Written and Reviewed by Chelsea Siaca

Queen Hatshepsut ruled for 9 years during the 18th Dynasty of Egypt! She was considered a great leader and one of the greatest Pharaohs in ancient Egypt. However, years after her death, her successors tried to erase her from history. Her image and her royal name – her Cartouche – were chiseled off stone murals. 

Welcome to Cartouche

You are an archeologist tasked with restoring Queen Hatshepsut’s murals to reestablish her place in history. 


I played a digital copy of the game. However, the digital implementation did have representation of what the components might look like! The art and components still need to be finalized. 

Each player will receive 1 reference card, 1 double-sided mural board, and 6 Ankhs. 

The main components of the game are the Story Cards and the Animal Tiles. There will also be a double-sided Accomplishment board, which will have Accomplishment Cards dealt into 3 spots on the board. Lastly, there a few different types of tokens that will be included in the game; the Story tokens, which come in 4 different types and the Scarab 


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Accomplishment Board

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Token Story card and Animal Tokens


You will be completing Story cards by placing tiles on your mural.  Have the most points at the end of 10 rounds and you will be the winner. 

Game Play

Cartouche is played in 10 rounds, which have 3 phases. In the Draft Phase, players will be drafting either a Story card or an Animal tile from the ones available in the center. If the player drafted a story card it is placed face-up above your mural board. You can only hold 4 incomplete story cards. If you happen to take a new card and already have 4 cards, you will have to immediately discard down to 4.  If you take an Animal tile, place it to the side (your reserve); you will be placing it on the your mural during the next phase. The Draft Phase is completed when each player has taken exactly 2 items – it can be any combination of the Story cards and/or Animal tiles. 

During the Place Phase, the players simultaneously places their Animal tiles from their reserve onto their mural board. You do not need to place all your tiles, however you may leave no more than 1 Animal tile in your reserve. There are some placement rules that need to be followed, which are: 

  • They must be touching another tile or the green reed on the bottom of Side A or in the middle of Side B;
  • They cannot overlap each other;
  • They must stay within the boundaries of the mural border;
  • They may be rotated or flipped during placement;
  • They can cover the printed icons on the board;
  • Once you place them, they cannot be moved. 

It is during this phase that you will be able to collect Story Tokens. You can earn a Story token, when you place a tile that is adjacent to a matching Animal icon on the mural.  The Story Tokens are used to complete story cards or can be traded in for either a Scarab Token or a Cartouche 1×1 tile! 

Once every player has confirmed that they have completed placing their tiles, they move on to the Score Phase. This is the phase where you can complete any number of Story cards. There are 3 types of Story cards. The Token Story cards are completed when you turn in the exact number and type of token shown on the card. You can always use a Scarab token as wild to complete a Token Story card. Chamber Story cards are completed when you enclose an area of empty spaces that contains the exact number and type of Animal token depicted on the card. The last type of Story cards are the River Story cards; to complete the River Story cards, you  will need to complete a contiguous group of tiles that match the Animal tile and is adjacent to icons depicted on the Story card. 

This is also the phase, in which if you meet the conditions of the achievements, you could claim a scoring spot by placing one of your Ankhs on the spot. The achievements board has 7 achievements that are available for the players to complete. Once you have met the requirements of the achievement, then you can place your ankh in the first available spot.  4 out of the 7 achievements are the same ones from game to game; the remaining 3 are randomly dealt achievement cards. 

Lastly, when you place one of your Ankhs from your mural board on the achievement board, you are immediately unlocking a gameplay bonus. They are listed on the side of your mural board.  

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Completed Board at the End of the Game

Final Thoughts

Cartouche is a quick tile laying game that requires some strategy. Throughout the 10 rounds you will have to find a balance between collecting Story cards and tiles. If you grab too many Story cards, you won’t have the tiles needed to complete them. You could have a drafting turn, where the other players have taken all the tiles and you are stuck drafting a card that you don’t need or want. When I first heard the game was 10 rounds, I thought it would be a longer game. However, the 10 rounds went by quickly without feeling like I didn’t have enough time to do everything I had planned out. 

Cartouche scales for the amount of players, and I found that refreshing to have a game that I could play with just my husband but that I could also play whenever we have company over! I feel like Coffeebean Games has a hit on their hands! 

As the player count increases, making the right choice when drafting becomes essential. You definitely have to draft strategically or you might miss out on choices! 

We did play a digital copy  of the game; I think this is a game that a digital implementation does not do it justice. The quirks of digital play, takes away from the actual gameplay. I can’t wait to actually play the physical copy of  Cartouche.  

Cartouche fully funded on Kickstarter!!