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    Awards

    75%

    Rating

    • Artwork
    • Complexity
    • Replayability
    • Player Interaction
    • Component Quality

    You Might Like

    • Clear iconography.
    • Luck mitigation.
    • Simply to learn and to teach.
    • Does not outstay its welcome.

    Might Not Like

    • Very busy board.
    • Possibly a little light for some.
    • Could induce AP in others.
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    Merlin Board Game Review

    Merlin

    King Arthur is old, oh so old. His time is drawing to a close. It is now time for a successor to be found. Which of the knights of the Round Table will be chosen? Are you the most worthy? He has tasked Merlin, the great wizard with the job of finding his heir.

    Merlin in-turn has chosen the Knights he believes the most worthy. You are one of those chosen. Will you rise to greatness and lead the Kingdom onward to the future? Fulfill missions, gain influence, build manors and defeat traitors. It is all in your hands now.

    Holy Grail

    On first look at the Merlin box, you are greeted by some rather nice artwork. All of it promising regal shenanigans. Eagerly opening the box you will find yourself smiling at the amount of “stuff” inside:

    • One Game Board.
    • 24 Terrain Tiles.
    • Two Terrain frames.
    • Four Starting tiles.
    • 55 Mission Cards.
    • 36 Shields (Six per province).
    • 36 Flags (Six per province).
    • 36 Construction Materials (wooden cubes, Six per province).
    • 24 Traitors.
    • 11 Apples.
    • One Holy Grail.
    • One Excalibur.
    • 12 Merlin’s Staffs.
    • 28 Manors.
    • 16 Henchmen with Stickers (wooden cylinders).
    • 12 Players Dice.
    • Four Merlin Dice.
    • 28 Influence Counters.
    • Four Scoring Markers.
    • Four Knight Figures (wooden Meeples).
    • One Merlin Figure.
    • One Round Marker.
    • Four Castle Boards.
    • Four Favor Boards (Expansion).
    • 16 Seals (Expansion).
    • Four, 100-point Markers.
    • Rules Booklet.
    • One Game Board.
    • 24 Terrain Tiles.
    • Two Terrain frames.
    • Four Starting tiles.
    • 55 Mission Cards.
    • 36 Shields (Six per province).
    • 36 Flags (Six per province).
    • 36 Construction Materials (wooden cubes, Six per province).
    • 24 Traitors.
    • 11 Apples.
    • One Holy Grail.
    • One Excalibur.
    • 12 Merlin’s Staffs.
    • 28 Manors.
    • 16 Henchmen with Stickers (wooden cylinders).
    • 12 Players Dice.
    • Four Merlin Dice.
    • 28 Influence Counters.
    • Four Scoring Markers.
    • Four Knight Figures (wooden Meeples).
    • One Merlin Figure.
    • One Round Marker.
    • Four Castle Boards.
    • Four Favor Boards (Expansion).
    • 16 Seals (Expansion).
    • Four, 100-point Markers.
    • Rules Booklet.

    Camelot

    When you first open the board of Merlin, your initial reaction will be one of “Oh my eyes!” This is one busy, busy board. Imagine Ikea during a 50% off Kallax sale. Yep that busy. Surprisingly though, this quickly subsides as you follow the straightforward set-up guide, and to be honest just by looking at the board all the myriad of tokens and cubes have logical homes that are straightforward to find.

    The player's boards again are simple to set-up and the iconography is nicely laid out. In fact once everything is on the boards and set up it is all a logical layout.

    The icons used for the central action wheel (Rondel) are reasonably clear and straightforward. So much so that they are set out as groups in the rules booklet. After reading the rule book once through, without the board set-up next to me, I already had a good handle on the play of the game and through the first play only needed to refer to rules to check on scoring at round ends. Everything is very easy and clear to understand. It all quickly flows well.

    Lancelot

    Merlin is played over a series of rounds. Each round begins with the players rolling three dice for themselves and one extra dice for Merlin himself. Starting with the first player, you will select a die from the four you have rolled. The white Merlin die allows you to move the Merlin figure around the action track either clockwise or anticlockwise, the number of spaces on the die. You will then take the action for that space.

