Friday, August 23, 2013

To Court the King

Thomas Lemann. First game that comes to mind is Race for the Galaxy. But a lesser known title came up a little while ago on and I've been playing it like gangbusters.

To Court the King is a yahtzee style game at its core. The closest relative I've played is Roll Through the Ages with its dice rolling and advancement acquiring.

But unlike "Roll", strategy for Court the King is NOT about rolling the "action" you want. Instead you want to roll as many of the same number (usually not caring about what number) on an increasingly large pool of dice.

In Roll Through the Ages, sometimes you want goods, sometimes workers, and usually a little food on the side so your cities don't starve.

Courting the King involves rolling the dice once, looking for a number you've rolled multiple times (hopefully a large number) and then attempting to roll the rest of your dice in a progressively shrinking pool to match.

The simplicity of this action is complicated by the mind-blowing number of special powers you gain from courting all the folks surrounding the king on your way up the ladder.

The Joker is of course for suckers, acting as a booby prize for the folks who can't roll anything good. Being a frequent slow-starter, that doesn't stop me from picking him up :(. Once you have a couple cards in your posse he should never be a problem again so just watch yourself the first round or so and aim for the Handwerker if the dice seem to be misbehaving on your path to Bauer Town. If you start rolling good, skip the Bauer altogether…there are plenty of better dice-aquiring abilities further up the ladder.

You always want to be aiming for cards that give you an extra die, since you will eventually need a huge hoard of them. But since the King wants a whopping SEVEN of a kind, you will also need some other cards that help you modify the dice.

If you don't win the King first, you will get the chance to steal him during your next turn, so developing an effective engine of dice manipulation is better than just getting lucky once.

Once the King is "courted" the game finishes in a showdown where everyone tries to roll better than the king-owner…so you can still actually win if you have more dice and better modifiers.

I'm appreciating the dice rolling and tactical thinking. To Court the King is also a fantastic game for asymmetrical on-line experiences like yucata. There is no interaction during your turn for opponents to have to respond to, and you get to do a lot of rolling so its a pretty meaty turn every time it comes around. Unlike others I've encountered.

The rule book is written in the typical jibber-jabber, similar to what I experienced reading Race for the Galaxy the first time around. No where does it tell you "you should be trying to roll a series of matching numbers" instead it talks elusively about "matching card costs".

Looking at the actual "card costs" during game play makes the latter pretty clear.

 The game is pretty easy to figure out as you go (although you are going to bomb it the first game you play, for sure). Just start rolling and it will all become apparent in the end. I spent very little time confused, and now am embroiled in figuring out the finer strategy!

I will have you, King!