King Me! is a simple game of bluffing, timing, and decision making that makes a nice filler and has potential as a nice light Euro-game.
Theme and Object of the Game
The story behind King Me! is that the king is going to retire and it's up to the players to elect a new king from among the people of the court. In addition to the throne itself, there is also a hierarchy of other positions within the castle that are sought after. Each player has a list of favorite candidates and they'll be trying to promote those favorites while keeping them hidden from the other players. After each of three rounds, players score points for the candidates on their list who have odtained status within the castle. The theme seem to fit the game very well and doesn't feel pasted on even though it is.
King Me! comes in a nice sturdy box that features attractive artwork. In fact the artwork throughout the game is very well done in a cartoonish style. The box is functional enough to store all the pieces, but otherwise it's just a box. The game comes with a board depicting the seven floors of a castle used for game play. It also has a scoring track that runs along the outside edge of the board, typical of many Euro-games. Also included are wooden cubes to be used as scoring markers, 13 cardboard candidate markers (and plastic stands), candidate list cards, voting cards, and a cardboard crown marker for keeping track of starting player. The components are all very well made. If I had to give any criticism, it would be with the overall size of things. The board is a bit small for the 13 markers placed on them, the cards are a little small, and the scoring track is too small for two markers to be placed on the same score. But the quality and artwork on everything is great.
At the beginning of the game the castle board is laid out, the candidate markers are set off to the side, and each player is give several cards. The first card is a list of 6 candidates that the player will favor and score points for. They'll also recieve one YES card and a number of NO cards depends on the number of players. These cards will be used for voting when the elections occur.
The gameboard is where the action all takes place. It is divided into 7 sections depicting floors of a castle, from the servants floor on the bottom to the throne room on top. Next to each floor is a number representing the number of points a candidate there scores at the end of the round. (So, the bottom floor is marked 0, the second floor is maked 2, the fifth 5, the throne room 10, etc.) The game begins with the starting player placing on of the candidates on a floor from 1 to 4. Players go around the table placing candidates on floors 1 to 4, but no floor may contain more than 4 candidates. Left over candidates are placed on the bottom floor. A little bit of bluffing can be done here to try to hide which candidates are on a players list. After the candidates are placed, the players take turns moving one candidate up one floor, making sure that no floor contains more than 4 candidates. Eventually (or quickly), a candidate will move to the throne room which immediately prompts an election.
In an election, each played placed in front of them a face down vote card, either YES or NO. They are revealed and if all cards are YES, the round is over and the candidates are each worth a number of points according to the floor they are on (if a player has that candidate listed on their card.) If ANY of the votes are NO, that candidate and all NO votes are removed from the game. YES votes are returned to the players and play continues with the next player moving a candidate up one floor. In this way, players have a limited amount of times they can vote NO.
There is one other odd rule I should point out. If at the end of the last scoring round, a player manages to score no points at all, he recieves a bonus of 33 points. The only way this can be done is if all the candidates on a players list have been been nominated and voted off the board or if they remain on the bottom floor. This is VERY difficult to do and worth the extra points.
Strategy and Impressions
King Me! has quite a bit of strategy for a light filler game. Players may want to rush candidates not on their list to the throne in hopes that someone (if not themselves) will cast a NO vote. Likewise a player may want a candidate to be voted king before the others get a chance to climb quickly up the ladder. Knowing who to move or not to move can be tricky, as can knowing when to vote YES or NO. The first time we played King Me! it took a couple plays to really see the nuances of it, but I am pleased by the quirks of the game. And after a few plays I'd say that it's more enjoyable with more players.
And if you like Shipwrecked, I think you'll also like King Me! and vise versa.