Amun-Re: The Card Game Review

Theme and What is it?

Over the span of history, provinces will come and go.  In Amun-Re: The Card Game, two to five players will manage three provinces over three periods, where only pyramids built over the years will count towards victory.  Resources are limited. Will you offer money to the gods and hope for bountiful harvests, or will you rely that which you have to build your Kingdom?

Gameplay Mechanics

Amun-Re: The Card Game is a reimplementation of the classic board game, also by Reiner Knizia.  The game plays out over three periods in each of which you will acquire and subsequently develop three provinces.  To set-up, players will randomly draw a number of province cards from each of the three numbered decks as determined by the player count.  Each player will choose a player color and take the gold cards, numbering 0 to 8, a player aid, and a wooden marker for that color. The back of the box serves as the offering table and revenue track.  A starting player is randomly determined and that player receives the Ankh token and becomes Pharaoh. Ties are broken in turn order beginning with the Pharaoh. Each round has four phases: Auction, Offerings and Favors, Revenue and Construction, and Victory Points.

Before the first auction phase, players will choose in turn order a number of their gold cards with an exact sum of 14 and must include the “0” card.  This will be the only gold available to you for remainder of the round and so must be managed through the course of each round. Three auctions are executed per round so that every player will receive three provinces per round and nine over the course of the game.  The Pharaoh will draw one province card from the appropriately numbered Kingdom deck and begin the auction. Provinces may come with pre-existing pyramids, fields, or caravans. On your turn you must place a bid, either on an empty province, or by outbidding a previous bid by placing a card with a higher value, returning the lower bid to the player to whom it belongs.  If you are currently winning a province, you must pass. The auction ends once each player has a gold card in front of a province. Once each player has a gold card on a province, the round ends and players collect the province they won. In the second and third rounds of the game, new province cards are placed over existing province cards, covering all but the existing pyramids.  All gold cards valued higher than 0 are discarded. The player with the most ankhs visible on their province cards becomes the Pharaoh and begins either the next auction or the next phase.

After the third auction, players will make offerings to the gods to influence the flood level.  Players will simultaneously select one or more of their remaining gold cards. When the offerings are revealed, place the Offering token on the corresponding Flood space according to the total value.  This will determine the province payouts during the Revenue phase. Next, players will receive favors based on their offerings. The player who made the largest offering receives three pyramid tokens to add to their provinces, the second largest offering receives two pyramids, and everyone else receives one pyramid.  Players who offered 0 Gold receive nothing. When adding pyramids to provinces, they must be built as evenly as possible.

Next is the Revenue and Construction phase.  Starting with the Pharaoh, each player will complete three steps before the next player.  First, players earn revenue from provinces according to the Flood table. The higher the flood level, the more each field will provide, anywhere from one to four gold per field.  If the flood is only at stage one or two, any caravans will earn 10 gold each. Players will add their remaining gold cards to the revenue earned this round and mark it on the revenue track.  Next, players may spend gold to build pyramids as indicated on the player aid. As previously, pyramids must be built as evenly as possible. Finally, players will select a number of gold cards equal to their current revenue, which must again include the “0” card, to serve as their gold for the next game round.  The revenue markers will all be set to 0 at the end of this phase. After a player has completed these three steps, the next player begins the Revenue and Construction phase. After the final player, play continues to the Victory Points phase.

Each round ends with the Victory Points phase where players will score points for the round.  Players will earn 1 VP for each pyramid, both tokens and pre-printed Pyramids, on their province that has the fewest Pyramids.  A player earns 1 VP if they have nine or more fields visible in their provinces from this round. The Pharaoh, determined by the player with the most Ankhs on their visible provinces, earns 1 VP.  Lastly, the player with the fewest visible Ankhs will lose 1 VP. The player with the most VP at the end of the third round is the winner.

Initial Impressions

I knew of the original Amun-Re as a classic design by Reiner Knizia and was curious to see how that game translated to the new format.  I was a little nervous after the initial explanation though as it sounded more complex than it ultimately was.

Game Build Quality

Amun-Re: The Card Game comes with 45 Province cards (15 per Kingdom/period), 45 Gold cards (9 per player, numbered 0-8), 5 Player Aid cards, 76 Pyramid tokens, 40 Victory Point tokens (20x1VP, 14x5VP, and 6x10VP), 5 wooden markers (1 per player color), 1 Ankh token, 1 Offering token, and the Offering table/Revenue track on the back of the box.  The province cards are larger than traditional playing cards and so I appreciated that they felt a little thicker to hold up to repeated plays. The Gold cards are the smaller “hobbit card” form factor and work well for managing gold during the round. The tokens are standard punchboard tokens and the wooden markers are standard wooden discs.

Artistic Direction

The art in Amun-Re: The Card Game has a consistent presentation and fits the theme.  The province cards and player aids have a papyrus style background and the there are hieroglyphics on the backs of the province cards and as filler on the Offering table.  The layout on the cards is easy to read and interpret and really helps the gameplay to flow.

Age Range & Weight

The box recommends ages 14 and up, and that might be a little high, but given the complexities of managing your gold throughout the round, I probably wouldn’t take it below age 10.  There is a lot of nuance to the game between the auctions and offerings and how much you should build versus saving for the next round that would likely create difficulty for younger players and could certainly be frustrating.  The game mechanisms are fueled by gold and finding yourself with too little in the 2nd round can have a cascading effect and negatively impact the final round as well.

Conclusions

Amun-Re: The Card Game took most of the first play to click for me.  I think you really need to see it action to get a sense for things like managing your gold pool and what kind of strategic and tactical decisions you can make.  However, once you see the parts moving and understand the process, it is a very tight and competitive game. The auction plays quickly and feels fair.  The offering table provides an interesting kind of player interaction and I like the rhythmic ebb and flow of your gold throughout the games phases and rounds.  I found it pretty cutthroat at two players, with a little more variance at higher play counts as more players are impacting the game. I have never played the original Amun-Re, but at a 45 minute play time, I don’t see myself in any rush now that I have Amun-Re: The Card Game.

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