At this point, a lot of folks called it a night: Angel, Alice, Jeff, and Danielle all left, and Heather turned in as well. That left four of us. I'd been wanting to play a game for some time now, and I saw my chance, to I went to my bag and pulled out the German import game, Jenseits von Theben.
At the beginning players concentrated in collecting knowledge. Jon jumped at the chance to get three points of knowledge of Greece, though it took him eight weeks to do so. That let others get the smaller items more quickly. Dave collected a number of special knowledge cards for Palestine, and then jumped there to do a quick dig. An exhibition had been announced for artifacts from Palestine and Mesopotamia, and he was hoping that, even though he wouldn't be drawing many cards, he'd at least get one artifact, and so could nab a quick exhibition win. Alas, no, because his knowledge and the time he spent digging only gave him three cards, and they were dirt, dirt, dirt.
Meanwhile, Jim had been hiring assistants, and also learning a great deal about ancient Greece. Eventually he took that knowledge to greece and dug for 12 weeks. From the ten cards he drew, he only found two artifacts, and both two point artifacts at that, as well as one bit of general knowledge. And for his part, Paul found himself attending many Congresses of Archaeologists. Those are cards that are gradually worth more as more are accumulated: 1 card is worth one point at the end of the game, but 2 are worth three points, 3 are worth six, and so on. He pretty quickly had collected five of the cards, for 15 points, by week 42.
Dave was hoping to dig further in Palestine, but didn't have a permit for that site (legal or otherwise). So, instead he took his knowledge to Crete and he searched for 12 weeks, which netted him 8 cards. In those cards were four artifacts, which he promptly took to Rome for an exhibition.
By this point the calendar turned to 1902, and we're into our last year. Paul began the year digging in Mesopotamia, and he collected three artifacts and one general knowledge from the 10 cards he gained. Dave got his permit renewed, so he went back to Palestine to dig. He had his eye on another exhibition, which limited him to digging only 7 weeks, but with 9 points of knowledge he still got 7 cards, plus an extra from his very useful shovels. He found three artifacts from those eight cards, which he took to Paris for the next exhibition. Jim, too, revisits the scene of his previous dig, and does much better with this set of ten cards in Greece. He found four artifacts there. Feeling lucky, he pushed onto Mesopotamia, digging for 10 more cards, and getting two more artifacts and knowledge of Palestine.
Finally everyone catches up time-wise, and it's time for the Paris exhibition. Dave and Paul were both showing three artifacts, but the crowds preferred Dave's display twice as much as Paul's (die rolls of 4 vs. 2), so Dave got the win there. Both moved onto Berlin, but there Dave was able to display both Palestinian and Cretan artifacts, so his group of seven gave Paul's three artifacts no chance to impress.
At this point, the second year was winding down, and everyone realized that it was best to simply go and dig as much as and as often as possible before the year ran out. Paul dug in Egypt and found 3 artifacts and 2 knowledge in 10 cards. Dave returned to Crete to try to improve on the first year's haul, but only found two additional artifacts from 9 cards. Jon finally, after collecting lots of knowledge, and lots of general knowledge at that, finally went to Palestine to dig. He had boatloads of knowledge, and three shovels, so was able to get 12 cards. He did well, finding four artifacts and 1 knowledge card in the bunch.
In Mesopotamia, Jim made a quick stop in Palestine to dig out one card, just because he had the time, and found an artifact. He then went to Egypt, knowing that Paul already pulled three artifacts from the pyramids, and dug through the end of the year, for 10 cards. Sure enough, Egypt was apparently dug out, because Jim only found one artifact in those ten cards! Just to prove that, Paul used his forged excavation permit to dig in Egypt again, but he found nothing but dirt in his three cards. And with one week left, 15 wisdom, and a forged permit, Jon was still able to see five more cards from Palestine He only found one artifact in those five, but it was the Ark of the Covenant, worth 7 points!
So at the end of two years, we tallied the points. Jim and Paul proved to be the specialists, getting 8 points each for specialized knowledge in two civilizations. Dave had just a bit more knowledge of Palestine than Jon to claim those 4 points. Dave was the generalist, having at least 2 points of knowledge in all five civilizations, which earned him 7 points. Paul and Jon were the only ones to have attended congresses, giving them 15 and 6 points, respectively. Jim had won one exhibition, for 6 points, and Dave had taken three, totalling 16 points. And finally we tallied the artifact points themselves. Jon's 17 gave him a final total of 23. Paul only had 14 points in artifacts, but his earlier points still brought him to 37 points. Jim focused mostly on artifact digging, and it showed. His 33 points in artifacts gave him a huge boost, to 47 points. And Dave had dug up 24 points in artifacts, which, combined with the knowledge points and the exhibition points, gave him a total of 51 points for the win.
I think the theme of this game, archaeological digs, is really well portrayed in this game. There's certainly a lot of random elements, but I think it fits well with the game, and the digs themselves are exciting as you see just how much you'll be able to find.