Bezier Games, Inc.
1 - 4
Yes: Castles of Mad King Ludwig: Secrets
• Fun and Easy
• Disadvantage at random with less than four players • Extra setup for less than four players
Castles of Mad King Ludwig (CoMKL) is a tile laying game where all players build their own unique layout of a castle, choosing the best prices for each rooms and laying them out in ways that can earn them the most victory points.
The setup for each game is dependent on how many players are playing. The more players there are, the more tiles and room cards are available in the game. During setup, favor tokens are chosen randomly depending on how many players there are. Each player is given a Foyer as a starting tile, 15000 worth of coins and 3 Bonus cards (then 1 discarded) to try fulfilling each bonus card by the end of the game to earn more points. At the beginning of each round in turn order, a player is assigned the white castle token to represent him being the Master Builder. As the Master Builder, he chooses where all the room tiles are placed at the market (Contract Board) assigning each to a designated price on the board. Even though the Master Builder is the last one to have a chance at buying from the market, if any room tiles are bought by other players, the money is given to the Master Builder. Players may also pass if they choose not to buy a room tile, but instead gain 5000 money. Any rooms that are not bought by the end of the round, a 1000 coin is placed on it to further encourage other players to buy at a later time. It will keep accumulating 1000 coin until it is bought. As players are purchasing tiles, they will lay them out in a way to gain the most points, and certain tiles will give more points if the right room tile is placed next to them, or even sometimes, you can lose points by putting a room tile that has penalty points adjacent to an activity room. For example, you wouldn’t want a sleeping room next to an entertainment (activity room). There are certain rules a room tile may be placed, and once a room tile has been completed (meaning all entrances in room are enclosed) the player receives a reward depending on which room has been completed. There are seven different types of rooms plus hallways and stairs. The game continues until the deck of room cards run out, and play continues for one last round. Everyone counts up their bonus points from the bonus cards, and players see who qualifies for the favor tokens, and players get 2 points for each room they have that’s been depleted from the market, and 1 point for every 10,000 coin they have. Player with the most points win.
I think most people would compare this game to Suburbia (considering it’s also designed by the same person) and they have some similarities. So if you liked Suburbia, you will probably like this one too. Between both games, I probably like Castles of Mad King Ludwig a little more because it’s more thematic, and keeping track of points is a lot easier. Don’t get me wrong, I like Suburbia as well, but I feel like by the end of the game, I’m more pleased with looking at a castle with lots of rooms I’ve just built compared to a bunch of hexagons. I think Suburbia has a little more complexity as well with keeping track of income and population, whilst CoMKL has a straight forward point reward system. Also, the unique part of CoMKL is the Master Builder, and having the control of the room tiles and market prices changes a lot of the game play.
The components are okay. The same as you would expect from the game Suburbia, although, Suburbia’s tiles are just a tad bit thicker. There are plenty of room tiles, and a Contract board that places well with the room board, corridor board and the score tower board. The rule book is pretty straight forward and easy to read. The box is just the same as Suburbia, NO INSERT whatsoever. I wish this one did come with an insert to place certain tiles in their right places. There are 10 different room tile sizes, and it’s like you have to bag each type in it’s own bag (so set up is easier), not even including the hallways and stairs, money, room cards, and favor tokens. There’s just too many to bag, and I don’t think the game even came with enough since I had to combine some other room tiles with each other. And I don’t like that since they all get mixed which only means more time to spend separating and organizing during setup.
A part from the many bags I have to use for packing, there is one particular downside to this game with two players or even three, and that is not having access to all rooms and cards. During setup you have to put away room cards and room tiles depending on how many players there are and you would only have full access to it if you’re playing a four player game. The frustrating part of that is when you are given bonus cards at random, and favor tokens chosen at random, sometimes by the end of the game, you will never have that chance of fulfilling them because the tile or room card has been put away from the game. For example, a bonus card gives you victory points for having downstairs rooms or having all 10 types of rooms. And during the entire game, only two downstairs rooms come out and only one 300 L shaped room tile comes out. So the chances of you gaining more bonus points for downstairs rooms are diminished and you only have ONE chance to buy the only 300 L shaped room tile that could possibly be taken away by another player. I think the game will truly shine more as a four player game as there are more chances for you to gain the points you want through bonus cards and favor tokens. It is still a fun game as a two player and I will still play it if so, but I think I wouldn’t play it competitively since a lot of the setup is random and you never know what’s going to be taken away from the game.
Another downside is setup especially with less than four players. It gets a little tedious having to arrange tiles and deduct tiles and room cards. I mean, it’s not a huge deal, but some days I just don’t feel like doing the extra setup. If you like taking the time to organize it all during setup, then do so, but not for me. This is just a minor complaint.
But regardless, of these downsides, it’s still a fun game to play. A big part in the gaming community that gamer’s seem to enjoy a lot are building type games, so I would say this is a fun way to build a castle governed by a mad king, and everyone builds their castles in their own unique way.
There is plenty of replay value as there are lots of tiles. And surely with less than four players, you will never have the same game twice since the setup is random, and certain cards and rooms won’t be included in every game. So I guess less than four players isn’t all that bad.
Overall, it’s a fun thematic tile laying game. I just like the building aspect of it mostly with its fun theme.