City of Kings

City of Kings

Super preliminary findings!

Got a chance to play this with a buddy yesterday. Got through the first two (of six?) chapters of the first story.

The short version: this is a cooperative game driven by a series of stories that are broken up into “chapters.” The story is the big overarching thing; the chapters kind of reset and recalibrate the game as you go, while the map and ongoing character development stay locked throughout the story.

It feels a tiny bit like Gloomhaven in terms of asymmetrical character development (there are six classes, differentiated by skill trees you work your way up) and a tiny bit like Mistfall in terms of a highly abstract map you’re moving around and revealing. But the map is quite a lot more dynamic — you and the enemies cruise around it quite a bit each turn — and there’s a whole other resource management game that you can get into. In fact you’ve got a secondary “worker” unit that’s also going around the map doing…stuff. We didn’t quite get far enough to see that part of the game in action.

I think my favorite bit of the game is that the creatures are dynamically generated every time. The game comes with a big stack of tiles and markers, but they’re purely decorative: banner art, title, and backstory if you care to read it on the back of the tile. The actual critter is generated by pulling a wide, short tile from a numbered stack, and then modifying it with pulls from easy, medium and hard drawstring bags of ability chits. So we had a critter that both tracked you down and panicked your piece into randomly moving elsewhere on the map, and another that had the ability to teleport right to your location and then poison you. It’s super dynamic and weird and hella challenging if you draw tough combos.

There’s a really weird thing about the game, though, and I’m still chewing on it: apparently there’s no saving your character if you stop the story between chapters. I semi-expected a legacy game aspect to this (maybe because it feels Gloomhaven ish), but there isn’t one. But it’s just weird to me that you can be on chapter 3 of 8 or whatever, just put everything away, and then start your character development from scratch all over again. Basically the handling when you’re playing less than one story’s worth is vague and weird. I’m gonna go dig around on and see what the consensus is. Entirely possible I’ve missed an important rule somewhere.

EDIT: Nope! You’re supposed to play a single story to completion. Oh well, guess we’ll have to replay the chapters we finished. :-/

The production values are super nice, the bits are clear and easy to understand, the rulebook is marvelous. Honestly it all came together nicer than I had come to expect (for no good reason, just delayed delivery maybe?).

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