Thursday, July 28, 2016

Junior Labyrinth, Produced by Ravensburger, Reviewed by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions

Junior Labyrinth, Produced by Ravensburger, with Design by Max J. Kobbert &, Artwork by Joachim Krause

Reviewed by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions

What are the recommendations for this game?

Number of players: 2-4
Time of game: Not stated (our games lasted roughly 15 minutes each)
Age recommendation: 5 years and older

The back story: 

You are ghosts in a maze. This maze is ever shifting, and to escape all of the important items/creatures/people must be found. The twelve that must be found are:
A jester, a dragon, a lute, a dagger, a clock, a treasure chest, a knight's helmet, an owl, a mouse knight, a frog, a candelabra, and a throne.

What comes in the game?

Rules Booklet
One game board
12 secret tokens (the 12 items/creatures/people mentioned above)
4 Ghosts with stands to serve as player pawns (one each of red, blue, green, and yellow)
17 maze cards

What is the end game objective? What am I striving for?

In this game you want to collect the most tokens, for when the last one is claimed by one of the players, the player with the most tokens wins. Each token can be considered as 1 point.

How do I set the game up?

Set the board up, and notice that there will pieces locked into place, players will be moving pieces around them. Make sure your pieces are accounted for, and the ghosts are in their stands. You will shuffle the maze cards and place them face up on the board, this makes it so that the game board is different each time you play. One maze piece will be left over.  Players will insert this piece into the maze, causing a row or a column to move either up/down/left/right and pushing another maze piece off the board. You will mix the 12 secret tokens face down beside the board. Players will draw from this pile which will tell them what item/creature/person they have to rescue. Place your ghost on the corresponding space on the corner of the board.

Now to play:  

The players determine who is the bravest to start. Turns will continue in a clockwise fashion from this point. You will take the extra maze tile and place it in such a way that your ghost will have a clear travelling path (or as close as you can get) to the matching picture of the secret token you have drawn. There are arrows on the board to assist you on what rows and columns can move, and in what way. The maze tile that is pushed off must be used by the next player. You will move to whatever position you deem is best to try and reach the symbol that you have drawn. Walls will stop your movement.

Special Note: A maze card can't be pushed back in at the same place where the previous ghost sent it off the board.

Special Note: If a ghost is pushed off the board, they are then placed onto the tile that was added back to the board.

Special Note: If a ghost is pushed off the board, and placed back on the board, this moving of a playing piece does not count as a turn.

Special Note: You can be on a space that is occupied by other players.

If you reach your goal, then score your token (keep it in your personal space at the table) and end your turn. Otherwise, you will say your turn has ended when you stop your ghost in what you believe to be the best position possible. The next player will continue the hunt of the drawn token, and if they are able to reach it, then they take the token for their own.

When does the game end?

When the last token is claimed.

Are there any variations for this game?

You could mix up the tokens and distribute them out to all the players. Once a player completes all of theirs, everyone else who hasn't played in that round will get to respond. The highest score at that point wins. Another way is with the tokens only known to you, going from the previously mentioned distribution to all players. When a ghost completes a token, then it is revealed.

Some game results:

First game, our 5 year old daughter Talia beat me 5 to 4, as we had to cut our game short due to an emergency. She had collected the Frog, the Dagger, The Candelabra, and the Helmet. I had the Jester, the Clock, The Treasure Chest, and the Chair. She was the blue ghost, and I was the red ghost.
Our second game was daddy winning 7 to 5, and it played about 20 minutes.
The third game was my nephew Ian against myself, and I had won 7 to 5 as well, in about the same amount of time. Ian was also able to easily pick up the rules of the game, and he is 9.

Final Thoughts:

First, let me be very clear that I am scoring this as a Family Game, with small children. My boardgamegeek score would reflect that some or all the players would be children. I would not expect a group of all adults to play this version of Labyrinth. That being said, on a family adjusted scale this game is a solid 8 out of 10. There have been a few times that the kids wanted to play something else, but about 80% of the time they will play it. The learning curve is not overwhelming, but for some, making the spatial recognition and connections might be a little bit of a struggle. For little ones, it can possibly be taxing due to the ability or inability to see moves ahead in one's mind (if I do this, it will lead to that), and not everyone easily picks that up.

I fully believe that this is a great family game that deserves at minimum a look, especially if you are trying to play games with your little ones that help them develop skills to look ahead.

