Sailing Toward Osiris puts us alongside the Nile with the Pharaoh’s barge, who is sailing towards his final resting place. But we aren’t just your everyday run-of-the-mill citizens watching the procession; we are trying replace the Pharaoh by exalting his praises and exploits by building extravagant monuments in his honor along the river.
See, whichever Governor proves their worth gets the rare opportunity to bury the late Pharaoh and take up the scepter. Not a bad gig.
And so we go to work; sending laborers off to chisel stone, harvest grain, and form bricks to gain glory and recognition. Sailing Toward Osiris is a simple worker placement game that is a solid introduction to the genre while sporting oodles of options and putting our feet squarely down on Egypt’s vibrant sands.
Sailing Toward Osiris: Follow that Barge
When the game begins, there are mounds of wooden components. Heaping mounds. Some might say that it’s an excessive amount of tokens resembling the three building materials, but you’ll find out in the later seasons that these piles are going to dwindle substantially. Everybody is competing for these same resources, and if you’re not careful you can easily end up in a situation where you’re frantically waiting for someone else to plan a monument so that you’ll have some resources to grab.
After the game is setup, you’ll notice that the Pharaoh’s barge is going to be floating along the river, stopping at four different points while the players clamber over each other in hopes of making their presence felt to the procession. If a player builds a monument on a space that is touching the current section of river that the barge is on, they’re going to be rewarded in the form of an extra Glory point.
Spoiler alert – The Governor with the most Glory points wins the game.
Because of this extra boon, players are going to naturally be shifting the focus of their buildings and actions in the area representing the current season. It’s a clever little mechanic that hearkens back to ancient Egypt, where the entire nation would turn its attention to the passing of a Pharaoh, paying homage to their memory.
In addition, the laborers who harvest the resources needed to plan and build the monuments are limited in their placement by the location of the barge. The laborers aren’t allowed to go beyond the section of river where the barge is currently sailing, unless you’re a master laborer. You heard that right; you work long enough in the quarry and you’re bound to get a promotion. And with that promotion comes unrestricted VIP access to every quarry on both sides of the Nile. I can get down with that.
By restricting worker placement, the playable board gets filled up rather quickly. Each season, in fact, it feels as though real estate is at a premium. Players must perform constant risk/reward analysis and think ahead so that their grandiose plans aren’t thwarted by other Governors.
Sailing Toward Osiris: Oodles of Options
Each season, the players take turns choosing from the extensive list of actions. Between placing workers, hiring laborers, planning monuments, building monuments, playing boons, and joining up with caravans, there are always plenty of options for your turn.
At the end of every season, the laborers go back in the bag and we do it all over again, until we’ve played through four seasons. All the while, temples, sphinx (sphinxii??), and obelisks are popping up across the board.
Another fun and impactful mechanic involves the Boon cards. Boons are special actions that you can take on your turn to really shake things up on the board. Between moving monuments, retrieving laborers, and doing things that would otherwise be explicitly forbidden by the rules, Boons make it seem like your actions along the Nile are gaining favor with the gods.
In a similar fashion, the Governors and Envoys expansion grants Governors special abilities to help them in their quest to become the next Pharaoh. Their personal envoys can serve as those people who get to a parade several hours early and stake out their blanket on a prime viewing location, blocking off a location until you’re ready to break ground on a new monument.
Sailing Toward Osiris: Parting Thoughts
Sailing Toward Osiris is relatively simple for being classified as a euro-style game, but that’s not a bad thing; it’s more of an entry-point game for people who might be new to worker placement games. Players have a clear and concrete goal that they’re building towards, without the extra complexity that comes with building an engine.
Plus, if the Pharaoh’s barge had an engine then the game would be over before you could say King Tutankhamun. Five times fast.
You can snag the game from Amazon here!
Disclaimer: Nerds on Earth was provided a copy of Sailing Toward Osiris by Daily Magic Games in exchange for an honest review.