It's been quite some time since this scarab collecting game has been pulled off the shelf. Following the completion of Meuterer, Lenny suggested that we introduce Jim and Tabea to the joys of tomb plundering.
Since it has been some time, a quick recap is in order. Players send various folks into a pyramid to steal the many treasurers located within its depths. The mechanics are quite simple, as players simply place a 'people' token onto a space and take the scarab which rests upon that space. However, the people tiles come in four varieties and a tile cannot be placed so that it is adjacent to an identical tile. Further, in order to place a tile onto a higher row in the pyramid, it must form a miniature pyramid itself. In other words, it must be 'supported' by two tiles underneath it:
This is a key element of the game as players only have four tiles in their possession at any one time. After using a tile, they replenish it from one of the three face-up stacks. It is always wise to keep as big a variety as possible in your mix of 'people' tiles. Otherwise, it is quite possible to be unable to place a tile during your turn, in which case you simply lose that turn.
One can somewhat prevent this occurrence by purchasing one of the four special 'neighbor' tiles for $20. A neighbor tile may be placed adjacent to any of the other four people tiles, and it rewards the player with an extra turn. However, there are only four such tiles and they tend to be purchased quickly.
Note: We have always played that a neighbor tile can be purchased and kept for later use. Others say it must be used on the same turn it is purchased. I much prefer the 'can save' method. Thoughts?
Scarabs come in six colors and can either be sold at the market for a fixed price (initially $10), or kept in hopes that it will be more valuable at game's end.
If the scarab is sold, it is placed upon the appropriate price board. These price boards list a series of numbers, the first uncovered number representing the current value of that gem. Each sold scarab of that color is placed on top of the next number, thereby covering it and changing the price to the next uncovered value. This new value can either be higher or lower than the previous value, as there is no rhyme or reason to these prices. Still, players must keep a careful eye on these boards and make wise decisions on whether to sell or keep scarabs. Ultimately, a warehouse filled with beautiful scarabs could be worthless if the prices of these gems drops to zero!
If a player opts to keep a scarab instead of immediately selling it at the market, it goes into his warehouse and cannot be sold later. The player will not endeavor to insure that the value of that color scarab remains high, either by selling future scarabs of that color or keeping them, depending upon the potential values listed on the appropriate price board.
In addition to scarabs, the pyramid also contains several 'event' tiles. If a player removes one of these tiles, the event is triggered. Some of these are favorable to the player, others are detrimental. Some of the events include the changing of market prices, the altering of the price boards, etc. I usually try to avoid collecting these tiles.
The game continues with players placing tiles, collecting scarabs and either selling or keeping them until two of the price boards are filled. At that point, players total the value of the scarabs they have kept, basing their value on the current value listed on the appropriate price boards. To this value they add any money they possess. The player with the greatest total is victorious and can gleefully shout "RA!". (Oh, sorry ... that's a different game!)
Lenny pursued an 'event' tile strategy, grabbing one whenever he could. Most had little harsh impact, but still, in my opinion, he wasted turns grabbing these tiles instead of grabbing scarabs. He did manage to hose me on two consecutive turns late in the game, preventing me from grabbing any scarabs due to his selection and placement of his people tiles. Thus, I lost my final two turns in the game, which cost me dearly.
Meanwhile, Tabea managed to drive the price of the blue scarabs to peak level, which was a great advantage to her as she had a vast majority in this color. It was enough for her to eek out a victory over Jim.
Finals: Tabea 335, Jim 320, Greg 270, Lenny 210
Ratings: Lenny 8, Tabea 8, Jim 8, Greg 7