Welcome to the golden age of archeology! This Belongs in a Museum is a tile-based, area control game, from Rather Dashing Games. In it, the players take on the personas of Archeologists searching for ancient artifacts throughout the world. Each player chooses a colour, and controls the Archeologist of that colour, and may also steal points using a Mummy of the same colour.
I tend to describe the gameplay strategy as “like playing Carcassonne, but with only the Farmers.” The main objective is to lay new tiles, and/or manipulate the tiles already in play, to create Dig Sites in your own colour that are also somehow connected to your own Base Camp tile. That connection may be directly adjacent to your Base Camp, by way of waterways or mountain ranges, or by being adjacent to an airport tile. You can also steal another player’s points for one of their Dig Sites, by moving the Mummy of your own colour onto a Dig Site matching theirs.
This is a game about archeology so, of course, the second way to earn points it to collect Artifacts. At the beginning of the game, each player randomly selects five out of eight different Artifact tokens. As the game progresses, each player wants to move onto a tile space that contains one of the Artifacts they selected. When they get there they reveal the matching Artifact token, are returned back to their Base Camp tile, and will get bonus points for that Artifact at the end of the game.
Here’s one of the neat things about this game. When most people think “archeology,” they think “Egypt”. Everything from the box art to the fact that you get to control Mummies that start in a tomb, says Egypt. So this game very much plays to that stereotype, but not exclusively. The Temples on the different colour Dig Sites, along with the Artifacts you need to collect, come from different cultures across Mesoamerica, Indochina, Northern Europe, as yes Ancient Egypt.
This Belongs in a Museum is a beautifully simple game. The artwork is fun and the components are well made. The rules are well written, short, simple, and well laid out with lots of example graphics. Every single group I played this with had a great time, and I’m a bit sad to have to put it down and move on to the next review. Luckily for you, you probably won’t have to do that and can just keep playing it.
I’m going to end this review here. It isn’t that This Belongs in a Museum doesn’t deserve more praise, it’s simply that it doesn’t really need it. The game stands out on its own. It’s good, go get it.