Archaeology: The Card Game Review

 

You’re thirsty, it’s hot, so hot you can’t even sweat, but it’s your job, your calling to reveal the secrets of the ancient people of the Nile. And earn boatloads of money by selling them.
 
Overview:
What you get for your money:
72 Treasure, 8 Thief and 6 Sandstorm cards, 1 pyramid card and the rules.
How do you play the game:
The main goal of the game is to find treasures in the desert, maybe trade a little at the marketplace and sell those treasures to the museum. The player with the most money at the end of the game wins Archaeology.
There are six treasure types: pot shards, parchments, coins, talismans, broken cups, pharaoh’s masks and maps. All of them have a trading value, a rarity value and multiple selling values. There are also two types of ‘misfortune’ cards: Thiefs and Sandstorms.
 
And lastly, there are four locations in this game: the marketplace in the middle of the table, the museum in front of every player, the dig site or the draw deck, and the pyramid, where you can exchange maps for more treasures.
 
At the start of a game five treasure cards are put in the marketplace, fifteen cards in the pyramid and four treasure cards in every player’s hand. The Thief and Sandstorm cards are then shuffled into the dig site deck and the game can begin.
On a turn you must first dig for treasure, draw a card. When you draw a Thief, you must steal one card from an opponent. When you draw a sandstorm, every player, including you, must place half of their hand cards in the marketplace. When you draw a treasure, you just put it into your hand.
Then you can trade your treasures for other treasures at the marketplace. For instance, you can trade a treasure with a trading value of four, the Pharaoh’s mask, for two treasures with a value of two, the Broke Cup. When you have one or more maps you also can exchange these for cards from the pyramid.
 
When you no longer want to trade you can sell your treasures to the museum. Treasures have more than one selling value. In general, the more treasures you sell that are of the same type at the same time, the more they are worth.
  
The game ends when the dig site is empty and all players have no cards left in their hand. The player with the most money, earned by selling his treasures to the museum, wins the game.
Review:
Theme
The theme, archaeology, isn’t very strong. The treasure maps, so you can discover secret treasure chambers in the pyramid, and a sandstorm that ruins your excavation in the desert. These are nice thematic mechanisms and the different treasures add some Egyptian flavour to this game.
Gameplay
This game is really simple. You can teach it in a minute and it takes, depending on the player count, only fifteen to twenty minutes to play. There is very little downtime, so your constantly busy.
Archaeology is basically a set collection game. Do you choose to collect low scoring treasures that are widely available or do you try to collect high scoring ones that are very rare? And it also has a strong push you luck element. Do I sell now for less or do I want to continue excavating treasures to sell for more with the chance that a sandstorm or a thief will ruin my plans?
You have similar choices when you discover a map. Do I use it in a trade, exchange it immediately for treasures in the pyramid or do I try to get more maps and more treasures from the pyramid?
The game plays just as good with two as it does with four, although the push your luck element is less important in a game with more players. More people will try to sell the same treasure types to the museum, so more people will settle for less money, I think. I find the Thief more enjoyable with three or four players than with two. With more players you can choose a target, it’s more tactical.
Yes, off course, luck is quite important in this game. For instance, you empty the 7 card chamber of the pyramid and there are only high scoring cards in it, that’s pure luck, no skill. And, yes, the Sandstorms feel random, but I don’t think that is a bad thing, it just strengthens the push your luck element and makes the game more exciting, more tense.
Looks
It’s OK. Simple, but clear and colourful.
Quality of the game parts
Good quality cards.
Fun
This game is pretty fun. I enjoy it most as a two player game, but I do think it’s also very fun with more. It’s a quick game and it has just the right balance between ‘I’m totally in control’ and ‘Unexpected events’. The later makes the game tense, the first one makes you think you can do better. That’s why you probably want to play this game multiple times in a row.
Portable, quick, exciting and cheap. This game is a great filler or a game to play with your family. A no-brainer in my book.
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