|It's good to make friends in high placed.|
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).
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.
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.
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.
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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