Review – The Kingdom of Crusaders from RightGames
Designed by Danila Gorunov and Sergey Machin
Art – Gustave Dore
note – Thanks to RightGames for providing a review copy of this game
I have to say that I’m not very aware of games coming out of Russia and so to be offered the opportunity to take a look as some games from RightGames from Moscow is a pleasure. A number of my Game reviewing colleagues have already played and reviewed the same games and it will be difficult to say much different but I can give you my take anyway, right?
Being a war gamer, I was particularly interested The Kingdom of Crusaders card game so let’s take a look inside…
The packaging is a bit different from what I am used to. Instead of the normal type game box, there is a cardboard tray and a thin slipcover which it neatly slides into. Not the sturdiest of game boxes so be careful. The excellent artwork on the box and cards contain the illustrations of the Crusades by Gustave Dore (1832-1883) and they are really strong and give a brilliant thematic feel. The rest of the graphic layout is appealing and works well although a small quibble for me would be that the military unit icons are a bit small, but they are clear and the colors used are effective.
A worry with card games will also be the quality of the cards and for me the standard is good and should stand up to shuffling and many plays. The cards have up to 5 icons:
Lance – representing Common Crusader/Militia
Bow – representing shooting soldiers
Swords – representing trained foot soldiers
Helmet – representing knights
Banner – representing leaders
Each player also has a location card for placing your armies in each of the 5 territories.
The rules fit on a nice, clearly laid out double-sided sheet and are easy to understand, the English translation working well.
I like, simple playable games and The Kingdom of Crusaders fits the bill nicely for my needs. A 2-player game aged 12+ (4 players with 2 decks), both players are contesting 5 territories by trying to build the strongest armies from their respective hands. You win by controlling the most territories. Each player gets 5 cards per starting hand. The turn sequence is simple – Draw a card from the draw deck, Place a card in a territory to build an army. You can only place a maximum of 4 cards per territory, making 20 total so that’s a limiting factor in your choices.
Ah, but then the trick, and hence the strategy, revolves around which cards you choose to place in each territory. You see, the icons range from the strongest Leaders down to the weakest Militia and you conquer a territory by having the strongest army. The strength of each army is based on how many of the same type of icons you play in a given territory (remember, you have a maximum of 4 cards per territory) compared to your opponent.
4 of the same icons = a Regiment
3 of the same icon = a Battalion
2 of the same icon = a Regiment
Essentially, if you have the most of any 1 icon in a territory, you are victorious in that territory. If there is a tie, then victory goes to whoever has the stronger icon, i.e. a Leader Regiment beats a Knight regiment. If Regiments cancel each other out because they are identical, then whoever has an additional Regiment wins or whoever has the most of the next strongest icon wins, and so on. All very smooth, simple and logical and very visual for quick recognition and play. 30 minutes should be the maximum time to play this game.
Did it work for me?
I found The Kingdom of Crusaders a pleasure to play. The mechanics are simple yet there are some real choices to make as you try to outwit your opponent. How many icons do I play? How strong? Do I sacrifice 1 territory to get another? Good fun and a nice challenge. It plays fast, has great artwork. What more could I ask from it?
There are similarities with Battle Line which uses poker-like hands but I prefer the artwork and use of icons here which brings out a bit more theme. I definitely recommend this as a nice short filler between meatier games.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 7 out of 10
Well, for a couple, or a parent and child, this would work very well.
For more information go to – www.russianboardgames.com