King is Dead: Second Edition

RRP: £34.99
Now £23.47(SAVE 32%)
RRP £34.99
[yith_wcwl_add_to_wishlist]
Nexy Day Delivery

Order within the next

11 Hours & 48 Minutes

for Next Day Delivery

Nexy Day Delivery

You could earn

2347 Victory Points

with this purchase

King is Dead: Second Edition The King is Dead is a fascinating game. A game with few components and where arguably the most important decision is whether you should pass now or later. In the basic mode each player will have the same 8 cards to vie for power. These cards are used over the course of 8 potential regions, but it’s not a case of one card per region, Some rounds you mig…
Read More
Category Tags , , SKU ZBG-6601 Availability 3+ in stock
Share
Share this

 

 

Awards

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • Easy to pick up, hard to master
  • Big game in a small package
  • Weighty decisions
  • Unique spin on area control
  • Relatively quick

Might Not Like

  • Can prompt analysis paralysis
  • Bit of a brain burner
Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here

Related Products

Description

King is Dead: Second Edition

The King is Dead is a fascinating game. A game with few components and where arguably the most important decision is whether you should pass now or later. In the basic mode each player will have the same 8 cards to vie for power. These cards are used over the course of 8 potential regions, but it’s not a case of one card per region,

Some rounds you might not play any cards, other rounds you might play multiple cards. Which is where passing comes in. The set up casts the English, Welsh and Scottish against each other to decide who will rule the land after the death of the King.

8 Region cards are dealt randomly to number spots around the board. The next lowest number region will be the site of the next power struggle will be once everyone passes. You will not be taking control of one of the three nations, but rather trying to put in with the nation that ends up ruling.

Each power struggle will be resolved by the most cubes of a nation in that region. If there is a tie the region becomes unstable instead. Players will take turns passing or playing one of their 8 action cards, but once played you won’t get it back! You have 8 actions to play the whole game!

The game can end in two ways - if three regions become unstable then the French invade. In that case the player with the most sets of cubes in front of them (yellow, blue and red) wins. If all 8 power struggles are resolved then the nation with the most controlled regions is crowned. Then the player with the most cubes of that colour wins the game.

Cards are cleverly balanced between adding cubes and taking them from the board meaning you always have to balance a nation’s power on the board and presence in front of the players. It’s a unique satisfying game and this second edition includes more advanced ways to play!

Player count: 2-4
Time: 30-45 minutes
Age rating: 14+

 

The King is Dead! And rather than take this opportunity to build a free people’s utopia, the citizens of Scotland, England and Wales have diverted their energy into civil war. In Peer Sylvester’s The King is Dead, players assume the role of a pretender to the throne, courting the different factions in an attempt to win the support of the most powerful nation by the end of the game. This 2nd edition from Osprey Games updates the original with gorgeously refreshed artwork and a new asymmetric play mode.

Æthel-ready!

A base game of The King is Dead begins with the eight regions of the island of Great Britain randomly populated with influence cubes. These red, yellow and blue cubes represent the constituent armies of the Welsh, English and Scottish forces respectively. Players (2-3, or 4 in a team game) each take a matching set of eight cards and two random cubes to form their initial court. The order in which battles will be resolved is randomised by shuffling and revealing eight cards into slots around the board.

What’s interesting about the gameplay is that players do not take on the role of one particular faction. Instead, players manipulate the war using their cards to give different factions majorities in different regions, while at the same time gathering followers to their court to increase their favour with a particular faction. A turn is simple; play a card, pick up a cube from the board.

It’s area control, but you don’t have a fixed horse in the race unless you go all-in for one faction. The problem with that is your strategy is too obvious to your opponents. Plus, removing cubes from the board to your court weakens that faction. Meaning you might end up with a court full of Englishmen in a nation conquered by the Welsh!

Æthel-steady!

For a game where you only take eight actions, The King is Dead is rich in strategy and tactics. The game is tight. You can only play each of your cards once, although, there is the option to pass on your turn. This can create a Mexican stand-off between players to see who will blink first and reveal their intentions. If all players pass, a battle is resolved in the next region on the track and power awarded to the faction with the most cubes (or a French invasion if scores are tied).

It is hard to describe the pressure cooker tension of this game. On the surface, you play eight cards and add and remove cubes; easy, right? Wrong! The game has a claustrophobic flow that I haven’t felt in any other game. Every action you take to make gains in the moment only weakens you for future turns. Peer Sylvester has successfully realised the maxim, ‘less is more’. Fewer decisions are heavier decisions.

