Thursday, August 28, 2008

Recommended: To Court the King

"To Court the King" is a card and dice game. I played it at Armadillocon and got a kick out of it. It was elegant and easy to learn, and it had pretty cards. I liked that it has a lot of knobs you can twist: every turn, I felt like I had a lot of options...but not so many in the beginning that I felt paralyzed.

The basis of play is throwing dice and choosing to retain or reroll them. You start with three dice on your turn; you roll them, and choose to "lock" one or more of them. Then you reroll the others. Each time you lock a die, you can reroll the rest, until all of them are locked.

You make your choices in order to achieve poker-like combinations such as a straight or three of a kind. When you achieve one of the combinations on a chart, you get one of the game's character cards. For example, if you roll 3 of a kind, you get the Guard, who allows you to bring an extra die into your hand every turn. Every card you acquire improves your dice-rolling abilities.

Some of the character cards allow you to change the values on dice, others add additional dice. In the game I played, it seemed like you had a good chance to achieve one useful combination or another every turn, so your choices centered around which card to aim for in a turn. You're only allowed to have one card of any given type, and there are always fewer cards available than there are players (that is, if there are four players, then there are less than four Guard cards available).

The top card is the King, and when someone acquires it, the endgame begins. Everyone gets one more turn to try and court the King to themself, and the last person holding it wins.

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