Designed by Ted Alspach
# of players 1 - 4
Ages 13 and up
Overall components quality is good. This game is comprised of all tiles and they are reasonably well-constructed. They come in lots of different shapes and colors, so sorting through them can be a bit of a pain. If you find yourself really loving this game, there are third-party component organizers available that can help with that. Taco got the Broken Token Insert that works nicely for the game and it's expansion.
In this game, each player starts with a simple foyer tile. One player takes on the role of the Master Builder, and that player sets prices for a set of rooms that can be purchased by the other players, with him getting to pick from the leftovers after the other players have paid him for their rooms. When a room is added to a castle, the player who built it gains castle points based on the size and type of room constructed, as well as bonus points based on the location of the room. When a room is completed, with all entrance-ways leading to other rooms in the castle, the player receives one of seven special rewards.
So, while each player is basically trying to build his best castle, you are interacting with each other. You don't directly affect other player's castles, but you do affect what rooms they may have access to and how much they will cost them.
After each purchasing round, a new player becomes the Master Builder who sets prices for a new set of rooms. After several rounds, the game ends, then additional points are awarded for achieving bonus goals, having the most popular rooms, and being the most responsive to the King's demands, which change each game. Whoever ends up with the most castle points wins.
The devil is in the details when it comes to those bonus points. The there are a ton of bonus points to be had and they are scored in many ways. The points that have been scored up to the end of the game are, essentially, only the first half of the story. In my opinion, this can create a little bit of a problem if some players are more committed to predicting the exact outcome in the final turn of the game. Whereas other players may be content to score as much as they can and let the game end.
Castles of Mad King Ludwig has some similar elements from Suburbia, also by Bezier Games, also designed by Ted Alspach. You are building something and there are tiles, score track, market track, when you build a tile, you get points for the tile and for how it interacts with other tiles already built. This game, however, seems somewhat more well-liked.
People really seem to latch on to the castle building theme. There will be inevitable conversations about how quirky your castle is. “Why is your castle almost all kitchen?” “Because shut up, I get hungry.” It is definitely a calculating game, though. As I brought out, some players can get rather bogged down. While others will just enjoy building their castle. It's got fun. It's got thinking. It paired nicely with the oatmeal stout I had that night.
*Good replay value
*Complicated scoring system