On 18th January, my wife, my youngest daughter and I played Thebes for the first time. My pre-teen daughter didn’t want to, in spite of our insistence.
I didn’t a very good job of explaining the rules. For example, I only told about the action of swapping all cards in Warsaw when we were towards the end of the game and needed desperately exhibit cards. I also looked up the scoring rules only close to the end, and only then we realized the importance of specialist knowledge.
My wife and I helped our daughter in some decisions, otherwise she would constantly dig for treasure even if she had little knowledge of each site. She was very keen for me to read to her the information about each artefact in the sheet that comes with the game. Thebes has hence great educational potential, and the high points given to Tutankhamen’s mask and to the scrolls of the dead sea are surely no coincidence.
I was aiming at playing only for two years, but my daughter insisted on having a third year, although she was tired by the middle of it. My wife was very unlucky with the digging, while I amassed a good amount of general knowledge, assistants and spades. In the end, it didn’t help much against the many talks given by my daughter or the diversity of specialist knowledge of my wife. The final score was:
Thebes is a wonderful game, with a tight integration of theme and mechanisms. Even archeologists like it, because almost everything makes sense, from the balancing of time to acquire knowledge versus luck, to the four ways of getting prestige points: digging artefacts (with diminishing chances of finding them), exhibiting them, obtaining specialist knowledge, and giving conference talks. Only the change of cards in Warsaw is a typical game mechanism. The pressure on meeting an exhibit deadline (before the card goes out of the board) is also very clever, especially because each exhibit uses a different combination of countries. We definitely have to play this again, hopefully the whole family next time.