John, Neil, Tim, Ken
While the others were off playing Euphrates, the rest of us banded together to play this Klaus Teuber creation. John and I had never played before, so it was decided to use the predetermined setup provided in the rulebook. Briefly, Lowenherz is a fairly abstract game about building and expanding kingdoms, accomplished by choosing and dueling over various actions. The possible actions, not always available every turn, are: acquire money, choose a political card, build walls (anew kingdom is established by surrounding an area with walls), place a knight, and expand a kingdom. The more area your kingdoms encompass, especially if they contain several cities and silver mines, the higher your score will be.
We began fairly peacefully, with each of us expanding in our respective corners. The good times ended quickly, however, when Tim stole John's and my knights with the Renegade cards he had accumulated (everyone else had apparently adopted a "Who cares about cards? I've got stuff happening on the board!" strategy). Tim soon was able to expand his starting kingdom in any direction he wanted, pushing into the neighboring kingdoms that John and I had established.
In the meantime, Neil was quietly putting the finishing touches on a new kingdom. When he layed down the last wall and announced it, the rest of us were stunned. His kingdom, made primarily from other peoples' wall placements, took up nearly half the board and three-quarters of the silver mines!
From there on, the game rolled along pretty steadily, with kingdoms pushing into each other and truces being forced onto the more powerful kingdoms to keep them from overwhelming their smaller neighbors. During this time, John, Neil, and I each learned what a bad idea it is to run out of money.
'The King is dead", which causes the game to end, was the last card in the deck, giving the rest of us time to try to catch up to Neil. But when final scores were tallied, it became clear that he'd managed to hold on to the lead.
Neil: 50, Ken: 43, Tim: 36, John: 29
I'm glad I finally got a chance to play this one. I like the length, and I like the choices it forces me to make. I give it an 8.