Hear ye! Hear ye! The King is Dead! It’s Arthurian England, and the King has passed. The English, Scots, and Welsh all want one of their own on the throne. The French are lying in wait to see if the resulting skirmish will create an opportunity for invasion. The King is Dead (2nd Edition) is a 2-4 player area-control game by Peer Sylvester that takes 30-45 minutes.
The King is Dead (2nd Edition), as the name implies, is a newly released edition with a new coat of paint from Benoit Billion. The graphic design is a beautiful rendition of the medieval style. The artwork greatly assists in drawing you into the theme. The cards’ illustrations are so detailed and evocative—a round of applause for Quined Games for another beautiful release.
Each player receives an identical set of 8 action cards at the start of the game. There are eight regions on the board with cubes in them representing units of the respective faction. Each turn, players can either play a card from their hand or pass (do nothing). Once you play one of your action cards, you no longer get it back. After each player passes sequentially, one of the eight regions will resolve a power struggle. The faction with the most units in that territory will take control. If there is a tie, the French place one of their influence in the region.
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Every time you play a card, you also take a cube from somewhere else on the map. This allows you to grow your influence, but it could also help secure a region for the faction of your choice. The game can end in two possible ways: coronation of a new king or French invasion. Depending on which way the game goes, the scoring conditions change, adding to decision-making agony!
The King is Dead is a mastery of design. Peer Sylvester has taken the area-control aspects of classics like El Grande and refined them down to their most essential elements. Each decision you make in this game is tight and meaningful. The fast gameplay feels like a boxing match in each side strategically landing and taking blows. Each game is quick enough to invite you to bring it back to the table over and over again.