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Subject: Everything that sucks about... The Castles Of Mad King Ludwig rss

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Christian Heckmann
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Everything that sucks about...



The Castles Of Mad King Ludwig



To read up on the concept of and motivation behind this review series, check up on the first review I posted under the „Everything that sucks about...“-banner.


What is it about?

„The Castles Of Mad King Ludwig“ is a board game of castle building in Bavaria in the 19th century. It plays two to four players, takes about an hour and incorporates mechanics like set collection, pattern building and tile placement.


Everything that sucks about it:

- The German translation of the rulebook is a bit unclear at times.

- Some people tend to play the game to win. Strange, right?

- The game ends.


Things that especially suck not:

- One time, a player built the throne room adjacent to the entrance hall of his castle in a fashion, that the only connection between both rooms was a door that lead from the entrance hall to the back of the thrones. We called this the "Assassins' entrance".


What I think:

Short list of negatives, huh? I was really trying hard to come up with anything that infuriates me about this game, but everything that came up was caused rather by the players I played with than by the game itself. Fore example, one time, I played with someone who during the room selection phase took every single room that was available and tried it in every possible angle at every possible doorway his castle had to offer, trying to figure out the optimal move. Awful, right? Right? The thing is, this is a fairly involved strategy game that can be quite cut-throat, if you play it that way. It's well balanced, it has a fair amount of depth, it is focused and tactical enough that every player has a good chance to take a stab at victory, no matter how experienced he is in this game. But except for that one guy, I have never play this with anyone, who was the least bit interested in those aspects of the game. And everyone I have played it with loved it.
Why is that so? Well, because the simple process of building your castle, of arranging those awesome rooms into those silly patterns and thinking about what it must be like to wander those corridors is just a blast. The great artwork and the wealth of different rooms helps the game to almost tell a story, every time you play it. Your castle isn't simply an amalgamation of individual tiles, it's a building. A building with a story, with character, with soul. Yes, of course, there's a base frame that leads your first decissions. The king wants a huge cellar? Buy a staircase. You've got a bonus card that gives you bonus points for 300-size-rooms? That sauna looks very promissing. But soon enough, those economical trains of thought take a backseat and your main motivation of buying and building new rooms will be less "Well that nets me a lot of points" and more "Well that would look great next to this and how hilarious is it that the stage door of that theatre leads directly into a broom closet?". And I kid you not, in every single game I have ever played of this, there was this one moment, where the guy responsible for drawing new room cards every turn hemmed and then stuttert something along the lines of "I hate to tell you, but that will be the last round". To which every one around the table immediately replied something like "What? That can't be! There's still so much to do! We can't stop yet!".
So is „The Castles Of Mad King Ludwig“ the greatest game ever because of this? Perhaps. It most certainly is one of my top games of all time and as said, I can find no fault in it, which is strange, because I think that I'm a quite analytical and also critical person. But it's not exactly my style of game. I'm not the guy to just peacefully build up stuff, I love conflict and treachery and interaction. But the fact that I nevertheless kind of adore „The Castles Of Mad King Ludwig“ is testament to it's quality, because I go as far as saying that nothing really sucks about it.


If you liked what you read, check out and subscribe to my „Everything that sucks“-geeklist to be notified about new reviews.
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Shelby Buttimer
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Played this last night, and the only thing that infuriated me was the way the rulebook was physically laid out...it folds like a giant brochure in the American version. It's so hard to find anything because you can't flip through it.
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Max Jamelli
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ShelbyB wrote:
Played this last night, and the only thing that infuriated me was the way the rulebook was physically laid out...it folds like a giant brochure in the American version. It's so hard to find anything because you can't flip through it.


I'll second this.

book style would be better.
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Christian Heckmann
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ShelbyB wrote:
Played this last night, and the only thing that infuriated me was the way the rulebook was physically laid out...it folds like a giant brochure in the American version. It's so hard to find anything because you can't flip through it.

