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Subject: Yield to thy damosel, Sir Knight! rss

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Nicholas Hjelmberg
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(Designer's own review)

Do we need another deck building game? Well, Knights & Damosels shows that there can be a lot of game in a simple set of cards. The twist in this card game is the opposing objectives of the knights and the damosels. The knights WANT to build a deck while the damosels WANT to help the knights doing so to win the game. But let's start from the beginning with a rule summary:

The knight's goal is to collect cards in the 3 duties of Arms, Virtues of Chivalry and Vassalage. Those cards are used to earn worship points at Wars, Quests and Prosperity and will eventually award the victory to a knight. However, those cards are taken from a secret pool supplied by the damosels and if one knight takes too many cards from the same damosel, he will fall under her influence and bring victory to her.

Each game turn consists of 6 phases:

1. Event card is drawn
2. Damosels give away cards
3. Knights take cards
4. Knights enter the King's service by playing cards in response to the event
5. The war is fought or the quest obtained (if applicable)
6. Worship points are awarded to the knights

The knights have several ways to interact. They may joust for a damosel's token of love (to earn cards) or for the right to enter the King's service (to earn worship points). They may cooperate at wars and quests by playing the right cards at the right time. The may even turn their swords against each other in the final battle of Camlann, where cards are played against cards until only Arthur or Mordred is victorious.

Each new game recreates the Arthurian legend as the well-known events from the stories appear and appeal to the player's nobility. "Ah, the Holy Grail! Peradventure a damosel will offer me the Virtue of Valor so that I may take on this quest? Nay, Sir, I am that damosel's champion and I shall joust you for her token of love!"

But besides the above role playing, Knights & Damosels also offers many tactical opportunities. Knights may draw cards that leave their opponents with less options or even provoke them to risk a joust. Damosels may guess "their" knights' intentions and play the cards they need. The special rotating roles of Arthur and Merlin may be used to intentionally fail a quest to hurt opponents and reap all the rewards to the own knight or to find out which knights that are most influenced by the own damosel.

Another intersting aspect of Knights & Damosels is that the cards and points acquired actually have a meaning in the end game and not serve as victory points only. The more cards and points a player has, the greater is the chance to win the final battle between the players, while still giving players that have fallen behind a chance. This makes the game interesting for all the players from start to end.

To sum up, Knights & Damosels offers a varying and interactive gameplay with both thematical and tactical elements and a very short playing time.

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