It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Castle

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This week, Nechamiah, Peleg, Rosalynn, and Sheer joined me, and we played one familiar and one less familiar game, and a final session with Mad King Ludwig.

First up was the familiar Alhambra. Everyone had played it before, and everyone was comfortable with the rules and the game play. We fairly rattled through it. The scoring was such that we were all within reach of the win, but my last round combination of a huge wall and a majority in the purple buildings, sent me into the winner’s slot. What was interesting was how much the dynamic of the game changes with five players as opposed to four. It goes faster, and so you need to have a flexible plan when it comes to buying tiles, because someone else is more likely to buy them first!

Next up was Through the Desert, an area control game. I was the only one who had played it before. That did not stop Peleg explaining an important setup rule I missed out. Well done, Peleg!  Again, this game went quickly, with Peleg, Nechamiah, and Rosalynn battling it out ferociously – for last place – and Sheer rather quietly just stacking up points for the win. Well done, Sheer.

Nechamiah and Rosalynn departed, leaving Sheer to explain to Peleg and I the well received Castles of Mad King Ludwig.

It’s worth quoting from Boardgamegeek to get the flavor of the game:

“In the tile-laying game Castles of Mad King Ludwig, players are tasked with building an amazing, extravagant castle for King Ludwig II of Bavaria…one room at a time. You see, the King loves castles, having built Neuschwanstein (the castle that inspired the Disney theme park castles) and others, but now he’s commissioned you to build the biggest, best castle ever — subject, of course, to his ever-changing whims. Each player acts as a building contractor who is adding rooms to the castle he’s building while also selling his services to other players.

In the game, each player starts with a simple foyer. One player takes on the role of the Master Builder, and that player sets prices for a set of rooms that can be purchased by the other players, with him getting to pick from the leftovers after the other players have paid him for their rooms. When a room is added to a castle, the player who built it gains castle points based on the size and type of room constructed, as well as bonus points based on the location of the room. When a room is completed, with all entranceways leading to other rooms in the castle, the player receives one of seven special rewards.

After each purchasing round, a new player becomes the Master Builder who sets prices for a new set of rooms. After several rounds, the game ends, then additional points are awarded for achieving bonus goals, having the most popular rooms, and being the most responsive to the King’s demands, which change each game. Whoever ends up with the most castle points wins.”

It’s one of those games where prior experience is a big advantage, and Sheer’s superior game play on top of that experience was way too good for Peleg and me. But we all enjoyed it, and a session like this was a great primer in learning the rules, and some tricks and traps so that next time we can play it to a better level and give Sheer more of a run for his money. Well, that’s the plan anyway!

Thanks to all who came and helped make the night enjoyable again.