So Let It Be Written!



Number of Players: 3 to 5

Grade Levels: Middle School and Up

Length: 45 Minutes

Investment: Medium
Return: High

NYS Standards:

Social Studies 2: Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in world history and examine the broad sweep of history from a variety of perspectives.
Social Studies 3: Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the geography of the interdependent world in which we live—local, national, and global—including the distribution of people, places, and environments over the Earth’s surface.

AASL Standards:
1.1.2: Use prior/background knowledge as context for new learning
1.2.5 Demonstrate adaptability by changing inquiry focus… or strategies when necessary to achieve success
2.4.4 Develop directions for further investigations
4.1.5 Connect ideas to own interests and previous knowledge and experience

Rio Grande’s Amun-Re provides a glimpse into Egypt’s past as players strive to leave their mark on history. They hope to accomplish this through erecting pyramids and building prosperous kingdoms along the Nile. Each player, acting as a pharaoh, builds their kingdom by bidding on available provinces along the great Nile River. Each province has potential for helping the pharaoh by providing resources, religious power and political influence. Provinces feature a space for farmers to harvest the land and an area for erecting pyramids to commemorate your power. Some provinces come with resources, political potential in the way of power cards, economic assistance, and religious power. Each province’s resources and potential are different. Provinces along the Nile are more fertile than those further away, offering more spaces for farmers to harvest the land.

Game play is broke into 2 stages, the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom. Play is identical in each kingdom with players first bidding on provinces. Once a province has been purchased by each player, players may then take turns purchasing resources. These include farmers to harvest the land, bricks which upgrade to pyramids, and power cards which influence game play and possible goals that, if archived, give extra victory points when scoring. Players then offer a sacrifice of gold to the temple. How much is sacrificed influences how prosperous a return the gods provide on your harvest. The additional benefit from the harvest is that players get to pick additional farmers, bricks or cards based on how much they sacrificed.

After players have gotten their income based on the harvest and any additional items based on their sacrifice, it is a simple rinse and repeat for five more rounds. So, once you get students familiar with a game round they will be comfortable with the rest of the game. After three rounds, players will score themselves based on the number of pyramids they have built, any temples in their provinces and any bonus points they may have earned for power card achievements. The power cards points are usually based around where you settled (i.e. all provinces on the bank of the Nile) or your resources (i.e. having 8 or more farmers).

After scoring, time passes and the New Kingdom ends and ushers in the New Kingdom. Everything on the board is wiped away except the pyramids which stand the test of time. Students play another three rounds using the same provinces that were used in the Old Kingdom. So if a mediocre province had several pyramids built in it, it suddenly becomes more desirable because those pyramids do not need to be built again! Play continues on until scoring, which adds onto the score from the old kingdom.

This is a game that I thought students wouldn’t get into, but they did. It works great as a resource for the sixth grade ancient civilizations unit along with other games like: Chang Cheng for ancient China and Tribune for ancient Rome. (I am anxiously awaiting a copy of Days of Wonder’s Colosseum to possibly include on that list.) The game does have a learning curve, but that is easily resolved by playing through a test round to let students get a feel for the flow of the game. When we used this game with a group of 6th grade students in the library, they loved the game so much they came back on their own after school to play another game.

Another benefit to the game is that it is language independent. All the elements in the game are represented with images making this great game for working with ESL students. This is a great game that really challenges middle school students to push their inquiry and critical thinking skills.

I give this game two Yul Brynners up!