Pyramids Review

Pyramids is a game by Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert, published by IELLO. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players will be transported back to Ancient Egypt where they will be given the task of creating a grand Necropolis, a place of eternal sleep and glory, made up of pyramids, obelisks and tombs. Players will need to select the best stones and lay them in the most optimal patterns if they wish to construct the most glorious Necropolis. The player that can best do this will be declared the winner.

To begin, the God tiles are placed in the middle of the table in ascending order. In a 2 or 3 player game only those tiles numbered 1 – 4 are used. For games with 4 or 5 players all 5 tiles are used. It should also be noted that if playing with only 2 players, one of the 4 God tiles are randomly chosen and set aside. The Construction cards are shuffled and one card is dealt face down to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down near the God tiles. The first player is chosen and is given the First Player token. They also take the deck of Construction cards. Play now begins.

The game is played over 10 rounds. Each round consists of phases; stock the quarry, select a God tile, select a pair of Construction cards, construct your Necropolis and end of the round. The first phase is to stock the quarry. In this phase, the first player takes the deck of Construction cards and deals out a pair of cards for each player which are placed in side by side columns. The player must make sure to keep the columns separated from each other.

The next phase is to select a God tile. In this phase, beginning with the first player, each player will choose one of the available God tiles and place it face up in front of themself. Each God tile has a number that indicates turn order and displays what portions of the Necropolis may be constructed by the player that chooses it.

The third phase is to select a pair or construction cards. In this phase, the player that has the lowest number starts first. Each player will now choose a column of Construction cards and add them to their hand. Once a player takes the pair of cards, they will move immediately to the next phase. After they’ve completed the next phase, the next player in ascending order will then follow the same directions.

The next phase is to construct your Necropolis. In this phase, the player places the cards that they have in their hand to construct the edifices based on the God tile that they possess. The player is only allowed to place one Construction card for each edifice on their turn. It should be noted however that a player does not have to place cards on the Obelisk or Tomb. This is optional and only if their God tile allows it. Once the player has completed this phase, play passes to the next player who then performs the previous phase and this phase in order. This is done until each player has completed both phases.

It should be noted that when a Construction card is placed, it may not be removed, rearranged or exchanged for any reason. When placing a card in the Pyramid, it must be adjacent to another card. This means that if the current stage has not been completed, then the card must go to either the right or left of a previously placed card. If the stage has been completed, then the player must play it in the next stage. When constructing the Obelisk, the first card that is placed must be positioned to the right of the player’s pyramid. As cards are added to the obelisk, the added card is placed so that it covers the top half of the previously placed card. When constructing the Tomb, the player simply places the cards face down in a pile below the pyramid.

The last phase is the end of round phase. This phase takes place once all players have completed the last 2 phases and have placed cards in their Necropolis. In this phase, the God tiles are returned to the middle of the play area. When playing with 2 players, the tile that was randomly discarded is put back into the line and the next number in order is removed. If the 4 is put back, then the 1 is removed. Players then check their hand to see how many cards they have. If a player has more than 1 card, they must discard any extra cards face up to the box. The First Player token is then passed to the next player in turn order and a new round begins.

The game continues until the end of round 10. At this time final scoring occurs. First all cards left in a players hand are discarded and each player’s tomb is revealed. Each player gains points for each edifice which is scored separately, as well as for Glyphs in the correct edifice. The pyramid scores for each of the 5 stone colors by counting the largest number of orthogonally connected stones of that color. They gain 1 point for each stone of that connection, as well as gaining 1 point for each stone in their longest connection. Players can gain a bonus for having each color earn at least 3 points. The obelisk scores for the color that is present in the most stages. They gain a certain amount of points for the number of stages that that color is present in. The tomb scores for each player that has the majority of a certain colored stone. Players gain 5 points for each majority that they have. Glyphs score by being in the correct edifice, earning 2 points for each correct placement. Players add up their points and the player with the most points is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game has some nice pieces inside a cool looking magnetic close box. There are 5 God tiles that show which portions of a player’s Necropolis can be built on during a player’s turn, as well as naming a particular Egyptian God. These are made of thick cardboard and look pretty nice. I’d have liked them a little better if there had actually been a little picture or something depicting the God associated with the tile. The first player token is also made of thick cardboard and consists of 2 pieces that must be put together to form a cool looking pyramid. This is actually pretty nice looking. The game also comes with a really nice scorepad for quickly scoring each player’s Necropolis. This is very helpful and has lots of pages. I really like having that as it makes things a lot quicker during scoring. Finally there are the Construction cards and the 5 player aid cards. The player aid cards have references for how scoring is done which is a nice reminder during play. The Construction cards have a really gorgeous looking design on the back. The front of the cards have several different stone sizes on them. Each stone is in one of 5 different colors. There’s also a portion of a pyramid on the card. When placed together it makes the cards look like they’ve created a pyramid or obelisk, depending on which place the cards were placed. There are also special glyphs on some of the stones to score more points. Once the game is over and the cards have all been placed on the table, they look pretty cool. Overall it’s not bad. I will say that it’s not exactly what I was expecting but it’s still pretty good looking.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this one is really great. It’s small enough that it fits perfectly inside the box. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout the book. Each of the different elements of the game is explained in great detail. Gameplay is also explained extremely well. There’s even a really nice section dedicated to clarifying each of the different God tiles for different numbers of players. Everything is easy to read and understand. I didn’t see anything that should cause a problem. I like all the thematic pictures and elements of the book that help it fit in well with the game. Overall I like how well the book looks and feels. I couldn’t find anything to complain about.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
I love Egypt and everything associated with it. I love the sculptures and architecture, as well as the beautiful artwork. I love reading about it’s history. Heck, I even took some Egyptian History classes at the University. Needless to say, my hopes were pretty high for this game right out of the gate. Basically this game is all about card drafting and pattern building. What you do each round is simply draft a God tile and then a pair of Construction cards. Your God tile will then determine what you can build on your turn using the cards you just drafted and the one in your hand. You’ll want to make sure that when you place a card in your pyramid, that you connect as many same colored blocks as possible. That way when you’re scoring at the end of the game, you wind up with as many points as possible. For your obelisk, you simply want to get as many levels as you can with the same color. Of course placing the right glyphs in the right edifice will also net you some points. In a lot of cases, the tomb is a toss up, unless you’re just completely paying attention to every card that your opponent takes and every one that they place in their Necropolis. There’s a little bit of strategy, but not a whole lot. In some ways, this game reminds me of Dream Home which the kids and I simply adore. That said, it’s not quite to the level of fun as Dream Home is, but it’s still pretty good. That’s not to say that this is a bad game or even an unfun game. I just feel that with so many other games with the same mechanics, it might get lost in the crowd. Fans of card drafting games like Dream Home, might enjoy this one. For me, it’s pretty good. I recommend giving this one a try. You just might like it.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Pyramids is a light weight game of card drafting and pattern building. It plays pretty quickly. Most game sessions last around 20-30 minutes. It’s pretty simple and makes for a nice filler. There’s a little bit of strategy involved but nothing too hard. The artwork is pretty nice for the most part. I still kind of wish that the Egyptian Gods had been represented at least a little bit on the God tiles. However even without that, it looks pretty cool by the end of the game. Fans of card drafting games like Dream Home might enjoy this one. It’s very simple and plays pretty quickly. I don’t think it’s going to appeal to every one, but most people should enjoy it. Even though it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, I still found it to be pretty good. I would recommend giving this one a try. Ra commands it!
8 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out IELLO Games at their site.

www.iellogames.com

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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