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Have You Played... Pharaoh?

Pyramid scheme

One of the first games I picked for a Have You Played? was Zeus: Master Of Olympus. Well, Pharaoh is basically that, but Ancient Egypt. Or, if you prefer, Caesar III but Ancient Egypt.

My absolute favourite thing about Pharaoh (sold from both GOG and Steam with the Cleopatra: Queen Of The Nile expansion as Pharaoh + Cleopatra) is the farming. The agriculture is Nile based, so you have to build all your farms on the banks and your fields in the flood plain, and wait for the waters to dump a load of life-giving silt. But you also have to get the harvest finished before the flood, or your food will be washed away.

Watching that cycle every year is very meditative. I mean, you can get on with building pyramids and lighthouses if you want, but that won't change the rise and fall of the waters. The Nile cares not for your monuments. It also cares not for the general day-to-day of your city building, so you end up having to structure plans for municipal change around the harvest. Plus, fields can get lower fertility from the flood than you were expecting, leading to a leaner harvest next time. The Nile is actually a remarkably efficient way to remove player hubris.

Be careful, though, that you're not so busy watching the Nile that vast areas of your city burn down. Fire is a big hazard in Pharaoh.

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About the Author
Alice Bell avatar

Alice Bell

Deputy Editor

Small person powered by tea and books; RPS's dep ed since 2018. Send her etymological facts and cool horror or puzzle games.

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