Tal Der Koenige (Valley of the Kings)

Translated by Chris Mellor with edits by John Lyne.

Valley of the Kings is a game about pyramid building in Ancient Egypt. Each player bids for building blocks and tries to construct homogenous pyramids on the sites he has acquired. The winner is the player with the most value of pyramids at the end of the game.

Game Preparation

All the colored building blocks are placed in the black bag. Each player takes the 5 worker pawns, 2 overseer pawns, 8 bid tablets and 8 scarab markers of the same color. Each player also receives a pen and an aide memoire  which gives an outline of the rules, the points value of each type of pyramid and a space to note movement of the overseers.

The players' workers and overseers are placed in the central area of the board (16). If there are only three players the sites marked with 3 red suns are not used and should be marked with scarab counters of a color not being played. If there are only two players also take out the sites marked with 2 red suns.

The Board

(see illustration page 6 of the German rules)

Build Space

These run round each site and are the spaces where workers and overseers are placed. Each is identified by a letter and the number of the site. Only one figure may stand on each space.

There are two main types of site; large and small. Large sites will take big pyramids, which when finished will stand 3 layers high and contain 15 blocks. Small sites take little pyramids which when finished stand layers high and contain 5 blocks.

There is also the central Pharaoh pyramid site which when completed is 4 layers high and holds 30 blocks.

Board Area

The board consists of 7 areas numbered 16-22.


The value of a pyramid is not only determined by the size, but also by the color of the blocks used. The more a pyramid is built of the same color block, the higher the value. The illustrations on the aide memoire show the value of each type of pyramid. Note that with big pyramids the center block of the bottom layer is not visible and so its color is not important for scoring purposes.

The Pharaoh pyramid is built by all players and scores no points. However the game ends when it is completed!

Game Play

Determine a start player and hand that player the Pharaoh disc . The game is played in turns and each turn consists of several phases. The start player goes first in each phase and players follow clockwise in order. When all have acted in one phase then the next phase starts with the lead player. The Pharaoh disc passes clockwise at the end of a turn to a new first player.

Building Blocks

The start player takes building blocks from the bag without looking. These are placed beside the board in groups of 5 blocks. The player should place one more group than there are players (e.g. with 4 players there will be 5 groups of 5 blocks).

Beginning with the start player, each player in turn places his/her bid tablets face down next to bid for groups of blocks. You will see that 4 tablets are marked 1, 2, 3, 4 = 10 points and 4 are blank. Players may place tablets as they wish and do not have to use all of them. However the blank bid tablets are useful to hide your bidding intentions from subsequent players.

When all players have bid, the tablets are revealed. A player gains the group of blocks if he has the highest bid. In a tie, the player who bid earlier in the sequence wins. Groups which received no valid bid are returned to the bag. Each player takes back his bid talents.

Moving Overseers

Overseers start in area 16. Each player has six movement points to allocate to his overseers. It costs one movement point to cross a line into another area/space. To move from central area 16 to 15/B would cost 1 point; to move from 6/C to 20 would cost 2 points. Movement points may be split however desired between overseers e.g. 4 points to one and 2 to the other.

If a player moves an overseer into a space of an unoccupied site, he can take possession of the site by placing a scarab marker on the black circle next to the site. An overseer may only take possession of one site per turn. Once a player has possession of a site he may build on that site, even if the overseer subsequently goes elsewhere.

Moving Workers

You will need workers in the building spaces of a site in order to place blocks on the pyramid. Beginning with the start player, each player moves any combination of his workers up to six areas/spaces e.g. one worker could be moved two spaces and another four spaces.

Building Pyramids

Each player can now build using the blocks they obtained in the bidding round. You may only build on your own sites. Two blocks may be placed for each worker at the site. Overseers do not need to be present and do not add blocks.

Pyramids must be built a layer at a time. One layer must be completed before the next is started. Once placed, a block may not subsequently be moved elsewhere by the player. When a pyramid has been completed, the player takes his scarab and places it on top. Completed pyramids are safe and can never be stolen by other players. Blocks which are left unused by the players this round must be placed in the center to build the Pharaoh Pyramid.

Subsequent Turns

After the first turn there are a few additional activities open to the players.

Moving Overseers

Players secretly record the moves of their overseers on the aide memoire and then reveal simultaneously. The pieces are then moved in player order as recorded. If a player moves more than 6 spaces then his whole move is canceled. If an overseer is ordered into a space which has become occupied, it is placed in the neighboring area.

Overseers may be moved on to rival sites in order to take over the site or to steal bricks.

Moving Workers

Workers are moved openly, in player order, up to six spaces. Workers can also be moved onto rival sites either to steal bricks or to take over the site.

Stealing Bricks

If you have more overseers than the owner on a site then you may steal bricks from the pyramid. You need to move workers on to the site and each worker allows you to steal 2 blocks. Blocks must be taken from the top level first. No blocks may be stolen from a completed pyramid. Stolen blocks join the blocks the player acquired in the bidding stage. It is possible for more than one player to steal from the same site.

If you have more overseers and more workers than the owner of a site, you may take over the site. This occurs on your turn the instant you have the double majority. Swap the scarab for one of your own. Completed pyramids may not be taken over.

Building Pyramids

Players build pyramids as in the first turn. They use blocks acquired by bidding and also any stolen that turn from other players. Unused blocks go to build the Pharaoh Pyramid in the center.

Game End

The game ends on the round when the Pharaoh Pyramid is finished or (rarely) when all sites have been completed. Each player calculates the value of his pyramids as per the values on the aide memoire. The player with the most points wins.


For a shorter game, return any unsold lots of blocks in the bidding stage to the center of the board to build the Pharaoh Pyramid. This basically means that the Pharaoh Pyramid is completed much sooner.

The Game Cabinet - editor@gamecabinet.com - Ken Tidwell