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Chris
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King Me! is the second game to come from the partnership of daVinci Games and Mayfair Games (their first was the second edition of daVinci’s card game Bang!). It is a charming and clever bluffing game in which players try to manipulate a common set of pawns so that they (hopefully) score more points at the end of the round than their opponents. While that goal is similar to games like Heimlich & Co., King Me! incorporates a few elements that make it different and, to me, more enjoyable. Its short playing time (20 minutes) and low-complexity rules make it a good “warm up” or “filler” game as well as a good family game. I recommend it.

Game Play Summary
The theme of the game is that the enlightened monarch Vladimiro Miritiro, tired of reigning, has decided to choose his successor from among his subjects. 13 candidates vie for position within the castle, each hoping to be crowned as the new king.

At the beginning of the game, each player is dealt one of the 26 different secret goal cards. The card lists 6 of the 13 candidates. These are the 6 candidates that the player “favors” and they will score points for the player at the end of the round. Players are also given a set of voting cards: one “yes” and several “no” cards (the number varies with the number of players).

The game board depicts a castle with 7 different floors: from the lowly Servant’s Quarters at the bottom, to the majestic King’s Throne Room at the top. At the beginning of the game the players take turns placing the 13 candidate pawns onto the board. A player may place a candidate on floors marked 1, 2, 3 or 4. No more than four candidates can be placed on any single floor. All players place an equal number of candidates; any pawns left over are placed in the servant’s quarters (floor 0).

Now players take turns moving the candidates. On their turn a player chooses one of the candidates and moves it up exactly one floor. Candidates can never be moved downwards. At no time can more than four candidates occupy a single floor, so some of candidates will not be eligible to move until one of the candidates on the floor above them is moved.

When a player moves a candidate from the 5th floor into the throne room an election is held. All players now secretly choose a voting card and simultaneously reveal them. If any player votes “no”, the candidate pawn is removed from the board and the game continues. All “yes” votes are returned to the respective players and all “no” votes are discarded. Each player is given a limited number of “no” cards at the beginning of the game, so when they run out that player has no choice but to vote “yes” for all of the remaining elections.

When all of the players vote “yes” during an election, the round is over and players score their positions. The candidate that was moved into the throne room to trigger the election is crowned as the new king and anyone having that candidate listed on their secret goal card scores 10 points. Any candidates remaining on the board are worth points equal to the floor number on which they reside for any player that has those candidates listed on their goal card. So while having one of your favored candidates crowned king is worth 10 points to you, having 2 of your favored candidates on the 5th floor at the end of the round is also worth 10 points.

Players indicate their scores by moving their scoring markers along the point track on the edge of the board. The candidate pawns are then removed from the board, a new goal card is dealt out to each player, and a new round begins (with placing the pawns on the board). A total of three rounds are played. The player with the highest score at the end of the third round wins the game. There is one special scoring opportunity: in the third round (and only the third round), if a player scores exactly zero points they are instead awarded 33 points – kind of like “shooting the moon” in Hearts. Why 33 points? Well, the rules state that is the highest score possible in a round, but I think that is in error: the highest possible score is 10+5+5+5+5+4 = 34 points. So use 34 points if you want, I don’t think it matters. Managing to get all six of your candidates either voted out or left in the Servant’s Quarters (remember, you can't move downwards!) is quite a feat!

Opinions
The components are simple, but typical high German quality: thick cardboard tiles, sturdy plastic stands, nicely painted wooden cubes, and good quality half-sized cards. The artwork consists of simple illustrations but they are nicely done and their cartoon-like appearance adds to the joviality and light-hearted nature of the game.

I’ve played the game several times with anywhere from 3 players (the minimum) to 6 players (the maximum). As you might expect, the game is a little more chaotic with more people because there are more moves that take place between your turns and because there are a greater number of different goal cards in play (which affects how people vote). The game has a fairly high random nature anyway, so I find that I enjoy it more with a greater number of players. It plays fine with any number, but with 5 or 6 there is less chance for everyone to have common candidates so the voting is more exciting.

What I like about King Me! over similar “everyone moves all the pawns but each secretly has one that they score on” games is the quick pace and the interesting decisions that you make involving the voting rounds. Do you advance one of your own favored candidates up for a vote and risk having him eliminated, or do you wait for somebody else to do it and instead concentrate on moving your other favored candidates up to higher scoring floors? When is it worth advancing up for election one of the candidates that you do not favor simply in order to eliminate him? When a non-favored candidate is up for election, do you use one of your own limited “no” votes or instead vote “yes” and take the risk that somebody else will use one of their “no” votes? These are not agonizing decisions, but they are fun, and in the case of sloughing-off on the vote for a non-favored candidate, the five points that you could end up giving your opponents could cost you the game!

To be fair, the one aspect of King Me! that I enjoy less than similar games is that the player goals are not mutually exclusive. It is entirely possible for all of the players to have one or more candidates in common on their goal cards. If a common candidate is advanced for voting early in the round, the round can end quite suddenly, making the initial placement of the pawns the most important decision that you made that round. This isn't a problem, but it isn't as satisfying as when there are several voting rounds and you have more time to jockey your candidates around on the board. This also means there really is not much of a deduction aspect to the game because there is no "given" information: some candidates may be favored by everyone, others by no-one, so there really is no way to deduce which candidates your opponents favor...not all of them, anyway. Again, this isn't a problem with game, in fact it keeps the game quick and light which is good. But it does mean that there is a little less strategy and control than similar games and so it may not be as appealing to some players.

King Me! is a light game – no doubt about it. You will not spend minutes agonizing over your next move or spend the very short down-time between your turns trying to figure out which candidates the other players favor. It is a quick game of bluffing and second-guessing and that quickness is its strength: players stay engaged throughout the game and it is over before it gets boring. Nobody takes it personally when one of their favored candidates gets tossed out of the castle!

King Me! is a good game for what it is meant to be: light, quick and entertaining. I am happy to add it to my collection and even more happy to have another game to compete with Alles im Eimer and Coloretto for my extended family's gaming attention! :D
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Roberto Corbelli
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Re:User Review
cbrua (#20212),
Why 33 points? Well, the rules state that is the highest score possible in a round, but I think that is in error: the highest possible score is 10+5+5+5+5+4 = 34 points.

In order to have a pawn promoted to King, it must have previously occupied the 5th floor, leaving a "vacant" space. So the correct highest score is:
10+5+5+5+4+4 = 33.


Ciao
Roberto
 
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Chris
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Re:User Review
roberto (#20217),

Aha! Now I get it! laugh

Thank you!

--Chris
 
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