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GIZA: The Great Pyramid is a 3-4 player game designed by (as far as I know) a first time designer, David Heberer, and published by Mayfair Games - not a bad start to a designing career getting published by such a top, reputable company.

The task of the game for the players is to finish the pyramid in time, before the Pharaoh’s death, which is likely to be within the next 10 years.

Each player has 16 workers that they send to the various areas (of the board) to fish, hunt, steal (or find) great treasures of Art or work in the quarries, bringing the great stones to the site of the Pyramid.

There are 4 tracks from the quarries and 9 pieces of Pyramid that need to be dragged (by sled) to the site and erected in logical order.

There is a Turn Order Track on which players place one worker each turn. There are 8 possible actions on this track but each may only be performed once by each player, thus the workers placed are there to stay. This means that as the game goes on so the number of workers available to each player diminishes.

The Turn Track also determines the Turn order, dependent on the position of the workers placed there each turn.

Food is required to, naturally, feed the workers and the mechanic used is quite simple but effective. Each player can bid 0-2 food for each worker they have.  Losing or equalling the lowest amount bid means you lose a worker; losing workers can be devastating to your plans.

Workers are placed in the work areas but can be given (according to the movement rules) and it is the placement and balance of use of the workers that is the crucial to the player’s success.

Players have 3 Actions, these being various Moves and Production actions. They must also Push a Sled forward (one carrying a Pyramid stone) and if a stone has been raised into position on the Pyramid site there is also a scoring.

Amongst games of this ilk GIZA can hold its head high. It isn’t just another building game, although in effect it is a building game. It requires thought and planning and guile.

On the outset GIZA looks like a simple game with obvious by-the-book plays. In fact it has very clever strategies that have you second-guessing yourself and your opponents, as well as frustrating you time after time when you are faced with options of which you can do but a few, and never enough of course.

There is a lot to be said for collecting the Treasures (artefacts) but despite their use and value they are never going to be game winners alone. You have to do well in all aspects whilst keeping half an eye on your opposition.

This is a very good, entry level (maybe just above) to strategy board gaming.


© Chris Baylis 2011-2021