Thank you so much for reading this report on Junior Labyrinth!

I hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

check out some of my videos at:

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or Itunes:

and remember I am always....READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pixel Glory, Produced by Zafty 2015, Reviewed by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions

Pixel Glory, Produced by Zafty 2015, with Design by Frank Alberts & Russell Ng, Artwork by Russell Ng, Clara Ng, and Konstantin Boyko
Reviewed by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions

What are the recommendations for this game?
Number of players: 2-4
Time of game: 30 minutes
Age recommendation: 13 years and older

The back story: You are a party of magic users, reminiscent of an adventuring party in Final Fantasy 1 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) North American Side. It is as if the players are all mages, who will set forth into the local dungeon to kill not only monsters, but a Dungeon Lord (Final Boss), and a Dungeon Keeper (Dungeon Lord's Lieutenant). The party must work together in casting spells but it is everyone for themselves in dealing the killing blow (you receive the Glory Points on the monster/lord/keeper by dealing the killing blow). Clear out all of the monsters and the Dungeon Keeper to fight the Dungeon Lord, and the highest score at the end wins!

What comes in the game?
Rules Booklet
90 Basic Attack Cards made up of 30 Fire, 30 Earth, and 30 Water
36 Spell Cards made up of 12 Fire, 12 Earth, and 12 Water
26 Monster Cards
36 Auction Cards (9 for each player, with values of 1 through 9 for each player)
1 Tiebreaker Staff Card
4 Tooltip Cards
12 White Cubes that track Combo Point Counters
12 Red Cubes that track 1 Hp each
7 Red Hearts that track 5 Hp each

Special Note: We added 20 Wood Cubes and 10 Wood Hearts (all natural wood color) to help support tokens being placed in the game. The Wood Cubes are 1 Hp each, and the Wood Hearts are 5 Hp each.

What is the end game objective? What am I striving for?
In this game you want to collect the best spells through an Auction process. Each player will use their Auction cards (1-9) to bid on spells that are drawn and placed in an available pool. Each player will receive a total of 9 Spell Cards, and whatever appropriate support Basic Cards they need (at the bottom of the Spell Cards they will have an element times a number, such as Fire x3, which would mean if you receive that spell card you also take 3 Basic Fire cards with it). The bidding serves the purpose of the highest bid chooses first, next highest is second and so on. There will be an extra spell that is discarded during each bid in a two or three player game, while all spells are taken during each bid in a four player game. These cards will form your deck to be used during the second phase (Dungeon), and the auction is known as the Town Phase. Once the Town Phase is over, all the players enter the Dungeon Phase. You will have to consider on your turn how to deal out enough damage to kill enemies and get their points, while not making enemies too weak and thus easier for your opponents to kill. Don't fret if you don't kill an enemy, because if you fail to do so on your turn you will receive 1 Combo Point (White Cube), and you can use 3 of them to instantly kill any non Dungeon Lord/non Dungeon Keeper Card (Elemental Cards are what can be killed, and they are denoted by being colored Red for Fire, Blue for Water, and Green for Earth, there will also be symbols on your Basic Cards that correspond to the colors with Flame for Fire, Water Drop for Water, and Leaf for Earth). When all the Monsters and Dungeon Keeper are defeated, then out comes the Dungeon Lord, once it is defeated, the player with the highest points wins!

How do you deal damage and defeat monsters and win the game?
You have victory points on the bottom right of the Monster/Lord/Keeper Cards that will vary from 1 to 3 points each. In order to gain the victory points, you will need to deal enough damage to kill the monster, which will be denoted in the top right, and will vary from 8 Hp to 20 Hp.
At the start of your turn, you will draw 4 cards, you must use all of your cards during your turn.  Even if you don't want to, you must exhaust all of your cards during your turn, regardless of whether or not it sets up your opponent to defeat the monster.  The exception to this is that you can put one card in "reserve" at any time.  You can also take your card out of reserve and use it at any time. Your spells will deal certain amounts of damage. If you use an attack card against its elemental weakness you will add +1 damage per card used,  (Earth is weak to Fire, Water is weak to Earth, and Fire is weak to Water). If you use 2 Fire attack cards against Gargantula (weakness Fire) you will deal 4 damage (each card is 1 damage, and due to elemental weakness you deal +1 and +1 again, so 1 base +1 weakness +1 base +1 weakness for a total of 4 damage from those two cards. You can also use Basic attack cards to set off an SP condition (Synergy Points) on a Spell card to use extra abilities and deal extra damage. If the card says 3 SP and is red, if you sacrifice 3 Basic Fire cards with the Spell you activate its SP power instead of its regular power. All of this is how you kill creatures, and then add up your points at the end to determine who has the highest.

