King's Gate13 Jun 2003 0
It's an old story. An ancient king is winding down, his influence waning. Powerful people begin maneuvering and manipulating in an attempt to grab that power before anyone else does. Reiner Knizias uses this as a back drop for his simple, yet engaging game, King's Gate.
Pieces and Parts
The game comes packaged in a box roughly the size of a large hardcover, slightly smaller than the old 'bookcase games'. The back of the box indicates that the game is suitable for humans 9 and up, 2 to 4 players and that games will take from 20-40 minutes. It clearly states this in no less than 6 languages.
Inside the box is a rule book and several sheets of tiles. No dice, no cards no frills. The tiles break out into 10 Locations, 88 District tiles (22 in each of 4 colors), 6 Character counters and 30 Victory Point tokens.
The tiles are printed on heavy stock. The faces of these tiles seem to hold up fairly well and don't absorb every molecule of water that might be present (like the soda can rings that always seem to appear at our gaming table). The detail on the faces of these tiles is excellently done.
The rulebook seems hefty at first, having 14 pages in length with very small typeface. However, after reading through the rules it became apparent that the rulebook really is 6 rulebooks in one-with 5 languages besides English represented.
Rules and Regulations
Ultimately this game comes down to a page and a half of rules and a half page of tile description information. The rules are relatively simple and the game's strategy is easy to learn. It all boils down to this: control more of the city than your opponents.
The game begins with each player having a stack of District tiles. This stack is randomized and the player draws 6 tiles from the stack. Then the first Location is placed, The Palace. The Victory Point chits are set aside.
Each person's turn consist of playing one or more tiles, followed by drawing back up to 6 tiles at the end. On one's turn you may place a tile at any open point on the current Location. There is room for up to 10 Districts at each Location. Once a Location is 'full' another Location tile is placed and becomes the Current Location. Districts may only be placed on the Current location.
There are several rules about placement of Districts besides that one. A player must place at least one tile but has options. You can either place any number of Districts with a value of 1 or one tile with a value greater than that. A Pub District tile can be placed in addition to one or more tiles.
Every player does have a special District tile. This tile is the Dragon. The Dragon allows a player to destroy an opponent's tile. Each player also has several Barracks Districts that have the special ability of being immune to the Dragons ministrations, as well as any other actions or abilities that allow a tile to be covered by an opponent's.
Location, Location, Location
While the tiles are important, the Location is equally so. Locations are always placed in the same order, as indicated by the number in the upper left corner of the tile. On the bottom edge of the tile is a list of numbers. These are the Victory Points that will be awarded to the people who have the highest number of District Points on a Location when it is finally filled. Once the 10th tile is places, filling the entire Location border, each player tallies up their District points and is allocated Victory Point chits.
Locations come in 2 'colors', as indicated by the background of the Location Number in the upper left. The white locations are Safe. This means District tiles may only be placed on empty spaces normally. However, when the color is black, the Location is Dangerous. This means players may cover an opponent's District with one of their own, so long as the covering tile is of a higher value.
3 Locations have some special rules, however. The Graveyard (Location 4) allows you to only to place one or two tiles. Even if on other Locations one could place more, at the Graveyard this is disallowed. On the Garrison (#6) you can only place one District tile of value 1, blocking the special ability of the Districts with a value of 1. Finally there is the Tourney Grounds. At Location 8 there is a penalty for the person coming in last. The person with the fewest points loses 3 points, instead of merely not gaining as is the case everywhere else.
Five of the Locations have extra symbols near the Point Values given. These are the Character Counter.