Amun-Re is a medium-weight strategy game for 3-5 players involving resource management and bidding. The game is set in Ancient Egyptian times with each player trying to gain victory points by building pyramids in the areas around the Nile.
The game comes with a nice size, if fairly plain, board depicting the different regions, a scoring track around the outside and an area indicating the prices for taking various actions and for the marker to indicate the result of the sacrifice each round.
The pyramid and stone pieces are nice and are a good size for use in the game. The player control markers are also a good size for use in the game. The tokens for the farmers are of good quality. The cards for the money and the power cards are small but again seem to fit with the game quite well and are of good cardstock. There is also a first player marker and a temple marker to indicate the result of the sacrifice.
The rulebook is reminiscent of all the Alea big box games. It is a very nice colour booklet filled with lots of examples and the trademark column down the side of each page which summarises the rules for easy reading. The back page has a list of all the power cards and what they do which is very useful to have as they are not immediately obvious from the pictures, especially to new players. The rules are pretty straightforward and there haven’t been many occasions when I’ve needed to refer to them, other than to check the power cards.
The game is played over 2 ages, each age consisting of 3 rounds, so there are 6 rounds in the game overall, with scoring at the end of each age.
Game set up - Each player receives 20 gold, a ‘-3' gold card (for bidding later) and one of the ‘builder’ power cards. The 15 region cards are placed next to the board along with the farmer tokens and the pyramid and stone pieces. Players decide on a first player and they are given the first player marker.
Rounds - Each round is made up of 5 phases:
1) Reveal region cards
2) Acquire regions
3) Player actions - a) Buying power cards
b) Buying farmers
c) Buying building stones
4)The sacrifice to Amun-Re
5) The Harvest and other income
At the end of each age there is also a scoring phase
The first phase is just a case of revealing region cards equal to the number of players and adding any bonuses to the regions that require them.
Then starting with the first player and going around clockwise the players bid on the different regions until everyone is bidding on a different one. Players then put one of their 3 control markers in the relevant region and take any bonuses due.
In the third phase the players spend gold on power cards, farmers and building stones in turn, adding any farmers or stones/pyramids to the board as necessary.
In the 4th phase each player secretly commits a number of gold to be sacrificed and all players reveal simultaneously. This determines the level of income for farmers and potentially the number of points scored for any temples in regions players control (if it is a scoring round). There are also benefits for players who sacrifice gold to Amun-Re (as opposed to revealing the ‘-3' gold card) in terms of power cards, farmers or building stones. This can play a major part in the scoring rounds as players can gain extra pyramids after the usual building phase.
Finally players receive income for the farmers in their regions and any additional income from power cards or regions with bonus income.
In the scoring rounds players then score points for a variety of things including number of pyramids, number of sets of pyramids (a set is one pyramid in each of their three regions), most pyramids in a region (both sides of the Nile), temples and power cards. In the end of game scoring players can also score for the amount of gold they have left over.
One twist comes between the two ages as players now remove all farmers and control markers from the board, but leave all pyramids and building stones. This can mean fierce bidding in the 2nd age for the choicest regions and can help stop a runaway leader from the first age (not that scores tend to be too high from the first age).
The 2nd age then plays out the same as the first and scores are totalled at the end to determine the winner.
Review of gameplay:
I like the bidding for regions as each region has it’s own benefits and so sometimes you can get lucky and get the region you want very cheaply whereas other times you will be forced to bid more than you would like or take a different region altogether. The fact that you can’t bid again immediately on the same province if someone overbids you means you may have to initially bid more to scare people off. The building phase passes quickly as people usually decide in advance what they want to buy. The sacrifice is very interesting too as it can yield great rewards at times and at other times is best ignored. Reading the other players intentions can be very helpful here. The power cards are also interesting in that they can give you some good benefits but sometimes can be completely useless. Luckily if you do draw a useless card you can cash it in for one gold at any time.
I really like Amun-Re, it’s a very simple system but there is certainly a fair bit of depth there and every game I have played has lasted longer than I feel it ought too given the simple mechanics. There is good player interaction in the bidding phase and also in the sacrifice phase which can make the difference between winning and losing. The theme isn’t especially strong but it seems to fit quite well and I do feel like I’m fighting over the regions and pyramids in the Nile area when I play.