remake of Löwenherz
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An intriguing new game of domain building by the creator of The Settlers of Catan.
The king shall return...
But before he does, the realm falls into anarchy and chaos. The lords of the kingdom struggle to improve their place and standing. New borders are drawn, and expanded through strength of arms and subtle maneuver. Each duke seeks to establish a claim over the most valuable parts of the kingdom before the king finally returns...
In the dark of the Middle Ages, control of the land was the key to wealth and power. Can you control enough territory to become the most prestigious duke before the kings return?
With the love for detail that has distinguished all of his designs, Klaus Teuber has created a game that is easy to learn, yet offers enough strategic depth to draw players back again and again. Are you clever enough to control the land, marshal your wealth, and seize the power and prestige of your own Domaine?
- 4 Board Edge Pieces
- 9 Land Tiles
- 60 Action Cards
- 60 Knight Figures
- 16 Castles
- 100 Border Markers
- 47 Gold Ducat Tokens
- 4 Crest Tokens
- 1 King Token
- 1 Rulebook
Average Rating: 4.4 in 15 reviews
Hats off to Herr Teuber, who keeps getting it right. O.K., I've only played it a couple times, but Domaine is a great game. It is hands-down better than other games chosen by Games Magazine in the 2004 Buyers Guide in the Advanced Strategy category. It is leaps and bounds ahead of New England, the Game of the Year, which I find to be merely mediocre. I hope this brief review can do this great game justice.
The rules are simple. The rule book is a mere 4 pages long, much of which is pictures. Each turn a player may sell a card, or pay to play a card. Take the action on the card you played to expand or protect one of your domaines. Draw to replenish your hand. That is it. To be completely honest I wasn't expecting much after reading the rules. What a pleasant surprise I was in for.
Players must make hard choices. You have to predict what your opponents will do and try to use that to your advantage. There is never enough time or money to do everything you want to do. There is quite a bit of conflict and a screw your opponent factor, as players compete for mines to gain money, and villages and forests for victory points.
I love games that offer the choice of screwing your opponent or solidifying your position. Now that makes for a great game.
Is it as good Puerto Rico or Settlers or Princes of Florence? (I do not hesitate to put Domaine in such company). There is much more conflict in Domaine, which turns off some players, but it is certainly up there in some rarified air. Only time will tell if it takes its rightful place in the gaming community. Domaine makes me wish I had played Lowenhertz, the original version of this game. I plan to buy it just to see what I've been missing.
Lowenherz is Klaus Teuber's best design to date. Better than Adel Verpflichtet, and better than Settlers. There are agonizing choices to be made every turn! The mechanic of forcing four players to choose among three options each turn, with two players having to duke it out to perform one of the choices, works very well. The balance among the various strategies (going for gold, choosing a politics card, building walls, building up a knight force, expanding one's territory) is remarkable -- each of these is valuable in its own way, and choosing how much one of them is worth to you at any given point in the game is not easy! I'll play this game over and over and over -- it's just loads of fun!
Allthough I have nothing new to add to the previous reviewers, I still want to express my enthousiasm for this game, because it simply deserves it. The game is just brilliant. Even if it would only have been a 'place a few pieces on the board' type of game (like Medina) it's my guess it still would have been a nice, abstract game.
Klaus Teuber however, has managed to mix a good abstract game mechanism with a completely other mechanism, wich is highly responsible for a lot of interaction between the players: trading the actions. If you want to do something, you'll have to pay for it. This way, you don't only have to keep focussed on what's going on on the board, you also have to make sure you have enough money in order to execute your strategical plans. I think this can be frustrating at times, especcially when you can't afford yourself to make a certain 'now watch me what I figured out here' move on the board, due to the lack of money (wich is needed to buy your desperately wanted action ) but on the other hand: every player has this problem, so it is a matter of balance and timing. That is what makes this game to a great game.
Money is equal to power, but if you use it wrong, you'll destroy your options. Control your greede, but control it to much, and you will find yourself wonderering why the other player(s) do exactly the thing you had planned to do, instead of you :)
A great, great game, thanks to its diverse elements.
Klaus Teuber has been making high quality games for a long time, and Loewenherz is just one in a long list of his triumphs. But it might be the best triumph of his.
