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Subject: Royal Palace as a 2 player game rss

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Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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We were interested in this when it was released but didn't pick it up, but then in the recent games sale at The Works bought it, and it's been quite popular since, most recently as a 2 player game.

This review is part of my review series looking at how multiplayer games work with just 2 players - for the full list of games I've reviewed, see: My 2 player game reviews.

Rules - how are they different in a 2 player game?

The rules themselves are unchanged in a 2 player game.

How is the game different with 2?

As you might expect from a game with no rules differences with just 2, the majority of the play and strategy is also very similar, but there is a huge difference in the feel of the 2 player game, and the strength of various tiles/strategies.

Firstly the cards seem much weaker with just 2. In 4 player games I've usually seen one player go for a card strategy and do well, with the cards giving him bonuses that stop him having to compete on the board. In 2 players, this just effectively gives the other player too many bonuses on the board.

Secondly the game goes a lot longer, so tiles with abilities are much more valuable. In a 4 player game you'd expect to pick up maybe three tiles with abilities, whereas with 2 players it's not hard to pick up 6 or 7 maybe, and these abilities become very key.

There is a lot less competition on the board. This has various knock-on effects - firstly that you're more likely to win bonuses, which means that you "expect" a bonus off every action, and a little bit more out of your men, than in a multiplayer game; and secondly that you tend to want to move your men around more, rather than keep them on the board as much between turns.

Men are very tight in 2 player games. As soon as a tile on the outside row is removed you put a man on it. In a 4 player game, with 4 players playing for these, you'd expect to maybe win one side and place second on another - for a total cost of maybe 5 or 6 men, some of these quite late game. In the 2 player game you want at least one man on each side, for the second place bonus, but to guarantee first place you usually have to contribute 4 men, and half the end-game points is first-place on two sides - that's a lot of points, but even more men! Hence the corner tiles and double tiles go incredibly quickly, and the tiles that give you three more men are usually some of the first to be bought.

The last major difference in the 2 player game, and the one that makes me like the 2 player game the most, is the downtime issue. With 4 players, especially if one of them is a slow player, it can take forever to come around to you, and there's often very little planning you can do much in advance of your turn, by the very nature of the game as things can change so much between turns. With just 2 players the downtime is vastly reduced - both because not so much changes between turns, so you can plan ahead more, and because you're only waiting for one person not three! This factor alone means that I like the 2 player game more than the 4 player game, although there are benefits of playing with more.

Verdict

I rate Royal Palace as a 2 player game a whole point higher on the BGG scale than I would with 4 players. The game is just much more rewarding with 2, as well as more involving, as it has to much less downtime. I've not played it with 3 yet though.
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Jason
United States
Orlando
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This game makes a great head to head match up. It does become a quicker and more interesting game. Surprisingly, there is a bit of exploration that can be done within the game space.

I enjoy your 2 player reviews Sharon. Thanks.
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Eddy Richards
Scotland
Allanton
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Good review! We also picked this up from the recent Works bonanza, and have played it 2-player several times (never with more, due to lack of opponents). I agree with your assessment - it does seem easy to pick up bonuses, and it seems crucial to pick up the tiles giving extra men as soon as possible as it is otherwise easy to run out.

Works well, though, and we've enjoyed it.

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Andy Andersen
United States
Michigan
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Confirms my thoughts also. Thanks.
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Kenneth Stein
United States
Toledo
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Don't understand why we don't hear more about this wonderful game. Beautiful artwork, easy to play, fairly quick, yet I'm the only one in these parts to know of it! Nice review.
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Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Great review.

Mrs Fish and I enjoy this very much as a two player game.

Oddly enough, she rarely contests 'Cardinal' which to me is always a cheap pick-up offering so much for, in most cases, so little.
 
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Chris Marling
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Great review - it convinced me to trade for this and, having just finished our first two-player game, I'm very glad I did. Thank you!
 
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Kåre Dyvik
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Stavanger
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For me, 3-player is the sweet spot. Too much downtime with four. 2-player isa bit different, for the reasons you have mentioned.
 
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