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Subject: Im Auftrag des Königs - A Review rss

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Lewis Igo
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Im Auftrag des Konigs

In the Name of Kings

The Big Idea:

Knights adventure in the lands of Camelot. By completing quests, bringing justice to the realm and jousting with one another, the knights compete to gain the admiration of the king’s court.

Components:

The entire game is one compact deck of cards.

The deck of cards is split up into a whole bunch of different sets: 4 knight cards, 4 player order cards, 8 realm cards including Camelot, 14 quest cards, 4 horse cards, 18 virtue cards and 14 action cards. The players will need to come up with a pad of paper and a pencil for scoring.

The art of Im Auftrag des Konigs is some of the best in the Adlung-Spiele card game line up. Similar to sketches and watercolors found in children’s picture books, the graphics lends itself well to the high fantasy atmosphere of the game.

As far as functionality goes, the components get high marks as well. Since the game was designed with an eye towards being language independent, symbols and relationships are very clearly indicated on each of the cards. For instance, when a player wants to complete an action, the boarder of the card indicates the place where that action can be completed. If the player needs to complete a quest, the card shows the same artwork as the location it needs to be completed.

Set up:

For a card game, you will be surprised at how much room Im Auftrag des Konigs takes up. Although the description of how to set it up is written out in German translated English, the makers of the game were good enough to put in a model setup example on the face of two cards. Instead of going into the details of the setup here are some examples
Here is a photo of an actual setup:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/68758

Here is a photo of the model cards:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/122786

For review purposes it is important to know that, the land of Camelot is represented by 8 cards that are set up in a circle in the middle of the board. One card represents the castle of Camelot while the other 7 represent the untamed wilds.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/68761

The other cards are set up in different areas grouped by type. For instance, the available quests are set up in the middle of the circle, practice and virtue cards are put off to one side, etc.

Basic play:

A player wins the game by reaching a certain amount of victory points. Victory points are earned by completing quests, bringing peace to the land and by winning jousts. In order to complete these actions, the knight must have certain virtues (skill with sword, skill with lance, courage and wisdom) specific to the action. When a knight completes a scoring action, they will turn in the indicated virtues on the action card.

For instance: A knight has the “Slay the Wild Boar” quest.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/122787

In order to complete the quest, the knight must travel to the pictured area and then discard the virtues shown (1 skill with lance and 1 skill with sword). The knight will then score the listed number of points (3, the number of shields pictured)

In the beginning of the game, a knight is given two random virtues. In order to build up or replenish virtues, the knight will need to practice in Camelot.

Turn Breakdown:

In essence there are two main phases of a turn.

During the first phase, the knights will choose the actions that they want to take. In a 4 player game, each knight will only be able to complete three actions in a given turn. Since there are only a limited number of actions available, the players will need to choose based on their need. Actions are picked one at a time, one player at a time. As is often the case, the player just before you will take the action you want to complete. This is the principle way that the players will interact with each other so it will be important to pay attention to what others are picking.

The actions are as follows:
- Practice a virtue: When a play performs this action, they will be able to pick up the appropriate virtue card that they practice and place it in their hand.
- Travel: There are horses with different movement values. To move about the board the knight must play this action.
- Choose a quest: The player goes to the Round Table and chooses an available quest to be completed and places it in their hand.
- Complete a quest: The knight is able to go out and perform a quest
- Bring peace to the land: The knight will go about the realm and bring peace
- JOUSTING!!: Two knights at the end of the turn may combat for glory and victory points.

During the second phase, the players will perform the action they chose. It is important to note, that certain actions can only be completed in certain areas so the order in which cards are played is important. For instance, in order to practice a virtue such as skill with sword, the knight needs to be in Camelot. If the knight currently is out in the wilds, the player would first play the travel action to move back to Camelot, and then play the practice skill with sword action. Completing a quest is similar. The quest that the knight wants to complete needs to be performed in the location pictured on the quest card. If the knight starts in Camelot the player will need to first play a travel card to get to the location, and play the complete a quest action. The player will then discard the chosen quest and the appropriate virtue cards from their hand.

Then there are two smaller phases

After all of the players have finished their actions, the knights that chose to joust will do so. If there is only one knight jousting, they will get 2 victory points for turning in one sword or lance virtue. If two knights are jousting, both knights will chose any number of sword and lance cards, place them face down and turn them over simultaneously. The one with the most swords and/or lances wins the bout.

Lastly, player order is determined. Tent cards numbered 1 through 4 are handed out. Tent 1 will go to the person in last place, tent 2 will go to the player in 2nd to last place and so on. During the next turn, order will proceed in the order of the numbered tents


Thoughts about Im Auftrag des Konigs:

First things first, this is produced as a card game and therefore costs as much as a card game. Currently, this is running for about $8.00 at online gaming sites so you will get a lot of bang per buck. This game very easily could have been a more produced affair with fancy bits such as painted knight miniatures, a board that represented Camelot, thick cardboard tokens to represent virtues and so on. In fact, some complaints of the game is that this lack of a board makes the game unnecessarily complex and busy. I don’t see that as an issue, but should give you an idea that this is a “big” game for a card game.

Game play is simple and intuitive with some depth. After running through a turn or two, most players, even children, should be able to pick up the mechanics. Although simple to understand, there are some tough decisions to make during the game. For instance, it is generally wise to take an action practicing a virtue every turn. However, if there is a quest that you are set up for, or you need the horse that moves 4 spaces, you may need to sacrifice practicing in order to make sure you get the right card. Since most games tend to be close and quests, when completed, can earn up to a quarter of the victory points needed to win, there is definitely some tension when someone is trying to pull out that come from behind victory. Another factor to consider is determining when to take the lead since the lead person will be the last person to choose actions in the next turn. Being the last person to pick an action can definitely be a hindrance and will stop any sort of run away leader issue.

Although there is some decision making, this solidly falls under the category of a light filler game, a quick affair that fits well between longer, meatier games. This will be a good game to play with older children/young teens again since it is easy to grasp and quick to play without being a bore to more experienced gamers. As can be expected with these types of games, there will be limited replay value. Although fun to play once or maybe twice in a night, the games will not vary much. I suppose if you create a game based around limited actions and limited resources, there will only be so many combinations.

Overall, I believe Im Auftrag des Konigs is light, balanced and well thought out game that will scratch the itch for a short questing type game.

What I would like to see in the future:

When studying Im Auftrag des Konigs for this review, I kept thinking to myself that this is a great base for a game. In the future, I hope Adlung-Spiele comes out with an expansion that builds upon this successful system while keeping its charm as a light adventure game based in the story book realm of Camelot.
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