The Day in Gaming, September 17, 2019: Valley of the Kings

I’m posting about a game every day in September! Here’s a link to yesterday’s post.

I don’t have many deck builders in my game library these days. I traded/sold/donated my copies of Dominion, Ascension, and a bunch of expansions. These are fine — and arguably the best — deck-building titles around, but I find myself gravitating toward games that use deck-building as one, and not the only, mechanism, of a game. Given a choice, I’d much rather a deck-builder with a board. I love the route-building in Trains, the area control of Tyrants of the Underdark, the dungeon crawl and push-your-luck in Clank!, and the baseball simulation in Baseball Highlights: 2045.

Of course, there are exceptions.

I keep my copy of Star Realms for nostalgia’s sake. Although I now prefer Shards of Infinity for quick one-on-one deck-building action, my nephew and I used to battle each other in Star Realms when he’d visit years ago. He’s growing up so fast and I treasure those times when we’d play board games for hours before going out to eat or watching a movie. One day I hope we can play a long-awaited rematch and he’ll let his Uncle Ruel win a game.

Valley of the Kings is a small-box deck-builder with a clever deck-building twist. Normally, you want to strip your deck of certain cards, trashing your weaker cards to leave yourself with a streamlined and powerful deck that’ll earn you those bigger victory point cards.

In Valley of the Kings, however, you’re actually trashing cards (“entombing”) to score points. It’s a cool way to score, since it’s more about timing now: you can score a big-point card right away by entombing it, but it’ll be gone from your deck. Or you can keep it for its powerful ability as you watch your opponent entomb card after card for more points.

I dig how the entombing mechanism works here and wish more games used it. I felt like Valley of the Kings was an underrated deck-builder (sorta like Tyrants of the Underdark is, too) and apparently I wasn’t the only one. AEG recently Kickstarted a big-box deluxe edition of the game.

And, yes, I’m kicking myself for not backing it. Thankfully, I can still play the occasional solo game of Valley of the Kings when I’m in the mood like tonight. Besides, I’ve gotta keep up my deck-building skills for the next time I hang out with my nephew.