Rathskellers Gaming Labs is taking another look at games that celebrate the history of civilizations. This time we’re naming the top 10 games with an Egyptian theme! You’ll see that a lot of the highly-rated games let you build some of the iconic monuments ancient Egyptians constructed to honor their gods. If civ building is your thing, there are plenty of options here as well. And then there’s our first entry, which is just plain silly. Let’s get started!

C​AMEL UP (SECOND EDITION)

 

While never explicitly stated on any materials in the game, let’s assume C​amel Up takes place in Egypt since you’re betting on camels racing around a pyramid in the desert. It’s a pretty ridiculous race, too. Once the race begins, the camels’ movement is determined by colored dice dropping out of the pyramid dice shaker. The dice move the corresponding colored camel the number of spaces rolled. You’ll want to place bets on which will be the first and second place winners. You can bet pretty late into the race, but the earlier you bet, the higher your reward will be if you bet correctly. Betting early is a pretty risky move, though. Because of the way the dice come out of that pyramid, some pretty wacky stuff can happen.

Camels will hop on top of each other, carry each other down the road, or even begin to move backward. It’s a super fun game that’s perfect for families or casual gamers.

E​GIZIA: SHIFTING SANDS

 

E​gizia: Shifting Sands is an updated version of Egizia, released in 2009. Just like its predecessor, Shifting Sands has players building monuments along the Nile River. Egizia utilizes a unique worker placement implementation. Instead of being able to place boats (workers) freely on a board, you must follow the path of the Nile moving northward.

Once you place a boat on an action space, you can’t place one further north on the river, resulting in a tricky challenge of deciding just how far up the river you should begin. And just to keep things interesting, the action spaces will change each round, hence the “Shifting Sands” in the title. Egizia presents players with tough risk vs. reward decisions on how to best utilize those shifting spaces.

L​UXOR

 

L​uxor, Egypt is home to many ancient monuments including Luxor Temple. Like any Egyptian monument worth its salt, the temple in Luxor offers many priceless treasures for adventurers to hunt. Players need to guide their adventurers effectively through the temple to grab as many treasures as possible before they reach the pharaoh’s tomb. You’ll use an interesting take on hand management to play cards to move your adventurers. When it’s your turn, you must play either the card farthest right or left from your hand of five cards. You cannot pick one from the middle and you cannot change the order. You’ll have to choose just the right card at just the right time to be able to work the cards from the middle of your hand towards the outside. Manipulating this system, you’ll move your adventurers from tile to tile and activate the corresponding effects.

Once two adventurers are able to access pharaoh’s tomb, the game is over and final scoring takes place. Luxor was nominated for the Spiel des Jahres in 2018, and though it didn’t win, it’s still a highly rated game enjoyed by many.

C​LEOPATRA AND THE SOCIETY OF ARCHITECTS

 

D​ays of Wonder has a fantastic track record with publishing high-quality, entry-level games, and Cleopatra and the Society of Architects is no exception. It’s got awesome plastic components and a solid design from powerhouse team Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc. As Cleopatra’s architects, your goal is to gain the most wealth by building parts of her palace (brought to life on the table with dozens of 3D pieces). You can choose to do this by the book or venture into some shady territory if that’s the way you want to go. To get ahead of your opponents, you can build more quickly by taking Corruption Amulets.

Don’t push your luck too far, though, because you could become the next sacrifice to Sobek, the Crocodile-god! Maybe this is a situation where you want to take it slow and steady. Though the game is long out of print, a new version was recently funded on Kickstarter and should be available soon.

V​ALLEY OF THE KINGS

 

V​alley of the Kings is not just an excellent game with an Egyptian theme. It’s an all-around fantastic deck builder. It’s a pretty small game, with only about 100 cards, but it delivers just about everything you’d want in a deck builder. There is something about the game that is somewhat unique. As you play, you’ll have the chance to “entomb” cards, meaning you’ll remove them from your deck and can no longer use them. These are the ONLY cards that matter at the end of the game for points. If you have a high-value card in your deck that hasn’t been entombed by the end of the game, it’s worthless. You may have cards with awesome abilities that you want to keep using, but it might be better to make sure you get the points for them instead of continuing to use them for their abilities. You’ll have to make some tough decisions as you play, which is usually a sign of a great game.

