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Brutal Kingdom Review

Quick Look:

Designer: Michael Rieneck
Artists: Franz Vohwinkex
Publisher: Kosmos
Year Published: 2016
No. of Players: 3-4
Ages: 12+
Playing Time: 30 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com
Michael Rieneck is well known for his games; Pillars of The Earth, Cuba, and World Without End.  Well he has also made a great deduction card game that can be played very quickly—Brutal Kingdom. It includes strong game attributes in hand management, variable player power, variable phase order, with a low score of luck.


Rules and Setup:
The object of the game is to collect different influence tokens during play that will have different point values at the end of the game depending on how you play the game. You start with the chapel card in the middle of the table which will be used as the chapter tracker. There are 4 chapters in the game. Each player will get an overview card, an elimination chart, 2 dark-colored back cards, and 2 light-colored back cards. With the 2 light-colored back cards, you decide which one to keep and which one to pass left. You will then receive a replacement card from the player to your right. You will do the same thing with the dark-colored back cards, but passing it to the right. Everyone will have 2 of each cards and keep 2 of each extra cards in the middle near the chapel card. Each card is a special character card that does special things or kills other cards. You play one at a time, with only keeping the card you most recently played on top to be the active card. If you were to get killed, it will get flipped over with any other cards underneath it. Each card shows what token(s) you will receive if they make it to the end of the chapter alive. It is very easy to setup and play, but understanding the strategy will take time as each card is different and has its own strategy to them for when you should play them.

Theme and Mechanics:
Brutal Kingdom is themed around the intrigue of the king's court. Everyone secretly wants to change where the balance of power is and to push it into their own direction. The more influence of a certain type that remains at the end of the game, the more points you will score if you have that type of influence. The game balances itself out this way.  If you gain all the influence tokens of a certain type and there are none left in the stockpile at the end, all your tokens aren't worth any points at all. This is a card game that uses deduction and variable player powers.  Each card is unique and can be used to play the game in very different ways each time.

Artwork and Components: 
The art is good and I love the art on the box especially as I feel like it does create the feel of what the game is about and how you feel when playing. The cards are 70cm x 110cm (a larger size) which helps when playing as you can see other players' cards easier. The tokens are cardboard and work for the game.

The Good:
I love how they balanced this game with trading cards to your opponents, as you start with knowing one card from the players on each side. You score points with having tokens that are still left over at the end of the game. This game is very easy to teach and play. As you play you learn the cards and develop a better strategy after each round. The player reference cards are very helpful and easy to read and understand so you can change your strategy.

The Bad:
This game can only be played with 3 or 4 players as the game wouldn't be as balanced playing it with more or less due to the mechanics. It's a game where you can strategically play, but you can't strategically plan.

Final Thoughts:
The game was very fun for me to play and I even enjoyed it the first couple play-throughs as usually I don't like playing a game without knowing what the cards are and do. After playing it the first couple of times, players all changed strategies and it continued to be fun. This is a very fun and quick deduction card game that can be played with both non-gamers and gamers. This game reminds me of Love Letter with a little added weight to the game.

Players Who Like:
I would recommend this game to those who like deduction games, cards games, or gateway games. If you like Love Letter, Coup, or the Resistance, you will like Brutal Kingdom.

I am giving Brutal Kingdom an 7.5 out of 10 super meeples.

7.5 10

Check out Brutal Kingdom on:


About the Author:
Brody Sheard played board games with his large family growing up.   He continues his love of games by teaching his family, local gaming guild, and friends about new and exciting games.  Brody believes that board gaming keeps your mind healthy while also having fun interacting with others.
Brutal Kingdom Review Brutal Kingdom Review Reviewed by Brody on August 28, 2017 Rating: 5

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