Loewenherz is set in medieval England. As the King dies, each of four players (as princes) vie for control of the kingdom. Gameplay is based on bidding for action cards that allow you to build, recruit knights, or gain money. As you build kingdoms and expand into other knight's kingdoms, the choices you make as to what to bid when become critical. The many different options in this respect make the games strategy very multi-faceted.
It's this fact that makes Loewenherz so unique and replayable. Given all the different strategy options, there is no one best way to play the game. Will you set up a kingdom early? Or will you save your resources and attempt to expand into another player's kingdom once he's spent? Will you develop a number of small areas, or one giant of a kingdom? How much will you bid for each action card? All these are questions whose answers depend on the choices your opponents make.
The board play of Loewenherz feels a lot like Acquire. The bidding feels somewhat like poker. The strategy choices feel a lot like Executive Decision (another great overlooked game). And the intensity is somewhat comparable to Diplomacy. A must try for any serious gamer.
This is a great game! My only regret is that it doesn't accommodate more than 4 players.
The components are great: colorful, modular map; lots of plastic bits; and quality cards (albeit they're a little small).
The mechanic of vying and bidding for your action each round is one of the best I've seen, and has a level of intrigue and tension that's missing from games like [page scan/se=0040/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]El Grande.
What really surprised me is the amount of true negotiating opportunities in the game. My group tends to strike some really creative and interesting deals ranging from the financing of fellow players to bid on actions, to shared placement of walls.
This game is truly a gem. Don't miss out on it.
In 1997 this game won the Deutscher SpielePreis award and was listed in Games 100. I have played it constantly with my friends and always felt it was one of the best games in terms of excitement, tactics and player interaction. Coming on the heels of Settlers, and with a random set up that resembles Catan, I think many people expected this type of game. Many reviews unfairly compared the two games.
Take this game out of your closet and try it again; stop looking for sheep, bricks and wood. Get ready to fight for land and to be in the best position before the king dies. A GREAT GAME!
Like many people, I am constantly getting new games and trying them out with varying degrees of success. Lowenherz is one game that we keep going back to!
I think most people are simply overlooking the game's strategy. One of its best features is how good it is with two players. I strongly recommend it.
In 1997 Lowenherz won the Deutscher SpielePreis award and is listed on the 100 best games for Games Magazine. I have played it, several times, and fell in love with the depth and player interaction. Yet, this game is rarely noted despite its excellent design and playability. A tension results as the final cards flips--some wanting the king to die, and others hoping he hangs on for a bit. It's a great game and should get more attention.
Every player's move effects your own next move. It has the boundary setting stategy of Go and the ease of play and cutthroat tactics of Risk. Often a close game with some hoping the King dies soon and others that he can live for one more play. Simple, yet great depth. One of the most underrated games on the market. I like Settlers, but this one is a much better product.
Disclaimer: I have not played Lowenherz, but I have played numerous other games that I classify as strategy games.
Favorite Game: Tigris and Euphrates. I mention this for others to get a sense of my taste.
The first few times we played Domaine, we seemed to find it a bit boring. We lost interest and it soon joined others (like Traders of Genoa) on the shelf. However, I later brought it out to play a 2- player game for lack of any other choices. Since then, I have discovered the various intricacies of this game that have made me want to play it over and over again.
Essentially, the game has a good number of elements that contribute to making decision-making non-trivial. Placement, economy, long-term planning, cutting losses, military strength are all aspects that must be closely monitored.
The foremost one is of course placement of castles. This is the most important one and has profound effects that keep showing up throughout the game. In regards to placement, the instructions suggest placing castles at the corners, to take advantage of the natural borders of the board. As players get more aggressive (and especially in the 2-player game where a neutral color is "sacrificed" to mess with someone else's plan), one will soon realize the fallacy in this strategy. Why? Because you get blocked out by other players and end up with a kingdom that can only ever have one or two knights. Not a problem for early game (its actually good early game since you can get an economy quickly)... but all that goes away mid-game when your neighbor collects more knights and simply expands into your domaine.
There are two things about this game that I don't enjoy. The first is the end-game. It becomes an arduous procedure of each player trying to hyper-optimize each and every move to maximize points. You might think that is not a bad thing - but it does slow down the game considerably.
The second thing is the luck factor. Your fate is in your cards. If you need an expansion card but don't get one, there is little you can do about it. Maybe bidding would solve this problem - at the expense of slowing down gameplay significantly.
