Monday, April 30, 2007

Don't just want to be Indiana Jones, BE Indiana Jones..but without all that excitement, action and screwing of hot blonde nazi chicks. *A TDHM REVIEW*

Ever dreamed of being an archaeologist living in the early 1900's? The fame, the fortune, the geekerie? Yeah me either but yes I do love the Indiana Jones movies and well it should be obvious that I like board games. SO a game about archaeology? Alright I'm on board with this.

The game is called Jenseits von Theben and the bottom line if you are already tired of reading my review is this game rocks. If however you want a little more about the game I think I can drone on some for you.

I've had this game in my "want" list (on BGG) which I use as pretty much a catch all for games I have interest in for quite a little while now. The game looked pretty keen and the ratings were high but sometimes ratings get a little over inflated on games like this that are limited run because those who have played them want to be 'cool' and have played an awesome game that you haven't played. (a big fuck you to those folks BTW) So I took a big ole grain of salt and want listed it hoping I might get to play it one day at a con or something.

Low and behold a friend of mine scored a copy of this hand made (only 300 of 'em made at that) game on eBay for a stupidly low price of $28 which included the freaking shipping! YES I hate him too but that not the point. The point my dear children is that I was able to finally play the game us (as in our play group) silly Americans now endearingly refer to as simply JVT. Ohhhhh let me tell you, I'm not just trying to be 'cool' when I tell you this game is now one of my favorites.

Alright so the game is played in weeks. Basically think of them as your action points but being as they are weeks it's a really keen little mechanic so that if you spend a lot of weeks to do something BIG it will put you way out in the future. Now the other players may get to play several turns as they "catch up" in time to where you are spending their weeks only a couple at a time. WOW! That's pretty cool, and I personally haven't seen this before but that's not to say it hasn't been done before...just I haven't seen it happy now, I called myself out on that one so STFU.

So what can you do with your weeks? Well you can travel from city to city. Each city will cost you 1 week time. Once you get the various cities there are items you can pick up that will help you in your excavations, or learn about the different areas to make your digs go easier. There are 5 different dig sites (Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Crete and Palestine) so you need to be knowledgeable in that area to get the most bang for your digging buck and we all like to bang right?

So after you've spent some time researching the great libraries of Europe picking up knowledge (and probably vandalizing them as well if not fully burning them to the ground) it's time to get your hands dirty. So you travel to the dig site (at 1 week per point so this could be like a 4 or 5 week journey if you are in London or Paris and heading out to Mesopotamia) and then dig for a set number of weeks. The longer you spend the better your chances of pulling a rare artifact...for a large number of VPs. There is also the chance (as you are flipping cards from a deck, but in the Queen edition I understand it will be pulling tiles from a bag) that you get blanks and all you found while digging was dirt! I'm sure you'll have some "hired" laborers you can whip in your frustration it is after all the early 1900's and why should you take the blame for your own errors when you can make the foreman whip someone.

That's the basic core of the game right there with some other nice little things thrown in for funnities. (I know that's not a word I just fucking made it up, if I made it up obviously I know it's not a real word.) Congress cards that give exponential VPs based on how many you have, Exhibits that you need the right type of artifact for and then have to be in the right city on the exact week of the exhibit in order to be eligible for (what a pain in the ass but a necessary one), bonuses for most knowledge in different areas and oh I could go on but I'm not that kind of reviewer. You gotta buy me dinner first.

I've played the game now in 2, 3 and 4 player versions and I like 3 the best personally. This game definitely works 2 player but tension and pressure to get to the dig sites really comes on strong with each additional player. With 4 it seems like the dig sites get literally dug out and then it becomes this race around Europe to get knowledge cards for bonus VPs at game end.

Still I have rated this one a solid 9 out of 10 on BGG and don't see myself getting tired of it at all. It's got a great feel, plays quickly and solidly and gives you some tough choices to make. All things I like in what I call a great game and my beloved JVT is indeed a GREAT game.