Special notes about scoring:  In the event of any tie, whether it is during an auction, or totaling of points at the end, the person holding the Staff of Tiebreaking wins! When the Staff of Tiebreaking has been used to decide something, it is then passed to the other person who lost the tie, if this is not applicable then give it to the next player involved in the tie in clockwise order.

How long does the game go? How does a game turn work?
The game is set for 30 minutes. There are the two phases, first is the Town Phase, and second is the Dungeon Phase. The Town Phase will see everyone build their personal arsenal of Basic and Spell Cards. When each player has gone through nine bids, then the second phase starts. The Dungeon phase will see 11 to 15 monsters (depending on number of players), and 3 monsters come out at a time (unless you play as two players in which case you will see all 11 at once). Once these monsters are defeated, including the Dungeon Keeper, you will all fight the Dungeon Lord. Once it is defeated, count those points up, and highest wins! The longest part of phase one will be deciding what spells you want to have and use. The longest part of phase two will be deciding how to distribute your damage to maximize your points and minimize points for the other players.

Final thoughts:
First off, this game blows my mind at how it throws me back to playing Final Fantasy I  on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and Final Fantasy II and III on the Super Nintendo. It is themed beautifully for this. The game plays quick, and the learning curve is low. Everyone is guaranteed their nine spell cards, but the auction can become interesting when there is one really great spell in a group. The second phase made for a constant struggle between dealing out damage to kill monsters but not set up the other player for success on their turn. It was very gratifying when you would kill a monster, and you would do everything in your power not to hand over the game to the other player. Lots of strategic decisions to be made here.

You are going to like this if you are into deck building, spell casting, and damage distribution games. This is not a heavy, nor a long game, so it will serve to be a great in between game. If you or your players like throw backs to some of the Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPG) then this is a must get!
We loved that it played quick, and that the score went back and forth until the very end. My wife was up by one fighting the Dungeon Lord, so whoever dealt the killing blow would win the game, and she did in an epic fashion. It was down to the wire, and even though I lost, I felt pleased with a narrow loss. We will be teaching it to our kids as we believe the learning curve easily allows for it, so I can strongly recommend this as a family game as well. I see great potential for expansions and homebrews for not only additional monsters and bosses, but also spell cards and new elements. What was bad, was there were some game issues not clearly addressed, such as what defines a monster, and why would the Dungeon Lord allow you to gain combo points if they could only be used on other monsters, yet those monsters wouldn't be there as the Dungeon Lord is the final boss. Also why obtain combo points if they cannot be used on the Dungeon Lord.

All in all I score this a 9 and my wife and 8 on the BoardGameGeek scale, and that says a lot seeing how she publically declares all the time that she is not into deck building games. This is a game that deserves a look at minimum, but will probably be a hit with a lot of players that are nostalgic about 80's and 90's video game rpgs!

Thank you so much for reading this report on Pixel Glory!

I hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

check out some of my videos at:

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or Itunes:

and remember I am always....READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft, A game by Diego Ibanez, Art by Pedro Soto, and produced by Devir -Reviewed by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions

Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft, A game by Diego Ibanez, Art by Pedro Soto, and produced by Devir
Reviewed by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions

What are the recommendations for this game?
Number of players: 2
Time of game: 30 minutes
Age recommendation: 10 years and older

The back story: In this two player game, one of you will choose to represent Sherlock Holmes (arguably the greatest detective of any story) or Mycroft Holmes, who represents the Crown's Prosecution. The two brothers are pitted against each other over a case of one Michael Chapman, who has been arrested  in connection to a bombing in London's Houses of Parliament. If Mycroft wins, then Michael was guilty of being a terrorist, and if Sherlock wins, then Michael is innocent (Michael's family has hired Sherlock to prove his innocence in the matter). It is an investigative duel between the Holmes Brothers.

