Posted in Enthusiast Games, Full length, Short length

Paladins of the West Kingdom – review

The Paladins look seriously mean, and choosing the right one at the right time is the key to a good game

Summary:

Paladins of the West Kingdom is an Enthusiast level game of Short + or Full – length for 1 to 4 players.

Paladins includes a native solo mode with an AI opponent on a specially printed gameboard – I haven’t tried it yet and it’s not part of this review¹.

Here’s what we mean when we rate game ‘weight’ or level or game length or player count.

The best bits of this game are the Paladins, hands down.  It’s a simple idea – you draw 3 of your 12 paladin cards and choose one to be your ‘champion’ for this round.  He will assist you with one type of action (see picture below).

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Each paladin only gets one round (out of seven) to help you, so choose carefully.  But, here’s the neat ‘hand management’ bit which works so well – choose one of the other two to add to the bottom of your draw pile – you won’t see him again (or at least not until much later in the game – and choose one to add to the top, so that he’s available again as one of your options next round.  This simple approach blends variety with planning for future rounds – it’s very neat.  More on the paladin cards, below.

The worst bits of Paladins are:

  1. the rulebook – you have to jump back and forth to find some bits of the info you need, and this created some challenges in my game group;
  2. the player interaction can be punishing: for example, if someone attacks (or converts) an Outsider who you really want before you get a chance, then you can really take a hit – because they’re not replaced until end of round, and the different types of worker meeples have different strengths, so it can be tough to redeploy them effectively.  This is slightly mitigated by the ability to carry up to 3 workers over to the next round.

Review:

You own medieval town is in front of you. You’ve chosen your champion paladin for the current round – he may encourage hunting for provisions, for example –  so you will probably use one or two of those workers to hunt.  Include a green (Scout) worker if you want good results!  If you chose the optimal paladin, then he will also have come with a Scout worker or two, whether or not you could hire one from the Tavern.

Your opponent might have missed out on the Cleric they wanted from the Tavern at the start of the round – perhaps they got stuck with Labourers and Fighters.  Fortunately, any Labourer (or other worker) can conspire to be a Criminal – those purple workers can do it all!  You might even pilfer some coins from the taxman along the way – but you’re under Suspicion now – watch out for the Inquisition, when it arrives!

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Developing my ‘Convert’ option helped sway a whole host of Outsiders to join Team Stephen

This game is about choosing workers and gaining resources to take the actions which suit what you want to do – there are lots of options, and you definitely won’t have time in 7 rounds to do them all.  Do you want a great big wall around your town (for rewards and points)? – then, Fortify.  Keen on being a renowned warrior? – then, Attack the Outsiders (for rewards and perhaps points).  Feeling pious?  Convert the Outsiders, or Commission Monks (for rewards, points or more workers).  Back to those paladin cards we discussed earlier – each one buffs two of your three attributes for the round – so, the attacker makes you better at Attacking and rewards you with extra benefits for doing so.  Paladins of the West Kingdom really feels like you’re developing your town as you ‘engine build’ through your ‘tableau’ of  cards and wooden buildings.

The art by Mihajlo Dimitrievski is bold and cartoonish in the consistent style of Garphill Games’ recent North Sea amd West Kingdom series. The wooden workers and buildings are OK – typical for the series.  There is A LOT of game in this small box.

If you like any of the other recent Garphill Games (which I do), then you’re bound to like this one too – playing it is very satisfying and there are several different strategies available.  Paladins seems very nicely balanced and each game I have played has been close.  The player interaction is limited but it’s there (through competition for initial workers from the Tavern, the central Townsfolk and Outsider cards and the central rewards) and is occasionally punishing.

The paladin cards really help with enjoyment of the game, in my opinion, because they give new players a clue about what they might want to do in any particular round – this makes learning the game less intimidating.  The game moves quickly for us, and 7 rounds feels almost a touch too short to achieve your plans when playing – in my experience this game is a bit quicker to play than the box suggests. Definitely recommended as worth playing!

The variable “Kings Favour” cards encourage you to try different strategies for points.  In my first game I ‘Absolved’ my way to a win and in the second I ‘Converted’ up a big team of Outsider recruits.

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My menacing army of approximately willing converts

I’m convinced that concentrating on Fortifying a massive wall, Commissioning monks or creating Garrisons, or on other strategies, would also be viable.  There is an adequate amount of variability and content in the game to allow for reasonable replayability .

BoardGameGeek rates this game as 3.57 out of 5 in weight, (at the time of publication of this review).  I don’t think it’s quite that heavy but ‘comparisons are odorous‘ by nature.

Availability

Paladins of the West Kingdom is widely available. Best current price I can find is $70 at Amazon US, or from $76 to $85 at a variety of other retailers.

I love the metal coins which are not in the standard retail game but are available here.

These are, of course, our opinions only.

Footnotes:

¹ I definitely enjoy the solo mode in Raiders of the North Sea, another Garphill Games design and expect to enjoy this one too, but it deserves its own review.

Posted in Filler length, Party games

Marrying Mr Darcy – review

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a larger board game collection.”

Summary:

Marrying Mr Darcy: The Pride and Prejudice Card Game is a Party level card game of Filler length for 2 to 6 players.

Here’s what we mean when we rate game ‘weight’ or level or game length or player count.

The best bit of this game is the way in which it genuinely evokes the feeling of the book.  You play as a female character from the book, building up your character’s traits to appeal to your preferred suitor.

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Shall I concentrate on Wit, Friendliness, Reputation or Beauty?

This might sound really lame – but actually, the balance between alternate suitors and book-based events introduces genuine tension into the gameplay.  Each time I have played this, grown adults (mainly men) really get into the spirit of the game and embrace the theme. Game discussions are carried on in a ladylike fashion!

The worst bit of Marrying Mr Darcy is the amount of randomness in the card draw – but this is forgiveable in a fairly short and simple game.

Review:

Your character will begin with slightly different traits and abilities from the other maidens, then develop (by your choices, through the game) to appeal to your preferred suitor.  Despite the traditional setting, each character does feel slightly subversive – each has some agency and power in their choices, as they work and scheme towards enticing a proposal from their preferred husband.

The role of Cunning is also important – your character might be less perfect than another potential wife, but the most cunning get the first chance to marry – and once Mr Darcy (or another) is betrothed, he’s off the market!

Some matches are preferred, while others are impossible.

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One of the things which I love about this game is that ending up as an Old Maid (without a husband) can still result in a game win – it’s a nice touch.  If you love the book, this game is a must – you’ll find yourself getting in character quickly.

I enjoy the art on the cards and the game’s design choices definitely make a strong connection to the classic book.

Playing as Charlotte Lucas feels entirely different from playing as Georgiana Darcy or Elizabeth Bennet, and this means that the appeal of the game continues through a number of plays.

BoardGameGeek rates this game as 1.38 out of 5 in weight, (at the time of publication of this review).  There are some valid alternate strategies to attempt – but this rating is about right in my opinion.

Availability

Marrying Mr Darcy is fairly expensive for what you get.  Try Games Empire – about $50.

These are, of course, our opinions only.