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Kingdom 18 Kickstarter Preview

Quick Look:

Designer: Jason Glover
Artist: Jason Glover
Publisher: Grey Gnome Games
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 2
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 10 min.

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com.

WARNING: This is a preview of Kingdom 18. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.


Battle against another player head-to-head in an attempt to conquer as many realms as you can to become the most powerful kingdom in all the land!

Rules and Setup: Kingdom 18 is an 18-card microgame for two players. To start, each player is given four Empire cards, designated by the blue or red decor across the middle of the cards. The 10 remaining Realm cards are placed on the center of the table.

Kingdom 18 next to a Hot Wheel Car for size reference.
Two Realm cards are revealed from the Realm deck in the center of the table within reach of both players. The Realm cards serve three main functions in the game. First, they designate which attack receives bonus points for the round. Second, conquered Realms become part of the player's Empire pool for later rounds. Lastly, they are each assigned a number of victory points that are used to determine the winner of the game.

Players simultaneously play their Empire cards face down on each side of the revealed Realm cards.The Empire cards each have two attacks--one at the top and the other at the bottom of the card. The potential attacks are war, diplomacy, defend, or assassin, each having a different strength and potential resolution. Since each Empire card has two potential attacks, players should be careful to make certain the attack they want to use is oriented right-side-up in relation to their seat at the table. Once both player have played a card face-down, the players simultaneously reveal their cards. This action is repeated a second time, so that no cards remain in a players hand. The attack actions are resolved and players determine who won the Realm cards.

Winners of the Realm cards are determined by the number associated with the attack. The player with highest total number of attack points played on a specific Realm wins the Realm. So simply put, a war attack with a strength of  7 beats a war attack with a strength of 6, and a diplomacy of 3, beats a diplomacy of 2, etc. The challenge lies in the other two attacks. If a player uses the defend attack, and their opponent reveals a war attack, the player that used the defend gets the value of their opponents war card and their opponent gets zero attack points. Similarly, is a player reveals an assassin card and their opponent uses the diplomacy attack, the player who used the assassin attack action gets the points of their opponents diplomacy, and their opponent gets zero attack points. 

Players compete for two Realm cards each round.
After the Realm is conquered by one of the players, that player adds the Realm to their Empire deck. The newly acquired Realm card and four original Empire cards are shuffled and the players draw four cards each to start the next round. After all of the Realms have been conquered, the player with the most victory points wins.

Theme and Mechanics: At its core, Kingdom 18 is a quick and simple deck-builder. Players are vying to win Realm cards that then can be used as Empire cards for future rounds. So by winning Realms, not only are players securing victory points, but they are also building their Empire pool with stronger attacks.

Conquered Realm worth 6 points and adds a diplomacy.

Though the deck-building aspect is the most prominent, the game also includes deduction and bluffing (see italicized parenthetical note below). Players start with the same four Empire cards, so at least in the early rounds, players know what cards their opponent has at their disposal. Even after a few rounds, players know which Realms their opponent has won and the attacks associated with each.   

(Note: The bluffing aspect in my plays evolved organically through normal table talk and became a mainstay throughout subsequent plays. If you do not like bluffing games, don't worry; I describe it as having a bluffing component but that was by players' choice. There is no requirement to announce what card you are playing or to bluff through your turns. However, if you do like bluffing games, this game provides ample opportunities to integrate bluffing into plays.)     

Artwork and Components: Kingdom 18 consists of only 18 cards and that is it. The instructions are printed on the inside of the box. The minimalist approach to the components and packaging makes it ideal for travel (e.g. fitting on an airline tray table).

Game instructions are printed on the inside of the box.

The medieval iconography on the cards is clear and well-defined in the instructions. The font size of the numbers is large and easy to read.

The Good: Kingdom 18 packs a lot into its micro-packaging and time commitment. For a game that boasts a 10 minute playtime on the packaging (which was accurate for all of my plays), it makes the most of that time. It has been my experience that most 10-minutes-or-less games are only 10 minutes because of some condition that ends the game immediately at some previously unknown time (e.g. flipping over a card that starts the end-game scenario). This games doesn't have that. It lasts 5 rounds regardless of what cards are pulled. It's a quick game, yet because of its pre-set number of rounds and known end-game condition, it encourages development of strategy.   

As stated above, at its core, it's a deck-builder, but I must underscore the deduction (and bluffing if you so choose) aspect of this game. To me, and I do not say this lightly, the deduction aspect of Kingdom 18 is as strong as Coup, but it is a much better two-player game. (And if you like to bluff on your plays, the bluffing aspect is just as strong as well.)

Each player starts with the same cards.
But unlike Coup, players know exactly what cards their opponents have, and even as the rounds progress and Realms are conquered, you still know what cards your opponent could potentially have in hand. This increases the deduction aspect of the game. This game gets stronger as the rounds progress.

The Bad: I really don't have anything bad to say about the game. It's a burger that knows it's a burger, and instead of trying to masquerade as a steak, it set out to the be the best burger in town. So, you either like burgers or your don't, and it's the same with Kingdom 18. The only thing I would advise anyone interested in Kingdom 18 is that as a two-player game, it has a "take-that" feel at times. Also, since the victory points on the Realm cards range from -3 to 6, scores can get lopsided.

Final Thoughts: Sometimes when you're hungry, you want to pull up a chair at an all-you-can-eat buffet and take your time sampling everything they have to offer. Other times, you can be satisfied by going through the drive-thru at a fast food chain and getting a burger. Both satisfy your need to eat to varying degrees, but they accomplish the feat in vastly different ways.

The Realms' victory points range from -3 to 6.
If your gaming group's need is for something weighty, that has several different components, and several things to track and scoring conditions, and multiple stages of flippity-flooping meeples from one area of the board to another, and on and on, then this isn't going to satisfy that need. But if two players from said group are looking for a game that offers a quick drive-thru experience to satisfy a need to play something between the weightier titles, Kingdom 18 is your burger. And you may be surprised at just how good of a burger it is.

Kingdom 18 may fit in a very small section created by deduction/micro-game/two-player Venn diagram, but it fits in this little niche perfectly. It is quick to play and easy to learn and teach. It's inviting to new players, yet provides enough of the bluffing (if you wish) and deduction components to attract players that prefer a more strategic game.

This game wont be for everyone, as some people prefer a more of an all-you-can-eat buffet type of game, but if you have a partner and you could be satisfied by quick burger, you should consider Kingdom 18.

Players Who Like: Pod-X, Coup, 12 Days, Skull.

I am giving Kingdom 18 a rating of a dang good burger.

Check out Kingdom 18 on:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/241522/kingdom-18   https://greygnome.com/   https://www.facebook.com/GreyGnomeGames/   https://twitter.com/GreyGnomeGames?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fgreygnome.com%2F   https://www.instagram.com/greygnomegames/   

Kingdom 18 is on KICKSTARTER between now and May 24, 2018


Nick Shipley - Reviewer

Nick is a compliance consultant by day, a board gamer at night, and a husband and father always. When he is not bringing a game to the table, he is running (most often to or from his kids) or watching the New York Yankees. Nick lives in Oklahoma. Follow what Nick is playing on Twitter at @NDShipley.

See Nick's reviews HERE.
Kingdom 18 Kickstarter Preview Kingdom 18 Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by Nick Shipley on April 26, 2018 Rating: 5

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