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2
United Kingdom
Go to the Royals page
 
Bongo_clive {Avid Gamer} Aug 9th, 2022
“ A Back of the Shelf review of Royals”

Royals

I have long passed the days of suggesting Catan or Ticket to Ride as the perfect ‘Gateway Game’. If I’m trying to impress someone, to entice them into this wonderful hobby, my go to game has for some time been Ethnos.

Does Royals have the chops to supplant the champ?

Setting

Royals takes place in that staple setting of board games, Medieval Europe. England, France, Germany and Spain are up for grabs, and their respective nobility are there to be won over.

The board is broad and busy, a map of Europe with various little tracks and charts dotted about. Much like Ethnos, the theme is irrelevant, and could really have been anything else. If I was a betting man, I’d say the relative obscurity of Royals is down to it’s bland, generic theme.

And this is a colossal shame, because the gameplay is anything but bland.

Gameplay

To gain favour with an Earl, Princess or King, you must sacrifice cards with symbols of their respective nationalities. The higher the rank, the more cards you will need. Once you gain favour, you place a marker on their city on the board, and another marker on their respective portrait that sits off to one side. The first to impress someone in this way gains points from the city, which are not available after first being won.

To gain the necessary cards, you must pick up from a face up/face down pool, immediately familiar to players of TtR, and still a delightful little game of ‘push your luck’. Naturally, the early stages of the game see players picking up fists of cards and splurging them on easily swayed aristocrats.

But as the game progresses, the cities fill up with red and blue and yellow, and easy pickings become harder to find. Gaining influence over the nobles then requires serious investment in single suits of cards for the big fish, or some foxy intrigue.

You see, when collecting cards, players are presented with the choice of influence cards and intrigue cards. Influence is used to gain favour with the nobles and are hoovered up quickly, but intrigue cards are used to usurp nobles from others’ spheres of influence, placing your own marker with the noble. They are the choice of the long term, as the early points are already gone.

Because as the deck dwindles, all eyes turn towards the national influence points. Three times you will play through the deck, which seems daunting when first explained, but in a game that moves as fast as this, soon reveals itself to be quite manageable. At the end of each of these ‘ages’, influence in each nation is counted up and further points awarded.

Play commences again, with a reshuffled deck and a board full of influence. It’s somewhere around the middle of the 2nd age that intrigue begins to bite, and the push and pull of intrigue, usurpation and feuds really kicks in and seething resentment sometimes explodes into naked aggression.

Once the dust settles, and blood pressures come down, at the end of the 3rd age, points are allocated, counted and the person with the most is declared the winner.

Looks

Alas, all the potential Royals has in it’s simple, direct gameplay, it more than undercuts with it’s appearance. By the end of the 1st age, the board is awash with cubes, and becomes increasingly difficult to parse. You are constantly required to slide cubes to one side to see which portraits they cover, and it never becomes an easy task to work out which cities belong to which country.

In a game where 1 or 2 points of influence can have dramatic effects, this is bordering on the unforgivable.

And in a game as themeless as this, it’s bizarre they didn’t go with something truly imaginative.

Accessibility

Easy to grasp rules, sitting in a 6 page rule book place this squarely on the lower levels of complexity.

I watched a video, read the rules, and was good to go, with only a few occasions requiring a check of the book.

Conclusion

The setting is at least a little friendlier than the high fantasy orcs, halflings and minotaurs of Ethnos, but when compared to the simplicity of that modern classic, or the other Gateway heavyweight Ticket to Ride, Royals is just a bit too busy to receive unqualified enthusiasm.

A shame, as this could have been something special.

We’ll put this top of the list of games desperate for a reskin/retheme right next to Ethnos.

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0 out of 0 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
1
Go to the Martian Dice page
 
crimedoc {Avid Gamer} Jul 18th, 2022
“Fun, quick, simple filler game”

Martian Dice is an easy-to-learn push-your-luck dice-rolling game (goodness, all the hyphens in this sentence!)

Anyway, it’s a great quick game that’s perfect to play as a filler or when you’ve only got a short time. The game includes a dice cup and 13 dice. Basically, you are a Martian invading Earth and trying to collect living creatures. The humans are trying to stop you with tanks but you have death rays to retaliate!

Each die shows two death rays, a tank, a chicken, a cow, and a human (these are the three types of living creatures you want to collect). On your turn, you roll all the dice and first set aside any tanks. Then you can set aside one other symbol. The catch is that except for the death rays and tanks, you can only set aside each type of creature once – so if you set aside a human on your first roll, you can never keep humans again that round. Death rays can be set aside repeatedly becuase you must have at least as many of those as there are tanks or you will be driven away from Earth and score no points that turn. You can stop rolling at any time and score your dice or keep rolling to try to eaern more points. You earn one point for each creature, and you get a bonus of three points if you collect all three types on the same turn.

This sounds more complicated than it really is – it takes less than 5 minutes to teach someone the game and start playing. It’s fun, quick, and surprisingly addictive! And since it’s basically just 13 dice, it’s really portable too.

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0 out of 0 gamers thought this review was helpful
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4
I'm a Real Person
Go to the Tuscany page
 
kem2070 {Casual Gamer} Jun 26th, 2022
“A great expansion to a great game”

Tuscany (I am talking about the Essential Edition) is actually three expansions: extended board, special workers, and structures. There is a lot more to think about when compared to the base game. It isn’t hard to learn, but it will take a little bit to get used to the new strategic thinking you need to go through on your turn.

From videos I have seen and reviews I have read, I would also recommended doing the expansions separately until you learn how they work, then add them all together.

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1 out of 1 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
1
Go to the Arkwright page
9
Bullsnboards {Power Gamer} Apr 28th, 2022
“Economic brilliance”

Dry as a bone, but beautifully designed. One of the crunchiest economics games I’ve ever played. Once it clicks you can’t help but ponder every step you take in this game. Use your actions towards gaining industries and manipulate the market for financial gain. Forward thinking is a must as everyone is catering to a common supply pool of customers. Produce and sell good to stand victorious at games end.

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1 out of 2 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
Go to the Love Letter: Kanai Factory Edition page
 
storkb0mb {Avid Gamer} Feb 4th, 2022
“Possibly one of the most elegently designed card games ever made. ”

The fact is, I spent 20 minutes typing and re-typing trying to explain the rules to you because of how easy, simple, intricate, and borderline perfect they are.

But I’m not going to do that. I’m sure you can find “How to Play Love Letter” articles all over the internet. Just gotta say that for the price of this game, (and assuming you’ve ever enjoyed a board/card game before), you are doing yourself a major disservice by not owning this game.

The short version is: you win by being the last person not eliminated from the round, OR by having the highest card in your hand after the deck draws out.This opens up possible victory via process of elimination, out-manipulating your opponents, having the best poker face, OR by (maybe subtly coaxing) your opponents into getting a little too greedy…

All of this depth from a game with SIXTEEN cards – it’s truly an impressive achievement.

There is some luck involved, as there will be with any card game with random starting hands, but not so much that skilled play can’t save the day for you.

One thing worth mentioning – this version: the Kanai Factory Edition, has a slight rules difference than most of the other versions. Again, I’m trying to avoid teaching you the whole game in a review, but the Kanai version has a rule where you can potentially instantly lose if you hang on to high value cards (which, recall, is the goal of the game).

The other versions (Tempest, etc) replace that rule with one that may either allow for more strategy….or may put you at a serious disadvantage. Personally, I like the sudden death version of the original Kanai Factory Rules, but you may want to do your research when choosing a version (although technically, you could play with either rule set with any version….shhh don’t tell).

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2 out of 2 gamers thought this review was helpful

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