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RÜDIGER DORN's Family Euro Game for two to four players from 8 year olds and upwards  goes back in time to the great British boardgame favourite idea of 'Move Your Piece/s, Land on a Space, and Do What it Says on that Space'.

Of course it isn't quite the same as the early games such as 'Bulls & Bears' and 'Monopoly' because they had boards printed with spaces so that each game was basically the same, depending on the luck of a die roll and some savvy real estate purchasing.

LUXOR has a board, set up like a winding labyrinth into a tomb where there lie twin Sarcophagi, where there are a few spaces with printed instructions. Mainly though each space is different every game because Treasure tiles, which can be collected, are randomly placed on them during setup. The Temple spaces, Anubis spaces, Horus spaces and Osiris spaces are the constant fixed spaces.The Rules Book is colour coded all the way through; Card Use is on Yellow pages, Actions are on Orange pages and Drawing a Card etc are on Red pages. End game pages are Pink, White and Lavender, with a little Green thrown in for good measure.

 

Players have 5 Adventurers each (in their own chosen colour) two of which are stood (actually stand the meeples up) on the Stairs (aka the 'Start' space) at the top/entrance to the Tomb. The other three of each player are laid down on the three Anubis Statue spaces, one on each space. These come into play when an adventurer of their colour passes them, they become active but surprisingly not from the space they are laying on; instead they appear at the Tomb entrance (the Stairs) and can be moved from there in future turns. Generally players can only move one of their Adventurers in their Turn but certain Horus cards allow for more than one to move.

Being able to move multiple Adventurers is of course a bonus as you race towards the end Chamber and the Sarcophagi, but there is a twist to this bonus and that is that you have to choose which of the spaces your Adventurers are moved you activate. Normally when an Adventurer lands on a space they take the action or the tile associated with that space but when they move multiple Adventurers only one space/tile can be chosen - it's a nice twist! There is an exception and that is if any of the Adventurers land on an Osiris tile (Osiris sends Adventurers onwards the number of spaces the tile has a value of).

There are lots of colourful components, mainly cards and tiles, along with a main board, a Horus board, which is really unnecessary, but still a tidy way of keeping the Horus cards in their 1, 2 & 3 level decks - according to the number of 'eyes', and an information board that details the scoring. Other pieces include Keys (needed to open the Final Chamber), Scarabs (worth VPs) Wild Treasure cards (No value per se but they can be used as parts of Treasure sets).

 

The game takes a good few minutes to set up because of the amount of shuffling, sorting and tile laying, but after this it plays swiftly. Unless a die is called for the Adventurers move by card play. Players begin with a hand of five cards which are dealt to them and picked up in the order of dealing - they must not be rearranged at any time during the game. Each turn you play one card and refresh your hand to five, never more never less. The mechanic for choosing which card to play is unusual, if not unique. You hold your cards as you would a normal hand of cards, spread fan-like so you can see their values, and then you may play either the left most or right most card (ie the cards from either end of the fan). When you make your hand back to five you place the new card into the centre of the four cards you are holding. Cards are never re-arranged in player's hands.

At first this sounds like a bit of a song and dance, but this action is the cleverest part of the entire game as you can determine what your next choice of cards will be - obviously your choice is dependent on the draw but you still have some control, plus every card in your hand is almost certainly going to be played, unlike when you can select any card to play from your hand and you end up with what you consider to be unplayable cards - think back to how many games you have played where some of the cards in your hand are considered 'dead' / useless.

 

Movement around the board is, as I have said, by playing a card and moving your Adventurer/s in the direction of the corridor. You only count the spaces on which there are tiles, the only time Adventurers can be on an empty space is when they land on a tile and have the requirements to take it - you need the correct number of your Adventurers on the tile to gather it to your 'bank'. Adventurers on the tile are left on the empty space but when they next move off they count their movement from the first tile after the empty space. If tunnels have been found (on Treasure tiles) then landing on one will send you forward to the next one, never backwards. The player's each, in turn, follow this sequence of play: Play a card (move Adventurers), Perform an Action (as per on the current tile) then Draw a card. One of our players said they felt as if they were going through the motions a lot of the time as although there are options, Actions are mainly obvious. Only one Adventurer can be moved in a Turn unless you play the Horus card that allows all of them to move.

Every treasure tile gained gives immediate VPs (as shown on the tile and recorded on the track around the board's edge) and can score more at the game end if you can place them into a set. Three different Treasure types make up the set, the types being Jewellery, Statues and Priceless Vases. If you have collected any Wild Treasure tiles they can be used as Jokers for any Treasure tile with the exception that three Jokers do not make a set. It is quite easy to make a set as you can use one or two Jokers in a set, only two, never three. 

 

Most of us thought it to be a game worth playing again but would be in no particular hurry to do so, especially after playing it 5 times in succession (on different days) to play-test it for this review. Personally I like the game but I will admit that my friends have some pretty reasonable criticisms of it. There is no interaction between players and even though all Adventurers are in a race to get to the end Chamber they do nothing to throw each other off-track. I am more than happy that Adventurers do not have the opportunity to 'steal' from each other, in most games that happens it is frustrating and often spoils the game (for example "Settlers of Catan"), but some interaction between Adventurers would have been nice.

