Review – For the Crown from Victory Point Games
Designer – Jeremy Lennert
Art – Noelle Le Bienvenu
note – Thanks to Victory Point Games for providing a copy of this game for review
2 players 10+
One of the very cool and admirable things about Victory Point Games‘ approach and business model is that they don’t always play things safe. of course this comes with risks but it also give the opportunity for new types of games to come along. And here is one.
Here’s a simple equation for you… Deck-Building + Chess = ?
Well, with the continuing popularity of deck-building games, Victory Point Games try’s it on but with an unexpected wrinkle. What if you combined the intricacies of Chess and added new pieces, with interesting new moves, and then drove the whole thing with a deck-building system? Their answer is For the Crown.
In a typical package from VPG you get card stock chess-style game board a set of cards showing the effects and choices available for the various pieces and a set of cardboard counters representing the chess-like pieces to be played.
The presentation and artwork is effective and functional. As this isn’t a heavily themed game, that’s really all you need. The information you need is clearly set out and the rules are relatively short.
As noted above, For the Crown is a Chess/Deckbuilding hybrid. Its a good idea to review the glossary before you start playing to familiarize yourself with the terms used in the game. Nothing difficult here but important when using the cards to optimize your deck and card hand.
The object of the game is to eliminate the other player’s Sovereign units, plain and simple.
Each player starts with 6 Peons and 4 Guards cards in their deck and matching pieces on the board in their starting positions. The card stacks available for choosing are organized with the Champion, Clergy, Tower and Consort cards plus 10 additional stacks set openly on the table.Lots of interesting choices here and it will take time to get used to which cards do what. For example, the Unit cards have similar movement to chess plus some additions. That’s straightforward. Other card effects bring in additional, unusual movement and deployment, taking control of the other player’s piece, earning extra gold or actions and Training actions, etc. A nice variety.
Each card has the following information –
Card Name, Cost, Effect (Training Action, Order, Action and Treasure), Piece movement diagram, Icon which matches the counters, Type, Class, Value, Gold Generated and Special instructions.
All of the information you need is there and set out clearly.
Each turn consists of an –
Order phase – you can do one of the following –
Move – ultimately you want t0 put the other player’s Sovereigns out of the game. Foot units can be promoted when they enter the 8th rank on the board just as in Chess.
Attack – like chess you use a specialized move for each piece to take an opponents piece – pay attention to the various movement diagrams, there are quite a few
Deploy – bring on new piece, you will lose pieces and need to bring on replacements and upgrade to more powerful pieces
Play a Card – Each card has multiple options as to how they can be used. This takes a bit of thought and planning.
Action Phase – you can play 1 card with an action effect – Training actions allow you to trash a card and train a unit to bring onto the board later
Buy Phase – You can play any number of cards with treasure effects and spend the gold value to buy a new card
Housekeeping -Discard what’s left of your hand, draw 5 new cards
These phases will be familiar to those who have played othe deck-building games and they work very well and allow the turns to move at a good pace. The challenge is to keep units moving whilst bring on more valuable ones to effectively squeeze your opponent. Balancing the movement mindset with the effective deck-building mindset was tough for me as there is a fair amount to consider. Seeing ahead and planning for future moves in an abstract game has always been a challenge for my thinking style. What can I say? Its not the game’s fault.
The mechanics of the chess-like moves and deck-building takes a little while to get used to but it definitely works and quite cleverly too. Building a strong deck, trashing weaker cards and finding the right combination of units and getting them quickly into your hand will take practice. The game takes a bit longer the first time around but as soon as familiarity grows, the speed of the gameplay increases.
Overall, the more I got into the process, the more I understood it although striking the balance between the chess-like movements and building my deck will need some more work.
Did it work for me?
For the Crown is not necessarily my preferred type of game as I’m not into Chess as much as other games. Having said that, I found it to be a very interesting game as the variety of moves and building a good deck is quite challenging. Clearly there is replay value and it will be interesting to see if a community of fans develops seeking to create optimum strategies. I applaud Victory Point Games for taking a chance on this game as it gave me a pretty unique gaming experience. There is no other game quite like it that I am aware of and for that reason alone, it is worth looking at. I can envisage For the Crown as a useful and challenging game to get into schools. I think kids 10+ will love it.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 6.5 out of 10
This could be one of those Mensa award type games that are great for parents to teach their children to stimulate their thinking skills..
For more information go to – http://victorypointgames.com/