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Queen Games Thebes
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- Number of Players: 2-4
- Ages: 10+
- Playing Time: 60 minutes
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In Thebes you and your fellow players are archeologists, who travel through Europe, acquiring knowledge, equipment and assistants. You will be required to excavate historical sites in the regions of ancient Greece, Crete, Egypt, Palestine and Mesopotamia. Time is of the essence in Thebes. Players have to manage time as every action takes between one and ten weeks and the game only lasts for three years. The innovative time track serves both as a turn indicator and game timer. Spend too much time preparing and there will only be dirt left to dig up!
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|Are Batteries Required||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Item Dimensions||12.2 x 8.86 x 4.13 in||3.5 x 11.62 x 11.75 in||8.66 x 8.66 x 3.15 in||3.25 x 11.75 x 11.75 in||16.9 x 3.75 x 12.2 in||11.6 x 11.6 x 3.15 in|
|Item Weight||3.31 lbs||4 lbs||2.2 lbs||3.57 lbs||3.31 lbs||3.53 lbs|
Top customer reviews
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You hang out in Europe collecting knowledge or other helps, then head down to one of 5 dig sites. There's just something fun about sticking your hand into the bag, looking for a "six" or some other big point artifact, while your opponent is hoping you pull up nothing but sand. (Worst ever - my son had 10 pulls, and got all 10 sands - yikes!)
Another factor that is unique is the standard score track on the border of the board is actually a time track, with each player moving his or her marker ahead for the number of weeks it took to travel, get a card, or go digging. The player furthest behind on the track goes next, so sometimes you can string 2 or 3 moves together.
There is definitely strategy involved, but enough luck that different players have the chance to win.
It's not as strategic as a lot of other games, but it's really fun. Total non-gamers would find this a bit confusing to start, but it's not too tough.
And it's one that can be played a few times in a row. One review mentioned it taking 2 hours. I'm not sure how that's possible. Even with new players, it's an hour or so. (Note: I haven't tried it with 4 yet...that may take longer.)
Unique, fun, well-themed (not just a theme randomly attached to a gaming mechanism)...worth the addition to the game closet.
(If this review was helpful, please let me know. If not, feel free to leave a comment...I want my reviews to be helpful with making you take forever to read them. Thanks!)
So why the four stars?
Thebes is a great family game. Straight up, that's its intended audience and it succeeds at being really good for what it is. This is a game that some 8 year olds can play and certainly most 10 year olds if they're already interested in playing board games. It's a game parents can play with their kids. It is bursting at the seams with theme - the colorful bags, the dials you use to figure out how many pieces you can pull out of the bags/dig sites, just the general feel of how everything looks. The board itself is a little bland, but that's not a big deal.
Thebes is going to be unusual to people who aren't already involved in the board gaming hobby. Turns aren't taken in order. Turns are based on the time you spend doing things. Each action is worth so many weeks of time. After you do something you move your pawn around the time track. If everyone in the game is still ahead of you it's still your turn so you go again. If you are not ahead of everyone else you have to now wait until you are in last place on the track before it's your turn again. It's not both ingenious and thematic and pulls you into the game's story.
One of the biggest game reviewers in serious board gaming (Tom Vasel) happens to really like this game. It's a controversial position. The reason is because Thebes is chock full of luck. It all hinges on pulling treasures out of the bag/dig sites. It's possible for a player to use a huge amount of their time digging and coming up short while someone else can come along spend just a little bit of their time resource and strike it rich.
Each bag of artifacts contains a number of worthless dirt pieces. If you draw mostly dirt you do poorly. A point of argument amongst gamers is whether to follow the rules as written or change them: After you pull out your pieces how much dirt goes back into the bag? The official rules are that it all goes back in the bag which means the next person will have an even harder time getting good stuff. A lot of serious gamers play it that you only put back half the dirt which theoretically helps players who come later. You'll have to decide for yourself after you've played it once or twice how to handle this.
If you're a serious gamer you probably already know whether you like this game or not. Trust your instinct on this one. Do you like games with lots of luck? Do you buy into the idea that the pieces you pull from the bags is thematic and that it makes sense that archaeologists back in 1900 would come up with nothing at times? If yes to both of these questions give this one a shot. Otherwise, just stay away. This is not a gamer's game. It's a family game.
I've played Thebes several times over the years, mostly two player which I do not recommend. I strongly prefer Thebes Tomb Raiders over this. It's the card game version of Thebes and it has a few things to reduce luck. If you're a serious gamer maybe check that one out. But I don't recommend that one to families with kids. Thebes is the one you want if you want to play with kids. And again, I strongly discourage playing this with just 2 people because it's just too zero sum. Three is the minimum and brings out the theme more.
Thebes is a stupendous game for parents to share with their kids who are into history and archaeology. I wouldn't say this is an educational game, but it's strategic enough that kids will get something out of learning how to play better.
The game pieces are very well-made - I'd go as far as calling it fancy, though my husband thought it's just okay. I like the subject-matter of archaeology, and the game play is simple to learn, easy to play.
It's a relaxing play - we did four player games. Each game took approximately one hour once we figured out the rules. It's nice that the game balances those who prefer to rush the game and those would'd prefer to turtle-down and take things slowly. Regardless of preference, each player gets the same amount of "time" in the game to manage as one pleases. There is no sudden "end game" situation where once a player reaches end-game condition - everyone gets their own end game.
See photos: the locations for "digging" are divided in bags with coordinating images. The bags are adorable.
Conclusion: overall, the game seems durable, well-made, and easy to play. I'd recommend this game to anyone. The only reason I didn't give it a five-star rating is because it is somewhat simplistic.
Most recent customer reviews
Great game, plays well with kids and the time mechanic for actions is interesting.
If you want to find a treasures you seek you are going to have to spend the necessary time excavating.Read more