There are some games that manage to be trememdous fun inspite of considerable luck involved - Union Pacific being an example. Others are good at providing gameplay to alleviate the pain of bad luck - Tigris and Euphrates. And others still just plain bug the life out of me - Settlers of Catan (glorified Monopoly) being my main example. Domaine is somewhere between Union Pacific and Tigris in terms of the amount of luck involved; and somewhere in between Settlers of Catan and Tigris in terms of the things you can do to alleviate bad luck.
After playing Domaine as a two-player and now four-player game, I realize what a good game can become. Finally, during our gaming evening, one of our four gamers admitted Domain is better than Lowenherz. Better means more playable and more workable.
From the minute you place the major tiles and the borders of the game, you know you are in for a treat. The castles and knights are designed as carefully as a quality chess game piece. The real fun begins with the initial placement of the four castles and four knights. You must position the second, third, and fourth castles and knights at least six spaces away from your first placement. That makes for some fascinating combinations of being rather close to other gamers' pieces. Initial placement takes a maddeningly long time.
Strategies immediately developed. One player kept accumulating income instead of placing borders and additional knights. By the way, it costs one additional ducat (coin of the realm) for each additional knight placement in the forest. The knight does not pay in the initial placement.
Another player accumulated some wealth and began building borders to fence off other players. The main center of the board tiles was unoccupied, even though the royal city is located there. That city is worth five victory points at the end of the game.
Two of us built some borders, bought some knights, and traded in cards. Two decks of discards exist during the game: the discard pile and the Chancery pile. For example, if you trade in a card for five ducats of income, that card is placed on the Chancery pile for other players to perhaps take during their turns.
The cards govern everything the player does. You are entitled to three cards every turn until the draw pile is wiped out. The card shows two numbers, the number in the left corner for what it costs to use the card. The number in right-hand corner parenthesis governs how much income you may prefer instead of building borders or creating other actions. During a turn you are entitled to do the following: (1)sell or play an action card, (2)complete an action, (3)collect income from your mine(s), and draw a new card or card from the Chancery.
During the three-hour game the competition became fierce. One player shut off one of my castles and knights with only four tiles left for my maneuvers. I was shocked to see another player finish two borders, giving me a second domain. He explained I should not be allowed to expand anymore near his other pieces. One should be extremely careful about what cards are laid in the Chancery. For example, I had a deserter in the Chancery, and my opposing partner immediately substituted one of his knights for one of mine. My income was needed in ducats, but it was probably a mistake to give that other player such an advantage. It took me half the game to regain two more knights and create a standoff in domains with that opposing player.
You have to pay constant attention to the initial position of your four castles and four knights. Knights have to be placed adjacent to castles or other knights, not two or three squares away. As you are playing, other players creep in with expansions, and soon fences are built all around you. It is satisfying to achieve the first domain, no matter how many squares, but it is important to enclose domains with mine-producing income. It you have the three gold mines, for example, you are entitled to a monopoly that allows you three ducats every time it is your turn. If a player owns a silver and a diamond mine, those different mines entitle one to two ducats each turn. They are not considered a monopoly.
The game has a fine, finite quality. When all the cards are gone from the draw pile, the game is over. The game is over when the lead player reaches the royal personage (No. 30)on the victory track. We did not have to contend with ties. Tie resolutions are well explained in the rules. The final scores ran: 30-18-16-13.
Congratulations, Mayfair, on distributing such a playable game.
Löwenherz is one of those games where the rules are simple enough to learn, but the decisions are difficult to make. Deciding which actions to choose and how to use them takes much experience, as does deciding if you are willing to pay for an action during a power trial or should save your ducats for something more important later. This can make it hard to tell who is in a good position to win the game, which could be good or bad depending on your point of view.
The game can be a little slow in the beginning as you start setting up your regions. Power trials can be particularly slow since there are few rules that limit the negotiations. A few optional rules, such as stricter auction bidding or a timer, can easily speed things up. However, the excitement comes as the king nears death: you try to quickly gain some final points and stop your opponents from doing the same. The game also works quite well with 2, 3, or 4 players but, naturally, 4 players is preferable.
The Rio Grande version of the game has a decent presentation. The board has a good medieval style to the artwork. The main complaints are that all the cards are small and have black and white backs, and that there is a single, ugly fold on the frame which holds the tiles together.
