Thursday, July 14, 2016

Royals board game (Origins Preview)

It's good to make friends in high placed.
As I noted in my Origins Post Game Report, my wife and I were able to try out a few pre-release titles, including Royals from Arcane Wonders, an area control game with a card mechanic. Royals supports 2 to 5 players.

Royals is scheduled for official release in August at Gen Con 2016, but they had a few hundred pre-release copies for sale at Origins (and is available for pre-order at Amazon).

Synopsis


In Royals, you draw several Country cards which determine the countries in which you may exert influence. The Country cards work similar to Ticket To Ride in that they are color coded to match the countries (red for Britain, blue for France, yellow for Spain, and green for Germany) and you collect color sets in order to purchase influence in those countries on the board.

Each country has several cities, each with 2 nobles in residence. By playing a number of country cards matching the cost of a given noble in that country, you are able to place an influence cube on that noble on the board (which may result in victory points at the end of a round), as well as a cube on the card representing the noble on the side of the board.

If you are the first to influence a noble in a given city, you also receive bonus points for that city. If you have influence in all cities in a country, you receive bonus points for that country. Influence over a noble in a given city can change hands (using Intrigue cards), so more than one person can may the country bonus in a game.

However, being the first player nets you more points. Similarly, by being the first player to influence all nobles at least once, you are granted additional points (with fewer given to the 2nd and 3rd player(s) to gain that achievement). The game is played and scored in 3 rounds, each of which ends when the country card deck is exhausted.

It sounds more complicated than it is, and there are a lot of little cardboard point markers all over the board, making it appear complex, but it's actually quite simple and plays fairly quickly once you get going.

Impressions


Source: ArcaneWonders.com
As with many of our "try before you buy" experiences at Origins, we ran short of time before we were able to complete a game, but my wife and I both recognized this would likely be a winner among our board gaming friends. Kelly really enjoys these kinds of area control / worker placement games and it played much like an intriguing mash up of Ticket To Ride and Revolution! which we both enjoy. The European version of this game was well regarded and brought to the states through the efforts of Tom Vasel (dicetower.com) working with Arcane Wonders.

Like many Euro-style games, the theme is pretty light. You are basically just buying spots on a board for points, which you could reskin in many different ways. But the game is quick to learn, easy to play and still has different strategies toward winning. Do you buy the less expensive nobles to score quick points, or do you save up your cards for the King and work on the bigger payoffs? There are trade offs to either approach and I can see having a good amount of replay trying different play tactics.

Final Thoughts


There's not much more to say other than my wife and I bought this one on the spot after trying the demo game. We enjoyed the game and hope that Arcane Wonders has a hit on its hands. If you like area control games, this one will likely be right up your alley.

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