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Subject: Robber Knights: My thoughts after playing the 1st time rss

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Erika Kern
United States
Snellville
Georgia
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Tonight, my non-gamer husband, my 10 year-old daughter and I played Robber Knights from Queen Games for the first time. I think we all enjoyed it, but for different reasons!

The set-up is simple: Each player chooses a color and then gets all of the components of that color (30 knights and 24 tiles lettered A-E). The tiles are divided into stacks and then the stacks are shuffled and placed upon each other in descending order (B-E). The knights are kept by each player until they are deployed onto the tiles during gameplay. There are 4 tiles labled A. Each player takes the castle tile from the A stack plus another tile of their choice. Their remaining A tiles are placed face-down in the playing area and arranged to form a rectangle. The tiles are then turned face-up and the players begin play, starting with the A tiles that they had previously chosen and then moving on to the face-down stack in front of them. The oldest player begins and then play continues in a clockwise manner.

The rules are simple, with clear diagrams to show you what to do, and what NOT to do. It's a tile laying game, but the deal is that you have your own stack of tiles to draw from in a face-down pile in front of you. You can play up to 3 tiles per turn, but are only required to place ONE. If the tile you reveal is a castle tile, you can then play up to 5 of your knights moving in a straight line from that space immediately after placing it. This is the only time you play the knights. They are small disks that stack on top of each other, and the tile's terrain determines how many knights you are required to leave there (kind of like a breadcrumb trail), although you can choose to leave more then the required amount. Once a knight has been played it doesn't move again.

Plains=1 knight
Forest=2 knights
Mountains=3 knights

The catch is that the maximum a tile can have on it is 4. You can stack your knights on top of other peoples knights as you pass by them, but you can't overfill the tile. When I tile is full, no more knights can be placed there, and you can't skip over tiles. At the end of the game (when the last tile is placed), the points are only awarded to the person who's knight controls the space by being on top of the stack. The other tile-component is that as well as having terrain indicated on each tile, many of them have depictions of castles, towns, and villages. Only tiles with buildings on them are actually scored.

Castles=1 point
Villages=2 points
Towns=3 points

There is also one lake tile per player which cannot have a knight placed on them.

I enjoy most tile games and of course can't help comparing them all to Carcassonne. I do tend to get bored with Carc about 2/3 of the way through a game. As that game progresses, there seem to be less spaces you can place some of the tiles based on terrain and prior meeple placement. I often have to place tiles in areas where I would rather not just because of the placement rules. Also, it seems that player's turns take longer as the game goes on due to analysing the best tile placement. This game seems much less paralysing, as there are more choices of where to place each tile. The edges of the tiles of this game do not have to match the terrain of the tile next to them, but they do blend nicely and make a nice bit of scenery when you're done. It's a lot easier to score than the aforementioned game, as well, so it's less confusing when teaching the game to newbies. Although it's very easy to grasp the concept of the game and begin playing right away, there is a bit of strategy involved: Do I want to play extra knights on a tile to control it, or should I just play the required amount? Should I play another tile and hope that I can protect my holding with a piece of terrain that nobody would find worth traversing in order just to thwart me? Should I play less knights earlier in the game to save some for the end, or go ahead and just control as much as I can as early as I can? Should I play a second or third tile or stop now to allow more buildings to spring up from other player's placements in case I draw a castle tile next and have to deploy knights over a sparsely populated area? If so, should I then play all 3 (if need be) next turn in order to deploy some knights to capture the holdings of my opponents?

The only disappointment of the game component-wise is that the tiles, although nice and sturdy and of good quality, are rather smaller than I expected. The knights are each about the size of a thick dime and plain on both sides. I wish they at least had a knight stamped onto them in keeping with the theme of the game. Other than that, I have no complaints. The box is small and doesn't take much shelf space, and the game even comes with extra plastic bags to separate the color coded tiles into before placing them into the box for storage.

Overall, I found Robber Knights to be what I consider a fast, light-weight, enjoyable filler game that is quick to teach/learn. (We played a game in under 30 minutes and it was our first time.) It's simplicity disguises the layers of strategy involved as you try to plan future moves based on as yet unseen tiles! My husband liked it because there weren't a lot of fiddly game mechanics he had to understand in order to play, my daughter enjoyed it because she could hold her own in this game against two adults (She actually won), and I liked it because it's not so simple as to become boring after playing a few times. I predict this one will see a lot of table-time, both at home and with my gaming group. The grid-size if the playing area is determined by the amount of players, so it should scale well from 2-4.

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Andy Leighton
England
Peterborough
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ufemism wrote:
Only tiles with buildings on them are actually scored.

Castles=1 point
Towns=2 points
Villages=3 points


Just a little correction. You have the Towns and Villages the wrong way around here. Towns score 3 points, villages 2.
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Erika Kern
United States
Snellville
Georgia
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Thank you for noticing...I've made the correction. I guess that's what I get for writing my first game review after midnight! snore
 
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Jeffrey Nolin
Japan
Nakamachi, Hiroshima
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Quote:
I enjoy most tile games and of course can't help comparing them all to Carcassonne.

My initial thoughts were that it was a lot like Othello, as the knight on top kept changing.
 
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gary rembo
United Kingdom
brighton
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Great concise review.
I picked this up on the strengh of your review and although the theme feels a little tacked on we are enjoying it greatly.
I will watch out for your future reviews.
 
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