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Valley of the Kings» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A Micro-Review for a Micro-Game: Valley of the Kings rss

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Kevin Garnica
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VALLEY OF THE KINGS

Does anyone have a throat lozenge? I have a bad sar-COUGH-agus.

“Theme”: Players are Egyptian nobles preparing tombs by filling it with treasures and such.

Setup: Players each get a reference and “tomb” card. The game comes with cards in one of 3 different eras – appropriately named I, II, III. The starting deck of cards for each player is always deck I. Decks II & III are shuffled separately, then stacked. 6 cards are then dealt in the shape of a pyramid – with 3 cards on bottom, two above it, and 1 on top. One card is dealt beside it as a “discard” pile. The rest of the cards form the draw pile.

Mechanics: VotK is a deck-building game, and yet it has nothing to do with patio construction. Instead, players work with their starting hand of 5 cards in order to do one of three things on their turn, 1) buy a card(s) from the pyramid, 2) do the action written on the card(s), 3) entomb a card by placing it underneath the “tomb” card, face-up and staggered. Cards bought from the pyramid can only be from the bottom row, after which it “crumbles” and other cards move in to fill the holes. The pyramids is then rebuilt. The game ends when both the deck and pyramid run out, and each player has had an equal number of turns.

Scoring: Since all information is open, players can see what their opponents have been entombing throughout the game. Players are trying to collect sets of items in their “tomb” card. All starter deck cards are 1VP if entombed; unique cards are worth a varying amount; and sets of items are squared. Most points wins.

The Clever: Obviously, the crumbling pyramid effect is a neat touch. It’s about as thematic as this game gets. You can play as many cards for the effects or purchasing power, but you can only ever entomb a single card per turn, unless otherwise stated on a card. That’s the challenge. It is important to use your starter deck to get your snowball rolling.

Recommendation: If you want to ‘walk like an Egyptian’ then yes. VotK is a successfully model of a portable deck-builder that doesn't require endless amounts of expansions to keep the game alive.
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John Bandettini
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That one not so much
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While it's not a big box game, it's hardly a micro-game.
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David Combs
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I'm not a huge fan of deck builders but I really like this one. I think it's because it's not just about building a huge deck full of points. You only score points for the entombed cards, so you have to decide if you want to keep using a card for its ability or gold, or do you want to entomb it for the points but lose the card for the rest of the game.

pacman88k wrote:
You can play as many cards for the effects or purchasing power, but you can only ever entomb a single card per turn.


Remember you only get one FREE entomb action each turn, but you can entomb more than one card each turn. The ability on some of the cards allows you to entomb cards. So if you play one of those cards for its ability, then you can entomb card from that action in addition to the normal once-per-turn entomb action.
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Kevin Garnica
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JohnBandettini wrote:
While it's not a big box game, it's hardly a micro-game.


I don't know, since the micro-game fad has really taken off, I feel like there are lots of games that could fit under the category.

While I agree Valley of the Kings is not the shortest game, Sail to India often gets scooched into the category, and it's not really short either. Province takes about 25 or so minutes to play, but so does Rise of Augustus and that's definitely not a "small" game. For that matter, games like For Sale can also be labeled as "micro", not just "filler", due to it's footprint and play time. So, I think there is some overlap in either qualifier - size / length.
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Kevin Garnica
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dhc3po wrote:

pacman88k wrote:
You can play as many cards for the effects or purchasing power, but you can only ever entomb a single card per turn.


Remember you only get one FREE entomb action each turn, but you can entomb more than one card each turn. The ability on some of the cards allows you to entomb cards. So if you play one of those cards for its ability, then you can entomb card from that action in addition to the normal once-per-turn entomb action.


Right you are. I was trying to keep the review to a minimum of words, but that is an important distinction, which I knew, but perhaps didn't make clear. Fixed, thanks.

I also don't care for deckbuilders, but this is my first one, so that tells you something.
 
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Jon Wooden
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pacman88k wrote:
JohnBandettini wrote:
While it's not a big box game, it's hardly a micro-game.


I don't know, since the micro-game fad has really taken off, I feel like there are lots of games that could fit under the category.

While I agree Valley of the Kings is not the shortest game, Sail to India often gets scooched into the category, and it's not really short either. Province takes about 25 or so minutes to play, but so does Rise of Augustus and that's definitely not a "small" game. For that matter, games like For Sale can also be labeled as "micro", not just "filler", due to it's footprint and play time. So, I think there is some overlap in either qualifier - size / length.

The term 'micro-game' seems to have been coined to describe games with very minimal components - eg Love Letter, Coup or Council of Verona, which all have tiny decks of cards and little else.

VOTK has a deck of just shy of 100 cards which is similar to San Juan, which I'm sure that no-one would describe as a micro-game, therefore in my book, VOTK doesn't fit into the micro-game category either.

Having said all that, it's still a stonkingly good game, however you choose to define it!
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Kevin Garnica
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Emsdad wrote:
pacman88k wrote:
JohnBandettini wrote:
While it's not a big box game, it's hardly a micro-game.


I don't know, since the micro-game fad has really taken off, I feel like there are lots of games that could fit under the category.

While I agree Valley of the Kings is not the shortest game, Sail to India often gets scooched into the category, and it's not really short either. Province takes about 25 or so minutes to play, but so does Rise of Augustus and that's definitely not a "small" game. For that matter, games like For Sale can also be labeled as "micro", not just "filler", due to it's footprint and play time. So, I think there is some overlap in either qualifier - size / length.

The term 'micro-game' seems to have been coined to describe games with very minimal components - eg Love Letter, Coup or Council of Verona, which all have tiny decks of cards and little else.

VOTK has a deck of just shy of 100 cards which is similar to San Juan, which I'm sure that no-one would describe as a micro-game, therefore in my book, VOTK doesn't fit into the micro-game category either.

Having said all that, it's still a stonkingly good game, however you choose to define it!


I don't want to quibble over terms, so I'll leave it at this:

Sushi Go! has 108 cards and plays in about 10-15 minutes. It's a micro game.

Sail to India has less than 20 cards and some cubes, but takes a good half hour at least to play (and I'm being generous, the box says 60 min.), but nobody's calling it a "filler", much less a full game.

Province has 53 individual and varied cardboard pieces - a lot by micro-game standards, and also takes 30 minutes to play. But it's clearly a micro game for it's compactness, and nothing else. Complexity-wise, play time-wise, it's sort of a step up from micro-game status.

Seems to me that a micro-game can qualify in any number of 3 categories - footprint size, minimal components, complexity (or lack thereof). Do all three boxes need to be checked in order to qualify? That's the question we need to address...

In the end, I really don't care, but I'm noticing that we might have to rethink how we categorize games as micro-games, fillers, etc. We may have to even go back and rethink other games. Like I said, there seems to be some overlap.

Regardless of anything I've said, Think about how many cards come with Dominion & all its expansions, or Ascension + expansions, or Marvel + expansions, or any deckbuilder on the market today. By comparison, 100 cards in VotK in a small box is, for all intents and purposes, a micro-game.
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Tom Cleaver
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Thanks for your mini-review of my game.

Tom Cleaver
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Kevin Garnica
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systomx wrote:
Thanks for your mini-review of my game.

Tom Cleaver


It was my pleasure. Keep up the great work!
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