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King's Gate
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King's Gate

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Ages Play Time Players
9+ 20-40 minutes 2-4

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Product Description

The old king is dying without an heir, and the country is in turmoil. Four lords have come to the capital city, each claiming to be the king's rightful successor. Now the lords are vying for control of the city, for they know that who ever wins the city will win the throne.

You and your opponents are playing the feudal lords, trying to secure your claims by surrounding the most important locations in the capital (such as the palace, the royal library, and the wizard's tower) with shops, barracks, and other city districts under your control. Watch where you place your districts, however, because your opponents may build their neighborhoods over yours, or worse - send the dragon to burn your territory down.

Product Information


  • 10 Location Tiles
  • 88 District Tiles
  • 6 Character Counters
  • 30 Victory Point Tokens

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.2 in 4 reviews

Better than Carcassonne!
January 18, 2004

I bought the 'Lord of the Ring' version of the same game for my friend. When I read the instruction of this game, the first thing that comes to my mind was that 'can this game be fun?' It is indeed fun!. I am addicted to this game, since no game that I have played before (such as Monopoly, Risk and Clue) has given me so much enjoyment. I enjoy the process of thinking of winning strategy in this game. The game provides pretty of options for you to choose, and you must adapt your strategies in each turn. But be careful! Other players also have their own agendas and may trick you, as a result. Luck does not play as much in this game as in other classics (e.g., Monoploy).

Another merit of this game is that the game rules are simple. Although lots of different options exist in the game, the rules are not hard to understand at all, even to non-gamers. I briefly explained them to my friends and they knew how to play.

The third merit is that strategies change when you play with different number of people. You will find the gameplay for 2 people different from the gameplay for 3 or 4 people, because the rules change. I find that this game is fun no matter how many people you play with. It is unlike Clue or Monopoly, in which a 2 player-game is boring. In fact, it is more challenging to play 'King's Gate' or 'Lord of the Rings' with 2 people.

Originally, I gave this game a score of 4.5, since it is undoubtedly a well-designed game. After playing Carcassone, I want to give 'King's Gate'/'Lord of the Rings' a 5, because 'King's Gate' is undoubtedly more strategic than Carcassonne. Even you have bad cards on your hand, you can still win with clever strategy. I disagree with the comment in the previous review that the placing of the cards is obvious. My friend used 10 minutes to think of a move. She only had many '1's in her hands, while I have '3's and '4's. Although I though she must lose the round, she finally won it by cleverly using 'Knizia', placing '0' all the '1's in a place in a turn. Have I told you that I won Clue and Monopoly nearly every time I played, but I lost this game for five consecutive times? After each round, my friend and I discussed what went wrong in each other's move. This game let you think, and you have to play smart to win. For gamers who hate abundant element of luck (like me), I strongly suggest this game.

Better than Samurai
April 06, 2003

I got this game from a friend as a gift, as I like some of the other Fantasy Flight Games in this format. And I must admit that I really like this one too.

The game itself is very simple to learn, but it'll take a while to be good at it.

It's another Knizia game and it has that great feel to it. In fact it is similar to Samurai in some ways, with the players having to make great decisions every turn. I personally like King's Gate better than Samurai as it seems to have more options and a more logical scoring.

Another hit from Knizia!

Rule the city, with a bit of fun.
September 15, 2003

I knew nothing about Kings Gate when I bought it, other than that it was designed by Reiner Knizia, produced by Fantasy Flight Games, and had a fantasy theme. Im a big fan of the Fantasy Flight small-boxed games series, and Kings Gate seemed like a natural purchase.

And was it worth my time? The short answer is that yes, Kings Gate, while devoid of theme, is a very fun game to play, with a good bit of strategy in it. The strategy takes a little getting used to, but once learned, Kings Gate makes a satisfying, fun short game. Let me explain a bit more.

Each player (2-4) receives twenty-two district tiles. Each tile shows a picture of a city, along with numbers or a symbol (seven 1s, four each of 2s, 3s, and 4s, and one each of 5, an inn which equals zero, and a dragon). Each player shuffles their tiles and places them in a pile in front of them. Character tokens are placed in a pile near the board, as well as point tokens (similar to little coins). A pile of location tiles, which are the size of two district tiles, are placed in a pile, numbered from one to ten. The first location tile is placed in the middle of the table, and each player draws six tiles from their stack of district tiles. One player is chosen to go first, with the rest following in clockwise order.

