Saturday, 6 March 2010

Fluch der Mumie

Fluch der Mumie (also sold as Pyramid) is a game about treasure hunters collecting treasures from a pyramid, while trying to avoid being caught by the unhappy blind mummy roaming the corridors. It is not a cooperative game. Each player has the chance to win the game as an individual, including the mummy player. However there is a nice tension among the treasure hunters, who have to compete with one another, and yet at the some time cooperate to prevent the mummy from winning.

The Game

The game has an upright magnetic board. The mummy sits on one side, and the treasure hunters on the other side. The mummy's piece has two parts, each on one side of the board. These two parts always move together because they are attracted to each other by magnets. The treasure hunters can see where the mummy is. A treasure hunter only has one piece, and there is no corresponding piece on the other side, so the mummy cannot see where the treasure hunter is.

Each treasure hunter is dealt a hand of 5 cards, dictating the 5 different artifacts he needs to collect to win the game. On his turn, he throws up to 5 dice, and chooses one die for his movement. He must move the exact number of steps, so he may not always choose the biggest number. He can reroll, but there is a risk. Whenever a die shows the mummy side, it is temporarily locked and becomes unavailable to all treasure hunters. Each such die adds to the mummy's movement on the mummy's turn. A treasure hunter can reset/unlock these locked dice only by giving a bonus turn to the mummy. To collect an artifact, the treasure hunter must land exactly on that spot. He then reveals the card depicting the artifact, and this is when the mummy finds out the position of the treasure hunter.

The mummy wins the game by catching treasure hunters a certain number of times depending on the number of players. A treasure hunter is out of the game if he is caught 3 times. Often in the early game the treasure hunters will try to help the mummy catch or hinder other treasure hunters, to give themselves a better chance to win. However if the mummy scores many captures, the treasure hunters will need to work together to prevent the mummy from winning.

It is a pretty simple game, suitable for families, and the idea is quite novel.

The game board from the treasure hunters' perpective. Light and dark blue are the treasure hunters, white is the mummy. At the bottom of the board are the dungeon (where the mummy starts and where captured treasure hunters go to) and the pyramid entrance (where the treasure hunters start).

Close-up of a treasure hunter piece and the mummy piece, and also some of the spots with artifacts.

Claimed artifacts are turned face-up. Those two below are life tokens. Every treasure hunter has three at game start, and loses one every time he is caught. Lose all and you're out of the game.

Card backs of the artifact cards. There are artifacts in 5 different colours and at the start of the game you draw one of each colour.

Close-up of the mummy piece, the one on the mummy side of the board.

The mummy side of the board.

The Play

Chong Sean, Michelle and I played this twice. Chong Sean has played this a few times, and often had to play the mummy, so in both games we let him be a treasure hunter. Michelle was the mummy in the first game. In the early game Chong Sean showed us how a treasure hunter could easily harm another treasure hunter. On one of my turns I calculated that even if Michelle were to roll the highest number on the mummy die, she would be one step short from catching me. So I bravely stopped at a spot just outside of Michelle's reach. Then on Chong Sean's turn, he did the locked dice reset, giving Michelle that exact one step to catch me. Eeeevil!

As the game progressed, I collected four artifacts (one more to go) and Chong Sean three. Michelle had caught us a total of three times, and only needed one more catch to win. There was one very tense moment, when Michelle was near both of us, and it was her turn to move. She rolled well, and would have enough moves to make a catch. As she started moving her piece, Chong Sean and I fell very silent, staring at the white mummy piece taking one step after another towards us, trying to keep our faces expressionless, while we were screaming inside. The worst part was when Michelle suddenly paused. I think Chong Sean and I both held our breath and probably skipped a heartbeat as well. Was she going to charge ahead? Or change direction? Then Michelle continued on, and SNAP!, caught one of us (I don't remember who). Game over! And Chong Sean and I immediately burst into laughter. That was one climatic horror-movie moment!

In the second game I played the mummy. It was rather lonely playing the mummy, because I couldn't see anyone else on my side of the board. I only managed to make 2 captures, but Chong Sean and Michelle later told me that there were some very close calls, in one of which I was only one step away from catching Michelle, and I turned back at the last moment. Eventually Chong Sean won by collecting his 5th artifact.

I think the game will be more fun to play with more players, because there will be more captures (which are exciting for both mummy and treasure hunters), and with more artifact cards in play and being revealed after the artifacts are collected, it is easier for the mummy to narrow down the remaining artifacts to protect. With more players, the treasure hunters also have more buffer in trying to get another treasure hunter eliminated, without risking a mummy victory too much.

The Thoughts

Chong Sean commented that Fluch der Mumie is a reversed Scotland Yard (or New York Chase), and I find it very true. It is one hunting many as opposed to many hunting one. The game is easy to teach and easy to learn - quite straight-forward. Very suitable for non- or casual-gamers and families. It is an exciting and funny game. I think the game is more fun if you are a treasure hunter. The mummy player is mostly there to provide entertainment and excitement to the rest of the players, but I think even playing the mummy can be quite fun if there are more players. It is very satisfying to hear that snap when you capture a treasure hunter, and his player piece snaps onto yours on the other side of the board.


wankongyew said...

This looks like a good game to play with my younger nieces when they come to visit. The physical setup reminds me of the classic Battleship game.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

If you wrap yourself up with toilet paper when you play the mummy that may give them a real kick. (or nightmares... ha ha ha...)

wankongyew said...

One problem I have with the youngest niece (13 years old) is that she tends to cry if she loses or even if she does significantly worse than everyone else, so it's hard to think of a game that would be suitable. I think if the mummy killed her, she would cry too.

One game she had fun with last time was Citadels oddly enough. But she didn't even try to win. She decided to prolong the game as much as possible and just chose roles to hurt people (Assassin, Thief and most often, Warlord).

Hiew Chok Sien said...

then it's time to toughen her up! :-D

on a more serious note, i think games in general are good for character building. learning to lose elegantly, learning to win graciously. all in a risk free environment.

so, maybe it is not about trying to find a game that won't upset her, but it is about nudging her to be more sportsmanlike. but of course, still playing a game that she can grasp and be competitive in.