Published by: Breaking Games
# of Players: 1 to 5
The King's Abbey is a medium to heavy weight Euro style game. Each player will have mini dice, wooden cubes and sticks in their player color. Color blind people will dislike the choices of color because some of the colors look alike for normal sight. I personally had a hard time between the red and the orange colors for this game. Each player gets a player board that contains their abbey and also explains the trade value of each good. The goods are represented by paper tokens. I say paper because they are thinner than cardboard. The cards in the game come in two sizes. The small cards are the building cards and the larger cards are used for events, crusades, and extra area for your abbey. The cards are super thin and they scratch/dent easily. If this is a game you enjoy, I would recommend getting sleeves for the cards. Some had a hard time seeing what was written on the small building cards. I understand they needed to be small to fit on the board, but I also understand the complaint of them being too small. The main game board is very well done and looks like a kingdom during the Dark Age. The rule book is actually made out of sturdy paper and has plenty of helpful illustrations to explain the game. There is a lot going on during the game and the rule book does a good job of breaking down each phase and explaining all the rules. Props to Breaking Games for having an insert that works good for all the components in the game. I really felt the components were hit or miss with King's Abbey. Some looked like they took time to make sure they were solid, while the rest look like it was a cost cutting measure.
The King's Abbey is a worker placement game that uses dice and cubes. Each game is played over 7 rounds with 12 phases in each round. That is a lot, but some of the phases are very simple and go very fast. For the review I will not be going over everything in great detail, but give you the overview of what to expect during a round and how scoring works. Each player will start the game with their own abbey board, a cube in the last row of your pew, and also a starting building with a Monk already on the building to make it active. Each player will randomly get a starting building card for that first building spot. The event deck will have 7 cards and will be divided between disaster, vikings, and year of plenty cards. Each player will also start off with 1 crusade card that they can send worker dice on. The rest of the buildings will be shuffled into 2 equal stacks and placed on the main board where 4 cards from each stack will be placed face up to buy.
At the start of each round, all players will roll their 9 worker dice followed by revealing the rounds event card. Depending on the event card, something good or bad will happen. In the case of Vikings, a player will roll a black die for each player. They will place those dice on the card from high to low. Starting with the first player, they may place a die in the space across from the viking die that must match the same number of pips. That player may keep placing dice that match going down the row. If they can not place a die in the first spot, they must place a monk cube there and then pass to the next player. After each player has had a chance to place dice or all the spots are filled, you will determine the outcome. If there are more cubes then dice, bad stuff happens. If there are more dice than cubes, the player with the most dice gets some extra victory points. After settling the event, players will place dice in their abbey and crusade. If you place a 1-3 rolled die next the pew, you will add a new monk cube for each die to the pews. If you rolled a 4-6 and place it on the opposite side of the pews, you will move a clergy training cube a number of spaces equal to the number of dice placed. Crusades are cards that have a number of dice spots from 2 to 5 that provide a reward later during the round and provide points at the end of the game. To place dice on the crusade card, the dice must all be the same number of pips. So on a 3 space card you could place 3 4s. You have the option to play any number of dice up the max spaces it can hold, but if it is not complete the dice will stay there till it is completed. After you place dice in your abbey and crusade, you will then move on to buying buildings. Starting with the first player, they may purchase one of the face up buildings to add to their hand. After each player has either passed or purchased a building, the last player will then have a chance to buy another building and everyone will take a buying turn up to the first player getting the last chance to buy.
Scoring in King's Abbey is determined in a few ways. First you will get points from buildings you built during the game. Players will also score points for when their clergy cube lands on the last 4 spaces with point values on them. At the end of the game, players will reveal completed crusade cards to add to their score along with points for cows, goats, and grain depending on the buildings they built. There is a building that will also give you points for your remaining coins. Players will lose points for buildings they did not build that are in their hand and also from crusades they did not complete. The player with the most points wins the game and light is restored to the kingdom.
King's Abbey is a game I really wanted to like, but it just did not light a spark for me. I felt it was too complicated and restrictive for it's own good. That is not to say that some people will enjoy King's Abbey. I feel people who like Agricola for how it forces to you to try and do everything, will end up really enjoying this game. I feel the components were weak compared to the standards in the industry now. King's Abbey did have a great insert and rule book that did help the game in my eye. The theme will be hit or miss with gamers. The games I did play were all very close in scoring, being decided by tiebreaker or by a point or two. I like the use of dice and cubes as worker. It was an interesting mix to your standard euro game. A lot of the game was decided on randomness. Die rolls, what buildings were drawn, the event that was drawn and crusades that were drawn all added to the randomness of the game. When you have a game that is so much about threading the needle each round, randomness makes that so much harder to accomplish. I would play King's Abbey again if others wanted to play it, but it is not a game I would be asking to play. There is a core audience that loves games like Agricola where you must manage all areas and thread the needle. That group will enjoy this game and would recommend for them to give it a try.
+ Variety of buildings and events adds some changes each play
+ Excellent rule book
+Combination of dice and cube workers is a fresh take
-Feels to complicated and restrictive for it's own good
- Theme is hit or miss with people
-Really small writing on tiny building cards