When talking to people who don’t live and breath board games, we often have people asking about the process of getting a game published. We’ve been in the industry long enough to know these ins-and-outs, but with Scott’s games (Hues and Cues, Gekitai and boop) on their way to becoming household names, we get those questions a lot more. The reference we’ve found is most easily understood is the comparison to a book author. A person writes a book then pitches it to book publishers. Those companies decide whether or not to pick up up. Contracts are signed, marketing is done by the publisher and hopefully checks start rolling in. It’s more or less the same with game design. In fact, it’s not uncommon to buy a game simply because you enjoy that designer’s other work… same as happens with book authors. In fact, I became excited about Tutankhamun from 25th Century Games simply by seeing it was designed by Reiner Knizia.
One of the nice things about Tutankhamun is that the game is scalable from 2-6 players. But unlike many games where you have to sort out different cards or pieces for variable player counts, the setup is the same for this except the starting point on the scoring track. To set up, you shuffle all the tiles together face-down then arrange them face-up in a winding path to represent the Nile. On one end, place all the players’ boats and the other put the empty box bottom with sarcophagus inside. Place the Underworld Mat and Guardian Statues near the start of the river. Each player’s Canopic Jar token is clipped onto the box rim corresponding with the starting point value based on player count. The goal is to be the first to cleanse their spirit, thus reducing their points to zero.
The river consists of a combination of 70 artifacts (12 normal sets plus a set of scarabs) and 10 god idol tiles. The sets vary in size with the value of each correlating to the number of tiles in that set. For example, if a set has 6 tiles, then that type is worth 6 points, but only for the person who collects the most.
You’ll begin your turn by deciding between one of two options: Sail your boat forward to any tile or sail your boat backward to the nearest tile behind you. If that tile is an artifact, you’ll remove it from the river and place it in front of you. If there are still tiles of that type remaining in the river, then it remains in front of you. If it’s the last of it’s type, then the tiles are scored.
The player who has the most of a normal set reduces their points on the Spirit Track by the value listed on the tile then places their artifacts into the box alongside the sarcophagus. The person with the second most artifacts of that type earn half the value (reducing their score on the track) then place their trinkets into the tomb. Scarab tiles are scored differently, reducing your score by one each time you collect one. But you’ll keep the Scarab until all others have been collected then the player with the majority earns an additional 5 points.
If the tile you land on is a god idol tile, resolve it immediately by activating their abilities. Each of the five different gods has a different ability ranging from taking a tile from the underworld to collecting a tile behind your boat.
Tiles that have been passed by all boats are referred to as Trailing Tiles. After completing your sailing action, find the tile furthest away that all boats have passed and move it to the Underworld Mat. When the item is moved, see if any other tiles from that set remain in the Nile. If not, then the set can be scored. God idols that are trailing are moved to the mat without being being resolved. Repeat this process until the last boat is reached. When all tiles have been resolved, play moves to the next person, clockwise.
The game is over at the end of the current player’s turn when someone reaches zero on the Spirit Track. Tutankhamun is a balance of jumping forward quickly to snag high valued tiles and moving methodically at the back to accumulate the most. It’s all about collecting the most of a type to earn the full value or being runner-up for half the points. This simple concept makes the game easily adaptable for families with younger kids. It’s also a opportunity to talk about Egyptian history through gaming. You can pick up a copy of Tutankhamun direct from 25th Century Games, on Amazon or inquire at your local game store. As convention season approaches, expect news about upcoming releases. You can keep tabs on all that information if you follow them on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter!
Do you use games to discuss subjects like geography or history?