Back with my newest purchase from Amazon, The King’s Dilemma! There are NO SPOILERS in this write up…don’t worry about it spoiling the plotlines….
I have always loved the idea of running campaigns…I’ve tried…from grand global maps featuring miniature battles at every engagement, to using some other kind of bright idea someone has come up with. However, putting the dreams of epic games with long term repercussions into practice has been a tough task…nothing has ever quite captured the feel that my gaming group is looking for…the feeling that Game of Thrones’ story arc offered through multiple books (or seasons if you were into the HBO series). Now enter the LEGACY style of board gaming. I had held off on trying these legacy games for a couple years, not sure how I would feel about making lasting changes to my game boards, or scrapping cards once they had been used. I kind of felt like I’d regtret not being able to go back and play a game down the road which I’d marred by running the legacy game. But as my collection has grown to nearly 200 board games, I had to reflect…how often to I get to each one of these games? And if a legacy game can give me 10+ sessions to complete, I’ve probably played it more than MANY of my other non-legacy games.
So with my fears of permanently altering a game board resolved, I ventured off to try a brand new game set in a medieval realm that many compared to the fantasy world of Game of Thrones (how could I pass something like that up!?). The King’s Dilemma is indeed much like that fantasy world so many of us have read or seen on HBO.
When you open the box you will instantly see a plethora of royal house player screens to choose from; each house with different goals, different abilities, and an entirely different history. You’ll see a row of dozens of sealed envelopes, each one offering your kingdom new challenges to resolve. And you’ll find a hefty book of stickers to apply to your game board as the King’s Dilemma story evolves over your game sessions. And then you’ll open the game board, seeing an abstract representation of the kingdom’s status in five different categories, an area to affix the stickers which spell out the everlasting changes your decisions have made on the kingdom & your house, a timeline for each king’s reign, and an area to place story cards for you to review at your leisure.
The premise for King’s Dilemma is the players are all different royal families/houses, each with their own agenda. But in order too achieve that agenda each house will try to influence the king’s decisions in a way that best benefits them…not necessarily the entire kingdom…sound familiar Game of Thrones fans?!
Each game in the legacy is a single king’s reign. The end of his reign is also the end of that single game. The King’s reign is tied to the stability of the kingdom…this is reflected by 5 kingdom resources: Influence, Wealth, Morale, Welfare,& Knowledge. If any these become too unbalanced (which is tracked by a stability track) the houses force the king to abdicate. This is where the houses come into play…they have the power to make decisions that directly impact whether those 5 resources go up or down. The longer these resources stay balanced, the longer the current king stays on the throne.
So the quick synopsis of a game is as follows; I won’t go into the entire rulebook…its lengthy, but the basics are this … during single game (a king’s reign) the houses will all select a secret goal card to go along with their own family agendas (listed on their house’s player screen). With these two ultimate goals established the game will begin with a dilemma card drawn from the dilemma deck (which at the start of the legacy is 3 cards obtained by opening the 00 envelope, and will be added to as cards direct you to open new envelopes and add them to the deck). The dilemma card will present the houses with some kind of decision that must be made, along with what some of the possible adjustments will be to the kingdom’s resources if the houses vote yay vs nay to the decision. Some resource tracks may increase while others decrease…and that affects the stability track for the entire kingdom. Houses also have the option to pass…giving its own advantages which I won’t go into here. Once the votes are cast, the card is flipped and the final decision is read, the resources are adjusted, stickers may be applied to the kingdom board (impacting future games) and the stability is adjusted. If the stability is too high or too low (reaches the end of either end of the track) the king abdicates. If he hasn’t abdicated a new turn is started and the process is repeated. The king will eventually die of old age once enough dilemma cards have been played or one of the dilemma cards with a skull in the middle is revealed. Once the king is out (through death or abdication), you’ll refer to the rule book to get your final house scores and mark the results on your house screen. The information on your house screen will have an impact on future games, and ultimately help determine if you win the ultimate legacy game.
So, that is a QUICK snapshot of the game. I have to say after one night of gaming (we played three games in about 1.5 hours) our group LOVES this game! It gives us the campaign feel we have always wanted, it presents some great dilemma’s to work through as a group, but at the same time you’re balancing what your house’s agenda is. The backstories for each of the houses are amazing…giving a rich feel for each one. You definitely get the feeling like you are a unique part of the kingdom with your very own agendas that will meet your family’s lifelong aspirations. For example…my house is one that predicates itself on money…we are pompous, and believe that the rest of the houses owe us for keeping the kingdom afloat. We often threaten to secede from the kingdom and take our riches to the rival kingdom if we don’t get what we want. This backstory is perfectly reflected in the house’s goals and perks.
This game is a wonderful step into a campaign setting…one where I have totally forgotten all those fears of making everlasting changes to my game! So head over to Amazon and pick this one up…its a 10/10 in my book!