Pride and Prejudice Had a Similar Effect on Me – The King in Yellow Review

The second small box expansion in the release schedule features the King in Yellow, an infamous play that unhinges the mind of anybody who views it. I’m sure most of us have seen a movie or ten that has a similar effect and for me, my title of this review caused me to detest every English Literature lesson at school for the whole term while we read the book and watch the 6 HOUR long movie……………ugh!



"UTINNI!! - oh come on, like you Star Wars fans didn't think the same!"

Designer: Richard Launius (2007)
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
# of Players: 1-8
Ages: 12+
Play Time: 180-240 minutes
BGG Rank/Rating: 85/7.71
Dice Tower People’s Choice Rank: 11
Category: Expansion to Arkham Horror

Setting the Scene

The majority of the expansion consists of updates to the old decks with a good amount of cards being added to the items, spells, mythos, location and gate cards for a small box. There isn’t a huge amount of components that relate to new additions, instead this expansion tries to rely on inserting a strong theme into the storyline without adding too much complexity to what you’re already used to in the base game.

Last Chance to Go To the Lobby

The primary mechanic of this expansion is the Act cards, which represent a ticking clock to the investigators automatically losing the game after a charity performance of The King in Yellow takes place, driving the townsfolk insane and destroying Arkham in the process.

"The effects could be more varied, but they're damaging enough!"

6 Mythos cards titled “The Next Act Begins” cause these Act cards to turn over, at which time the investigators have the choice of adding doom tokens or removing elder sign tokens in order to stop the card flipping over. Once Act III is flipped, it’s Game Over. Depending on how well you shuffle the cards, this can cause a big swing in game play.

There are two ways to play this expansion in the rulebook – “Touring” and “Permanent” performances. The permanent performance is straightforward – you simply shuffle all the cards into the main decks and carry on as normal with the play being a “side quest” in the main game. It’s a nice way to include the expansion without having it a focus of the main game and then being suddenly surprised at an inopportune time when it does come up. However with only 6 cards that flip the Acts, there’s a huge dilution problem when combined with other expansions – something which. . . . . . Yes I’m going to mention the “M” word again . . . Miskatonic addresses very well. Have patience my fellow gamers, the answers are coming next week!

The touring performance places the whole focus of the game on The King in Yellow as all of the new cards are shuffled and then placed on top of their respective decks. This includes all of the basic spells and items, which I’ve found ramps up the setup time considerably if you haven’t organised your collection. On the plus side, clearing them up is an easier task once the game is over! Theme wise, this is great as the play becomes a major threat and all of the old deck additions are tied in to the lore of this expansion. Difficulty wise, this can ramp the game up to masochist levels as you find yourself constantly dealing with those “Next Act Begin” cards – though to balance it out slightly, you’ll find less gates opening around the board as those Mythos cards don’t spawn them. It’s a huge balancing act coupled with “push your luck” which keeps the tension up all through the game. That being said I recommend only doing this version when you’re experienced in the game.

The cards themselves are great in this expansion, tying to the lore very well – I sometimes find with the other small box expansions that the cards could easily be mistaken for base game cards if the expansion symbol wasn’t present, but it’s not the case here.

Ever Wondered who’s Operating that Projector At the Back?
"That picture was more what I expected from the Dark Pharaoh, essentially looks like a mummy!"

The Herald variant I believe was first introduced in this expansion before all the others followed suit and in this we have the Tattered King In Yellow making life more difficult for us – as if that’s actually required in the touring variant! It’s the first herald to feature so I can forgive the mediocre artwork, but his effects are quite nasty. Every time the terror level increases (which in this expansion is more common than the others) you have a choice of playing a Yellow Sign token either on the doom track or on the terror track and thus drawing a new Blight card.

The Blight cards are new to this expansion and represent known allies or characters in the Arkham universe going insane. Each conveys a negative effect on the game depending on the ally in question. There’s not many of these, but again this is improved in the long run and the artwork is pretty good on these.

"Even in the base expansion there's a good variety of effects and recognisable faces"

Verdict

There’s not much else to say about the expansion as most of the components aren’t particularly new. However that works in its favour as it’s a small expansion that adds a lot without adding much complexity. The theme is strong particularly in the touring performance variant and it certainly makes the game a lot harder and positively evil when you throw the Herald in, who is the obvious choice when using this expansion, but even has use outside of the setting making the terror track more of an issue as generally you tend to ignore it in most games.

It’s not my favourite small box expansion, that award goes to the Lurker, however this easily takes the silver cup for it’s interesting theme and mechanics. There is room for improvement though with the dilution aspect and the restriction on the Next Act Begins cards, but eventually these are both addressed and it’s still a fairly solid expansion even without Miskatonic’s influence.

If you don’t fancy the Lurker in the Threshold for your first small box choice, then The King In Yellow is a sound alternative.



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