coded sets of various items such as Books – here’s one for you to look at.
So here’s the Book of the Gates. Gives you one gold piece to buy other cards with and costs three gold if it’s available at the bottom of the pyramid. It’s a level II card which means it’ll come into play after you’ve set up the level I starter cards. It’s also one of six different books and has some interesting card text options along with a lovely bit o’history.
Each turn you can entomb a card, play a card for the text and buy a card from the bottom level of the pyramid. Some texts allow you to twist these around but those are the basic three actions you can take. At the end of the turn you discard ALL your cards and then deal out five new ones to yourself – and yes, you get to recycle the discard pile. This grows and fades as you purchase new cards and entomb others which is why it’s a construction and deconstruction game, IMO.
Each card gives you multiple options – you can use it for the gold worth to purchase a card, use the text to perform an action, entomb it or just discard it if there’s nothing else to buy. The strategies are almost limitless as you try to figure out how to use each card to meet your goals.
Which is… to get as many goodies in your tomb and of the same type – much like 7 Wonders the scoring at the end is done by squaring the number of cards you have of each type – some have victory points listed, like the Shabti on the card but if you have all six Books you get 36 points. Five, you get 25. No duplicates allowed!
So you buy cards to add them to your deck and then try to put them in your tomb before the end of the game, using the text to perform other actions and perhaps thwart your opponent from getting that card he/she wants…
In a nutshell – a great game. The pyramid aspect makes it interesting as you see cards come into play but have to wait until they slide down or make them come down yourself either by purchasing cards or using card texts to make it happen.
It’s a lovely game with great artwork and wonderful gameplay – I highly recommend it… and at less than twenty dollars, a great buy and easily stored away for a fast game when you have an hour to spare!
Two thumbs up!