For more variety, check out Valley of the Kings: Afterlife, Valley of the Kings: Last Rites, and Valley of the Kings: Premium Edition which includes all three together.

I​MHOTEP

 

H​ow about another monument building game? Players in Imhotep compete to become Egypt’s best builder, second only to the “best-known” Egyptian architect, Imhotep. You’ll need to develop a plan to effectively move stones by boat across the river and deliver them to the monument sites that will earn you the most points. Allow for some flexibility, though/ Don’t forget that up to three other players are making their own plans! It all comes down to timing: who can pick the right boats to move their stones to the right place at the right time. Each monument scores in a different way, which forces you to make a choice: go all-in on one or two monuments, or try to work a little bit on each one. It will probably take you several plays to figure out what works best for you.

You can get the same feel in the smaller two-player only version, Imhotep: The Duel. It’s a fantastic implementation of the original where players take on the roles of one of Egypt’s most famous royal couples, Nefertiti and Akhenaten.

A​MUN-RE

 

C​an you guess what you’ll be doing in Amun-Re? That’s right! Building something! In this Egyptian game from Reiner Knizia, your goal is to build the most pyramids. But unlike the other games on this list, your focus is more on developing the lands for the pyramids instead of the monuments themselves. Players bid on provinces which include bonuses like gold mines and caravans. Gold obtained from the provinces is used at the market to acquire cards, farmers, and stones, which you’ll also use to place pyramids on the board and make offerings to Amun-Ra.

After harvesting your provinces you’ll calculate your scores for the era and a new one begins. After the third era is complete, final scores are tallied. If you’ve done a good job at developing your provinces and strategically placing your pyramids, you’ll be named the greatest pharaoh of all time! Or at least, of the last 90 minutes it took to play the game.

RA

 

R​a is another Egyptian game from Reiner Knizia, but pretty abstract when compared to Amun-Re. Over three rounds, players will bid on and collect tiles. The tiles represent these five actions: Influencing Pharaohs, Building monuments, Farming on the Nile, Paying homage to the Gods, and Advancing the technology and culture of the people. At various points in the game, you’ll invoke the name of Ra to begin a round of bidding. Each auction is an opportunity for players to acquire several tiles that are needed to meet scoring conditions when the game is over.

For example, the player with the most pharoah tiles is awarded five points. Or, if you have zero civilization tiles at the end of the game, you lose five points. You’ll need to spend your sun wisely to get the tiles that will earn you the most points and prevent your opponents from completing their sets.

KEMET

 

W​e now arrive at our one and only fighting game on the list. Instead of building or exploring, players in Kemet players will battle and conquer their way to victory. Each player must deploy their troops strategically and call on the powers of the ancient Egyptian gods to engage in battles and take over coveted territories. To be the first to eight points and become the winner, you’ll need to win attacks, offer sacrifices to the gods, control temples and pyramids, and use magic powers effectively.

As if Kemet wasn’t exciting enough already, players can make their armies more fierce and intimidating by adding magical creatures to the mix! It’s clearly the most epic game on this list, and it’s a really fun exploration of Egyptian mythology.

T​IGRIS & EUPHRATES

 

I​f we’re going to celebrate Egyptian civilization, we have to go all the way back to when and where it began. That just happens to be in Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. And, Tigris & Euphrates, the third Knizia game on this list, lets players compete to be the dynasty that comes out on top. To win, you’ll need to strike the right balance between the development of the four key aspects of a civilization: farming, trading, religion, and government. Players have leaders in each area to use to gain points in each category. The majority of the action is done by placing tiles on the board, and when the tiles of competing dynasties connect, conflict occurs. In the outcome of each, only one of the leaders involved will survive, getting one step closer to winning the game.

You’ll want to develop the four categories as equally as possible because only your strongest will score points at the end of the game. Many consider Tigris & Euphrates to be Knizia’s masterpiece. That must be true, because even though it was released in 1997, it’s still widely popular today.

Do you have a game that’s a nobrainer as an Egyptian Themed game we missed ? Let us know in the comments!

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