Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Manufacturer: Bezier GamesDesigner: Ted Alspach
In Castles of Mad King Ludwig your goal is to earn the most points by building your castle with optimal rooms adjacent to each other and building it in a way that will please the Mad King, who on a seemingly random whim will reward different kinds of construction eg. castles with lots of bedrooms or castles where all of the rooms are small and square. The game is a tile laying game, but with a huge dose of market manipulation.
The tiles in the game consist of different sizes and shapes of room. Each specific room shape can be one of 3 different room types eg. small square rooms are Utility, Food and Living rooms and the different rooms give you points in different ways. You get points simply for placing a room, generally more points for larger rooms and then you can either gain points or lose points for different adjacencies. Rooms are bought from the central market of 5/6 different tiles. On each turn, one player is the master builder and they can choose the order, and therefore the price, of the available room tiles. It is really key to try and price things appropriately, not only to ensure that you protect the tiles you want and do not give really important tiles to your opponents, but also because all money spent on that turn goes to the master builder.
|The board set up for a 2-player game. Two favour tiles are used and fewer of each size of room tile are used to balance the game and reduce the game length with 2 players. There are also no cost 2000 rooms in the 2-player game.|
When you buy a room, you immediately place it. Doors must align and there are many potential influences on your choice of where to place a room including; potential bonus points or penalties from adjacencies; the potential to complete rooms and obtain the bonuses which differ for each room type and they may also be influenced by your personal objective cards or the central kings favour tokens which may reward completed or uncompleted rooms.
Each game is different because of the huge choice of kings favour tokens in the game. The different objectives differ so greatly and can give large points bonuses to the person who achieves the most and second most in each category. You are also dealt personal objectives at the start of the game and can add to these every time you complete a Utility room. The personal bonuses generally reward 2 or 3 points for each of a certain room you construct eg. circular rooms or activity rooms etc.
This is probably the best tile advanced tile laying game I’ve played. I love the mechanics, especially the master builder, even though it causes me significant stress to decide on the cost and order of the rooms. The game’s one flaw is that is prone to bringing out analysis paralysis in players. Both the master builder role and the temptation to try and optimise the tile placement can be very draining! It is possible to play this game quickly if all players think about their purchasing priorities whilst the master builder is deciding and whilst other players are also deciding which tiles to purchase and where to place them.
There’s no doubt I find this game stressful, but it does
just about tip the balance towards enjoyable and it feels really rewarding and
satisfying once you’ve built your castle and you can see it laid out on the
table in front of you. Castles of Mad
King Ludwig gets an 8/10 from
the Yellow Meeple.
|A castle under construction, with a large number of completed rooms. This player will currently have two extra personal objectives due to the two completed orange Utility rooms.|