What comes in the game?
The Game Board (which marks the days- rounds- of the investigation)
3 Action Marker meeples for each player (blue and orange)
12 Character Cards consisting of: Doctor Watson, Mrs. Hudson, Inspector Lestrade, Irene Adler, Inspector Gregson, Wiggins, Langdale Pike, Toby, Shinwell "Porky" Johnson, Billy The Bellboy, Von Kramm, and Violet Hunter
3 Optional Cards consisting of: 1 two sided card of Sherlock/Mycroft,  1 James Moriarty card, and 1 Sebastian Moran card
A clue deck of 52 cards: 3x False Pass, 4x Explosive, 5x Cigarette, 6x Bullet, 7x Button, 8x Footprint, 9x Fingerprint, 5x Wildcard, and 5x Map Fragment
24 Investigation Markers (Magnifying Glass)
Rules Booklet

What is the end game objective? What am I striving for?
In this game you want to collect the most of a type of card. In this sense you are card collecting (collecting clues), and you want to have the most of each type at the end of the game to get the listed number of points on the card. To get these cards, you visit characters that allow you to spend your investigation tokens and in return receive cards. To do this, you will need to visit characters to receive investigation tokens. So get investigation tokens to get cards to have the most of each card type to win the game. Thematically speaking, it is as if you, by having the most of a certain type of clue, make the correct deductions, and receive the points for it.
How do we count these points for end game scoring?
You have 7 main types of clues with the values 3,4,5,6,7,8,9, and if you have the majority of a given number you receive the point value of the card minus the number of cards the opponent holds of that given type.
Example, in our game my wife and I each had 5 nine cards, she had 5 of the nines, and I had 4 and added a wild card, so because of this no one was awarded the points for the nines. Had I not been able to add the wild card to them, she would have had 9 minus my 4 cards of the nine type, giving her a total of 5 points for that number.
You then have the Map Fragment cards that work like this:
If you have one, you lose a point
If you have two, you gain a point
If you have three, you gain 3 points
If you have four, you gain 6 points
and if you have five, you gain 10 points

Special notes about scoring:  You can add the wild card immediately to a preexisting clue set, or start a new clue set on a later turn, but if it is unassigned at game's end, you subtract 3 points for each one this way. The other thing to consider is that you will have some clues as open knowledge (white card image at the bottom of the character card, or private knowledge with a black card image at the bottom of the character card), so you may not know what is being held until the very end of the game. Finally, there are some characters whose ability allows you to steal or trade cards with your opponent, so clues that are out in the open are never truly safe.

How long does the game go? How does a game turn work?
The game is set for seven turns (days of investigation). On day one, you will set up Dr. Watson Mrs. Hudson, and Inspector Lestrade as three characters that are never exhausted. A character is exhausted if both players visit that character on the same day. Exhausted characters must "rest" for the next day and are flipped over at the end of the day. You will draw two characters at random to be placed below Mrs. Hudson and Inspector Lestrade for day one. After that you will draw one character at random to be added each day, so this means at the end of the game there will be one character left that was not drawn (this helps keep each game different). The first step is ignored on day one, which is when the new character emerges, as this is already done for day one with setup.  You will take turns taking actions with your meeples, three each, and as you do this lay your meeple down like it is on its back to know it is spent. On new days, you just stand them up to show they are at the ready. You then take turns moving your meeple from where it was to its new location. Some things to remember, you can never have more than one of your meeples on any given character, and you can't go to a character that is exhausted. When you visit a character, you follow the actions listed on the card, and then the other player moves a meeple and does the same. At the end of the day, flip over the characters who are exhausted and the ones who have rested during the day so they are once again active.  For example, if both players visit Inspector Gregson on day one, that will mean that the Inspector will be flipped and unusable for day two, and he will be ready to use on day three. After you have flipped exhausted and rested characters, stand your meeples back up, and draw the new character to start the next day (round).

Final thoughts:
First off, what a great game! My wife scores it as a 9 and I a 10 on the Boardgamegeek scale. We loved that it had a solid yet easy learning curve. We loved that it played very fast, and we loved that it was very close all the way to the end. With this game, you are collecting tokens and cards, and you need to strategize keeping in mind the number of turns and days remaining. If the investigation token pile runs out, you have to spend as no more can be collected, so the game does not lend itself to resource hoarding. You also have to take into account cards that are hidden from public knowledge versus those that are exposed for all to see, as well as wild cards, which can swing the balance at a crucial moment.
The game plays well, with a great theme, but there isn't any actual mystery solving as part of the game.  This can be seen as both a positive and a negative.  For those who want to solve a puzzle or mystery, they might be disappointed but for those who are not really interested in solving mysteries or that aren't huge Sherlock Holmes fans, the theming is good, but not overwhelming. If you are looking for a great two player head to head game where each choice can make the difference in your victory, then look no further because you have found it!

