Recommend
90 
 Thumb up
 Hide
14 Posts

Crown of Roses» Forums » Reviews

Subject: [Roger's Reviews] Crown of Roses: It's Good to be King! rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
flag msg tools
admin
designer
Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
badge
Caution: May contain wargame like substance
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb


Crown of Roses
A game for 2-4 players designed by Stephen A. Cuyler


“I cannot say much for this Monarch's Sense--Nor would I if I could, for he was a Lancastrian. I suppose you know all about the Wars between him and the Duke of York who was on the right side; if you do not, you had better read some other History, for I shall not be very difuse in this, meaning by it only to vent my spleen against, and show my Hatred to all those people whose parties or principles do not suit with mine, and not to give information.”
-- Jane Austen


Introduction

Hello and welcome to the latest edition of Roger's Reviews. I've been playing board games since I was a wee lad and wargames for over thirty years.

Crown of Roses is a card driven game about the War of the Roses, pitting factions from the houses of York, Warwick, Buckingham, and Lancaster as they strive to put their senior heir onto the throne of England.

Components

Crown of Roses comes in the GMT 3" deep box, and it needs all that space to contain all the bits.

The map is gorgeous. It's easy to read and it's easy to discern at a glance the status of the game. Unlike their more recent releases featuring mounted maps, this time GMT has included their deluxe cardboard map; you'll likely want to use a sheet of plexiglass to keep it flat. I cannot say enough nice things about the graphic design elements too. Everything you need to understand the state of the game is on the map. Action rounds, popularity levels (and what they mean), influence levels, vote levels, victory points, the nobles and their preferences and possibility of being influenced, the clear clean and crisp graphics. It's not just a gorgeous map, it's a marvel of graphic design.

In addition there are two sheets of counters, about 70 yellow blocks with stickers representing the nobles of the four houses, a 44 page rulebook, and the 28 page playbook with the four scenarios. Yes, all the blocks are the same colour, and despite what one might think, it's perfectly possible and indeed reasonable to play a four player game with everyone's blocks standing up and facing their way without giving away all your secrets. The blocks add just the right level of mystique to the disposition of your forces - yes, you know that's Warwick over there, but what were his stats again?

The game in mid session, under the plexiglass sheet that comes standard with a beautiful Geek Chiq table.

Rules & Game Play

I initially had trouble with the rulebook for Crown of Roses. For one thing, I was trying to learn the game cold at a con with three other new players, and then things I expected to see early on like the sequence of play didn't turn up until page 18. Of course, learning a game like this cold one gets what one deserves, which is a game that takes longer to get off the ground than it really needs, but is ultimately worth the effort.

Looking at the extended sequence of play printed on the back of the play book, you'll see that the sequence of play begins with the draw phase refers to section 12, the operations phase points you to section 13, and then the influence phase jumps to section 23. The rule book is full of details that you need to read before you play. I cannot emphasize this enough. Read the rules, know the rules, and then enjoy this fabulous game (and yes, I realize I'm foreshadowing somewhat).

The objective in Crown of Roses is to have your house win, and your house can win in one of three ways.

Method one, and the most satisfying, is to be the last heir standing! This is the military victory, and is also probably the hardest to achieve as there as just so many pretenders to the throne. Unlike the movie Stardust where it's relatively easy to off your rivals, here it is much harder.

Method two, and the most probable way, is to win the political victory, which is to have your senior heir elected king a number of times as specified in the scenario in the playbook. If you can consistently have the others bend to your will, you can have your heir sit on the throne of England long enough that everyone else gets used to the idea. It's good to be king!

Method three, and arguably the least satisfying, is the economic victory, which is checked at the end of the scenario in the final phase, and economic victory points are earned by controlling rival estates.

Let's have a look under the hood of the game to see how things work together. I'll be using the sequence of play as a guide for how everything interacts.

Crown of Roses is at heart a card driven game, with cards that vary from 1-3 operations points that can be used either for ops or events (and sometimes the events allow you to do a bit of both). Each faction has a set of house cards, cards that are unique to their player power, and those cards can be used instead of the cards you draw from the deck. However, your house cards are one use only and are discarded after use, whether they are used for ops or events. In the deck of common cards, there are some mandatory events, but unlike other games it's possible to not play the mandatory events on your turn, except that you pay a pretty heavy penalty for not doing so. More on that later.

