Published by: Arcane Wonders
# of Players: 2 to 5
Royals is the third in Arcane Wonder's Dice Tower Essentials line. The previous two games had excellent components. I was excited to see what was in store for Royals. After opening the box I discovered an insert that works great for the game. The insert holds all the components in the box nicely and will not move around. There is also a big space left over for extra storage in case of a future expansion or if you upgrade some components. The components themselves are nothing amazing, but work well for the game. Each player will have wooden noble cubes for their player color. The cubes are used to show influence in an area and also which titles have been influenced. The title scoring markers come in two pieces. This is done in case there is a tie and both players each receive half of the title points. The cards are of the same card stock as most games have. The color and symbols are used together to help those who are colorblind. As an area control game, this may be the easiest for a color blind player to be able to play without issues. The rule book is great at explaining the rules and has many tables and illustrations to simplify the understanding of the game. While the components themselves may not be flashy, they serve the game very well.
Royals is an area control game that is played over 3 periods. Each player will have their own color of cubes that will be used to show control of a city or noble scoring tile. During your turn you will take up to 2 actions. The first action is to either draw 3 country cards or 1 country card and 1 intrigue card. When you draw country cards, you have the choice of the top face down card from the stack or one of the 3 face-up cards on display. The face-up cards are not replaced till the end of your turn. After you have drawn cards, you may take the play cards action. You can either play cards to claim a vacant noble, or take over an opponent's noble. To claim a vacant noble, you will discard a number of matching country cards to the number required by that noble. For example, In the French city of Dijon, you may claim the Princess for 6 cards. You will need 6 French (blue) country cards to claim that spot. You will then place a wooden cube on that portrait to show your influence and also place a cube on the Princess noble scoring tile for end game scoring. If a noble is already influenced by another player, you must discard the number of country cards displayed plus an intrigue card that matches that country as well. The new player's cube takes the place of the previous cube. That cube is then placed in the Cathedral because it was assassinated or removed from power. Do not remove the cubes from the board because they will used later on to determine the country bonuses.
Arcane Wonders has another excellent game in their Dice Tower Essentials line. I have recently come to enjoy many area control games and this is a great gateway into those games. This is very easy to explain and teach, but still has enough strategy to bring in the seasoned gamer. I really enjoyed the quick pace of Royals along with the strategy of trying to get all the bonuses. The game makes the player find a balance of influencing a lot of nobles in many countries or focusing on 1 or 2 countries and making sure to get all the various titles. If you are the first or second player, you really have to think about the risk of not playing cards close to the end because a player may trigger the end of a period before you are ready. Royals is a game that will be enjoyed by seasoned gamers as well as those friends or family that do not play many games. Royals provides that introduction into area control, like Ticket to Ride did for train games. The components may not be flashy, but they get the job done. The colors and symbols used together provide easy comprehension, even to those who have issues telling colors apart. I found in the games that I have played of Royals, the influence in countries will change often from period to period. While one person may have made a huge impact in the first period, they may lose most of that in the second or third. This provides a nice balance and felt like everyone had a shot at winning the game. The way the scoring is done provides a hint at who might be winning but it will not be as obvious as when there is a scoring track. I will definitely be keeping this in my collection and so far the Dice Tower Essentials line is 3 for 3 on providing very fun games that appeal to wide range of audience. I recommend this to anyone especially those starting their own game collections.
+ Gateway into area control style games
+ Rule book explains the game and provides plenty of illustrations to for easy understanding
+ Great insert provided
+ The game board looks very nice and well organized
- Bland components, wooden cubes
- Some may find the game boring due to drawing cards and placing cubes
- Player conflict when removing someones influence from an area may bother some players