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Tutankhamen

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Perhaps no individual from ancient Egypt is better known than Tutankhamen, the boy pharaoh. Ever since Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922, the subsequent tours of King Tut and his fantastic artifacts have stirred public imagination.

Taking advantage of this interest is Tutankhamen, a set-collection game by Reiner Knizia. This is the third release in a series of small-box games from Out of the Box (which also include Gold Diggers and Cloud 9). These games are notable for packing a lot of game into not only a relatively small box size but a very reasonable $15 list price as well.

Tutankhamen is not played on a traditional board but instead contains seventy artifact tiles, arranged face-up into a path. There are different types and numbers of artifacts. How many of each artifact there are in the game is printed on the tile with the picture. So you know there are eight green pharaoh heads and six purple dogs. Each player is an explorer, traveling along this trail and collecting artifacts. A player may move as far up the path to collect the next artifact as they wish, but can never move backward.

When the last tile of each artifact type is collected, it triggers a scoring. The player who has the most of that artifact may pay tribute coins equal to the number of tiles in that set. The player who has collected the second-most gets to pay coins equal to half that value. The winner of the game is the first player to pay all their tribute coins.

Tutankhamen has a lot to recommend it. It accommodates up to six players, which is always a plus. It generally takes less than a half-hour to play. Many short games are great for filling some time, but not such a "filling" game experience. Not so with Tutankhamen.

This is, in many ways, a race game. There are more points available than are needed to win, so it is a matter of timing as much as anything to win, and you often get a close, exciting finish. The only knock against the game is with everything public, sometimes a player who is not the winner will have the play that decides the game (the dreaded "kingmaker"). However, I don't find that to be a big problem that deters from my enjoyment of the game.

Tutankhamen is for two to six players, ages 8 and older.