The turn begins with everyone drawing new cards, and you draw five cards (less any non-house cards you may have left over, assuming you have an heir in play that allows you to hold cards from one turn to the next), and then draw bonus cards (e.g. being the king earns you a bonus card). Then everyone checks how many cards they have in hand, and the lowest number, likely five, will be the number of rounds played this turn.

Hand management is a key to success in this game. The cards will have a median value of 2, so bearing that in mind, you should be able to plan your turn fairly well. Ally cards are worth playing for yourself, but one needs to be aware that there are cards that force discards of all allies you may have so allies should be used early and often - or at least with some level of circumspection.

Each round, every player secretly selects a card to play, and then cards are revealed simultaneously.

You can choose to play cards you've drawn this turn, or use house cards. If you have only house cards in your hand, then you may actually pass. Cards are resolved from highest op value to lowest, and ties are broken by the current king. It's good to be king! Cards can be used for the event (usually self-explanatory), or for ops. Ops let you return an undeclared heir to in-play status, move a stack by land, move a stack by sea (expensive), muster (i.e. reinforce), or spend political influence. The latter is a particularly sneaky way of getting nobles to change to your side in the king phase!

Once everyone has moved, if there are opposing forces in the same shire, we get to have a fight! As a block game so there is some level of bluff and subterfuge with respect to the strength of your units. Crown of Roses has done something very clever with respect to combat with their block units - and if this has been done elsewhere, I haven't seen it - you roll dice of specific colours and the colour of the die determines how effective it is. Red dice hit on a 4-6, blue dice on a 5-6, and green dice only on a 6. This has the very nice effect of making it possible for units to still have multiple dice even if they've been reduced a step. For instance, the Warwick block at full strength rolls one red and two blue dice, but once it loses a step, it gets two blue and one green instead, but it still gets three dice! Combat is resolved simultaneously, so no need to keep track of anything except what kind of dice you're allowed to roll and what the results are. As is common for block games, damage is applied to the strongest block and distributed as evenly as possible.

I mentioned earlier that there are mandatory cards, and they vary in type and effect, but there's one mandatory event that is particularly nasty, and that's the Affairs of State card. It causes two things. One, that the rest of the action phases for the remainder of the turn are skipped. Two, the influence phase of the game turn is skipped entirely, which can be awesome if you were hoarding your influence points and catastrophic if you've set yourself up to get a huge haul of them in preparation for the King phase. This is one of the cards you may want to not play and pay the penalty for not having played it, and the penalty is a loss of one space on the popularity track.

Once the card action phase is complete, we move to the influence phase, where each player will collect influence points. Influence points are like money in that you need them to bid for offices in the king phase, and to spend them to attempt to influence rival nobles during the action phase. You collect influence based on the shires you control, some more for shires of your colour that are not controlled by anyone else, and bonus points for controlling shires of your home estate and from various offices. You also get bonus influence points based on your current popularity. During the influence phase, you can also expend played ally cards to cash them in for influence. Aren't allies grand?

The current influence total is tracked on the board, and then we move into the king phase.

The king phase is the most exciting part of the game. This is where every noble is sent to parliament and eventually we elect the king! But first, as you may guess, there are shenanigans of the very best kind. Economic VP are scored based on control of shires loyal to other players. Then we clear out all rebel and mercenary blocks. Then we attend parliament. All nobles are set out in front of their players, but then we resolve the roll of parliament, in whatever order the current king desires (it's good to be king!). Any nobles that have influence markers placed on them get checked to see if they switch allegiance. Heirs for each house cannot be influenced, but every other noble is up for grabs. Now, nobles have natural allegiances, and if that noble is naturally inclined to favour your house, then you'll get a built in bonus (represented by the rose colour on the roll of parliament) if you place influence there.

Then once all the nobles with influence are resolved, you tally up how many votes your nobles give you (including your newest pals!), and a vote for king takes place.