    All players have their own Merlin die so expect a lot of Merlin movement. If however you select your own colour die you will be moving your Knight Meeple in a clockwise only direction and using that space action. Initially this feels very restrictive until you remember you have three dice to plan with.

    There are also ways to mitigate “bad rolls,” as you can collect apples that allow you to change a die roll. Flags you can collect which allow you to mirror your position (I.e. jump to the other side), reverse your direction and change the number rolled. All this goes a very long way towards cancelling out the bad luck of rolling with die. Yes it is still possible to get stuffed badly but highly unlikely if you plan accordingly.

     

    Gwenevire

    So your moving nicely around the Round Table. What do you do with the actions then? Well on a basic level you will be scoring VP (Victory Points) for Flags, Construction Material and Shields, some spaces will allow you to collect more items based on where you have gained some influence by dispatching henchmen (another space).

    There will also be the opportunity to build Manors on a randomly constructed side board. This will score you points based on the size of the area you inhabit. Scoring will take place at the end of the second, fourth and sixth (last) round. This scoring focuses on the size of territory you possess with Manors, the amount of influence you have in each Province and if you have been stuck with any traitors (you get rid of traitors by spending shields).

    There is very little chance to “mess” with other players except with the movement of the Merlin figure, increasing influence in the various regions (provinces) or by building Manors in the same territory as another player. This might sound a lot like multiplayer solitaire and in some ways it is, but at the same time it is not. Just those little bits of interaction make a huge difference.

    Lady of the Lake - Thoughts on Merlin

    Overall I like Merlin from Queen Games. It is a nice game with some good mechanisms in place. Despite the initial look of it all and the associated name of Stefan Feld (oracle of Delphi, Trajan, Macao, Castles of Burgundy), Merlin plays quite light.

    Having played with both two and four players the game in my opinion is much more suited to the higher player counts. If only because there is much more competition for the Manor territory scoring and the Province influence scoring. In the two-player game it is quite possible to get a bit of “runaway leader” happening although if you play carefully you should not experience this too much.

    I can definitely recommend this for playing by game groups and at conventions. In families with older children it will work well but younger children will find the various dice options and planning a bit much. As for me personally I will happily play if someone suggests it, but thinking about my usual playing groups I don’t think it is one I will be putting on my shelf anytime soon.

    Zatu Score

    75%

    Rating

    • Artwork
    • Complexity
    • Replayability
    • Player Interaction
    • Component Quality

    You might like

    • Clear iconography.
    • Luck mitigation.
    • Simply to learn and to teach.
    • Does not outstay its welcome.

    Might not like

    • Very busy board.
    • Possibly a little light for some.
    • Could induce AP in others.

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    I spoke to Charity from Zatu on the phone today. She did a brilliant job of sorting an delivery issue out with my order and also adding on "victory points" which hadn't ended up on a previous order. Great phone manner, outstanding customer service. Zatu as a board games company are often the cheapest and although you do pay for delivery, if you accrue enough points you can often waive the cost or more. Delivery is normally sent out same day and products always have arrived when expected or sometimes even earlier. Would recommend wholeheartedly.

    I spoke to Charity from Zatu on the phone today. She did a brilliant job of sorting an delivery issue out with my order and also adding on "victory points" which hadn't ended up on a previous order. Great phone manner, outstanding customer service. Zatu as a board games company are often the cheapest and although you do pay for delivery, if you accrue enough points you can often waive the cost or more. Delivery is normally sent out same day and products always have arrived when expected or sometimes even earlier. Would recommend wholeheartedly.

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    I love this site! Excellent delivery time and brilliant prices. Have been using Zatu since found it. Always find the games I looking for.

    Great selection of games and good prices

    Great selection of games and good prices

    Zatu Games has been a great resource for building my new board game hobby!

    Zatu Games has been a great resource for building my new board game hobby!

    Great prices and quick dispatch. Come here for pretty much all my miniature needs

    Great prices and quick dispatch. Come here for pretty much all my miniature needs

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    The only place I buy Boardgames. Best prices, always easy to contact and love building up my victory points

    Quick delivery, no problems. Will use again.

    Quick delivery, no problems. Will use again.

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