Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Egizia - how to teach
This article is intended to act as a template for game instructors teaching Egizia. While not exhaustively comprehensive, it touches on every core component of the game, and introduces them in a way that will flow naturally. By the end of this script, you and your listeners should have a fairly firm grasp on the core components and, more importantly, how they interact with one another. Use it as a guide, and illustrate this text by pointing out the relevant sections of the game board as they are mentioned.
In Egizia, each player acts as the manager of a construction crew. During your 5 day work week, you pole your way down the Nile river, picking up workers, dropping your crew members off to work, and maybe making pit stops along the way to do some R&D.
Of course, your workers need to be fed every day. They also need to be provided with raw materials to work with in their construction tasks. To this end, as you travel down the Nile, you should make stops to ensure that your production of food meets the needs of your workers by taking Field cards. To ensure your workers have enough raw materials to work with, you will take Quarry cards, which will increase your supply of stone every day.
As your ship floats down the Nile, you will stop at various docks. On one side of the river, there are 10 docks that have cards placed on them. When you stop there, you take the card at that dock. This card may by an additional Quarry or Field, may give you more workers, or may give you special immediate, anytime, or permanent effects.Permanent effects alter the basic parameters of the game for you, allowing you to break rules or giving you certain other passive advantages. Immediate cards give you an immediate benefit, and must be acted upon when you take the card. Anytime cards are just like immediate cards, only they can be used at any time.
On the other side of the river, there are docks with set effects printed on the game board. Most of these do one of two things: add workers to your construction crews, or put your crews to work.
Each player has 4 different construction crews, each differentiated by the color of their uniform. One of these 4 crews acts as a floater (also known as the Joker), and helps out one of the other crews each day as needed. There are a few set stops on the Nile that allow you to add workers to your crews. One stop may add a blue and a yellow worker, while another may add a brown and a yellow worker. It behooves you to increase one of your construction crews more than the others, since you can only drop one crew off at each work location on the Nile.
It's great to have lots of workers, but if you can't feed them then you start to lose victory points each turn. And if you don't have enough stone to supply them with, then they can't do their job.
Speaking of their job, there are 3 sites along that side of the river for them to work at: the Graves & Obelisk, the Temple & Pyramid, and the Sphinx. If you drop your workers off at the Graves & Obelisk, they can work on both the Graves and the Obelisk as much as they like. But you can only assign one work crew to work there, and they can only do so much in a day. As their manager, you also need to think about how you're going to allocate your limited resources of stone to them: you may not have enough stone to do everything you'd like to do at all of your work sites. The floating crew may accompany any of the other crews, but may not operate by itself.
The Graves is a set of burial mounds, each requiring a certain amount of stone to complete. Grave tiles must be built in order, following the arrows on the board, and are randomized and placed face down on the grave sites. At the strart of the game, the first 4 are revealed. Each time a grave is completed, the next unrevealed grave tile is flipped over, so that there are always 4 revealed grave tiles in play. When you complete a grave, you score victory points according to the amount of stone you used to complete it and take the grave marker. At the end of the game, you may score bonus points depending on how much stone you used at the Graves site.
The Obelisk is the secondary location at this build site. It allows you to use excess stone to contribute to increasing the size of the obelisk. Each level requires one more stone that the level prior to it. By using this in combination with The Graves, you can be more efficient with your workers. There is no bonus associated with building at the obelisk.
When building The Pyramid, you build from left to right along each level, scoring points depending on the amount of stone you contributed to build each block. To build a block on the higher levels, both blocks immediately below it must be built. In this way, you may build higher levels without completing lower levels fully. However, when a level is fully completed, the player who completed the most blocks on that level scores bonus points according to the number of blocks that he completed. So on the first level, if you contributed the most blocks by completing 3 total blocks on that level, you score 3 extra victory points when the level is completed. Since there are fewer blocks on each level as the pyramid gets higher, the bonus decreases, but the amount of stone increases per block, making the higher blocks more valuable by themselves. Ties are broken in the Pyramid by looking at who placed first on that row.
The secondary location at this site is The Temple. There are no bonuses associated with this site. The outside walls must be completed from bottom to top, and both of them must be fully completed before the central pillars can be worked on. As with everything else, you score victory points based on the amount of stone you contribute.
The Sphinx is a little different from the rest of the build sites. Contributing stone here allows you to draw a number of Sphinx cards equal to the amount of stone you contribute (max 5). You get to look at all of these cards, each of which may score you bonus points at the end of the game if you fulfill their conditions. You may keep one of the cards, and return the others to the bottom of the pile. You then score one victory point for each card returned. Sphinx cards are very important, because they can give your play a direction. Fulfilled Sphinx cards score you victory points at the end of the game, as opposed to immediately. This is important because it allows you to hang back on the scoring track, which directly influences turn order.