It's highly improbable that there are enough votes for any single faction to win the election outright, so this is where the game becomes raucously fun as everyone tries their best to strike a deal. Maybe you're the one with the least votes, but you're also the one who hasn't been king before so you'll get the nod. Maybe your votes are enough to push someone over the edge and you can strike a deal - perhaps support in getting an office or two - for your votes.

Once the king has been elected, victory is checked - military first, then political, and economic only if this was the last turn of the game.

Then the eight officers of the court are elected (at random) and auctioned off by the king. Each office comes with its own set of advantages, usually in terms of votes and influence and popularity but also sometimes some special powers. The nasty part here is that you pay what you bid, even if you lose the auction. So this often becomes a stock market type affair. You can spend influence on behalf of other factions too, if only to prevent one faction from monopolizing all the offices.

After all this, it's time for everyone to go home in the wintering phase. Nobles are placed first, then all the officers, and lastly Henry VI and Margaret. Then we do it all again.

Conclusions

I am really impressed with this game. I like card driven games, and this game delivers on that front in spades. Not only are there cards from a common draw deck, there's an entire hand of house cards available to your faction. I love the integration of all the different elements. There's the military aspect of your units on the map and deciding how when and where to fight. There's the entire Machiavellian influence peddling where you can inspire rival nobles to join your house. There's the non-obvious but still important economic aspect where you can play the long game and win by being sneaky. I love the intense and highly public negotiation and haggling for wrangling votes to get your heir voted king, not to mention the meta game of making sure the same guy doesn't become king often enough to win!

More than anything, I love how balanced the game feels. Each turn is full of potential, either to solidify your position or to come back from a bad turn. This has been one of the freshest most exciting new games I've had the pleasure of playing this year.

If you've been thinking about getting a War of the Roses game, you would be very hard pressed to do better than this title. With Crown of Roses, it really is good to be king.


Thank you for reading this latest installment of Roger's Reviews. I've been an avid board gamer all my life and a wargamer for over thirty years. I have a strong preference for well designed games that allow players to focus on trying to make good decisions.

Among my favorites I include Twilight Struggle, the Combat Commander Series, the Musket & Pike Battle Series, Julius Caesar, Maria, EastFront, Here I Stand, Napoleon's Triumph and Unhappy King Charles!

You can subscribe to my reviews at this geeklist: [Roger's Reviews] The Complete Collection and I also encourage you to purchase this very stylish microbadge: mb
80 
 Thumb up
1.37
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack Smith
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Great review, thanks.

I do not think avoiding the play of a Mandatory card is an option open to the player.

From the rules (13.1)

'If a Player holds any Mandatory Cards, he must play to
guarantee that all held Mandatory Cards will be played
in the current Operations Phase (exception: see Affairs
of State, below).'

The exception relates to players not able to play mandatory cards due to AoS being played.

The AoS card seems to be causing some issues with some players so I thought I'd see if I got this rule correct.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
N/A
United States
Yankeedom
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
leroy43 wrote:
I like card driven games, and this game delivers on that front in spades.

Intentional or not, that was pretty funny.

Excellent review, thanks for bringing this one to my attention.

8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Bernatz
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thing is...I kind of like that idea, to be honest . Maybe I'll see if SAC will add it to the Living rules (maybe as an Optional rule).

-K

Halfinger wrote:
Great review, thanks.

I do not think avoiding the play of a Mandatory card is an option open to the player.

From the rules (13.1)

'If a Player holds any Mandatory Cards, he must play to
guarantee that all held Mandatory Cards will be played
in the current Operations Phase (exception: see Affairs
of State, below).'

The exception relates to players not able to play mandatory cards due to AoS being played.

The AoS card seems to be causing some issues with some players so I thought I'd see if I got this rule correct.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack Smith
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
kbernatz wrote:
Thing is...I kind of like that idea, to be honest . Maybe I'll see if SAC will add it to the Living rules (maybe as an Optional rule).

-K

Halfinger wrote:
Great review, thanks.

I do not think avoiding the play of a Mandatory card is an option open to the player.

