Every once in awhile, you run into a game that you’ve never heard of (and with hundreds being published each month it’s easy to see a few fall through the cracks). Egizia is a game from Rio Grande that caught me by surprise over the weekend. It’s an Egyptian themed, straight up Euro Design that utilizes worker (boat) placement and resource management. I’m generally a fan of worker placement games–especially those that integrate well into the theme. In Egizia, as it was in Egypt, the game is centered around the Nile and the Pharaoh’s wishes–and Pharaoh wants his Pyramid Built.
First, Go Get some Food and Stone
Ultimately, Pyramids and other Great Works of the Time need stone and your workers (technically) need food, so these two resources are the key elements of Egizia. You start off with six stone and six food, but you’re going to need more to achieve your goals. As such, your team of boats are headed down stream and they have the option to take resources via cards, pick up workers in the fields and villages and other manipulative forces as well as the game plays through it’s five rounds. The one trick is that you cannot move back up river to select something you skipped over. This can cause problems throughout the game because you may need to sacrifice some key options to ensure you get enough food or stone.
Second, go get some Victory Points by building stuff
Ultimately, after placing your boats, you have a team of workers and (hopefully) a ton of stone to rummage through the Sphinx for end of game bonus cards, digging up some other grave sites and/or building an Obelisk and finally building a Temple and Pyramid. You dedicate boats to areas along the river to try these three elements and you get (6) bonus points for pulling off all three in a turn. Another nice element here is that only three players (in a four player game) can try these efforts each turn. The fourth player can “speculate” and go into each of these spots, but only can play if one of their opponents cannot complete a task.
In the game you have four teams of workers–three teams and a Leader/Joker (i.e. Wild Card) team. This Joker team can team with another group of workers to complete a task, otherwise you may only use a single team to complete a task. The execution of actions is elegant. You simply can use as many workers that you have in each team and they can use stone at a 1:1 ratio to build items on the different building tracks. The tracks are numbered and show the number of victory points as well as the worker/stone cost. So, for example, to complete a part of the 5th Level of the Pyramid you would need a team of five workers and five available stone.
There are also some bonuses for having the most stones built in a level and you can skip levels of the pyramid if your piece can be supported by the one below it.
Third, get a good chef and don’t forget the Sphinx!
There are two key strategic elements to the game. First, as in many game with similar mechanics, you must not let your workers go hungry. There are potentially huge penalties for this with the lowest being one victory point per unfed worker. As such, you must focus your early game efforts on securing food for your ever expanding workforce.
Second, you must not forget to search around the Sphinx for those end of game bonus cards. These cards can win and if you do not have them lose you the game. The great thing about the cards though are they aren’t specific to your player. For example, you can get Nine points if the Pyramid is completed in the five rounds, so your opponents can easily give you an advantage by simply doing the Pharaoh’s bidding.
Ultimately, Egizia isn’t going to be a completely new experience because it borrows heavily from other Eurogames. That being said, it does a good job of using it’s theme and making each player think carefully about their choices and not necessarily skipping down the river to get the most optimal play.
For what this is, it’s a nice fresh candidate for that hour-long game you need as a change of pace or a relatively solid three or four player in a pinch. I highly recommend it for those who are fans of worker placement games for sure.
What’s Good: Great integration of the Nile and Worker Placement. Nice solid wooden bits and seemingly high-quality cards.
What’s Bad: End of Game Bonus Cards may be a bit too uneven and luck driven. Like many other Euros probably has a shorter shelf-life as it will be replaced by the shiny new version of “fill-in the blank” in 6-12 months.
Overall Rating: B