Tuesday, December 13, 2016

For Crown and Kingdom (Rio Grande Games)

Abstract strategy games are really hit or miss for me. Sometimes, they play really well and can be really fun. Other times, I start to lose my sanity after a while and question if the game will ever end. The game I am reviewing today made me feel both of those sentiments, but before I get to my review, let me tell you about the game. The game is called For Crown and Kingdom by Rio Grande Games. It plays 2-4 players, ages 14+. It takes between 30 and 60 minutes to play (depending on the player count) and retails for $40.

Setup
1. Before your first play, apply character stickers to the round discs with a male and female symbole of the same color on each disc.
2. Place the six Region Tiles in the center to form a circle. If playing with two players, there should be six large regions. If playing with three players, there should be three large and six small regions. If playing with four players, there should be twelve small regions.
3. Give each player their five Character Discs, 6 (9 or 12) Support Tokens depending on number of players, and two coins.
4. The starting player places one of his Character Discs in any region, and then the next player does the same. This continues clockwise until all players have placed all their Character Discs on the board.

Game Play - The game takes place over several rounds with step one being optional and steps two and three being required.
1. Purchase a Bribe - On your turn, there are any number of different bribes you can perform to alter a character's movement or actions.
2. Move a Character - Select one of your characters on the board. Count the number of Character Discs in that region (including your own character) and move the Character Disc that number of regions clockwise.
3. Use that Character's Ability. - Each of you different characters have a specific ability associated with them. For example, the Duke adds a support token to a region if you have a majority of characters in that region. The Thief steals coins from other players. The ability of Scholar (by far the coolest character) changes depending on what region it lands in.

The game ends when one player has a Support Token in every region.

Review
I have very mixed feelings about this game. For starters, my wife was not a huge fan of this game. That alone caused this game to sit on my shelf longer than I am proud to admit before I got around to reviewing it. That comment aside, let me tell you what I liked and disliked about the game. For starters, I love the rondel and deciding which piece you want to move based on where the piece will land. I also liked the bribing section, which gave you little ways to break the rules and not be tied down to certain moves if you had the coins to spend. I also like the components of the game. The solid wooden discs and the board which adjusts depending on the number of players is very solid design.

As for what I didn't like, a minor issue was the theme. It felt a little pasted on there, but its abstract strategy, so probably any theme would have felt this way. It was at least a solid theme and more fun moving a Merchant to a region than moving generic disc four to a region. The other thing I didn't like about this game was higher player count. As a two-player game, this game is a solid 7 or 8 stars out of 10. There are enough tactical decisions you can plan and execute in a two-player game that you feel some semblance of control. When you move up to three players, my rating would drop to about a five. I'd play it if asked, but I wouldn't suggest it. At four players, count me out! It feels much too random and the game turns into a much longer game than I am willing to play. With all that said, if you like abstract strategy games and are looking for one that shines with two players, this one is worth checking out!

This game was provided to me for free by Rio Grande Games in exchange for an honest review.