Kingdom of Aer: Kingmaker Kickstarter Review

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As the 7th day of mourning begins, the great sadness around the Kingdom of Aer has started to subside and the people look to see who will take over. The squabbling between the heirs has already started and rumors of possible assassinations have surfaced. As each heir gathers their court and readies for a possible attempt on their life, it will take all their skills to outlast or out-fight their rivals. Who will fight? Who will die? Who will end up with the throne? No matter what happens, by morning you will have a new King to rule the Kingdom of Aer.

Players start with three royal cards face up in front of them and a full hand of eleven cards. The hand includes cards that target each of the other players as well as cards that form the court of the royals and have special abilities.

The Special Abilities are:

  • Jester – Jester joins your court as an additional royal card.
  • Attack Nominations – Nominates the player you wish to attack. The Majority Player is ‘Hit’. All players in a Tie are ‘Hit’
  • Seer – Removes all Attack Nominations against you. Next highest Majority Player is ‘Hit’ instead.
  • Marshals- Protects you from being ‘Hit’. Counter-‘Hits’ all players who nominated you instead.
  • Gold – You may buy back 1 of your Character cards from the Discard pile, though you cannot buy back Royalty Characters
  • Thief – Blocks all Gold from being played. If thief is successful you may buy back 1 of your Characters Cards.
  • Banner – Banner is added to your court. Your attack Nomination now counts as 2 instead of 1
  • Fanatic – Destroys all Banners in all Courts including your own

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Players simultaneously play one card from their hand face-down. When all players have placed a card, the cards are flipped up and card actions are resolved in the below order:

  1. Jester joins the court
  2. Count Attacks
  3. Seer removes attacks
  4. Attacks ‘Hit’ Player/s
  5. Marshals counter ‘Hits’
  6. Gold buys / Thief Steals
  7. Add Banner / Fanatic Banners

When court cards are played, they are discarded. Only the gold card allows players to buy back a card from the discard pile, and it has a counter: the thief.

Once the game is down to two players, the player with the higher number of points wins. To calculate the points you will find symbols on the cards. (Please note: several cards have both symbols.)

  • In the top left of the cards you will find a number and a picture of a crown. This represents the points you receive if the card is currently in play on the board.
  • On the bottom right of the cards you will find a number and a picture of a card. This represents the points you receive if the card is currently in your hand.

Symbols

 

I had heard several people talking about Kingdom of Aer: Kingmaker throughout PAX Australia  (which was back in November) and I had to check it out. So on the last day of PAX, I wandered over to see what all the buzz was about. I was not disappointed. The game was a Coup / Resistance style elimination and bluffing social game. It was quick but so intelligent. Within a round or two I didn’t offer, I determined to review this. This game had me hooked.

Kingdom of Aer: Kingmaker is more than just an elimination game, it is a well thought out game with clever yet simple mechanics and amazing art. The abilities of the different court members are so succinctly complimentary and balanced; it truly is a thing of beauty. What impresses me most is that this is Allan Chesher’s first ever game. I have had the pleasure of playing and reviewing many Kickstarter previews and very few are this well-polished; most that are, are normally from more seasoned designers.

So I have played this game several times with several groups of people. As I received this game at PAX, we actually played the copy that was given to me that night several times with the guys from 93 Made games; more recently with Ty and Nick; then Christmas Night with Oz, Panda and Zoe. This game has been well received with everyone enjoying it as much as I did. They love the quick  game play and the ease of learning (not to mention, the little cheat cards of what each special ability is, which helps a lot).

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Now let’s get to the art and wow do I love it. It is so stunning and almost looks like something from a set of Tarot cards. The artist really has captured the resistance style era in which the game was set. I also love how all the court cards are pretty much the same but with their house’s color used for highlighting. I also love the jester card, it is one of my favorite in the deck, and a nice little touch is his broken jester mask. As in every game I have played, the Jester has always been killed. So the broken mask really is a beautiful little touch as it is pretty much a dead man walking in this game.

Overall, I can’t fault this game. It has an easy learning curve, a beautifully thought out and balanced mechanic and stunning art. If you are a fan of Coup and Resistance this game this is a must have. I know both Nick and I will be backing this game as it was an instant favorite.

You can check out their Facebook or Website for all your updates and when it goes live on the 25th of January.

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