Author: Martin Wallace

Publisher: Kosmos 2003

Awards: none



In this game each player takes up the role of an Archaeologist, and these Archaeologists have entered a Pyramid in search for hidden tombs and fabulous treasures. However, they did not take the God Ammut into consideration - he walks through the dark corridors and tries to protect the secrets of the Pyramid.

The game is rather easy to set up. Several squares at the gameboard show that a random Tomb-marker needs to be placed at them at the beginning of the game, and the only other preparation needed is that the two decks of cards (Treasure cards and Event cards) and also the Maze-Tiles (which are used for movement through the Pyramid) are mixed. Finally, all players place their playing piece in front of one of the entrances to the Pyramid and take 7 Life-markers each and then game can start.

During his turn, a player now may decide to randomly draw up to 3 of the Maze-Tiles and he may place these onto the gameboard as to continue any already existing corridors. However, since it would be more and more difficult to add tiles as the game goes on, it is sufficient to place a tile in a way that it adds to one corridor - it thus might create dead ends for any of the adjacent corridors.

Once the tiles are placed, the player now takes up the two special dice in order to find out his movement allowance for the turn. He now must move his playing piece along corridors for the indicated number of spaces (i.e. tiles), and whenever a player enters a tomb he may decide to end his turn there in order to look for treasures. A player who first enters a tomb may take the Tomb-marker from that Tomb, and furthermore he will also receive a number of 1 to 3 treasure cards as indicated on the tomb marker. A player needs to collect 12 of these treasure cards to win the game, but some of them might be marked with the symbol of either a trap or a movement of Ammut. A trap means that the player has to discard one of his Life-markers, but the consequences of an Ammun marker are different. At the beginning of the game the Ammut playing piece had rested on a special track outside the gameboard, and whenever the Ammut symbol rises during the game the Ammut figure will be moved forwards on this track. However, when the figure reaches the end of the track Ammut will be called onto the gameboard, and from now on he will move on the gameboard in search of the players.

If a player meets Ammut on the gameboard, that will be bad luck for him since he cannot be really victorious over the God. All he can do is to try to fend him off, and to do so the player has to roll one dice and lose as many Life-markers. However, Ammut is not only moved through the means of Treasure-cards. The dice used for movement of a playing piece each also have an Ammut Symbol on one of the their sides, and if a player should roll such a symbol it means that Ammut will be moved.

Another point to mention is that certain Maze-tiles are underlaid in a grey colour, and if a playing piece enters such a tile the player is forced to draw a card from the deck of Event-cards in order to find out whether he would be confronted with a good or bad event.

The game is won by the first player who leaves the game with either 12 Treasure-cards or a total of 5 differently-coloured Tomb-markers. If however a player should loose all his Life-markers on his way through the Pyramid, then he will be forced to drop all of his Tomb-markers at the place where he died and all his Treasure cards will be discarded. The player will get to start with a new Archaeologist, but if another player should reach the dropped Tomb-markers first than that player may take these up.

I must confess that I was a bit disappointed after playtesting this game. The topic of exploring a Pyramid sounded rather interesting, but the game made of it does not do better than average. Even when tested with several players, no real feeling of competition was raised among the players, and somehow the options available to the players do not convey the impression of in-depth gameplay. Considering that Der Fluch des Pharao comes as a "big box game" from KOSMOS, I was also a bit disappointed by the artwork used in the game. As the game was done in co-operation with the British Museum in London, all the Treasure cards show real pieces of art as found in Egypt. However, as for the design of the other playing parts a bit more of an effort on side of the publisher would have been welcome. The game is held mostly in sand-coloured tones, but these only rarely are decorated with other artwork. To my mind, that game definately is one of the weakest KOSMOS-products I have playtested as yet.

Perhaps as a final thought it should also be mentioned that the game was created in the first place by the British Museam as an educational toy, but even this fact cannot counterbalance the weak design of most parts. I guess children would be more interested in the game if a bit more of an effort would have been put into the design...

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany