If He Turns Me Into A Mummy You’re The First One I’m Coming After! – Curse of the Dark Pharaoh Review!

Originally released in 2006, this expansion was revised in 2011 to clarify a few rules and streamline it. This review is only concerned with the revised version and no reference will be made to the old one.


 "The cover box art is probably the best I've seen in the series"

Designer: Richard Launius (2011)
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
# of Players: 1-8
Ages: 12+
Play Time: 180-240 minutes
BGG Rank/Rating: 85/7.92
Dice Tower People’s Choice Rank: 11
Category: Expansion to Arkham Horror

You Call “This” Archaeology?

Being a small box expansion, you don’t expect much in the way of components, but this one is pretty generous. As well as a good amount of new location, gate and Mythos cards, there are also some new spells & allies to throw into the mix and two new mini decks of Exhibit Items and Encounters unique to this setting.

Other than a few extra “special effect” cards and tokens, there’s not much else to say in terms of pieces, but I like the Egyptian style of the artwork on the new cards.

It’s The Ark of the Covenant. You Sure? Pretty Sure!

The two major new features of this expansion are the Exhibit Items and Encounters. An Ancient Whispers marker floats around the street areas for investigators to examine. It works in the same way as a normal encounter, except you draw from a special deck which details what happens. Most of the time you will draw an Exhibit Item, which are like Unique Items, but strongly thematic to the expansion and in many ways actually better than a lot of Unique Items. You can get some juicy effects from these items, but it’s still a random draw to see what you get. Also the encounters don’t necessarily confer a beneficial effect as a result, but like the items, they’re very thematic, which is probably the strongest element of this expansion.

"The items themselves are quite useful to have and the Pentagram isn't even one of the better ones!"

In addition, some of the Exhibit Encounters and the new Mythos/Location cards spawn Patrol Markers on the streets where the local authorities have decided to take matters into their own hands with rumours of strange people investigating the Occult in the city. They sit around until the terror level rises (essentially going “We don’t like your types round here . . . oh look a giant tentacle monster . . . all yours, Ciao!”) but should you try to move through them, you stand the chance of being arrested. It’s a good little addition and I feel it should have been in the base game as it’s not specifically tied to the Dark Pharaoh theme. My rookie cop in the last game didn’t have an issue with these guys which turned out to be a great help!

"Patrol marker and the Ancient Whispers token - wait till you see how I store all my tokens!"

If I Don’t Make It Out Of Here. . . Don’t Put Me Down For Mummification!

The new Herald introduced in this set is the Dark Pharaoh himself (you were expecting Santa?) and after play-testing him I was a little disappointed in his use. Flavour wise he looks cool and has a selection of curse effects that he inflicts,  but two of them are pretty lacklustre (only work with Mask monsters or a specific Ancient One) and the others seek to dissuade people from actually playing the expansion.

"Also lacking on the artwork front - looks more like a man in fancy dress"

He inflicts sanity damage when anyone claims a Unique Item which is pretty nasty depending on your starting line-up, but he also inflicts curses and stamina loss when investigators pick up Exhibit Items. The problem with that however is that it just makes players ignore the expansion altogether and focus on the normal game because suddenly it’s not worth seeking out Exhibit Encounters. A 2 in 3 chance of becoming cursed is a huge deal in this game so why seek out the items when it’s detrimental to do so? Problem is, if you ignore it, the Herald becomes useless and my three investigators (the Archaeologist included for flavour) steamrolled over Cthulhu and that was after drawing 3 cards that added two doom tokens a piece!

I find that it’s actually better NOT to use this Herald if you want to use the expansion so that it becomes more worth it. Seeking out encounters in the street is already detrimental in itself because you’re not grabbing clue tokens or going through gates. And worse still, unless there’s something I’ve missed, you can’t get mummified in this game! Wouldn’t that have been a cool way to have your investigator devoured?

Verdict

This expansion fits into my “meh” category. It’s not a bad expansion, that ranking I reserve for Black Goat in the Woods. But it’s nothing great either like Lurker in the Threshold or even The King in Yellow (a review still yet to come).

It adds a nice thematic setting to the game, there’s very few people who aren’t at least intrigued by the horrors that can arise from Egyptian Mythology. The Herald, despite being thematic, I feel seeks to destroy the expansion from within though so I recommend not using him if you really want to get into the Exhibit cards. Either that or use an investigator who can’t be cursed, but even then, compared to other Heralds, his effects just don’t seem as “cool” or game-changing so I was let down by that.

I intend to show a chart at the end of this month where I list the expansions in order of rank, but I would place this 3rd out of the four small box expansions. Grab it once you got the essentials, but don’t go out of your way for it unless you have a serious love for this kind of mythology.

0 comments: