Asgard. Gondor. Wakanda. Chances are you can name the stories that feature these famous kingdoms and probably give a pretty decent retelling of the narratives which take place in and around them. But what can you tell about the locations themselves? What day is trash pickup in Gondor? Does Asgard have any ordinances against backyard poultry? And when it comes to those Wakandan battle rhinos, is there any sort of leash law? I think I’ve made my point. Characters in stories are so noisy and animated (I.e. distracting) that the real stars, the one’s with staying power, are often overlooked. Well not anymore! Because today’s article puts the grandeur and detail of “Kingdoms” square in the spotlight.
Kingdom 1183 – Kickstarter
The first 2 games on today’s list are historical romps through medieval times. Ah yes, the Middle Ages. When fashion consisted of wool and bad teeth, and bubonic plague was all the rage! But Kingdom 1183 mostly bypasses these to focus instead on the business of kingdom management and expansion.
When first skimming the rules for this 1 to 4 player area control and resource management game, it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the options. However as you read further, you can’t help but feel like you’ve played this game before. That’s because Kingdom 1183 pulls a lot of inspiration from 2 very popular games, Settlers of Catan and Risk. But rather than feel derivative, Kingdom 1183 improves on these old evergreens and sets itself apart like a castle on a hill.
Standard play sees 2 lords trying to manage and defend their kingdom of hexagonal tiles from other players while simultaneously trying to expand their own, with the first to defeat all opposing Lords declared the victor. Like Catan, each hex tile in Kingdom has number that, when rolled, produces resources. But Kingdom expands on this by making the number of resources produced dependent on how many peasants you have working the land and by allowing you to upgrade your hexes to produce more resources. Certain numbers will also earn you Action cards, so even an empty hex can still be useful.
Combat will also feel familiar by way of Risk. Players roll attack and defense dice, then compare their highest die, next highest die, etc., with the highest roll winning each match-up. But again, the familiar formula is improved by giving each unit different dice. In keeping with the historical accuracy, Peasants are at the low end with a d4 and Catapults and Lords at the top with D12s. Depending on where units are, they can also be buffed to take a little bit of risk, er, chance out of the dice rolls. Conquer your opponent’s hexes to take control of the production. At least, as long as you can hold it.
Kingdom 1183 also keeps it fresh by including multiple styles of play. There are multiple win condition options, ranging from Peace mode and ramping up to Death Match. Each mode can also be customized further by including any combination of 7 alternate rules, ensuring that this bit of history never gathers dust.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance – Gamefound
While Kingdom 1183 takes a “big picture” approach to medieval feudalism, Kingdom Come: Deliverance puts you right in the middle of it. In this game, based on the 2018 video game of the same name, you are a Bohemian citizen rather than a great lord. And unfortunately for you and all of the other common folk, The Hussite Wars are in full swing.
Details are a bit scant, but the tabletop and digital versions of the game seem to have a fair amount in common. According to the launch site, the tabletop version will also be a sprawling adventure narrative in which you move about the land discovering challenges and NPCs. And for a tabletop game, there is still a surprisingly large digital footprint. The game will come with an app (mandatory for play) that contains most of the game itself. It tracks your gameplay and interactions with NPCs, adjusting their reactions to you based on your previous choices. Speaking of the NPCs, all of them will be professionally voiced and the app will provide accompanying ambient sound and music. Unlike the computer game, though, up to 4 players can tackle the game as a co-op campaign. Or, feel free to go it alone.
Kingdoms Forlorn – Kickstarter (Feb. 15)
For this last game, we are going to leave historical accuracy way behind and enter a world of lost kingdoms, huge monsters, fantastical knights….and monkeys. With Kingdoms Forlorn, publisher Into The Unknown has created something truly interesting. Kingdom Forlorn is another BIG dungeon crawler. Or, as ITU prefers to call it, a “dungeon delver“. That is because they put a big emphasis not only on combat, but on a narrative driven by the mechanics of the game itself.
Kingdoms Forlorn is set in a post-cataclysmic world where once lost kingdoms have suddenly resurfaced. Unfortunately, each kingdom has its own unique curse and therefore its own VERY unique monsters. In this game, 1 to 4 players will explore this dark fantasy world as one of several Knights, each with their own customizable skill tree and set of actions. And you’ll need to hone all of your skills if you want to survive because the monsters in this game do not look like they are going to take it easy on you.
That is because some of them are really, really, big. And scary. And sometimes gross. But always very unique. That is because ITU prides itself on both its innovative combat system and beautiful sculpts of its minis. Like its previous entry, Aeon Trespass, all of the monsters use a combination of AI and BP (body part) cards in combat. While randomized AI cards are not entirely knew, the BP cards add an interesting twist by varying up your targets, their “to hit” requirements, and the effects your damage has. And the BP cards change with the AI cards, becoming more difficult and dangerous as battle heats up.
With 3 fantastic choices, you’re now probably debating on which one to get. But remember, you’re the king of your castle. So why not get them all?
by Zane Messina