Designer: Nikki Lum
Publisher: Fun Factory
Date Released: 2005
Number of Players: 2-6
Age Range: 8 and up
Setup Time: nominal
Play Time: 10-20 minutes
You’re an ancient Egyptian architect and tasked with constructing three fine pyramids. The fast, simple game of Giza builds fun for the whole family.
Each player gets a map board, and each of these map boards has an outline for three pyramids (the pyramids of Menkaure, Khafre, and Khufu) and an outline for the Great Sphinx. These outlines serve as the construction sites upon which players place pyramid, treasure, or sphinx tiles. Players take turns playing tiles from their hands until one player tops off all three of their pyramids. Each tile has its own point value (located in the top right hand corner of the tile), and the player with the highest score wins.
You get a hand of four tiles, and there are five types of tiles: stone, treasure, demolish, scarab, and sphinx. Stone tiles are used to construct pyramids. Some stone tiles have positive points, and others have negative points. Stone tile point values—and value in terms of physical area—range from 1-5 (positive and negative). Since you’re building a pyramid, you have to place lower value stone tiles on top of higher value stone tiles. As soon as someone has a one or a peak (positive or negative value) on all their three construction sites, the game ends. You can have a pyramid of one tile. Normally, you don’t want to have a short pyramid, but I have seen players win this way.
Treasure tiles act like the jelly between stones. You can only place a treasure tile on a stone tile of the same value. For example, one of your construction sites has a stone tile that’s a size two, so you can place an ankh (a treasure worth two points) on top of your size two stone and then still build the peak of your pyramid. Treasure tiles are a great way to negate negative value stone tiles as they can be placed on a positive or negative tile bearing the appropriate size.
Demolish tiles do their name sake. They destroy one placed tile (negative or positive) when played. Scarab tiles disrupt construction. You can put a scarab tile on top of any pyramid, sphinx or even another scarab tile. Players can’t play any stone, sphinx or treasure tiles on this construction site until the scarab tile is removed by skipping a turn.
Then, there are sphinx tiles which are only used to construct the sphinx. Completed sphinxes gives a player a whopping twenty points, but beware, the base of the sphinx gives a player negative points, so you may not want to build the sphinx feet until you have its body in your hand. And there’s only one sphinx head.
On your turn, you can play 1 tile or discard any number of tiles from your hand. Then, you draw up to four tiles at the end of your turn. Giza’s rules are simple, but like all fast, furious, and fun games, it’s deceptively simple.
If you get more than three players at the table, the claws come out. You also have to manage your hand like, wondering how long you should hold onto your sphinx pieces or a lower level treasure piece that you can’t place yet. The strategy is dialed down, but the replayability of Giza far outweighs any simplicity.
Verdict: Easy on the strategy and more interesting when you have more players, Giza delivers a quick game that’s fun to play.