Welcome to 16th century Paris. You play as the leader of a guild of beggars and need to plot, employ tricks and grasp every opportunity to build up your renown. Your goal is to establish your renown in the city or be the most influential guild when the Penniless King reaches the end of his path. The Court of Miracles is a two to five player area majority, a bluffing game designed by Vincent Brugeas & Guilhem Gautrand and published by Lucky Duck Games.
On your turn, you have the option to play a plot card, which offers one time bonuses and abilities. Players must then place one of their rogue tokens, face down on the board on any available neighbourhood spot.
Players then gain a benefit of action from the spot (receiving coins, additional plot cards, moving the Penniless King). Each neighbourhood also has an optional action that can be taken when placing a Rogue token in that specific neighbourhood.
When a neighbourhood is fully occupied a standoff occurs. Each player with Rogue tokens in that neighbourhood reveals them and the player with the most points wins control of the neighbourhood and places one of their renown tokens on it. Players can also place renown tokens in the Renown square for various bonuses/abilities including gaining their 4th Rogue token.
The game will end when someone places their last renown token or the Penniless King reaches the end of his path.
The Court of Miracles has a very simple ruleset yet some deep and interesting gameplay elements. There is a sprinkling of bluffing, heavy area control, possibilities for interesting combos and card play. But is it any good? Does the bluffing and area control work well? Read on to find out.
All players start off with the same Rogue tokens, with the same basic abilities. However, there is an opportunity to upgrade these Rogue tokens by performing an action that lets you draw a new one from the bag. This does add an element of randomness as you are never quite sure what you will get.
They are all better than your starting ones however, they will just have different abilities or bonuses. The one you replace gets played face down so your opponents never know what you have discarded. I like this. It offers some more opportunities for bluffing as you are not always sure what your opponent has drawn/placed.
Controlling The Area
There can be a lot of interaction in the game. You can kick out your opponents renown tokens by winning a standoff in a neighbourhood they control. It is effectively an area control game so the interaction is expected. The Court of Miracles is a pretty snappy game. Turns are quick, the game overall is quick so the interaction doesn't feel punishing, even at two players.
You can also pull off some impressive combinations with controlling neighbourhoods, winning standoffs and placing renown tokens in renown square. This can make for some swingy turns if you are not paying attention.
Control At Two
I have mainly played this at two players and I think it works really well at two players, which I don't often find with area control games. Higher player counts does offer more interaction and slightly more chaos but the game does work with a range of player counts.
Lucky Duck Games have done a good job on this front. The simple rules mean that it is also a pretty accessible game, the graphic design and artwork is clear and you can teach this and be playing in minutes. The only time I need to refer to the rulebook is to reference the new Rogue tokens and their abilities.
The Court of Miracles has been hitting my table a lot recently, not just for this review, but because it is good fun. I can see this being a great "end of night game" and I am looking forward to getting it to the table again soon.