As Indiana Jones once said, “If you want to be a good archaeologist, you gotta get out of the library.” If Indiana Jones is right, then how about getting out of the library and into Valley of the Kings, by Tom Cleaver and AEG. I mean technically you could play it in a library and you aren’t really doing any archaeology, but I’d rather play a game than actually dig for artefacts. Does Valley of the Kings: Premium Edition make me feel like a true archaeologist?
What is Valley of the Kings like?
Valley of the Kings is a deck-building and deconstructing game where the goal is to get as many point cards into your tomb before the end of the game. Each player starts with an identical deck of cards that they will use to dig through the pyramid and secure cards for their deck, but also cards they hope to put into their tomb later.
On a player’s turn, they can use the cards in their hand either for the action on the bottom of the card or for its gold value. Every card has an action that can help to thin your deck, purchase cards for free, etc. Cards also have a gold value which can be used to purchase cards from the pyramid. When a player buys from the pyramid they can only purchase from the bottom row of three cards (unless a card’s action states otherwise). Once a card has been bought the pyramid “crumbles” bringing a card from the second row down to the bottom row and the top row card comes to the bottom row. The player can then buy a new card from the bottom row including the one that crumbled down.
Buying cards to improve your deck will not win you the game. To win the game, you must put cards in the tomb primarily via the varying card actions. Once per turn, the player can entomb a card, but using the actions allows for more entombing actions. In addition to the gold value and the action, each card is part of a set. Other than two of the sets, the more cards in a set that have been entombed the more points the player scores.
I’ve liked Valley of the Kings since its original release. It is a unique take on deck-building and deck-deconstructing. Normally you want to build a deck by adding new and better cards and then deconstructing it by getting rid of the weaker, starting cards. In Valley of the Kings you only score for cards in your tomb, so you end up entombing your good cards. Knowing the right moment to entomb a good card provides great tension and decision points for the game.
The pyramid crumbling after purchasing a card is also an interesting mechanism. Not sure that it works super well thematically, but I like the idea that you are searching through the ruins and as you do the pyramid reveals more artefacts for you or your fellow architects to uncover.
The differences between the original edition and the premium edition are very noticeable. The box is very large, which is nice and not so nice at the same time. The rulebook is much larger and includes play variants which are a nice touch. The biggest difference, other than the box itself is the tarot sized cards. The size is very nice for reading the text, but it does make it harder to handle and takes up way more table space.
Overall, though, I enjoy this game and will almost never turn down a game to play no matter if it is the original or the premium edition.
- The big box with enough space for every expansion is nice
- The rulebook provides several variants for play
- Deck-building and deck-constructing provides for a great tension
- The pyramid crumbling mechanism provides a thematic mechanism for cards to cycle through their availability
- The game box is way too big even with all of the cards
- Figuring out what cards go with what expansion took too long when first opening the box
- The cards are too large to easily handle
- Players: 1 – 6
- Playing time: 45-60 minutes
- Suggested age: 14+
A review copy of Valley of the Kings: Premium Edition was supplied by AEG