Thank you so much for reading this report on Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft!

I hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

check out some of my videos at:

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or Itunes:

and remember I am always....READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Quadropolis from Days Of Wonder, Reviewed by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions

Quadropolis from Days Of Wonder
Reviewed by  Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions

Who made it? Who should play it? What does it come with?

Days Of Wonder created this game through direction from Francois Gandon, and is listed as 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, lasting 30 to 60 minutes. It comes with 1 Construction Site Board, 4 double-sided player mats, 142 building tiles, 20 architects (to claim tiles with), 1 urbanist (to mark the tile just claimed), 1 mayor (first turn marker), 65 inhabitants (blue meeples), 50 energy units (red cylinders), 1 scoring pad, 4 helpers, 1 cloth bag, and 1 rule book.

What is this game about?

In this game of two to four players, you seek to build the best (highest points at the end of the game) city (listed as metropolis) by placing tiles that come in the forms of apartment towers, shops, factories, harbors, public services, and parks. You will seek to optimize your placements through the game as you may block yourself out of a key placement late in the game, and you will also want to follow the scoring charts provided to get the maximum number of points from your placement. The game is played over four rounds, and each round is made up of four turns. A turn will be taking a tile, and placing it. You will do this four times during each round for a total of 16 total tiles you will have at the end of the game. You may not necessarily fill your board of 16 spots (4 by 4 grid) as you will debate on stacking apartments for their category of point scoring.


You set up tiles on a centered 5 by 5 grid board so, there will be 25 tiles out for people to choose from. The placement and draws will be random from those marked with the number for the correct round. Tiles with the number 1 would be placed in the bag and chosen from during round 1 ( and number 2 for round 2 and so on).


Each of your players are going to operate and choose with four architects. Each architect has a number on it, the numbers will be 1, 2, 3, or 4. You will use one of these pieces to point to a tile you want, and the pointing will follow a column or a row, and the number on the architect will be the number of spaces you will go in from the outside of the construction board to the tile you must take. You must then follow this number that you used on your architect, and place the newly chosen tile on the column or row on your board with the matching number. This will allow you to claim a person (people/meeple(s)), victory points, and/or energy. You will find this information at the top left of the tile. This is not enough though, as you must allocate what the tile needs to be activated, which is found in the bottom right corner. If a tile is not activated at the end of the game, then it does not count towards scoring, so it is very important to pay attention to what you are collecting and what you are needing at the end of the game. Extra people/ energy each count as minus one point each for what could be described as unemployment and wasted energy. In the case of the wasted energy, you can have parks, that reduce some of it. For each park you have you can cancel out one extra energy, if you need to, at the end of the game. After a player takes their tile, the Urbanist pawn is placed on that spot. The next player cannot place their architect in a position in line with the Urbanist pawn. In addition, they cannot place their architect on top of another players architect. Once everyone has played their four architects, that will mark the end of a round, the remaining tiles are removed, and you place the next round's tiles in the bag to be drawn on to the board.

Notes for Scoring:
Your apartment towers are scored based on the number in the stack, anywhere from one to four. Your shops are going to score depending on how many meeples you placed in them at the end of the game. The public services will score by being placed in different quadrants of your city. The parks score in accordance with how many apartment towers are adjacent to their placement. The factories give you points based on adjacent shops and harbors (please note that the points to each type are different). The harbors score based on how many harbors are adjacent both in a column and a row, starting with one. Some tiles will have additional bonus points listed in the upper left corner.
The scoring for Apartment Towers is:
1 floor is 1 point.
2 floors is 3 points
3 floors is 6 points
4 floors is 10 points

The scoring for Shops is:
1 meeple is 1 point
2 meeples is 2 points
3 meeples is 4 points
4 meeples is 7 points

The scoring for Public Services is:
In one quadrant is 2 points
In two quadrants is 5 points
In three quadrants is 9 points
In four quadrants is 14 points

The scoring for parks is:
One adjacent tower is 2 points
Two adjacent towers is 4 points
Three adjacent towers is 7 points
Four adjacent towers is 11 points

The scoring for Factories is:
For each adjacent Shop add 2 points
For each adjacent Harbor add 3 points

The scoring for Harbors is:
If you have one aligned harbor you get 0 points
If you have two in your row/column aligned you get 3 points
If you have three in your row/column aligned you get 7 points
If you have four in your row/column aligned you get 12 points.

