Quick Look: Moods of the Mad King: Revised Edition
Designer: Alan Bahr, Kessey Wright
Artists: Robert Denton, Dani Powers
Publisher: Pine Box Entertainment
Year Published: 2021
No. of Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 10-15 minutes
I was one of those rare students, it seems, that liked to read Shakespeare. I was always fond of his works and how timeless they truly are. I am also a fan of small, fast playing games. So, when these worlds collide, I was all for it! Can this simple card game be what I dreamed of it being?
To start, deal a mood card facedown in the middle of the table. This is the King’s current mood. Next, deal one (or two if playing 2-player) mood card to each player. Each player will know that this one in their hand is NOT the King’s mood. Then, deal each player one Muse card. This is the muse that the player must make happy as well. Deal each player the amount of Action cards based on player count. Finally, shuffle and place the Play cards on The Show Begins card, leaving the curtains visible.
The theme of Shakespearian time and playwrighting comes through with the game play and the artwork. Making a play with three acts, or cards, keeps with that theme. The mechanics of adding acts and sabotaging also fits with the theme.
On a turn, the playwright will draw a Play card and decide to either place it into their play or place it into an opponent’s play. If the latter is done, the playwright may play one Action card following its printed action. A play can only have three acts, or cards, in it. So, any additional ones require that one currently in the play be discarded. Once all the Play cards have been drawn, it is time for the show to begin.
Each player reveals their finalized play and their Muse. The mood of the Mad King is made known. As stated in the rules, if a playwright does not match the Mood of the Mad King, the playwright is beheaded, and they lose. If the play does not match their muse, they lose their patron, and they lose. If a playwright matches both, they win. It is possible for more than one playwright to win or for everyone to lose. The King is just that mad!
The artwork is very simple and 100% spot on. I loved the simplicity and the consistency. The Mood and Play cards are easily matched. The Muse cards are all different “characters”, and each are very cute. The Muses are also easy to match with the required Play card. The Action cards all have a different scene depicted on them. The cards are a nice quality tarot size. This allows for a nice big picture, and some room for readable text.
Moods of the Mad King is a very simple game to teach. You can teach it as you set it up. You can be playing it in less than 5 minutes, and it plays in about 15 minutes or less. It is a cute game, light-hearted, and just enough strategy in when to play which Action card. I found that I was not utilizing these enough or at the correct time. The Action cards should really be the focus of all players. These can seriously disrupt everyone, or they can save your play!
I feel that this game has limited replay-ability. It is a game that is easy to teach, fast to table, and well-liked. It will, however, get stale after a few dozen plays (get it? “plays”). It would be nice to have on hand for playing with younger people or while waiting on the rest of your group to show up, but I do not think that you will have people demanding to play it every game night.
While Moods of the Mad King is no deep thought-provoking game, it does elicit a smile and is fun to play. Sadly, it does not have the re-“play”-ability that will keep me coming back to it. I enjoyed it, and I will share with my many groups, especially those with younger players. It would also make for a fun game for English teachers to have on hand when the students don’t want to read King Lear or Hamlet.