Why don't you believe me?
Seriously, I'm a weasel.
Note: I was provided with a free PDF copy in exchange for a review.
Introduction: Fallen Kingdoms is a print and play game available from DriveThruRPG for $10. The basic idea was to splice together aspects of Antike, Britannia, and Small World.
The PDF includes files for 6 double-sided map tiles, 3 small sets of cards, building tiles, and pieces for each player. I wish the PDF had stored the player pieces all together so they could be ignored. The game works much better with cubes, as it speeds up gameplay and improves the ability to read the board. The point tiles are generally unneeded as well and I used poker chips in my games.
Overall, everything is clearly laid out and easy to read from across the table. All of the text could use some editing as it has the feel of something translated into English. You can understand the meaning and intent of everything, but it sometimes has awkward wording. Thankfully, the designer has a very clear and easy to use player aid that summarizes most of the information that players need to play.
The basic structure of the turn is:
1. Use God power (optional, each player has one).
2. Generate knowledge on your upgrade tracks
The game ends when two of the following three run out: buildings, technologies, and Rumor cards. Buildings and technologies are generated during the generate knowledge phase, Rumor cards are taken when you conquer an enemy temple or eliminate a player from the board. The total number of each is equal to three times the player total, so it scales fairly well.
The various God powers seem fairly balanced, with all serving some purpose. The weakest is probably the God that can use other God's powers. In a smaller game, this can prove to be not useful.
Knowledge is generated based on controlling cities with bonuses granted for having ports, resource generators, or buildings in the cities. Knowledge can be used to produce new units, new technologies, or build new buildings. Points are earned from learning new technologies.
Moving units is a simple point to point system.
Combat results when any of your units have moved into an enemy city. Dice are rolled until one side is destroyed. The side with higher Intimidation (granted by Rumor and God cards) can force additional retreats from their opponent. If you conquer a Temple city or eliminate a player from the board, the player takes a Rumor card and scores points.
Scoring is based on the number of cities and buildings controlled.
After all players have taken their turn, each player has the option to wipe themselves off the board (crediting another player as conqueror) and reenter as an invader.
The game is a solid beer-and-pretzels style game that competes favorably with Nexus Ops. The game is fairly balanced between building, researching new techs, and invading. My games have ended when the third pile has one or no cards left.
There are some rough spots that could be fixed. The combat system should be replaced with a CRT to speed up play and prevent some of the swingier events from happening. I would also consider reworking the Invader priority system to make the better off players decide if they want to invade first. As it is, the weakest player decides first and this allows the stronger players to have a better chance of evaluating the need for invasion.
Overall, this is a strong effort in the light civ category that manages to splice together a bunch of systems from other games into a quite workable whole. I recommend trying this one out if your group is in the mind for 90 minutes of storming across each others' territories.