Why don't you believe me?
Seriously, I'm a weasel.
Note: I was provided with a free PDF copy in exchange for a review.
Introduction: Immortal Kingdom is a PDF game available from DriveThruRPG for $10 (at the moment of this review it is on sale for $7). The game borrows from Risk, Small World, and other light world conquering games.
The PDF includes files a game board, 3 small decks of cards, fortress and unit tiles for each race, and gold and upgrade pointss. As for formatting of the files, I think the cards should have been formatted into PDFs instead of JPGs. They still print fine, but it is not as easy to have a print shop deal with the files. I would also isolate the unit tiles to their own sheet or sheets (possibly just requiring one sheet printed multiple times) in order to not require printing. The game works fairly well with cubes. The cubes also improve the readability of the board. I'd prefer a player summary card with gold and upgrade point tracks instead of the tokens. The board is by far the best part. I like the artwork and it easily fades into the background. The only improvement would be to increase the contrast between yellow and orange. Some of the spaces are a little small, so I would recommend increasing the size of the printing by 33% or so.
Generally, the game is well laid out. There are few things that could be clarified or worded better, but overall it is able to be understood. A nice turn order summary is provided as well.
The game ends when someone has scored 64 VPs (Essense).
Like Small World, there are several combinations of races and powers available to the players. Empires will rise and fall over the course of the game.
Players take their complete turn consisting of the following phases:
1. Gain VPs
2. Upgrade player token (uses VPs)
4. Random Event
Play then passes to the next player.
At the beginning of the game, each player selects whether to play as a Benefactor or Enslaver. The Benefactor's upgrades are more focuses on defensive abilities and income, while the Enslaver's are focused on attacking. This also effects how Gold and VPs are generated.
VPs are used throughout the game to upgrade a unique player piece (Immortal). The points still count towards the victory conditions, but a player can shape their Immortal to excel in specific tasks.
Income is generated from conquered territories and fortresses, with additional income coming from special abilies of the various races or Immortals.
Random events then occur, which effect the game state. Some of these are quite powerful and can completely wipe a race off of the board.
The attack phase allows a player to do two actions with all of their armies. The two options are move and attack. Combat involves lots of dice rolling by both sides, with each side able to retreat from battle.During this phase, players can also purchase new fortresses or armies to place on the board.
Play then passes to the next player.
This game just did not work for me. While I can see how others would find entertainment from the game, it is not an ideal fit for me or my group. I like to be able to more carefully plan out a course of action and the event phase is a little too random for my taste. I do not like that cards can completely wipe a player's empire from the board. The large amount of dice rolling involved in combat is also not one of my favorite mechanics and I think the game could be improved with a CRT-based combat system.
I feel that the Benefactor Immortal path is significantly stronger than the Enslaver and would require collusion between non-Benefactor players to damage the Benefactors' positions. The races and special abilities, on the other hand, seem to be much more balanced and playtested.
Overall, I think this game could work for a group that likes Dudes on a Map style gameplay combined with some leveling-up mechanics for the Immortal. For me, the game is a miss.