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(Worth 1,075 Funagain Points!)
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Royalty is a simple yet splendid word-building card game. The object is to form words using the cards in your hand, or to add letters to words that your opponents have created to gain the highest score!
Form one word from your hand. Score is determined by points on the red and black cards. If the word is all one color and at least four letters, you've earned a Royalty, and your score doubles! Example: ALE = 6 points, PEAL = 12; but CALM = 32! and CAMP = 40!
You may also build on one word in the playing area by adding at least one letter and arranging all the letters to form a new word. Example: PAR could become PARE (12 points) or CAPER (18 points).
Royalty is as much fun for kids just learning to read and spell as it is for erudite adults!
US Games Systems
Players: 1 - 6
Ages: 6 and up
Weight: 247 grams
Average Rating: 4 in 2 reviews
I usually groan when my family members suggest pulling out a word game, particularly a CARD word game. I've suffered through the likes of Tri-versity that depend more on luck of the draw than spelling adeptness. I was quite surprised to find myself actually enjoying Royalty.
There is a very well balanced set of letters so one is rarely frustrated getting stuck with a handful of Q's, X's and J's. There is almost always something you can spell and letters are assigned points much like Scrabble.
However, what makes the game fun is that you can steal opponents' words away from them if you can make a new word that has a completely new definition. Prefixes, suffixes and alterations are not allowed so for example, an opponent cannot build on ear by turning it into ears, earring, or earlobe. The rules suggest that even 'hear' is too similar since it's related to ear (which we thought was stretching it a bit). However, legal plays could include pears, stare, grape, etc.. On the next turn a crafty opponent can steal the newly created word from you by adding at least one more letter. So grape might now become pagers. Players are allowed one capture per turn in addition to building a second word with the remaining cards in their hand. If you can build an entire word with one suite color (red or black) you double the word score and if you can get rid of your entire hand in one turn you double all points made that turn. If no one has stolen your word(s) by the time it is your turn again you scoop them up to put in your discard pile which is worth points at the end of the game (one point per card).
The best part of the game for me, a lover of competitive games like Overthrone, El Grande, Rook, etc.., is making strategic choices other than how big a word to spell. If you lay down a short word are you setting your opponents up for an easy steal, should I play different suites so opponents can't double their score on a capture, should I create a shorter, lower-scoring word with an unfriendly letter like 'J' so that a capture is less likely, and so forth.
There are also a couple of nice little scoring rules for the end game (to keep the game from dragging on) that encourage players to get rid of all their cards first, in order to snag other players' hands for extra points. If everyone passes then all players must subtract the points in their hand and then remove a number of cards from your discard for each card in your hand. Finally, you add the remaining cards in your discard pile for your total score.
Royalty is best with four players and lasts about 60-90 minutes, much like Scrabble. If I were a true lover of word games I'd probably give Royalty a five-star rating.
Usually during lunch, my friend and I would kill time by playing 'word train' on a notebook. Royalty is a better substitute.
I suppose this game may have similarities to that of Quiddler and Wordthief and a Scrabble-like play. I especially like the scoring for color combinations and such. If you can't play with another person, it's not that bad as a solitare game.
Like most word games, we often get into fights when someone plays a questionable word and nobody has a dictionary.
The price isn't so bad as well, and it comes with two decks with different alphabet-color frequencies. I'm sure this game would be great for on the airplane.