There are numerous options throughout the game. Which card to play for instance? A single number moves the Adventurer that number of spaces, a +/- 1 moves the Adventurer one space backward or forward; cards like these are the only ones that move Adventurers backwards (exception newly activated Adventurers always begin from the Start Space/Stairs.) A card showing a Red Die means you roll the die for movement and a 1-Red Die means you roll the die and can move up to the number rolled. Manoeuvring your Adventurers onto tiles where 2 or 3 Adventurers are required to be able to take the tile does need some help from the cards and some clever/thoughtful play. I suppose if you stretch your imagination you could say that another player moving the correct number of Adventurers onto a Treasure tile you are trying to collect is some kind of 'interaction' but it isn't really, not in my book. Not having player interaction is like the game not having a soul and that is what is missing, in my opinion, from taking it from being a 'good' game to being a 'great' game.

 

Temple tiles, Cobra, Lion and Falcon, are randomly taken and placed on a Temple space when it is revealed. The Adventurer gains the tile they removed to uncover the Temple symbol and also the bonus from the Temple tile, then the Temple tile is placed face up on the space and used as a tile for movement and for anyone landing on it, a bonus. The game ends in the Round when there are two Adventurers in the Tomb Chamber (they do not have to be two Adventurers from the same team), players continue playing until the last player has their turn so more than 2 Adventurers can be in the Tomb Chamber. They will gain the 13 points from being in the Chamber when the scoring is started but they do not get a Sarcophagus. Around the edge of the board the spaces have numbers next to them, many have a zero, which is what the Adventurers score if the game ends, the closer to the Main Chamber the higher the bonus score. To get into the Tomb Chamber also requires a movement of the exact number as well as a key (one key opens the door for one Adventurer). Keys are gained from Horus Tiles which offer One Key or the top visible Horus card (1-3) from the Horus board

 

Although it may look otherwise (due to the number of pieces and complexity of the Setup) LUXOR is most definitely a Family game. It is easy to play, the rules are easy to understand and the pieces are of good quality card and wood. Euro-gamers who enjoy strategy games will find a little satisfaction from the card play but the set collecting is more by luck than by judgement; you collect as many Treasure tiles as possible along with as many 'Joker' tiles and worry about making them into sets when it comes to the scoring. 

It is a good idea to collect Horus cards in the beginning as they give you more control over your movement, including cutting the requirement down on Treasure tiles, but about half-way through the game it is a good idea to collect Keys instead of taking the Horus card on offer, having 2 Keys is probably enough, it hasn't happened yet in any of our games where a single player has managed to move more than 2 Adventurers into the end Chamber, in fact four of our five games have ended with two different players getting one Adventurer each into the Chamber. Horus cards have some really good effects such as Movement from 1-3 through to 1-6 spaces, Any number up to the result of a Die roll, Advance All Adventurers 1 or 2 spaces, Advance your Last Adventurer to the same space as your Second to Last Adventurer and 'Buying' a Treasure tile with one Adventurer less than required after moving 1, 2 or 3 spaces onto it.

At the game's end there is the final Scoring. Players score points throughout the game and at times it may seem like one player is running away with it, but then as the Scarabs, Keys and Treasure sets etc are added on the scores can change drastically, it's quite amusing to watch as your score marker zips around the board overtaking the others (or so I have been told as I am usually the player who thinks he is 'walking it' right until the last minute).

Minor irritations:
Lack of player interaction causes the game to be a little flat.
Being able to use TWO 'Jokers' (Wild Treasure Cards) along with One actual Treasure tile to form a set. We don't like this as it makes it too easy to complete sets and thus demeans the value of collecting.
'Okay' artwork but a bit wishy-washy at times. QUEEN GAMES are generally renown for their production quality which often means excellent illustrations as well as material. The are here is okay, adequate, as the advert says, it does "what it says on the can" it depicts the  but for the interest they invoke, especially on the Treasure tiles and the Basic cards, they might just as well be single colours.
I/We would prefer there to be one complete Round played after 2 Adventurers have entered the Tomb Chamber. The ending often leaves the players flat with them sitting there unable to do anything, example in a 4 player game (which is the best number to play with in our opinion) if the 4th player moves an Adventurer into the Tomb Chamber the game ends and there are no more Turns to be played. In our thinking let's say the 3rd player (out of 4) moves a second Adventurer into the Tomb Chamber then the 4th player has their Turn - in the rules that would end the game dead (and flat) but in our thoughts on play - we would let everyone have one last Turn with the 4th player ending it on their next turn.

Overall:
Luxor is based around a super card mechanism that any core boardgamer would rave over. It's a happy game with nothing to cause anyone any grief and to give plenty to enjoy. In the game there is nothing predominant to show it is the tomb at Luxor so it would have been, in my opinion, better to have named it after one in the Valley of the Kings where there are over 60 Tombs including many 'Ramesses', 'Set' and 'Amenhotep' etc instead of a tomb of an unnamed Goldsmith and his family. It plays fast, it plays well, it promotes thought and it is a game over which conversation can take place as concentration is a not required ability.

You can buy the Kickstarter Edition on ebay for about £80.00 and the regular version in local game stores and online for a very reasonable price between £33.00 - £36.00

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015