- Designer: Rudiger Dorn
- Publisher:Queen Games
- By Rudiger Dorn
- 2-4 players
- Ages 8+
- 45 minutes
- Review Copy
I was extremely excited to try this latest game from Rudiger Dorn. To me, he is a very solid designer from Goa, one of my all-time favorite mid-weight games, to the light family game of Karuba, a light family game that has earned a permanent place in the collection. He is one of those designers whose games I would be happy to play at any time. So, it was great to break out Luxor which takes the spiral path, treasure collecting style of Tutankhamen and combines it with a twist on Bohnanza hand management while succeeding in its own unique style.
Please understand when the box states “8+” for the age range, we are not looking at an extremely deep game. Indeed, we have a nice family game that can, actually, generate a slight case of analysis paralysis for some players due to Mr. Dorn’s new card play mechanism. This mechanism is the core of the game. Without this, you would have a rather drab move, collect treasure, and race to the finish game. The movement mechanism is the heart of the game and so I will explain it in detail.
The core card set of basic cards features the numbers from one to five along with a few cards that let you go forward one or backward one with your movement. Also, there are dice cards for movement that require you to roll a die to determine your movement. Without the minus one movement option you would only be able to move inward on the spiral towards the tomb chamber. On several spaces the board has some yellow tiles that allow you to draw special Horus cards that give better movement and advantages in the game. These tiles also give you the option of collecting a key which you must sacrifice to move one of your adventurers into the tomb chamber. The ability to acquire better and better Horus cards increases as your adventurers move closer to the central tomb chamber. Examples of these Horus cards include; move 1-5 spaces, move all of your playing pieces two spaces, move one space and collect a treasure for one less cost, etc.
All players start the game with a hand of five basic cards. These cards cannot be reordered; ever. This is the key! On your turn, you must play the left card in your hand or the right card in your hand. Then, you will draw a new card which is placed in the middle of your hand. Under this simple rule set you must manage two initial adventurers which, as they advance, can wake up your ultimate team of five explorers and put these new explorers on the start space to begin their journey toward the tomb chamber. Ultimately, this game is about managing your hand to move your adventurers onto the key spots in the game to collect treasure, keys, scarabs, and Horus cards to out-score your opponents.
It is time to tell you how the game works. You already know that you get five cards per player to start the game. The board consists of 40 spaces in a square-ish spiral that is populated with six spaces to earn Horus cards/keys, four mandatory advance spaces, and 30 treasures. Every space on the board has a score beside it that, with the exception of the Horus card/key spaces (which are zeros) are worth from 0- 13 points for each of your explorers at the end of the game depending on how far along the trip to the tomb chamber they advance. To collect a treasure, you are required to have 1-3 explorers on the tile, depending on the tile. Some of those advanced Horus cards let you reduce the strength you need to collect treasures. This treasure collecting is what creates hand management puzzles that can be delightfully frustrating. How do I get two explorers to that treasure space before my opponents? Treasures create accelerating scoring opportunities as multiple sets of three different treasures can score 3, 7, 12, 18, 25, etc.
At this point the game is still a straight forward Tutankhamen style treasure acquisition game with options to garner better cards to improve your movement options. However, you start the game with two explorers. The remaining three adventurers, of your five adventurer team, are placed out on the board at approximately the 5, 10 and 15 spaces on the board. To activate them, one of your current explorers must pass by them to wake them up and then they will become active and are placed on the start space. This could be important to collect those three strength treasures.
As your remove treasures from the game you would think the board would become very scarce and boring. However, Mr. Dorn has thought about that and about half of the spaces where you can collect a treasure tile get replaced with somewhat random purple tiles that let you collect wild treasures (to help complete sets), Horus cards, and scarabs that can give you a random one to four points. The spaces that are vacated by treasure tiles being collected that are not replaced with purple tiles, are skipped when you count movement. This helps those new explorers you woke up to move much faster to catch up and it gives them other objectives to score as they advance to the tomb chamber. Also, removing treasure tiles from the board can assist or wreak havoc on your movement plans when someone takes a treasure in front of you when you had just the right movement card that is now completely wrong.
The game ends when the second adventurer of any player sacrifices a key and enters the tomb chamber.
The hand management, the race to complete treasures, the timing to end the game, all work together to generate a fun family game with just enough to think about and plan for. Even though someone can take a treasure and remove a tile in your path to really mess up your planning, I found this to be part of the fun. Clearly, the interaction is more intense as the player counts go from 2 to 4, but this one is fun at all player counts. This is just the right amount of time and thinking for a terrific family game.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- Love it –
- Like it –. Ted c.
- Neutral –
- Not for me –