If you build at the construction sites on a given day, you will get bonus points as follows:
1 site: 1 point
2 sites: 3 points
3 sites: 6 points
Additionally, you may dock at a build location as a "prospector". There will always be one less space to build than the number of players in the game (so in a 3 player game, only 2 players can build at a given location). However, if you decide to prospect, if one of the other players decides that they do not want to build, you may build there. This is essentially "calling their bluff".
Turn order and the river
The player who is farthest back on the scoring track goes first when selecting where to dock. This added tempo is not insignificant, since competition can be fierce for both cards and build sites. Your choice of where to dock is directly influenced by where you expect the other players to go, since only one person can dock at each location per day. Additionally, *you can only move downstream*. So if you stop at the 7th dock on the first turn, only the 8th and beyond are available to you thereafter; you have forsaken the docks prior to that for today. This makes dock selection delectable and unpredictable, to a certain extent, since you don't know for sure where they other players will be going, especially if there choices are being influenced by unknown Sphinx cards.
There are 3 decks of cards used to fill the card side of the river: a deck for days 1 and 2, a deck for days 3 and 4, and a deck for day 5 (the last day). These cards grow increasingly more powerful as you move from deck to deck. Some of the cards are removed from each deck at the beginning of the game, so you never know for sure what's going to come out. And since they're in a randomly assigned order on the river, they can heavily impact your decision on where and when to dock.
When scoring points, the person who's ahead scores first, and then other people stack behind him if they land on the same place on the scoring track. The person at the back of this stack gets preference for turn order and final scoring.
Feeding your workers
One thing I haven't spoken about in detail yet is feeding your workers. Each of the 4 crews has a certain number of workers, and you need to feed them every day. This is done by acquiring fields from the card side of the river. There are 3 classes of fields: lush, normal, and dry. There's also a water ring marker that indicates the level of irrigation on that day. Lush fields are always irrigated, and hence will always provide food. Normal fields need to have the irrigation marker on the normal or dry space to be irrigated. Dryfields need to have the irrigation marker on the dry space to produce food for your workers that day.
So how does this irrigation marker get moved from one space to another? Well, there are two docks on the non-card side of the river that allow you to move the marker one space in either direction. They both do the same thing (move the irrigation marker and increase your floating laborers by one), but one is mid-way down the Nile, and the other is at the very end of the Nile. In addition, the permanent card which allows you to place your boat on an already-taken space doesn't work on this last space (so getting there first can be quite powerful in screwing others/preventing screwage).
And what happens if you do get screwed and can't feed your workers? Well, we have a food track for that, and where you are on that track tells us what your penalty is. It ranges from losing 3 victory points for each worker you cannot feed to losing 1 victory point per worker. When you get to the bottom of this track, you score 2 victory points. Any time you move down from there, you score an additional 2 victory points. You can move down on this track by building in the Graves & Obelisk area, by selecting a card which gives you that effect, or by selecting the first space of the non-card side of the river (the "Edfu" space), which moves you down one space on both the food track and stone track.
As I mentioned earlier, stones are the resource your workers use to contribute to the various construction works. Each turn, you accumulate stone according to your production. By claiming a stone card, your production of stone will be increased each turn by that amount. You can also increase your stone reserves by moving to the last space on the stone track (which gives you 3 stone immediately) or by selecting the "Increase any work crew by one and gain 2 stone" space on the non-card side of the river. Moving down on the stone track when you're already at the bottom of it yields 3 stone as well. Please note that when you build in the Graves & Obelisk area, you can choose to move down on the stone track, which can potentially give you more stone to build with in the Pyramid & Temple work area. Stone is held over day to day, unlike food. You can accumulate up to 24 stone at a time during the course of play.
You accumulate victory points by:
* having your workers build at one of the construction sites
* scoring bonuses at the construction sites
* scoring bonuses for building at more than one construction site per turn
* moving down the food track
* having leftover stone, provided you're far enough down the stone track (2 stone yields 1 vp then)
* meeting the conditions of a Sphinx card
* choosing a card that gives immediate bonus victory points (like the dry field cards)
To build at a construction site, you need both workers and stone.
You get stone by claiming stone cards, by moving down the stone track, and by docking at the "Alyi" dock.
You get workers primarily by using the non-card side docks, though some cards allow you to increase workers too.
You feed workers using field cards, which are dependent on the position of the irrigation marker.
* There is a clear relationship between the number of victory points you acquire through building and the amount of stone you spend. This is basically 1:1, though bonuses may increase this slightly.
* Workers and stone are your basic "engine" for this game. The more of both of these resources you have, the more you can build in a turn, and the more victory points you can acquire.
* This engine is supported by your food supply. Shorting yourself on food is generally a bad idea, but if you put your workers to full use you may come out ahead via building and end game bonuses.