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Tara, Seat of Kings» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Essen 2006 Review - Tara Game of Kings!!! rss

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Simon
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Introduction

Surprising Stare Games bought Alan Paull’s latest offering to Essen ‘05 where it ranked highest in the tipped games. Back again with 700 copies of the final copy in a beautiful box, the game was an unexpected hit at Essen ‘06, and one that I was fortunate enough to play there on Day 1 - and which I then spent the next 3 days telling people to buy!

Gameplay

Tara, Land of Kings is a card driven placement game with a number of original mechanisms and well thought-out twists. The game board, box and cards are of good quality and the pieces are large wooden discs with different colours representing the different players. The board shows four regions of ancient Ireland: on each region is drawn five ranks of circles on which pieces may be placed: the lower rank being the Farmer, and then each rank containing one less available position as the rank rises through Herdsman, Warrior, Chieftain to the King on the uppermost rank, where there is only one space. The objective of the game is to occupy the King position and maintain it despite the possibility of being deposed by a traitor. When one player occupies two King places in two provinces, the game ends. Players may play on more than one region in each round.

Players begin by drawing 6 cards from a common pile and choosing which 3 cards to play in the first round and which to play in the following round. The majority of cards represent a position of one of two pieces on the board: players must match the position on the board to play their pieces. As an example, a player may draw a card showing two positions: one on the lowest rank of a province (Farmer) and one on the third highest rank (Warrior). The card controls to some extent where on the rank a piece may be played: in the above example, it may show that on the lowest rank, there must be a position available on the left hand-side of the position into which the piece is played. The player must also place a piece on a free space if possible.

A player may play a piece on top of another piece of the same colour or a different colour, thus forming a stack of two: when the colours are the same, the player has formed a fort, and when an opposing player plays on that position, he knocks off the upper playing piece - so that the position is no longer fortified - but cannot place a piece of his own colour on that position. When the piece played underneath is another player’s piece, that piece is considered captive. At at the end of each round all captured pieces are taken by the capturer and placed in a garrison - captured pieces may be exchanged or ransomed for money.


As well as placing pieces, a player may earn or pay out income, which is measured in cumals, an ancient Irish currency (apparently meaning milk cows); pay 4 cumals to declare an amnesty and release captives in a region, discard a card to get 2 cumals, or play a Stone of Destiny card which allows him to exchange any two piece in any region.

At the end of each rounds, the players may play traitors (more about that later!), collect their income, clear any regions which have kings, carry out the exchange or ransoming of prisoners they have captured, and, on alternate rounds, replenish their hand to 6 cards.

So far, things sound simple enough! However, the cards available allow placement of pieces only up to the third (Warror) rank. To promote to higher ranks, once the player has used his card to place his one or two pieces, any of the pieces he has placed which are next to another of his pieces may be used together to promote a new piece in the next highest rank, forming a triangle. To do this costs cumals. By paying the cumal cost indicated on the card, the player may then place a new piece in the higher rank. This newly placed piece is treated just like the piece/s he has just played: should it be next to one of his existing pieces, a second even-higher-ranking piece may be introduced, without paying further cumals. Thus, the promotion of the pieces, if carefully planned, can snowball up the ranks and the board may rapidly change.

Each round ends when three cards have been placed: at this point, the traitor comes into play. The player with the second-largest number of pieces in a given region has the right to pay one cumal to turn over one further card and if possible apply it. This can have far-reaching effects on the final layout of the boards, and even depose a newly-established king.

Once the traitor option is taken or passed on, the player scores cumals for each rank in which he has the majority. Any provinces in which the King is made are then cleared, laying that region open to fresh attack. At the end of the round, the current starting player chooses the next starting player and play continues.

When one player has obtained two Kings the game ends.

Conclusion

Tara, Land of Kings is a an intense game where each player must make best use of the cards he draws to place strategic pieces and attempt to get the king position. Luck tends to even out and resources are stretched so that a player must carefully trade-off the choices he has to maintain money and position. The mechanisms and game play are very original. I found the game to be thoroughly enjoyable and competitive and look forward to getting it on the table frequently.

Gameplay: 8/10 (will ask to play it)
Components and artwork: 8/10
Depth: Medium to Hard
Playing Time: 60-90 mins
No. of Players: 2-4
Language Independent components: Yes
Colour-blind sensitivity: None
Supporting Website: Yes
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David desJardins
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aladdinsdad wrote:
Colour-blind sensitiveness: None


You mean "sensitivity." Only animate objects can have sensitiveness ("the capacity for responding to a stimulus").
 
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Robert R
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Ok whatever.... the review was gooder than some others here on BGG.

Simon, thanks for making me even more interested in this game.
 
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Simon
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DaviddesJ wrote:
aladdinsdad wrote:
Colour-blind sensitiveness: None


You mean "sensitivity." Only animate objects can have sensitiveness ("the capacity for responding to a stimulus").


Damnititvity...does that mean I don't get my GG?

Edited!
 
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Simon
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Quote:
cromulent


Ok - I'm getting the dictionary out (at last)
 
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Kane Klenko
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Ridgeway
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generalpf wrote:
DaviddesJ wrote:
aladdinsdad wrote:
Colour-blind sensitiveness: None


You mean "sensitivity." Only animate objects can have sensitiveness ("the capacity for responding to a stimulus").

"Sensitiveness" was a perfectly cromulent word to use in this context.


 
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Simon
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...and as for the review itself...any comment?
 
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Jens Hoppe
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What are you, like 80?
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How does the game play with two players?
 
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Simon
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I played the game with the author at Essen, just the two of us, and found it to be very good, It is less complex than with 4 since the rules are that only one region is played at a time, a king is made, and then a second region is played. If the other player gets the second king, then a third region is fought over. It was very enjoyable, as all of the key elements are there.
 
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