Anything else to the game?

You are also given the rules and pieces needed for Expert Mode, where you will play 5 rounds instead of 4. It will also change rules for your placement. You will receive Expert buildings for this mode, and must follow Expert scoring. There are also several promo tiles that are available for the game, but at the time of this review, seemed to be hard to acquire.

How did it play for us?

Our good friend Rob was at the helm to teach us the game, and three of the four of us managed to not have a major lock out placement (where you couldn't place the tile you picked), and we felt overall that the game made sense from halfway on. Rob won with 53 points to my 47, Stephanie (my wife) had 46, and Hailey (Rob's wife) had 34. The game played right around its described learning curve and time.

Final thoughts:

If you like having to decide on tiles for tile placement, and constantly being on the lookout for the best combinations of placements then this is a good fit for you. It will require strong attentiveness, as you will do your best to not close yourself out on a future turn. Randomness will come from other players choices, along with the tiles chosen for placement on the construction board. If you enjoy a level of satisfaction from making pieces on your board sync up, then this is a great choice. If you have no problem accepting that pieces you will need might be taken or blocked, then you are prepared to play this game.

Thank you so much for reading this report on Quadropolis!

I hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

check out some of my videos at:

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or Itunes:

and remember I am always....READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Royals Board Game by Arcane Wonders, covered by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions

Royals Board Game by Arcane Wonders covered by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions:
 A Review, Rules, Session and Summary

Welcome!  This is a game where you play as leaders of Noble Houses during the 17th Century. All of you will be fighting to gain control across Europe, and through the use of Intrigue Cards (for assassinations) and Country Cards (for placement) you will be able to place a cube or move over someone else's cube on cities across the continent. If you are the first to place in a city you will receive a city bonus. If you are the first or second to place influence in every city for a country, you will receive a bonus. If the cards from the Country Deck run out, then you will score for a period. There are three in the game, 1648,  1680, and 1714. Then you will score for influence you have placed on positions in the royal courts (a side board of cards), and you get to place on them as you take control of cities. You will want to diversify, and you will want to have the highest score at the end of the game to win.

What comes with the game?  1 Game board showing the map of Europe during the mid-17th century. 102 Country Cards made up as 31 for France, 26 for the German States, 25 for Britain, and 20 for Spain. You also get 24 Intrigue Cards, made up of 4 for each country combination. There are 16 hexagonal City bonus markers made up of 5 French, 4 German, 3 British, and 4 Spanish.  There are 8 shield-shaped Country Bonus Markers made up of 2 French, 2 German, 2 British, and 2 Spanish. You get 3 round Noble House Bonus Markers. There are 24 square Period Scoring Markers, 6 French, 6 German, 6 British, and 6 Spanish. There are 7 rectangular Title scoring markers, each have two parts (in case of a tie between only two players) that are made up of  the Marshal, Baron, Countess, Duke, Cardinal, Princess, and the King. You get the rule book, and 200 wooden cubes in five colors (blue, red, yellow, purple, and orange (46 each)). Our copy being for review had different colors.

The Goal: Have the highest amount of victory points at the end of three Periods. You are a royal house from the 17th Century fighting for supremacy across Europe. You get points for claiming influence in cities, claiming influence e over royals, and influence over countries.

Setup: Choose a color and its cubes, place the game board, oldest player starts. Place the point markers in their correct spot on the board. Place the noble house markers along the side of the board. In a two player game use only nobles with value 8, and in a 3 player game use only nobles marked 8 or 12.  Place the era scoring markers in their correct position (1648, 1680, and 1714). Remove some of the country cards if not playing a 5 player game as follows:
2 players then remove 7 France cards, 6 Britain cards, 5 Spain cards, and 6 German cards
3 players then remove 6 France cards, 5 Britain cards, 4 Spain cards, and 5 German cards
4 players then remove 5 France cards, 4 Britain cards, 3 Spain cards, and 4 German cards
Shuffle the rest of the country cards to form starting deck. Shuffle the intrigue cards to form separate deck. Turn over 3 Country Cards to see, all of the rest of the cards from both decks are face down.