From the rules (13.1)

'If a Player holds any Mandatory Cards, he must play to
guarantee that all held Mandatory Cards will be played
in the current Operations Phase (exception: see Affairs
of State, below).'

The exception relates to players not able to play mandatory cards due to AoS being played.

The AoS card seems to be causing some issues with some players so I thought I'd see if I got this rule correct.



I like it too
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cole Wehrle
United States
St. Paul
Minnesota
flag msg tools
designer
badge
"Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Roger, great review. How hard is the game to learn? I'm pretty interested in the title but I'm worried I might be getting something a little too heavy for the group here.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Evans
United States
Richmond
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
nice review. I subscribed to your geeklist thumbsup
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
simon thornton
United Kingdom
Liverpool
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Did you play this 2 or 4 player ? How long did it take ? I own the game and havent had a chance to play it yet. The limited number of cards played per round , the fact that the board is 'reset' at the end of a turn will mean its very difficult to win by killing all the heirs to the throne.

As a 3-4 player game I cant imgagine anyone will win by gaining 5 votes which means the majority of games will be decided by a vaguely disatisfying economic victory. This has been the experience of other reviews. I m not convinced its better than Kingmaker which its designed to replace.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Prizzi
United States
West Newton
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
Avatar
I'm concerned about the rules length compared to Kingmaker. It looks to be quite a bit more involved in terms of learning how to play. How would you rate the games in terms of getting non-wargamers who aren't going to read the rulebook for themselves to play and have a good time?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
flag msg tools
admin
designer
Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
badge
Caution: May contain wargame like substance
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
prizziap wrote:
I'm concerned about the rules length compared to Kingmaker. It looks to be quite a bit more involved in terms of learning how to play. How would you rate the games in terms of getting non-wargamers who aren't going to read the rulebook for themselves to play and have a good time?


If your gaming group can handle Kingmaker, they can handle this. If they can't, then I would say that it'll be a tough slog for the person who has to have the rules in their head. The rules aren't exceedingly complex, but there are certain procedural matters that have subtlety and nuance that aren't readily grasped, and some of actions from the cards can be easily misinterpreted.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Björn Engqvist
Sweden
Goteborg
Unspecified
flag msg tools
I disagree. Crown of Roses is, for better and for worse, a much more complex game than Kingmaker. If your group likes the latter, it is not at all certain they will like CoR, which has a lot more layers that players need to be aware of, not to mention that they need to commit more rules to memory.

The movement system itself is much more challenging and time-consuming, allowing for multiple choices of interception and evasion in every single move.

Kingmaker is a light and fairly trivial boardgame compared to the much heavier CoR.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Prizzi
United States
West Newton
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
Avatar
Delirium_EU wrote:
I disagree. Crown of Roses is, for better and for worse, a much more complex game than Kingmaker. If your group likes the latter, it is not at all certain they will like CoR, which has a lot more layers that players need to be aware of, not to mention that they need to commit more rules to memory.

The movement system itself is much more challenging and time-consuming, allowing for multiple choices of interception and evasion in every single move.

Kingmaker is a light and fairly trivial boardgame compared to the much heavier CoR.


This is much more inline with my expectation based upon comparing the length the rules are for each game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Severus Snape
Canada
flag msg tools
Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."
badge
"The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of."--Pascal
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Roger, this sounds like an extended advertisement for Crown of Roses, helpful as it is in breaking the game down. I would like to have seen something more balanced, showing awareness of some of the "issues" that I, and others, have found with the game, even though I, and others, like it.

goo
3 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Severus Snape
Canada
flag msg tools
Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."
badge
"The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of."--Pascal
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Delirium_EU wrote:
I disagree. Crown of Roses is, for better and for worse, a much more complex game than Kingmaker. If your group likes the latter, it is not at all certain they will like CoR, which has a lot more layers that players need to be aware of, not to mention that they need to commit more rules to memory.

The movement system itself is much more challenging and time-consuming, allowing for multiple choices of interception and evasion in every single move.

Kingmaker is a light and fairly trivial boardgame compared to the much heavier CoR.


No need to knock Kingmaker to demonstrate the differences between it and COR. But then if the Wars of the Roses was such a "trivial" moment in history, why cover it at all?

goo
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.