A fresh version of ancient Egyptian mercantile board game Sobek has been announced with original designer Bruno Cathala joined by Jaipur creator Sébastien Pauchon as leads. Two players will go head to head in a bid to control a bustling market without becoming too corrupt and earning the crocodile god’s ire.
Sobek first released in 2010 and combined auction mechanics with set collection as players purchased goods brought to the temple of Crocodilopolis by ship and displayed matching sets in their market stalls for points. Characters with special powers could also be played from their hand to affect the board state in a number of unique ways, such as locking out other players or swiping valuable cards before anyone else has a chance.
These more powerful - or underhanded - plays often incurred a corruption penalty that could rack up fast if players weren’t constantly vigilant. Now, successful mercantilism requires greasing a few psalm and breaking the odd law, but accruing too much will draw the vindictive gaze of Sobek in the form of debilitating punishments or even outright loss of the game. Balance is key - keep yourself ahead without tipping the scales.
The new two-player board game version comes from Pandasaurus Games and restricts the player count to two for an agile and short reimagining of Sobek. Players take turns moving an ankh token across the market board, allowing them to purchase the ivory, fish, minerals and other goods where it stopped. Afterwards, the ankh may reorient to lock their opponent to diagonal choices instead, making strictly suboptimal choices more enticing if the goal is to stymy an opponent.
Corruption tokens are earned from taking high-value goods, those further away from the ankh or by moving over goods in the marketplace. Just like in the original, players want to always have the least amount of corruption in order to take advantage of bonuses at the end of the game. Players may also sell matching tile sets for debens - Sobek’s currency and the main objective of play - or deploy a character tile to immediately take advantage of their special abilities.
The end of the game is triggered once neither player can take any more actions. After awarding Sobek’s favour in the form of extra debens, the players score their collected sets of goods and deben stash to determine the winner. Eschewing the three round limit of its predecessor, Sobek: Two Players is estimated to take around 20 minutes to complete, making it a solid contender for warming up the crew on board game night or sneaking in a quick game with a friend during those small breaks.
Publisher Pandasaurus has been on a spree of new games lately, having just released another two-player game - That Time You Killed Me - along with the upcoming roll and write mountain climber Trek 12 and ski slope board game Skull Mountain: Ski Fest. Both Cathala and Pauchon are well-known names in the board game space, having brought players classic titles such as the other excellent two-player adaptation 7 Wonders Duel, Kingdomino, Jamaica and Corinth.
Pre-orders for Sobek: Two Player are now open on the Pandasaurus website ahead of a May 25th release date. A downloadable rulebook is also available to download there to allow prospective Egyptian merchants to scope their prospects ahead of purchasing. At $30 (£22) Sobek: Two Players sounds like a great entry in the vibrant duo board game environment.