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Reading the rules for mummies:

Mummies

Mummies are everywhere but they tend to trip over themselves, what with all those bandages! All your conquests require 1 more Mummy token than usual

I know you get 10 to start with, but is there a good side? Or is the idea to wait until it has a rather large pile of coins?

How are you supposed to play mummies to maximum effect?

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The fact that there are 10 is the good side.

This is similar to other races from the base Small World and its expansions. For example, ratmen get a larger number of tokens with no downside. Kobolds (never leave a kobold token alone), barbarians (no redeployment) and pixies (only 1 stays on the board in each region) all have even larger token numbers but have some kind of downside that let them play differently. Kobolds are good at spreading fast but only hold a normal amount of territory. Barbarians spread fast over lots of territory but can't defend it strategically. Pixies are like barbarians on steroids; even more tokens but even less ability to defend.

Mummies are similar; they get more tokens, allowing them to hold lots of territory, but they have a downside that makes them spread out more slowly. This can go well with powers that reward them for holding particular regions (the territory powers), or that want them to stick together (frightened). It also does well with certain powers, such as Tomb, by making the race much more resilient in decline. If you get a power or other ability that makes attacking easier (such as the rabbit sword), they can spread more quickly and hold more total territory.

Mummies are good when your goal is to build up a strong board presence, where consistency is more important than speed. As such, you generally don't want them as your first race unless they have a strong power combo. They'll do well when your previous declined race is still going strong, taking time to spread wide into their own large decline. Reborn is a great combo for your previous race, helping mummies spread quickly and then minimising the loss of previous pieces when they're ready to decline.

Additionally, as you mention, if the mummies aren't a great pick for the current game situation, they'll accumulate money as people skip them, making them more valuable later on.

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    To clarify, the ratmen get a larger number of tokens than the average race, not more than the mummies get (8). Any race with more than 8 tokens is going to have a special ability that is primarily negative. Jul 23 '18 at 13:48
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Here are the 3 ways you use Mummies to maximum effect:

  1. Don't go for the monsters
  2. Look for synergies with special powers
  3. As a counter to Gnomes

Don't go for the monsters

In Underground, monster tokens protect Relics/Places, often on mountain tiles. So that is a lot of troops to commit.

I like to use the Mummies to pool around strong points. Favoured targets are empty spaces and races that are in decline.

Try to keep the Mummies going for 2 rounds, then go into decline.

Look for synergies with special powers

Many of the Special Powers work well with Mummies, but seeing as I advocate declining early, then Reborn, Tomb and Vanishing are helpful Special Powers.

As a counter to Gnomes

Recall that the Gnomes racial trait is:

During their turns, other players cannot use their racial & special powers or any effect of the Places or Relics they control, to conquer Regions occupied by your Gnomes.

So the Gnomes cancel out the Mummies' weakness.

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