On a turn, a player must place at least one tile from their hand on the table adjacent to the current location (diagonally or orthogonally). Normally, a player can place only one tile, with some exceptions: A player may play multiple one tiles. A player may play the inn (0) tile in addition to another tile, or the dragon tile in addition to another tile. Each locations number is either colored black or white. Black locations are considered dangerous, which means that players may place their tile on top of another players tile, as long as the second tile is of a greater value. White locations are considered safe, and no tiles may be overlaid. The dragon tile discards the tile it lands on (whether safe or unsafe) and itself. The 3 tile is always safe, whether at a dangerous or safe locations, even from the dragon. Some locations also have special tile-laying restrictions.

Once the current location has been totally surrounded by tiles, it is scored. Each location has three numbers on it. Each player totals the sum of the numbers on the tiles they have surrounding that location, and the player with the highest number receives points equal to the first number. Second place gets the second number, etc. If only three players are playing, only two players score any points. Some of the numbers have the picture of a character in front of them. If a player wins that position, they receive that character counter to be played in the future. Certain character counters do different things:

- The king, when played, changes a locations color to safe or dangerous

- The bishop causes the current location to be scored based on the number of tiles, rather than the sum.

- The wizard allows two tiles of the same value to be played in a row.

- The guild master increases a tile on which it is played by two.

- The merchant protects the tile on which it is played.

- The sorceress may move a tile from its present location to a new location.

After a location is scored, the player who placed the last district tile there may place the next location tile, which must be placed adjacent to at least one of the current district tiles. In this way, many district tiles will be counted for two or more locations! The game is over when all players have run out of district tiles, or when the tenth location is scored. The player with the highest total of points is the winner.

Some comments on the game:

1). Components: As usual, the tiles in this Fantasy Flight game are of extremely high quality. They look fairly busy, with houses of a city drawn all over them, but when connected together on the table, the whole city looks pretty good. The colors are easy to distinguish, and the tiles are very easy to lay down/pick up. The coins used to keep track of points are nice, although a pencil and paper might be a little less cumbersome. The character counters look nice, but as with most FF games, youll find yourself looking up their meaning many times until it is memorized. The box, small and sturdy like all FFG boxes, has a plastic insert that holds everything well, although I need to add a plastic bag for the coins.

2). Rules: Two pages of rules, with some strategy tips, and a sample layout diagram are printed in six languages. There is a lot of information on these two pages, so the type is small, but its fairly easy to make out, and the layout is decent. The rules are a little difficult to teach, especially the strategy. Players will probably have to play through one game before they realize what they should do to optimize their strategy.

3). Strategy: There is a lot of strategy in this game, tempered by a bit of luck (the tiles that are drawn). However, a good player could conceivably win most of the time, because the luck is rather minimal. A player who has played before has an extreme advantage over newcomers, however. Knowing what tiles are coming up, and how the different point totals and special characters work is something that will only come with multiple plays. This is especially necessary in a three-player game, as location 10 is never reached (all the players will run out of tiles before then.), and if a player is trying to save their big tiles for location 10, then theyre stuck.

4). Three-player: With two-player, rules are included so that each player controls two colors, so it plays remarkably similar to a four-player game. Since the three-player game never gets to location 10, though, it has a very unfinished feel. A three-player game is fine, but Id rather play with two or four.

5). Theme and Fun Factor: As with most Knizia games, Kings Gates theme is plastered on a good mechanic. In fact, the game was published before as a Lord of the Rings game. That game had a problem, in which that it barely fit on a table. Kings Gate easily fits on a table, and the change in theme is barely noticeable. The game is still fun, however. There arent too many choices a player has on their turn, so downtime is minimal, and table talk occurs (unlike some analysis paralysis games.) Everyone who played this game enjoyed it quite a bit.

So I will recommend Kings Gate. Its a short game and makes a good filler. There are other Fantasy Flight games I would recommend first (like Citadels and Kingdoms), but if you have them, and are looking for a short, fun game, then Kings Gate is a winner for you. Dont come in expecting the theme to blow you away, but the mechanics are very nice, and the game works well when played between two longer games. Give it a try!

Tom Vasel

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