In Artus the players are knights at King Arthur's court, trying to collect prestige points by being seated as close to the king as possible at the legendary round table. But you have to be careful as the table constantly changes position due to player and card actions.
RULES AND MECHANICS
The round table can be rotated and is divided into three sections. The red section that give negative points, the green section that gives positive points and the yellow section that give no points at all. Prestige Points (PP) are only scored when you move a piece away from a section of the table. In addition there are four figures in gold and bronze that represent princes. One of those start with three golden rings and is the current King. One of the core rules is that the table will always rotate to follow the current king. So if the king moves or a new king is crowned the table will rotate so it always is pointed on him. In addition the player place knight figures that can be moved about the table. If a figure moves and lands on another figure then that figure is knocked clockwise to the next available empty seat at the table. The players draw and play cards that either moves a knights, moves the current king or lets you place golden rings on a prince in order to crown a new king. If you play with the advanced rules you also get scroll cards that are basically scoring cards. For instance "Score three knights in the red sector or suffer -50 points" or "Score a knight in each colored sector or suffer -25 points". The game ends after 16 rounds after all cards have been played. All cards MUST be played, for good or for bad.
I really liked the rules in this game. Very different and original, don't think I ever seen anything quite like it in any other game I've played. The mechanics of the rotating table and moving the figures about or crowning a new king makes it so the gameplay constantly shifts. I also like how the cards can both be an asset or a curse depending on the situation. The eight page rule book was very clear and we had no problems understanding the rules.
THEME AND COMPONENTS
"Meh" was my impression of the artwork and components. Not really good, but not really bad either. This is a very abstract game with a pasted on theme of King Arthur and knights but it could have just as well been about mob gangs or pirates. The artwork and figures are alright, but there is nothing really that stands out either.
I think this is one of those "love it or hate it"-kind of games with nothing inbetween. If you are the kind of player who likes making elaborate plans and hate when they don't pan out, then you should probably avoid this game. My group had a blast playing it though. One moment everything looks favorable for your figures to score a lot of points and one turn later it's all gone to hell. This is game is CHAOS, especially with four players. It's all about trying to do the best of with the cards and figures you got while the game morphs and changes. It's like trying to build a house on quicksand. You constantly try to salvage bad situations in order to minimize loss of prestige points. We had lots of laughs seeing our plans going down the drain because suddenly the table rotated and all those potential positive points turned into negative ones. It's often a mad dash, trying to shift the table or move your figures in order to score points or avoiding getting too many negative ones. The cards are both a help and a hindrance, especially when you play with the scoring cards. As you must play ALL cards, if you are not careful about how you play them they could turn into traps that will give you lots of negative points towards the end.
Our group really liked this game, but I can also see why some might dislike it. It's very hard to plan ahead, especially with four players. However when you do score points it feel so much more satisfying because you really worked hard to for them. For some reason this game reminded me a little of Vlaada Chvátil's "Galaxy Trucker". They have very different rules and mechanics but they both give that feeling of "Hah, your plans have all gone to hell, what are you gonna do now sucker?"
I really recommend this game, it's a bit of a hidden gem. The theme, artwork and components are kind of bland but the simple, yet unique rules and mechanics more than make up for it. The gameplay is hectic, challenging yet fun. My only complaint is that when playing with 3-4 players it can lead to a lot of "analysis paralysis" and games can take much longer that the estimated 60 minutes.
Oi! Hands off...
Always happy to see some love for this game. Sure, it's a bit chaotic, but the hand management stuff is a really nice mechanic. We always have a lot of fun with this.
I played this game only with 2. I liked it, but I felt there was something missing and it would be better with 3. I do think there is a trade-off between being able to plan your moves (but less competition), and having more competition (but also more chaos). I suspect the sweet spot is at 3 players. With more, it would probably be too chaotic for my taste. The fun is in planning how to play your hand of cards, with more players it would become much more tactical.