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Pharaoh : subtitle tbc

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Joined: 04/02/2013

I came up with an Egyptian themed board game for a school exam fifteen years ago. Since then I have played lots of games and, on finding Gamecrafter, would love to produce something at least on the same theme. It is more of a personal goal than in the hope that hundreds will buy it!

The game has developed to into a fairly basic worker placement game.
You are a Vizier to Pharaoh Khufu - who has tasked you with completing his great pyramid. You are competing against your fellow Viziers to be named Grand Vizier. It’s all fairly standard stuff – well-trodden ground for worker placement games!

Each turn you send out your emissaries to collect resources and perks to help you to complete your task. A player must collect four of each resource type (workers, food, stone and gold) to place a layer of pyramid. The resources are colour coded and there will be some wild card resources. The players start with one emissary each and chose, in turn order, where to place it.

Most areas of the board have a draw deck and discard pile. The main areas of the board and their function are as follows:

Quarry - Draw a card. Resources – rubble (1pt) Stone (2pts) Polished stone (3pts)

Fields – Draw a card. Resources – Wheat (1pt) Fish (2pts) Cattle (3pts)

Harbour – Draw a card. Resources – Workers (1-3 pts)

Outpost – Discard a card. Or pay 2 workers to gain an extra emissary next turn.

Market – Trade with other players. Blind or otherwise. AND Draw a card. Resources – gold (1-3 pts). OR discard one resource to draw two market cards.

Palace – Two spaces only. The first earns 2 victory points and the second 1 victory point. Earning Pharaoh’s favour!

Construction Site – Five spaces for player’s pyramid cards to be laid out.

Each resource will have one or two +4 cards but 1-3 will be the most common.
So, most areas allow you to pick up a card depicting one of the resources. However, you may pick up an instant card which must be played immediately or a card that can be taken into your hand for use later. These will have positive or negative effects for one or all players. There will also be cards that you want to get rid of. Some may score negative VP if a certain condition is met –meaning that you may want to try to discard it at the outpost or you may not. For example – find yourself with Hungry Goats in your hand and you lose a food card instantly and cannot visit the fields until it is discarded at the outpost. However, pick a plague card and you can pass the goats to another player. A plague of hungry goats! Or collect a basket card from the market and you can put the goats in the basket and discard them at the market. This is just one, fairly niche, example.

When a player has four of each resource they may spend their action (all emissaries they currently have) to construct a layer of pyramid. They score the points for each resource (wild = 0) and points for the layer of pyramid. (1 layer = 2, 2 layers = 3, 3 layers = 5 and 4 layers = 8). Each layer is represented by a card which is placed on the board. Victory points are scored as the game progresses on a score track around the board.

When choosing whether to build a pyramid layer a player must decide if they are happy to score it with the resources they have in hand – or hold out for higher scoring cards; risking what they already have.
Every time a player places a piece of pyramid all other players receive an extra emissary on their next turn. Thematically I suppose those Viziers have doubled their efforts, having seen an opponent’s pyramid start to rise from the ground! It serves as a nice catch-up mechanism and brings in strategy as to when to build your pyramid layers.

The game ends on the turn where a player has placed their last pyramid piece. Obviously more than one player may be able to do this on that turn. It will be a real gamble when to go for that last piece, as the winner is not the player who places the last piece first – but is the player with the most VP at the end of that turn. It is possible that a player may win who has not completed their pyramid – but they have impressed Pharaoh enough to be named Grand Vizier.

Other points:
At the start of each turn one player rolls the location die – and places a token on the rolled area. That area is unavailable for that turn – either a disaster or Royal decree perhaps. In a two player game two areas are unavailable.

There will also be limited spaces on each area. The palace and outpost only have two spaces. So if you really need to get rid of a card you may have to fight for that space! I haven’t decided whether to limit spaces in the other areas yet. I can’t work out what to do in a five player game – as there will be emissaries left over that can’t be placed.

I have got plenty of ideas for non-resource cards – a couple of examples:
Wrath of Pharaoh – minus 3 victory points. Card can only be discarded at the Palace.
Caravan – claim a pyramid piece with five resources rather than four.
Rushed job – Claim a layer of pyramid with three resources rather than four.
Crocodile – pick a card at random from another players hand and discard it. If it was a worker, pick another card to discard.

Any more are welcome!

The game seems really balanced with two players. I’m just a little concerned that I need one more mechanic or something original. Some other ideas I had were:

War chest – place a resource card into Pharaoh’s war chest. VP awarded at the end of the game for the contributions.

Character cards – either to be purchased – e.g. master builder that gives some advantage, or each player selects a character to play as with individual perks.

Secret mission cards - extra VP for meeting certain conditions.
Scoring cards placed in the decks to score during the game for cards in hand.

What do you think? I’m I know there’s nothing really original about the game and it's not going to set the world alight. The closing of a random area each turn and the catch-up mechanism may bug some people I suppose. I’m sure I can account for them thematically and they seem to add some strategy in what is a fairly luck based game.

Thank you to anyone who has taken the time to read this and I welcome any thoughts!


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