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Subject: Do not disturb this tomb rss

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Gary Weinfurther
United States
West Bloomfield
Michigan
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Secrets of the Tombs is a tile-laying game from designer Martin Wallace that allows from two to five players. The goal of the game is to discover passageways leading into an ancient Egyptian tomb, uncover either five artifact chambers or twelve artifact cards, and get out safely. Along the way, your opponents will be trying to hinder you and the evil Egyptian god Ammut will be attempting to destroy you.

Opening the box, the quality of the components is superb. This is a beautiful game. The board is thick and solid. The tiles are thick, high quality cardboard. The player pawns are high-quality painted wooden pieces. Also included are two wooden dice, a set of small oval, cardboard life counters, a deck of event cards, a deck of cards containing descriptions of apparently genuine Egyptian artifacts, an Ammut god token, and five player reference cards. All of these are very nice.

After setup, in which random artifact chambers are laid out on the board, the game looks enticing and exciting. The explorers are placed at one end of the board and the youngest player goes first. During their turn, a player first randomly draws up to three passageway tiles from a bag. Each tile drawn must be placed on the board and must connect to any existing passage, artifact chamber, or an explorer's starting position. Once these are laid on the board, the player then rolls the two dice. These dice have numbers from 1 to 3 and an Ammut icon. The player totals the numbers on the dice and moves that many spaces through the passageways. For any Ammut icon rolled, the Ammut token is moved one position along the Ammut track at one side of the board.

Some of the passageway tiles are gray. If a player enters one of these tiles, they must stop there and take an event card. These cards contain silly things like "lose a life", "gain a life", or "all women players gain a life, all men players lose a life".

If a player enters an artifact chamber and hasn't already claimed a chamber of the same color, they may claim that artifact chamber by taking its tile. Each artifact chamber tile has a number from 1 to 3, which is the number of artifact cards the player can then draw. Most of the artifact cards are simply descriptions of artifacts, but some contain traps that forces the player to lose a life token, and others force the player to move Ammut.

If Ammut passes the end of the Ammut track, the active player may then move Ammut into any empty artifact chamber on the board. From then on, each Ammut icon rolled on the dice allows the active player to move Ammut two spaces along any passageway on the board. When Ammut encounters a player token, that player rolls the two dice and loses that many life tokens. Since each player starts with 7 life tokens and can lose life tokens pretty easily via events and traps, one Ammut attack could conceivably kill a player. However, in lieu of their entire turn, a player can rest and receive two life tokens, and there is no limit to the number of life tokens you may have. Players killed by Ammut cannot win, but they are not out of the game. Each turn, they still roll the movement dice to see if they can move Ammut toward the other players.

Other ways players can lose life tokens is by forfeiting a token to do any one of the following:

- Draw and play two extra tiles
- Replace a tile on the board with one you've just drawn
- Roll and move again

Okay, so how's the game?

Despite the high quality of the components, there is an enormous amount of luck involved between the tile selection and the dice. I'm not against luck in games, as long as there is still an element of control. Secrets of the Tombs, however, grants you very little control. If you draw a lot of gray event tiles, you will be unable to reach the artifacts as fast as another player, and there's nothing you can do about it. If you draw an event card that forfeits one of your life tokens, there's nothing you can do about it. If Ammut reaches you and you roll poorly, you'll be killed instantly.

After you are killed, you are still allowed to try to move Ammut to attack the other players. The key word is "try", since you have to roll an Ammut icon to do so. Since the other players also have the possibility of moving Ammut when they roll the dice, you'll find yourself moving Ammut two steps toward the other players, and they will move him two steps back. So there's really very little chance you can catch the other players.

In short, this game is a frustrating luck-fest with beautiful bits. It's simple enough for children to play, and they may enjoy it for its theme. Anyone else should dare not enter or be forever cursed.
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Kevin Whitmore
United States
Albuquerque
New Mexico
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I have found this game fun. It is luck-based, and you don't have much control. But you do have SOME control. If you draw a lot of gray tiles, you have a choice where you play them. Put them in the way of the "luckier" players. Worried about Ammut chomping you? Skip a turn and take some additional life tokens.

Yeah, once you die the game ought to let you go. Haunting the other players sounds more fun than it really is. This isn't my favorite game, but I don't think it is so dire, I certainly don't feel "cursed" for playing it!
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Nathan Unck
United States
Utah
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I have introduced my Brother-in-Law to some really good board games, and got him hooked, so he asked for a cool themed board game for his birthday this year. My mother-in-law went out and bought Secrets of the Tomb knowing that he really liked Ancient Egyptian history. We sat down and played it last night, and we had a good time with it. I think that it deserves a better rating than 4.3 here on board game geek. While I still think that the games that I have introduced their family to are better than this one, I still think that it is a great game with a fun theme. I would probably rate this game at a six. It is true that there is a lot of luck and not very much skill that is required, but it still makes it interesting, and the game layout will always be different. It would be a great game for people with younger kids in the family that want to play a game with everyone.
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unck42 wrote:
It would be a great game for people with younger kids in the family that want to play a game with everyone.


Works a treat with my 5 & 7 yr olds.
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TS S. Fulk
Sweden
Örebro
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Nogser wrote:
unck42 wrote:
It would be a great game for people with younger kids in the family that want to play a game with everyone.


Works a treat with my 5 & 7 yr olds.


It's all about target audience. No one said, MW isn't allowed to make children's or family games.
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