Expansion: 2017 English First Edition (*Review Copy)
Published by: Daily Magic Games
# of Players: 1 to 5
Valeria Card Kingdoms is a card game designed to be played by 1 to 5 players. The main component of the game are the cards. I know big surprise. Anyways, the cards are your standard size cards and have a nice texture to help pick them up off the table. The art is very well down and catches the eye of everyone. This art really set the tone for Card Kingdoms and the whole Valeria series. The cards are a little cluttered with a lot of icons, but after a play or two they become easy to understand. There are 3 resources that are tracked by wooden tokens along with another set of tokens for victory points. Each token shares the shape of the icon and color it represents on the cards. The box is very sturdy and has an insert to sort everything. Also they have included dividers to separate all the different cards. This makes set up and clean up a lot easier than other games that have a similar play style. Players will be rolling 2 dice during their turn and the dice provided are large and easy to ready. Excellent dice and I wish I had more of them to use in place of other D6 dice. The rule book contains all the information you need to play along with diagrams to help understand the different parts of each card. Also players will each have a reference card that will help them learn the icons while playing Valeria Card Kingdoms.
Flames and Frost expansion adds a whole new set of citizens to recruit along with some new monsters to fight. Also included are new event cards that will be added into the exhausted cards, which I will explain in the gameplay section. The cards from the expansion add more diversity to the game, but also keep the art and quality of the base game. All of the expansion components can fit into the base game box to save shelf space. Expansion provides cardboard multiplier tokens that will be used so that you do not run out of tokens while playing. During one game I had 30+ coins and it was nice to have the multiplier tokens instead of 30 wooden tokens to try and count. Flames and Frost does not change up the game drastically and due to that, the instructions are on a sheet of paper. Between the base game and expansion, Valeria Card Kingdoms provides a lot of variability and quality.
Valeria Card Kingdoms is a card game that has players recruiting citizens to fight monsters and explore domains. Each player will start with 2 gold and 1 magic token. Along with a starter knight and starter peasant. Players will randomly get two duke cards. The duke card provides an end game bonus based on the criteria on the duke card. You will choose one and discard the other. The duke card will be kept hidden from the other players till the end game scoring. The middle of the table will be comprised of the cards you will be defeating, recruiting and exploring. The top row will be comprised of a monster in each of the 5 columns. The monster decks will have the weakest monster on top and strongest on the bottom. Below the monster decks will be 2 rows of citizens decks. Starting in the top left corner a citizen with the lowest die roll will be placed and the number count will go higher with each citizen. The last citizen will be on third row of cards and in the last column. The fourth/final row of cards will be domain cards. Each column will have 2 domains randomly placed face down and 1 face up on top. Exhaust cards will be placed when there are no longer any cards available in a given spot. The number of exhaust cards in the game is equal to double the player count. For example a 3 player game will have 6 exhaust cards. All the remaining resources will be placed in piles that all players can access. The yellow resource is gold, red is strength, purple is victory points, and blue is magic. Magic acts as either a gold or strength during the game. Some cards may require magic. You are now set up to start playing Valeria Card Kingdoms.
If you have heard me talk about some of my favorite games to play from a few years ago, you probably heard me talk about a game called Machi Koro. Valeria Card Kingdoms does everything Machi Koro does and more. I loved Valeria Card Kingdoms and the people who played with me also enjoyed it. Some even went and got their own copies, which is a rare occurrence with my group. Card Kingdoms provides a fun experience that takes a little over an hour or more depending on group size. A lot of the randomness of Machi Koro is still there with Card Kingdoms, but cards are easier to access. Getting the engine going for your citizens is where the strategy comes into play. Do you try and get every possible number so you always get an action or do you focus on a few select cards to get a huge bang when that number is rolled? Both strategies have their strengths and work. Our groups could easily figure out what each player's end game duke goal after a few rounds. Some seem to be easier to perform than others, but also it just depends on what the other players are doing during their turns. After playing the base game several times, I added in the Flames and Frost Expansion. This expansion was easy to add in, even for a new group like we had. The expansion cards are a little more icon heavy and complicated but nothing I would deem outside of the expected difficulty range of the game. Event cards added a little surprise during the game since you did not know when they would come out or what they would do. The resources start off slow, but by the end of the game, players will be using a lot of the multiplier tokens. The only issues that some had with Card Kingdoms was the randomness of the dice and also the amount of icons to learn. When you first look at the cards it can be overwhelming, but after a turn or two you will start to get comfortable with the icons and by the second game, you will not be using your reference card at all. The art on the cards is awesome. Valeria Card Kingdoms is a great addition to my collection and will see plenty of table time. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys games like Machi Koro or Splendor. This is a great engine builder that provides a better overall experience than similar games. Some may be turned off by the randomness of the dice, but I would recommend everyone giving this a try. I wish I would have played this when it first came out and is probably my favorite in the Valeria game universe. If you are picking up the base game, I would recommend getting the expansion along with it to add extra variability.
+Adds more depth than similar engine builders
+Easy to learn and play
-Randomness of die rolls will put off some
-Lots of icons to learn
-Higher player counts will take longer between turns
Taco gives the Flames and Frost expansion a rating of...
+Adds random events to the exhaust deck
+More citizens equals a different experience each game