The capital is dead, long live the capital. After being sacked by barbarous hoards the Queen has decreed that a new one shall be built; better than before and it’s up to you to make sure your patch of grass land is chosen for the task in……………………………………………….
Each player is given a board and five dice. Each turn you roll the dice and slot them into their place on the board with the grid working off colour and number meaning that there is no choice where they go. The choice is what you do with them and this is where a rather simple looking game gains its depth.
You can use each dice to activate the ability underneath it, that could be gaining resources or using the powers written down. You can use one to instead nudge another left or right along its track or simply use it to kill time. Said time comes in token form and is only one of the many resources you will be juggling as you reap wood, iron and large blocks of tofu along with swords from your own private rabble. All of this can be spent on cards from the table with some going in piles; like lumber mills and militia, these being a permanent fixture on the table unless someone beats you to the last one, while others are drawn from a deck. Perhaps the best bit of the game, for me, is the notion that you can’t roll things over from turn to turn except the time tokens and a meagre one of each other resource, meaning its a hard to be a hoarder and you are more tempted to buy stuff you don’t really want or need rather than letting stuff go to waste aka back to the bank. You do this each turn meaning that turn order simply changes who gets first pick of the cards on show and who gets to start the fight and who gets to carry it on.
While resources are used to buy buildings and even ‘trade ships’ which score points at the end of the game this doesn’t explain what you do with your resident angry mob, except build it up to be a better equipped, stronger, angrier mob. Well the polite thing to do is take on the bandits in a pile outside town, each taking a different number of swords to acquire and each being worth a certain of points at the end. The not so nice option is to turn on your fellow city builders using your strength to either pinch some of the resources they have managed to save up or to literally tear down one of their buildings. There is a little more to the game, like time tokens acting as half of a wild resource and some buildings coming into effect when built while others get one shot before requiring a dice to wipe the no use token before it can be used by another dice roll but truth be told there isn’t much; it is one of the simpler games I’ve come across. It even has a solo mode.
The solo mode in question isn’t quite a simple race for points but it isn’t far off. The random deck of buildings is burnt through with a line thrown away each time and a new one taking its place before the end of the game at the bottom of the deck. The added factor of needing over fifty points to win helps a little but not much. It still feels to much like a mode designed to learn the game or practice before going up against another player as you come to grips with tactics and building abilities and thus not one I can see myself pulling out too often.
Now it’s a good game there’s no denying that, fairly simple and light meaning it leans more toward the casual or family market than a hard core crowd. However the main problem is that the multiplayer mode doesn’t feel too different from the solo one. Yeah someone else can trigger the end game rather a countdown triggered by the deck. And yes you can attack other people but truth be told there is little reason why you should. There is almost always something better to do with your dice and while taking another player down a peg or two can be rewarding, you usually can’t do enough to actually hinder them and thus you come across as the French Knight on the wall throwing half baked insults rather than doing something productive like looking for the Holy Grail yourself.
Thus you all play away on your own board with your own dice only looking up to see what cards the person before has taken in case it was something you wanted. The solo mode feels a little too much like a point chasing after thought and the multiplayer feels too much like a solo mode, though neither are in fact true. It’s not a bad game, not one I hate nor one I would probably ever refuse to play but it’s one I find hard to recommend.