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Scarab Lords
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Scarab Lords

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Ages Play Time Players
12+ 20-40 minutes 2

Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

Manufacturer(s): Fantasy Flight Games

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Product Description

The Age of the Locust is at hand. Foreboding shadows arise form the desert of endless storms. Dark magics stir in the silent streets, and words of ancient prophecy have come true; the Scarab Lords have come forth to wage war in the Heavans and on the Earth.

Set in a gorgeous fantasy Egypt, this clever card game depicts the battle of dominance between two mythical Scarab Lords. To win, power must be gained in the areas of religion, military, and economics. Powerful sorcerors, mythical beasts, epic monuments, and grand armies all play key roles in the Scarab Lords card game.

This non-collectible card game features two beautifully illustrated 40 card decks which players must customize to best fit their strategies.

Product Information


  • Gameboard
  • 20 Scarab Counters
  • 6 Pyramids
  • 84 Cards

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.5 in 6 reviews

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One of the greatest 2-player games I have played
February 22, 2003

I agree completely with all of the previous reviewer's comments. We have played this game about 10 times now and we are still coming up with new strategies. In my opinion though, you have to play with the neutral deck to truly appreciate the game. Oh, and the artwork and cards layout is simply fantastic!

February 19, 2003

Scarab Lords is one of the finest two player games I have ever played. Period. The game is challenging, highly replayable, offers lots of variety, has very nice components, and is very affordable.

The way to win is to control two of three resources on each side of the board, or as the game has it, the upper and lower houses, at the start of your turn. (OR if your opponent has no cards in their draw deck) Each side of the board has one each of military, religious and economic.

Control of these resources will allow you extra actions or options: control of military will force your opponent to discard the top card of their draw deck, control of religion lets you put a scarab counter on an opponents card on that half of the board (making the card useless until the scarab is removed), and economic control allows you to draw a card from your deck if you wish.

If you control these resources on both sides, the options or actions are doubled.

The cards are in two decks, red and blue. There are some cards the same, but about 60% are not. How you play each deck is crucial, as each has their own strengths and weaknesses. You can play the game fine with these two decks, they are varied enough that replayability is very high. However, the game comes with another 24 card 'neutral' deck, whereby after the first round of a best of three match, you can pull up to 5 cards from your deck, add them to the nuetral, and then pull out the same amount you put in for newer cards. The reason you add your cards to the neutral deck first is that the loser of the first round chooses what cards they want from the neutral deck-which includes their cards and yours! So they may wind up playing some of your cards the next round! Repeat this process if the game goes to a third round.

This advanced option of using the neutral deck adds more variability and lots more replayability. No game will be the same. This is something we have tried and it makes for some great decision making and strategy.

Cards are played in phases- phase zero, play as many '0' cards as you want (the cards are marked with the phase #), phases 1 and 2, only one card per phase, and the supremacy phase, as many 'S' cards as you want AFTER supremacy is determined. This last phase is not explained well in the rules, but checking the Fantasy Flight website they clarify that you can play as many 'S' cards in the supremacy phase as you wish after supremacy is determined. It should be noted you can take actions vs play a card if some previously played cards allow it. This is in lieu of playing a card. Also, you can remove scarabs from your cards one at a time in the phase the card action number is. (If a phase one card is already in play, and gets a scarab counter on it later, you can take it off in your next phase one, but that's the only thing you'll be able to do that phase)

Cards come in several configurations- buildings, minions, leaders, fate, and gods. These cards give you strength to help gain supremacy for your side. Some have actions you can take when you play the card, and perhaps later too if you spend a phase action to do so (rather than play a card that phase)Gods are played in the center, max three on your side, and as soon as you opponent plays one, yours go away. We found the use of god cards to be a critical timing issue, and very important. You do not want to allow your opponent to have a good god card out for long- the results could ruin your game in some cases.

Games last 15-45 minute usually, and yes, with any card game you'll get a 10 minute 'I can't play anything to save myself' game now and then. No bother, they are few and far between.

We (a good friend and I) played it about 15 times in 2 days and still were mulling over strategies, deck strengths and weaknesses, best use of cards, etc.