The German version is the same. I think it's okay. Not elegant or anything like that, but the fact that the page you'd need most during the game itself, the one with explanations for bonus cards and king's favor-tiles is immediately accessible, is nice. Although I had to flip that thing around like six times the last time I was looking for it. So yeah, maybe that sucks
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Ken Sinn
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The Master Builder phase isn't very thrilling at the 2-player count. That would be the only major complaint/qualm I have about the game. You can math out the value of each tile against your opponent's board, and price accordingly.
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Brad Keusch
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The economy is basically broken in the 2 player game. But its an incredible game at 3 and 4 players. Can't wait for the expansion!
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Pas L
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The great thing about your review series is that when you go in to a good discussion of what you don't like or like it gives a sense of the game. This is probably still a decent review, but you don't get much sense of what the game is like - it's much more just a recommendation rather than a breakdown.

Edit: Also, IMO, there are plenty of areas in which this game could have been better produced which you've skipped right over. Yeah, there are other reviews that cover it well, but you're not loving up to your title - or review series ethos - if you do, are you?
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Kelly Bailey
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I bought this one at a discount with the intention of trading it because I was convinced I wouldn't like it. The videos I watched of it didn't excite me and everyone's comments about what they liked about the game seemed to lack depth. It sat around in shrink wrap for months, then on a whim we played it and now it's one of our favorites.

I love the game, but in my opinion the giant box with absolutely no insert does indeed suck. Also, as a graphic artist I see so much potential in a castle game, but the artwork seems lackluster ("the artwork sucks" seemed too strong a statement). The gameplay is so solid though that it's easy to overlook these things.

Thanks for the review.
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John Brock
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What sucks about CoMKL is that you end up with all these doors in your castle that don't go to anything.

<OCD twitch>

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Alain Baum
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Harblnger wrote:
ShelbyB wrote:
Played this last night, and the only thing that infuriated me was the way the rulebook was physically laid out...it folds like a giant brochure in the American version. It's so hard to find anything because you can't flip through it.

The German version is the same. I think it's okay. Not elegant or anything like that, but the fact that the page you'd need most during the game itself, the one with explanations for bonus cards and king's favor-tiles is immediately accessible, is nice. Although I had to flip that thing around like six times the last time I was looking for it. So yeah, maybe that sucks

I agree that rulebook layout is annoying...

But what I call "infuriating" is the rulebook layout of Jamaica. It's a flipping poster!
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Sam Freeman
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I'd have liked to see them be a bit more tongue in cheek with the room artwork, in the same kind of vein as Rampage/Terror in Meeple City, with lots of little easter eggs hidden in the room art.

The worst thing for me is just the box though - no insert, no bags, nothing... just a bunch of punch sheets and a couple sets of cards. For the price point I'd have expected at least some bags for components if not at least some kind of cardboard insert to stop everything rattling around. Jamaica (as Alain mentioned it) managed it for the same price point and with a much more varied set of components, so I can't see why they couldn't manage it for a bunch of cardboard tiles...

Edit: I should say that I also love the game, btw!
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Ruud
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Didn't like this game much. I dislike the slowness of the price setting mostly I think.. It feels that not enough happens.
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Shelby Buttimer
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eldooderino wrote:
I'd have liked to see them be a bit more tongue in cheek with the room artwork, in the same kind of vein as Rampage/Terror in Meeple City, with lots of little easter eggs hidden in the room art.

The worst thing for me is just the box though - no insert, no bags, nothing... just a bunch of punch sheets and a couple sets of cards. For the price point I'd have expected at least some bags for components if not at least some kind of cardboard insert to stop everything rattling around. Jamaica (as Alain mentioned it) managed it for the same price point and with a much more varied set of components, so I can't see why they couldn't manage it for a bunch of cardboard tiles...

Edit: I should say that I also love the game, btw!


Apparently they were supposed to include bags and it was a mistake on someone's part that they weren't included.
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Christian Heckmann
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I thought the German version had some included, but I could be wrong, since I have a huge pile of bags lying around at all times anyway. And about the insert... I tend to throw out inserts almost immediately, so I don't care about that. The rest of you have raised a few good points that I could have added as "something that sucks", but then again, it never bothered me. Broken economy or long master builder phases don't occur in our games, because nobody plays to win. Except Flo. So every time someone takes a bit longer than usual in this game, he gets stern looks from everybody else, followed by a joined "Don't be Flo, man...".
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Max Jamelli
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jwb3 wrote:
What sucks about CoMKL is that you end up with all these doors in your castle that don't go to anything.

<OCD twitch>



unless you're scoring end game points for all of them. thumbsup
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Adam P
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Quote:
But the fact that I nevertheless kind of adore „The Castles Of Mad King Ludwig“ is testament to it's quality, because I go as far as saying that nothing really sucks about it.

