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Kings & Castles
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Kings & Castles

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Ages Play Time Players
8+ 60-120 minutes 2-4

Designer(s): Steve Kendall, Gary Dicken

Manufacturer(s): Ragnar Brothers

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Product Description

Plenty of interaction between players, as each player at various times will have to use some of their opponents' forces to try to achieve his or her own nefarious ends; they may also, in the process, have to grudgingly grant them some land that is ripe for taxation.

It is 1066 and Duke William of Normandy is about to cross the Channel to invade England. You are one of his most trusted nobles and stand ready to carve out a barony for yourself in England. For the next four hundred years, you and your descendants will serve the king -- fighting his wars, building his castles, collecting his taxes -- and making your family as rich and powerful as you can in the process. But have a care! Other barons plan to do no less for their families. You will only emerge victorious if you can use sufficient guile, cunning and skill to shape some of the most decisive events in England's history.

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Steve Kendall, Gary Dicken

  • Manufacturer(s): Ragnar Brothers

  • Year: 2000

  • Players: 2 - 4

  • Time: 60 - 120 minutes

  • Ages: 8 and up

  • Weight: 504 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are printed in English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.


  • 1 cloth map
  • 4 counter sheets
  • 4 faction cards
  • 1 cloth bag
  • rule booklet

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.2 in 4 reviews

by Bruce
Excellent, elegant game.
February 10, 2001

You could describe this game as Britannia without the dice--except that this game is less restrictive than Britannia, not more. The game mechanics are simple, innovative and very well thought out.

A game of Kings and Castles will be far less pre-ordained than Britannia. In Britannia, everybody watches what happens to the last Roman troops (for example) and says 'Oh, yes, that'll affect that and that and that'. In this game, in contrast, the future effects of this turn's actions are far more open.

One to play again.

Great Game, A Sleeper that could turn a few Heads!
December 17, 2000

From the release of Kingmaker years ago, I have loved the genre of nobles fighting nobles on the British Islands. This game had the flavor of History of the World and the cuthroat feeling of Risk. Many decisions, but in a very playable format. Great fun. Don't miss it; it makes you yearn for the great gameplay of royaly.

Some interesting elements
April 06, 2001

I wasn't sure what to expect when I got this game; it was a purchase made because I enjoyed the Ragnar Bros. earlier History of the World and Backpacks & Blisters efforts, and because I really like their trademark linen 'boards'. So I got the linen board I was looking for, and a pretty good game came with it.

Each player is an English baron with their own fighting force in the early centuries of the last millenium. Each turn, one of the barons is designated the King and sets about trying to conquer as much land in the five nations of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and France as is possible. There will always be one opposing force in each region that is being attacked, sometimes augmented by a castle that acts as a defense modifier. There is no dice rolling, so the strength of the defender is known and victory is achieved simply by placing a larger force in the region. Sort of like Vinci in that respect. The attacking force comes from a 10-piece array that is drawn each turn. Some of these draws may come from a 15-piece 'household' that is the only known force players have for the game and must be managed as the finite resource that it is. The rest of the pieces that fill the array are drawn blind from a bag, and may include others of your own forces the same as comprise the household, enemy pieces, or pieces that belong to other barons. This is the only luck element in the game.

There are different rules of engagement for the attacks depending on whether or not enemy pieces are still present in a nation and it is therefore a disputed nation (at the start that's all that is on the board), or if the enemy has been cleared out and only pieces belonging to the varioius barons are in the nation and it is therefore labeled an undisputed nation (but the nation is considered to be in a state of civil war). I found the difference in these rules of engagement to be mildly confusing at the outset, similar to the feeling I had when I was first trying to get a handle on the different types of conflict in Euphrat & Tigris. The trick in the game is balancing the use of your given 'household' forces against those obtained in the blind draw, and manipulating the use of these forces on the board in attacking in disputed or undisputed nations (and also planning attacks so nations flop between those two states to your advantage). The winner is the person who has the most money at the end, gained through taxation of occupied regions, but this is merely a measure of victory points. At scoring points, one region--London--is worth 3, other larger cities are worth 2, and the rest of the regions are worth 1.

There are three aspects of the game that I found to be rather unique:

  1. At the start of the game players in turn select which kings they will be. This has the effect of establishing turn order for the duration of the game, since each turn there is a different king. In a four-player game, each player will have chosen 6 kings, and thus will have 6 turns each.
  2. The blind draw of forces to fill the array will give each baron a fair number of pieces belonging to opposing barons (and enemy pieces as well). So in attacking, players have to at times use pieces other than their own, which has the effect of granting regions to these 'cooperative' opposing baronial forces.
  3. Each player has a trio of taxation chits, one of which may be used at the end of any turn. This in effect means players choose the timing of their own scoring rounds. Since they have six turns, each can only score on half of them.

All in all, a very intriguing game that has much more that I need to explore.

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