Play the Game: First, you must draw cards, and the first turn has a special number set:
2 players so first player draws 1, second player draws 2
3 players so first player draws 1, second player draws 1, third player draws 2
4 players so first player draws 1, second player draws 1, third player draws 2, fourth player draws 2
5 players so first player draws 1, second player draws 1, third player draws 2, fourth player draws 2, fifth player draws 3

Then conduct your turn as per the following:

WHAT YOU DO FIRST: after first turn,  you choose one option of:
-draw 3 country cards to your hand    OR  -draw 1 country card and 1 intrigue card. When you draw from the face up, they count as normal, also they don't refill until the end of the player's turn.  When the Country card deck runs out, the period ends. Conduct scoring, and then take the discards to form new deck. You hold over what you have in your hand. There is a 12 card limit for Countries, and a 4 card limit for Intrigue for your hand. You can exceed this during your turn, but must discard down at end of turn if you are over.

WHAT YOU DO SECOND: Optional is to play your cards, otherwise you hold them. You may play any number of cards from your hand as long as you meet the requirements of your play. You can claim a Vacant Noble spot on the board by paying the correct cost of cards in the matching Country color. When you do this place a cube on the position of the city, and on the type of noble that is at the side of the board. Any 3 Country cards count as any one you need, and any 2 Intrigue cards count as any one you need.
Another option is to assassinate someone's noble cube. You must pay the correct number of Country cards for the location and one card of the correct intrigue Country (or any two as stated above), and you push the cube to the Cathedral position of that city. When a cube is in a Cathedral, they don't count for influence , but they do count towards Country bonuses. SPECIAL NOTE: If you assassinate in the position of the King, you must use the equivalent of two intrigue cards.

WHAT YOU DO THIRD: Declare your turn to be over, discard any cards over their limits, and refill cards positions that are face up and empty.

EARNING BONUS POINTS:  City Bonus, is the point marker at the city, first to claim there gets it. Country Bonus, if you have at least one cube in every city of a Country, you take the highest of the remaining Country bonuses, and you can only claim one bonus for each Country during your game. If you are the first, then the second, and finally the third to get a cube on each type of noble you will claim the Noble House Bonus. The highest goes to first, second highest to the second person to do so, and so on. You may only earn one of these during a game.

PERIOD SCORING: The game has 3 time periods. At the end of each, the person with the most influence will receive the highest score for that Country in that period, and the second highest will receive the second highest score for that period. SPECIAL NOTE: During the third period when the Country Deck runs out, you finish the turn completely with whatever best move you can make.  How you do this is count up your alive cubes influence points, and the highest is first, and the second highest is second. In the event of an influence tie, the highest is awarded to the player who had to spend the most cards in acquiring their influence. If this ties again, then the player who holds the highest city bonus wins in the tie.  SPECIAL NOTE: If there isn't a second highest player for influence, then the points are not awarded for that period and leave the game.

ENDING THE GAME: The Third Period has come to an end, you have gone through the previously mentioned bonuses being awarded, so now you must award players who hold the most cubes on each noble position. Start with the lowest noble, then go to the highest. Whoever has the most cubes on a noble gets that noble for the points listed on it.  If there is a tie, then the noble is split in half amongst the two tied, and flip it over for the tied value. If more than two are tied, then no one gets it.

Whoever has the most points at the end wins!

Our Session: My wife Stephanie won with 117, I had 84, and our friends Rob and Hailey were tied at 64. For me, it was my third time playing the game, and the first time teaching it to the other three players. We all had diversified, and our friend Hailey had spent a lot in the way of assassination versus Rob playing very conservative. Everyone agreed that the art is lovely, and there is a strong mix of point earning opportunities. We would love to see an expansion, if that is even possible that maybe could allow for more locations, or abilities for screwage.

Final Thoughts: This is a game that blends the greatest elements of area control with card collecting and the turning in of sets. It has been described as Caylus meets Ticket To Ride. It has a decent amount of screwage, but not to the level of ending friendships (such as Diplomacy). Nobles is a good, balanced games that has you going for point values for equivalent work. The game is quick to learn, plays quickly, and gives both opportunities for strategy, along with some luck. The two scores given on the game were 7 out of 10, and 9 out of 10.

Thank you so much for reading my review on Royals by Arcane Wonders, and I hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

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RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)