Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 12 November 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Manufacturer: Bezier Games

Designer: Ted Alspach


Back in February 2015 we walked into our first game store – Ecclectic Games in Reading, UK. We saw their huge games library but weren’t sure how you got the privilege of trying some of the games. After asking some questions we had a huge revelation – you can meet up with a bunch of people you don’t know and play board games! So we went to our first board game meet-up and the highlight of our evening was Castles of Mad King Ludwig – a mind blowingly awesome game for 2 new gamers! But has it stood the test of time? (For information the low-light of the evening was Coup – I’ve learned that I really dislike hidden role games!)

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.

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.
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.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed your review. I feel about the game much the same way you do. Really enjoy it. THANKS.