Royals Board Game by Arcane Wonders covered by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions:
A Review, Rules, Session and Summary
Welcome! This is a game where you play as leaders of Noble Houses during the 17th Century. All of you will be fighting to gain control across Europe, and through the use of Intrigue Cards (for assassinations) and Country Cards (for placement) you will be able to place a cube or move over someone else's cube on cities across the continent. If you are the first to place in a city you will receive a city bonus. If you are the first or second to place influence in every city for a country, you will receive a bonus. If the cards from the Country Deck run out, then you will score for a period. There are three in the game, 1648, 1680, and 1714. Then you will score for influence you have placed on positions in the royal courts (a side board of cards), and you get to place on them as you take control of cities. You will want to diversify, and you will want to have the highest score at the end of the game to win.
What comes with the game? 1 Game board showing the map of Europe during the mid-17th century. 102 Country Cards made up as 31 for France, 26 for the German States, 25 for Britain, and 20 for Spain. You also get 24 Intrigue Cards, made up of 4 for each country combination. There are 16 hexagonal City bonus markers made up of 5 French, 4 German, 3 British, and 4 Spanish. There are 8 shield-shaped Country Bonus Markers made up of 2 French, 2 German, 2 British, and 2 Spanish. You get 3 round Noble House Bonus Markers. There are 24 square Period Scoring Markers, 6 French, 6 German, 6 British, and 6 Spanish. There are 7 rectangular Title scoring markers, each have two parts (in case of a tie between only two players) that are made up of the Marshal, Baron, Countess, Duke, Cardinal, Princess, and the King. You get the rule book, and 200 wooden cubes in five colors (blue, red, yellow, purple, and orange (46 each)). Our copy being for review had different colors.
The Goal: Have the highest amount of victory points at the end of three Periods. You are a royal house from the 17th Century fighting for supremacy across Europe. You get points for claiming influence in cities, claiming influence e over royals, and influence over countries.
Setup: Choose a color and its cubes, place the game board, oldest player starts. Place the point markers in their correct spot on the board. Place the noble house markers along the side of the board. In a two player game use only nobles with value 8, and in a 3 player game use only nobles marked 8 or 12. Place the era scoring markers in their correct position (1648, 1680, and 1714). Remove some of the country cards if not playing a 5 player game as follows:
2 players then remove 7 France cards, 6 Britain cards, 5 Spain cards, and 6 German cards
3 players then remove 6 France cards, 5 Britain cards, 4 Spain cards, and 5 German cards
4 players then remove 5 France cards, 4 Britain cards, 3 Spain cards, and 4 German cards
Shuffle the rest of the country cards to form starting deck. Shuffle the intrigue cards to form separate deck. Turn over 3 Country Cards to see, all of the rest of the cards from both decks are face down.
Play the Game: First, you must draw cards, and the first turn has a special number set:
2 players so first player draws 1, second player draws 2
3 players so first player draws 1, second player draws 1, third player draws 2
4 players so first player draws 1, second player draws 1, third player draws 2, fourth player draws 2
5 players so first player draws 1, second player draws 1, third player draws 2, fourth player draws 2, fifth player draws 3
Then conduct your turn as per the following:
WHAT YOU DO FIRST: after first turn, you choose one option of:
-draw 3 country cards to your hand OR -draw 1 country card and 1 intrigue card. When you draw from the face up, they count as normal, also they don't refill until the end of the player's turn. When the Country card deck runs out, the period ends. Conduct scoring, and then take the discards to form new deck. You hold over what you have in your hand. There is a 12 card limit for Countries, and a 4 card limit for Intrigue for your hand. You can exceed this during your turn, but must discard down at end of turn if you are over.
WHAT YOU DO SECOND: Optional is to play your cards, otherwise you hold them. You may play any number of cards from your hand as long as you meet the requirements of your play. You can claim a Vacant Noble spot on the board by paying the correct cost of cards in the matching Country color. When you do this place a cube on the position of the city, and on the type of noble that is at the side of the board. Any 3 Country cards count as any one you need, and any 2 Intrigue cards count as any one you need.
Another option is to assassinate someone's noble cube. You must pay the correct number of Country cards for the location and one card of the correct intrigue Country (or any two as stated above), and you push the cube to the Cathedral position of that city. When a cube is in a Cathedral, they don't count for influence , but they do count towards Country bonuses. SPECIAL NOTE: If you assassinate in the position of the King, you must use the equivalent of two intrigue cards.
WHAT YOU DO THIRD: Declare your turn to be over, discard any cards over their limits, and refill cards positions that are face up and empty.
EARNING BONUS POINTS: City Bonus, is the point marker at the city, first to claim there gets it. Country Bonus, if you have at least one cube in every city of a Country, you take the highest of the remaining Country bonuses, and you can only claim one bonus for each Country during your game. If you are the first, then the second, and finally the third to get a cube on each type of noble you will claim the Noble House Bonus. The highest goes to first, second highest to the second person to do so, and so on. You may only earn one of these during a game.
PERIOD SCORING: The game has 3 time periods. At the end of each, the person with the most influence will receive the highest score for that Country in that period, and the second highest will receive the second highest score for that period. SPECIAL NOTE: During the third period when the Country Deck runs out, you finish the turn completely with whatever best move you can make. How you do this is count up your alive cubes influence points, and the highest is first, and the second highest is second. In the event of an influence tie, the highest is awarded to the player who had to spend the most cards in acquiring their influence. If this ties again, then the player who holds the highest city bonus wins in the tie. SPECIAL NOTE: If there isn't a second highest player for influence, then the points are not awarded for that period and leave the game.
ENDING THE GAME: The Third Period has come to an end, you have gone through the previously mentioned bonuses being awarded, so now you must award players who hold the most cubes on each noble position. Start with the lowest noble, then go to the highest. Whoever has the most cubes on a noble gets that noble for the points listed on it. If there is a tie, then the noble is split in half amongst the two tied, and flip it over for the tied value. If more than two are tied, then no one gets it.
Whoever has the most points at the end wins!
Our Session: My wife Stephanie won with 117, I had 84, and our friends Rob and Hailey were tied at 64. For me, it was my third time playing the game, and the first time teaching it to the other three players. We all had diversified, and our friend Hailey had spent a lot in the way of assassination versus Rob playing very conservative. Everyone agreed that the art is lovely, and there is a strong mix of point earning opportunities. We would love to see an expansion, if that is even possible that maybe could allow for more locations, or abilities for screwage.
Final Thoughts: This is a game that blends the greatest elements of area control with card collecting and the turning in of sets. It has been described as Caylus meets Ticket To Ride. It has a decent amount of screwage, but not to the level of ending friendships (such as Diplomacy). Nobles is a good, balanced games that has you going for point values for equivalent work. The game is quick to learn, plays quickly, and gives both opportunities for strategy, along with some luck. The two scores given on the game were 7 out of 10, and 9 out of 10.
Thank you so much for reading my review on Royals by Arcane Wonders, and I hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:
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RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)