I’ve recently played a glut of Archaeology: The Card Game, by Phil Harding and Z-Man Games; that is, if you can call 4 or so games in quick succession a glut.
Archaeology is a short and easy card game, players are drawing cards and trying to trade them with the market (face up cards in the middle of the table) in order to build sets. The bigger and more complete a set, the more points it is worth when you sell it to the museum (play it down in front of you).
There is, in this simple general idea, a tug-of-war between two desires. The first is that you want to hold cards before playing them in order to build sets. The second is, that because there are bad cards in the deck that can force you to lose cards from your hand, you want to get what you have on the table in front of you while you still have it. Once cards are on the table in front of you (sold to the museum) they cannot be affected by bad cards.
Because of the risk that you might lose cards, and the resulting tug-of-war with the fact you want to collect full sets, there is a very real ‘push-your-luck’ aspect to the game. It is quite within the realms of possibility to be sucker-punched by bad luck, but knowing from the outset that bad things can happen will bring the knowledge that there is a push-your-luck aspect that needs to be played to, to the fore - and the game is best played with this in mind. Sometimes with a hand of only valuable cards, it is best to play an incomplete set that will score you some points, than to lose some of those cards and be left with even fewer points.
All in all Archaeology is a relatively easy game, mechanically simple and thus easy to write off as uninspiring, it is, in the face of that, an enjoyable experience. While not a game I’ll play when looking for something to challenge me to think harder, it is nonetheless a fun game; easy to teach and easy to play. It’s one I’ll be taking with me when I go and visit family - between 2-5 can play it, and it plays quickly enough to remain interesting and engaging throughout. I like it.
Phil - you’ve created a fun and enjoyable game - what more need be said than that?