Really?

I felt the master builder took too long for some players and slowed the game to a crawl. Other times, I felt that the iconography was too small and difficult to explain to new players.

I thought the game was interesting, but the length of time (2+ hours) for what it was made me give it a "6" rating.
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Sean West
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adamredwoods wrote:
I thought the game was interesting, but the length of time (2+ hours) for what it was made me give it a "6" rating.

Really, "2+ hours"? I can grant that maybe this game is a little long for what it is but if it's taking your folks over two hours (I would even say 90 minutes) they must be playing it in a whole different way than we do.
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Simon Lewis
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[q="adamredwoods"]
Quote:
I thought the game was interesting, but the length of time (2+ hours) for what it was made me give it a "6" rating.


I've played the game a few times now and it has never gone more than the 90 mins on the box. Usually about an hour, even with 4 players.
 
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Sam Freeman
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Yep, same here. About an hour, tops. Sounds like one of those 'who you play with, not what you play' type situations!
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Christian Heckmann
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eldooderino wrote:
Yep, same here. About an hour, tops. Sounds like one of those 'who you play with, not what you play' type situations!

Yeah, same here. One hour. And as I said, everybody wants to continue after that. And I don't think that player count changes the length dramatically.
 
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Max Jamelli
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Harblnger wrote:
eldooderino wrote:
Yep, same here. About an hour, tops. Sounds like one of those 'who you play with, not what you play' type situations!

Yeah, same here. One hour. And as I said, everybody wants to continue after that. And I don't think that player count changes the length dramatically.


The main thing that's going to change it is the master builder phase. There are times, honestly - when I'm looking at 7 tiles that should all be valued at 15,000 ... I kinda just stick them out there then. There are also times where all the tiles available at really worth 2,000 ... they just get stuck out there too.

I can see certain people though - analyzing every scenario to the VP about where things "NEED TO BE" priced for the proper VP value. That would take forever and I would hate playing like that.
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Adam P
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eldooderino wrote:
Yep, same here. About an hour, tops. Sounds like one of those 'who you play with, not what you play' type situations!

I've watched other games of this (all 4 players) while I was playing something else, and my game would end before their CoMKL game. It seems to usually push 2 past hours.

It sees the table often, so that says something.
 
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David B
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The score track sucks.
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Miika Oksanen
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I liked your review of Kemet, but this one doesn't seem to fit into this review series so well. I mean is the game absolutely perfect?

Personally I think the master builder phase is quite boring and uninteresting for other players. It's like watching someone solve a puzzle, and the time can't be spent for planning one's own turn because the order of the tiles can always change until it's done. Furthermore, someone else might grab your preferred tiles, so you will just end up tactically picking the best thing that is left rather than thinking while others are doing their things. This adds to boring downtime.

I still rated this game at 8 though, so by no means does the game as a whole suck, it's just this one mechanic. Isle of Skye is a very similar game to this, but there everyone puts prices for tiles simultaneously in secret, so there is no boring downtime.
 
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Christian Heckmann
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Lofski wrote:
I liked your review of Kemet, but this one doesn't seem to fit into this review series so well. I mean is the game absolutely perfect?

Personally I think the master builder phase is quite boring and uninteresting for other players. It's like watching someone solve a puzzle, and the time can't be spent for planning one's own turn because the order of the tiles can always change until it's done. Furthermore, someone else might grab your preferred tiles, so you will just end up tactically picking the best thing that is left rather than thinking while others are doing their things. This adds to boring downtime.

I still rated this game at 8 though, so by no means does the game as a whole suck, it's just this one mechanic. Isle of Skye is a very similar game to this, but there everyone puts prices for tiles simultaneously in secret, so there is no boring downtime.

I have no problems with downtime in this game, because - as written - almost nobody I played this game with was interested in minmaxing this game. I played one game where a player took forever with his builder phase, placing each and every tile at every opening of his castle, and that was painful, yes. But that was one game out of a dozen or more and over the course of all of the other ones, I have never seen a builder phase taking more than half a minute. Yes, when played competitively, this game suffers from all of the problems games of its ilk bring with it, but when it hits the table at my place, everyone is usually so caught up in the childlike glee of building the most awesomest castle evarrr that there really is nothing that sucks about it. Except for the fact that it does end inevitably.
 
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