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Subject: A Valley Worth Visiting? (my review of Valley of the Kings) rss

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Ian Fraser
Canada
Hamilton
Ontario
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There is no shortage of deckbuilding games on the market today (from Dominion to DC Deckbuilding and beyond), and bearing that in mind you would think that a designer would have to be crazy to dip his or her toe into a pool like that. Surely by now everything has been done. Right?

Wrong!shake

Along comes a little game like Valley of the Kings that shows us how to put a very fun game into a very small box, and makes some larger more popular deck builders look slow and bloated by comparison.The game is a good blend of neat things I don't often see and familiar hallmarks of the genre. I won't explain the rules here. Check Youtube for some videos. What follows is my quick rundown of the game.

1. Components and Package
This is a card game and as such the only things in the box are cards and a small but effective rulebook. The game contains just over 100 cards with a nice linen finish, and everything fits nicely into the box which is not much bigger than a cell phone. Everything is simple, yet high quality.

2. Artwork/Design
The artwork on the box was what first grabbed me when I stumbled upon a preview video for the game. It also interested my wife who was really taken with the clean design of the box art. The cards themselves are cleanly laid out and each function on them is easy to read and understand. However, those looking for stunning artwork might want to look elsewhere. It's not poor but it's not something you'll want to write home about. I love the attention to detail on the cards which includes the flavour text and symbology.

3. Gameplay
This is a deckbuilding game for sure but it does some neat things with the mechanic in that every card has 2 functions. Cards can be cash for purchasing things or they can be action cards with unique abilities. You want more cards which you buy from the very clever pyramid display but you have to decide how soon and how many you want to tuck away in your tomb for scoring points at the end. The game is filled with those "Do I use this for the cash or the special ability?" moments which make it really entertaining with almost every turn. Your deck here is likely to remain small so for those who hate shuffling it might not be the game for you. One short read of the rulebook and the game instantly made sense to me.

Final Word
The Egyptian theme has been done here and there before in games and this is a worthy member of that club. The game says you are playing Egyptian nobles who are ferreting away their treasures for the trip to the afterlife but I feel more like an archaeologist unearthing lost relics than a Pharaoh here. You do see the same cards a fair bit but there is always contention for nearly every card (especially with 4 players) so the game doesn't feel stale. It works just as well with 2 players as it does with 4, though 4 will see more take-that action. Using the draw deck as an endgame timer is also nice. I like games that have a definite finish line. The bottom line here is this is a good little card game.

With a 30-45 minute runtime and fairly simple rules, this will be an entertaining appetizer for some of us. For those less gamey players this could even pass for a lighter main course. What's certain is that it is a thoroughly entertaining jaunt through Ancient Egypt and a worthy addition to the ever-growing world of deck building.

8/10
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Tom Cleaver
United States
Louisville
Kentucky
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Ian

Thanks for your kind review of my game! I appreciate your comments about how Valley of the Kings is distinct from other deck-builders. Thanks again.

Tom Cleaver
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Tim Royal
United States
Kirkland
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I grabbed a copy at a FLGS and went to a lunch meeting. Some guy walking past me as I was opening the box and the cards let out a shout!

"Wow! I didn't know Tom Clancy made card games? ... of.... Is that... Egypt?" {confused look}

Poor soul. I told him it was probably a great little game, but he couldn't get past that he'd misread "Cleaver" in the last name.

Oh well. Am expecting good things, Clancy or not.
 
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Ian Fraser
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My pleasure, Tom. Here's hoping we see more great games from you in the future.
Cheers!
Ian
 
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