The game is simply fantastic, well thought out, and is lots of fun to play. This game earns all five stars, and if you like good, solid two player games with a bit more depth than some of the others, Scarab Lords is for you.

Dr. Knizia's CCG without The Suitcase!
April 11, 2004

In my current spat of trying to reverse the negative press that Knizia card games recieve, I'm here to praise Scarab Lords. Beneath its Egyptian Vaneer, Scarab Lords is game that gets more dramatic with every play.

Admittedly it takes a few plays of the advanced game to get into it,but, Scarab Lords is does pay off. Your mileage will vary with how much you enjoy CCG style play. Make no mistake, however, this game is a contained unit. The components are better than the average Fantasy Flight small box game.The art work on the cards is sterling in a M:TG vein. The only things I must stress are the game IS the advanced game and that you must get the FF FAQ. If you are looking for a game to play with your ex-RPG/CCG buddies, this is the real deal. With the controlled customization rules and the overall chaotic nature, I guarantee you will have fun.

An OK game
February 25, 2003

We played about 7 times in less than an hour and a half, including learning the rules. The god cards are too powerful and the building cards too weak (not in and of themselves, but because they take an extra turn to come into play and are easily cursed back out of play). When given the chance to swap in other cards, we both independently decided to remove all buildings from our decks. The opening card draw is incredibly important, since this game has positive feedback. If you take a lead, it gives you power to keep the lead. A good mix of 0, 1 & 2 cards lets you blitz your opponent very easily if he just has a hand of phase 1 cards.

Too destructive and unbalanced. Cards are pretty.
January 01, 2004

I played this game 5 or 6 times in the basic and the advanced version (with the neutral set) and found it destructive, unpleasant, unbalanced and dry.

The objective of the game is to obtain supremacy in at least two out of three domains (military, economic and religious) in two regions (Upper and Lower Hekumet). In order to do so, it is extremely important to invalidate the other player's cards with curses, to remove his or her cards from the game and to prevent him or her from taking new cards. An existing supremacy is not only one step to victory, but actually advantages the player who holds it. (In fact, two out of the three supremacies help you only by directly hindering your opponent -- as opposed to giving you something positive to play with). This reinforcing mechanism has the effect of making the game often end with a total disaster for the loser and a crushing victory for the winner.

Another unpleasant mechanism is that you don't automatically receive cards from the deck to fill up your hand. You must use one of your cards or have a supremacy or completely skip your turn if you want to pick up new cards. Therefore this is a card game with a systematic shortage of cards on both sides.

The only positive point I could find in the game are the nicely illustrated cards.

Seems to be a 'Reiner-on-a-bad-day' product from a designer(Reiner Knizia) whose games I often appreciate a lot.

December 29, 2003

The idea was good, a card game that could have been a CCG, but wasn't. Only one investment required, thank you. Unfortunately Scarab Lords does not follow through with an enjoyable game.

Each player has a pre-made deck of 30 cards with a third deck of 24 provided that each player can choose cards from to customize their own respective deck. A turn is divided into 0,1,2, and S phases. During each phase a player may play a card with that number on it or take the action on a card of that number already in play. The 'board' is divided into 2 regions of 3 areas each. The player to dominate in two of the three areas in both region is the winner.

I am no fan of Collectable Card Games (I used to be) mostly because they are money pits. I had high hopes for Scarab Lords, because it was a one time investment, and a Knizia game. I am sad to report that this game is rather dry. Although there are theoretically lots of choices to be made, the reality is quite different unless you are really lucky. The cards are, well, boring. Play is, well, very boring.

Like most Knizia games the theme feels 'pasted on'. Instead of an ancient Egypt theme I think a wild west theme (or anything else for that matter) would have had much more appeal. God cards could be replaced with Governor of the Territory, for example. Minions could be cowboys or deputies, leaders could be sheriffs or rail barons. You get the idea.(And why does the box cover depict dragons flying over an ancient Egyptian scene?)

All in all, choices are too limited and a 30-42 card deck with most cards duplicated several times, and, frankly, none of them very interesting, just makes for a boring game.

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