Löwenherz isn't the most elegant of games, but it has enough interesting elements to make it worth trying.
It is at this point I wish that there was a 3 1/2 stars rating available. Domaine is above average, but NOT Game of the Year material (worthy of the Games 100 list though). It is a stripped down version of Lowenherz, which speeds up the game, but removes some of the meat of Lowenherz. There isn't the tough negotiating/auction for cards phase (replaced it with the Chancelory) and the scoring is simplified. Still, it is a solid game. I took it out of the big box and put it in with my copy of Lowenherz.
I personally think it makes for a good intro to Lowenherz, or a game for non-gamers. It is also a good game if you want to play a lighter version of Lowenherz.
For anyone that doesn't know, Domaine is an update/remake of a game called Lowenherz. I should say that I own Lowenherz, and I enjoy it, though it isn't my favorite game. When Domaine came out, our group all wanted to try it because it looked like a cool remake. So we played one night, and liked it at the time, but it didn't really stand out. I think I know why.
In Lowenherz, players bid on the best actions in each round. If there is a tie, they 'duel' with negotiations or money, adding lots of tension. In Domaine, there is no bidding. Everybody simply plays an action card from their hand and takes a replacement card from the available options. This results in much less player interaction in each round.
There are some positives though. The game is really nice to look at (except for the odd-colored plastic pieces). The board and cards are very well done, with good artwork. And the lack of bidding certainly speeds the game along. In the end, this is still a decent game; it's just not as deep as Lowenherz. As opposed to Alhambra, which added some good elements to a remake of Stimmt So, Domaine takes some elements away from its remake of Lowenherz. You may still enjoy it (I did), but I prefer the original. I would definitely recommend trying it before buying it.
Lwenherz looks like it should have all the feel of The Settlers of Catan (also one of Klaus Teuber's): it has a variable map layout, it has several players vying for control of the board, it has the equivalent of 'development cards'; indeed there are lots of similarities. It came as a big surprise to me, then, that this game did not have the allure that its predecessor has.
One of the appealing aspects of Settlers is that you are almost always building your own side rather than actively trying to hurt your opponents. This is not the case with Lwenherz, where the battles can get quite bloody in cramped quarters. Every action seems like a struggle, from the bidding to the expanding of regions to the getting of victory points.
The game play runs like this: each player gets a few castles on the board and a knight to defend each. At the beginning of a turn, you turn up a card, and then each player bids for the right to perform one of the three actions shown on the card, which could be to add a boundary wall, add a knight to an enclosed region, expand the area covered by an existing region, or take a politics card for later use. Not everyone will get their first choice, which is where negotiation comes in - and if it still can't be resolved, a duel (simultaneous wager of money), with the winner getting to perform the action. And so the game goes until the deck is almost empty and the old king dies, the player with the most victory points being the victor and new king.
I have played Lwenherz with two and three players, and there is a little more strategy with two players. Each time I have felt an inkling of a Great Game lurking somewhere underneath it, but so far it has eluded me.
Noble families vie for control of a medieval kingdom in this updated version of Lowenherz (see December 2001 GAMES). You start with several knights and castles on the board. Boundary walls around castles, including the board's edge, define their domains. You score victory points for towns, forests, and mines within your domains. Cards govern the available actions: placing boundaries, recruiting knights, increasing your domain at the expense of a neighbor's that has fewer knights, forging peace treaties with troublesome neighbors, and stealing opponents' knights. Each card offers one or two actions, which you must pay to initiate. You raise cash only by selling cards to the Chancery, but then competitors can use these cards to replenish their hands.
The fantastic mechanisms produce a deep and difficult strategic contest, but beware of surprise dashes to victory when the final domain is formed.
This magnificent variant on the ancient game of go includes negotiations! There are no conflicts as long as players in turn choose different available Actions. Negotiation commences if two players compete--e.g., "Here's 20 ducats, if the Action's mine." If negotiations fail, or if more than two compete, whoever secretly offers the most money wins. Actions allow you to get money, place fences (you score for surrounding territory that includes one of your castles), expand (even into enemy regions), or place a Knight. Only adjacent regions with more Knights can encroach upon yours. Highest score after the final Action wins. This game is a sadly overlooked masterpiece.