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Brutal Kingdom

RRP: £13.50

NOW £5.09
RRP £13.50

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Brutal Kingdom is a card game based in among an anthropomorphic animal court. There’s back-stabbing, intrigue and suspicion afoot! An impressive trio of designer-artist-publisher sits behind this one. Michael Rieneck, Franz Vohwinkel and Kosmos Games are all highly thought of in their respective fields. Brutal Kingdom is the kind of card game that shines at a four player count, wh…
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Category Tags , , , SKU Z-THKO-692506 Availability 5+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • Clever scoring twist to add suspense
  • Roles of each character are explicitly described on the cards
  • Not a lot of downtime between turns

Might Not Like

  • Does not scale well to three players
  • Too many characters, feels more like a memory test than a game
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Description

Brutal Kingdom is a card game based in among an anthropomorphic animal court. There’s back-stabbing, intrigue and suspicion afoot! An impressive trio of designer-artist-publisher sits behind this one. Michael Rieneck, Franz Vohwinkel and Kosmos Games are all highly thought of in their respective fields. Brutal Kingdom is the kind of card game that shines at a four player count, where you enjoy the odd bit of ‘take that’!

In Brutal Kingdom, players use sharp hand management skills in a trick-taking manner. There’s 20 cards in the game, divided into two decks of 10. These are positions within the court, all the way from King, Queen, Abbot down to even Witch, or Executioner! Each card has their own ability, as well as rank. Players get four cards; they pass one to the player on their left, and one to the right. Make sure you remember which cards you give to whom, if you want to gain the upper hand!

Players take turns playing a card face-up in front of them. If it comes with an action, that occurs straight away. Some trump other cards – the Assassin kills (removes) the King or Queen card if one of them is in play, for example. Once everyone’s played their hand, they score tokens. These are worth points, according to their cards that ‘survived’ the four rounds. Some tokens score in different ways, making some cards appealing in certain scenarios. It also makes some cards a huge neon target, for the likes of the Poisoner or the Berserker!

After end-of-round scoring, you shuffle the cards and pass cards left/right again, and go once more. The game lasts for four rounds in this manner, and most points wins. Brutal Kingdom is a social deduction game, mixed with judgement and reading your opponents. If you enjoy games like Love Letter, you’re going to adore Brutal Kingdom.

Player Count: 3-4 Players
Time: 30 minutes
Age: 12+

Animals are cute, aren’t they? Generally, if you combine animals with board games, you have a winning combination. They are just so likeable. Even in games like Root, where factions act mercilessly towards each other, they look so adorable doing it. However, the same cannot be said for the deduction game Brutal Kingdom, which really tries to put a cat amongst the pigeons*.

*I’d just like the point out here that there are actually no pigeons in Brutal Kingdom.

Brutal Kingdom is a 3-4 player game published by Kosmos. The aim of the game is the score points by earning influence tokens or eliminating your opponents. The game is played over four chapters and the person with the most points is victorious.

A Chicken Coup?

The game centres around twenty anthropomorphised animal cards ranked 1-20, the majority of which have powers. Some may allow you to eliminate an opponent’s character. Some cards may allow you to investigate the cards of others. Other cards even allow you to look at the discarded cards in the centre. You’re probably thinking I’ve copied and pasted a review of Coup or Love Letter. However, there are a couple of mechanisms in Brutal Kingdom that make it a different experience.

At the start of the game, each player has two cards with light coloured backs. You keep one and then pass the other one to the player on your left. Then you have two cards with dark coloured backs. You do the same, but passing one card to the right instead. Immediately you already know at least one card that two of your rivals possess. Once you have done this, the game is ready to start.

Lion Your Cards On The Table

The game starts with the person who is most regal in their demeanour. Once they have taken their crown and sceptre off, they place a card from their hand face-up on the table. Once everyone has done this, the player who has placed the card with the highest numerical value starts the next round. This goes around in order until all four cards have been played, bringing the chapter to a close. During the chapter, some cards may have been executed by other cards. The executioner scores points and leaves the executed with nothing. Once you have collected the correct number of influence points, the next chapter starts. You play four chapters, each containing four rounds in total. Once the game is over, you add up your score, and this is where the game takes a strange turn.

Under normal circumstances, you might think the person who has collected the most tokens will win. In Brutal Kingdom, that is really not the case. There are three types of influence tokens in the game: royal, clerical and mystical. It’s probably easier for me to explain how the points scoring work with an example:

Player A has collected three regal influence tokens. At the end of the game, there are four tokens left unclaimed. This means Player A gets four points for each token they have collected, giving them a total of twelve.

Player B has eight clerical influence tokens. At the end of the game, there is only one of these tokens left unclaimed. This means each token is only worth one point, giving Player B a total of eight. Player A scores more points, whilst Player B is left raging at collecting all those tokens for nothing.

Grin And Bear It

In truth, this does add a very clever twist to the game. Do you collect tokens for yourself to try and earn more points, knowing the more you collect, the less they are worth? Do you claim tokens that are going to make another player’s collection worthless? Similarly, do you risk making an enemy of someone by doing that when they could easily do the same to you?

Whilst the game is enjoyable and a different take on deduction games, it isn’t without flaws. Firstly, this is not a 3-4 player game. It’s a four-player game. To make it a three-player game, you remove four of the characters from the deck entirely. This feels like a waste as those characters have really useful powers. Secondly, the game’s theme doesn’t really add anything. Yes, the artwork is great, but the theme is based around gaining the influence of clerics, royals and mystics. Off the top of my head, I honestly couldn’t tell you which character is from which sphere. In my opinion, it’s because there are simply too many characters, and games like Coup and Love Letter certainly benefit from having fewer.

Is Brutal Kingdom The Superbowl Of Card Games?

Overall, I like Brutal Kingdom. The devious twist on the points scoring is delicious and makes predicting the winner a lot more difficult to do. However, you’ve seen Attenborough documentaries, we always root for the prey, not the predator. Especially if you are animals. If the theme does appeal to you, there is a good game here that might be a solid addition to your board game collection.

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • Clever scoring twist to add suspense
  • Roles of each character are explicitly described on the cards
  • Not a lot of downtime between turns

Might not like

  • Does not scale well to three players
  • Too many characters, feels more like a memory test than a game