The game ends when all eight regions have successfully had their battles resolved or three areas are resolved as ties with a French Invasion. In the first scenario, the winner is the player with the most cubes of the faction that was successful in the most regions. In the second scenario, players are crowned King (or Queen) if they can unite the nations against the French by having the most sets of all three colours.

Æthel-go!

I knew nothing about this game going in for my first play and boy was I blown away. No sooner had I finished, and won on the final card, than I wanted to dive back in and try again. What’s great is it is supremely easy to teach and is relatively short (about 40 minutes) despite having that exhilaratingly intense game arc.

Purists and fans of the original game may be happy to play the supreme tactical battle of everyone having the same eight cards. But I love the new asymmetrical ‘advanced’ variant which swaps three base cards in each player’s hand with three unique ‘cunning actions’. These cunning actions allow you to surprise your opponents with an unexpected move or have your best-laid plans thwarted by their own. For what it’s worth, I think the original game is the real ‘expert’ variant though.

The King is Dead is definitely a game that will be staying on my shelf for a long time. It gives you the intrigue and backstabbing of something more epic like Game of Thrones: The Board Game, without the need for an equally epic player count or game time. This is a Tardis of game design; bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside and, I think, essential for a strategy and tactical gamer’s collection. The King is Dead! Long Live the King!

The King is Dead is both the name and opening line of this game, designed by Peer Sylvester and published by Osprey games. It’s a two to four player area control game where you win by exerting influence over three factions (English, Scottish and Welsh) to determine the future King or Queen. After eight power struggles across the regions of the British Isles, the winner is the player who uses their cards to influence the power struggles in each region to unite the kingdom once again. To be crowned winner, you must gain the influence of the most successful faction, or unite the factions against a French invasion.

I haven’t played the first edition or previous iteration of this game (The King of Siam), so my thoughts are about this version only. The components and art are delightful, capturing medieval Britain with a beautiful aesthetic in-keeping with the game’s theme and are I believe updated from the original.

There are several ways to play the game. Firstly, there are standard rules for two to three players, where everyone has the same eight cards, and an advanced version where each player has an additional three cards contributing to hidden intrigue and encouraging different strategies. I haven’t played the four-player game, where players are split into two opposing teams, and while this doesn’t appeal to me as much, it is something I would like to try at some point. The rules are concise and easy to understand with clear tie breakers and win conditions with further details for the advanced cards. The cards are well designed and handy drawings help provide clarity to the actions.

Eight power struggles stand between you and victory. On each turn you play one of your eight cards, or pass, working through each region in the order determined by the set up. If all players pass, the region is resolved and you move on to the next. If you pass and someone else plays a card, you have the option to play again but be wary! Once those eight cards have been played, you have used up all your chances to influence the game. Play your cards too early and you’ll lose any control over how the game unfolds, play them too late and you might miss the chance to be crowned.

The first thing that struck me about this game was the simplicity of the rules. ‘Ah! This will be easy’, I thought, and midway through the first play I had a moment of clarity. A lightbulb flickered somewhere in my brain. A mistake had been made, and it dawned on me that I didn’t know how to win. This is where The King is Dead shines – its simplicity draws you in. Play cards and move some cubes, easy right? You think this at first, before realising you’ve played the wrong cards at the wrong time and it’s too late to use your remaining cards to save yourself.

The King is Dead delights in the interplay of starting big and getting smaller and smaller with each power struggle. Each push and pull of the cubes becomes more and more meaningful with each decision. In the basic two-player game, knowing your opponent has certain cards makes it feel chess-like: tight and tense. With three players, you are openly vying for control and actions can be used to stop one player getting too far ahead.

Final Thoughts

Having played the game multiple times, it still hasn’t become stale with new strategies and plays emerging with each game. The simplicity of the rules make light of a deeply strategic game where limited decisions matter more than you first realise as you peel away layers that aren’t immediately visible. I adore this game and look forward to each opportunity to play The King Is Dead.

 

 

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • Easy to pick up, hard to master
  • Big game in a small package
  • Weighty decisions
  • Unique spin on area control
  • Relatively quick

Might not like

  • Can prompt analysis paralysis
  • Bit of a brain burner