(Photos shown are of prototypes for review purposes)

Welcome to the Kingdom Of Morton. In Morton players will become a Ruler of one of the many territories. Players will need to try to conquer more territories while trying to balance the happiness of their subjects. Players will use military might, spies for espionage, wizards, treachery, & treason. Players will build their growing empire by trading resources & also forming alliances with neighboring kingdoms, however, each must be aware of betrayal from their alliances.

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Castles & Dragons is a game for two to four players, ages twelve to adult, & may take two to four hours to play. Castles & Dragons is a Kickstarter project starting on December 6th by El Fenix Games.

At the beginning of the game players will take a random character sheet. Their happiness level will start at thirty & tax at zero. Each player will start with one land card. On the land card each player will add one of each resource. Additionally each player will place two villages & one factory of their choice. Players will then receive fifteen silver, one army card with two infantry & one bowman unit. They will also receive two ore, four wood, four rye, & one spy card.

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The land a player starts can either be random, rolling a die, or by picking a land based on a chart in the rules. The land chart just gives a fair location to each player.

Each player, at the start of the game, will roll a d12. the player with the highest number on the d12 will take the initiative & become the first player.

Players will traverse through the game in ten turns. Each turn will represent a full year. During each turn players will go through eight phases of play: Taxes & Resources, Upkeep, Alliances, Trade, Building, Expeditions, Battles, & Happiness.

In phase one players will adjust the amount of taxes they want to take from their people. Players will be able to lower their rate of tax to -3 or up to +3. The amount of coins paid out by villages & city is dependent on the rate of taxes. If the tax rate remains at zero then no taxes are collected. Taxes will also after the happiness (morale) of the citizens of a player’s kingdom. Riots in a city or village will also affect the amount of taxes collected.

Before the conclusion of the first phase, players will roll d12 for each factory within their territories. Players will receive resources depending on the amount they roll on each die. Resources are limited. If a resource runs out, then players will have to wait to purchase that resource as it is refilled from other actions.

In phase two players will pay their upkeep costs for their armies in silver or in resources. If the upkeep for a unit cannot be paid, then that unit will flee. Players will not have to pay an upkeep for units defending buildings.

Phase three players may attempt to form alliances with other kingdoms. Players are recommended to write a pact down on a piece of paper. Players may get up & speak in secret conference with each other. After some quick diplomacy players will agree to the pacts. Players will reveal their pacts either at the end of the game or if they feel that the pact has been broken.

After alliances are chosen players will enter into phase four of the game. In phase four players will be able to trade. Starting with the player with initiative & moving clockwise, can buy from the market. Each item that is purchased from the market will be added to that player’s character sheet. At the end of the trading phase, the player with initiative will check what they have purchased & the score on the market chart. They will then be able to adjust the prices for each item.

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In phase five, players will be able to construct new buildings. The player with initiative will start with play continuing clockwise. Players will be able to either build or exchange. Each player may have one factory for each resource per land. If a player decides they don’t want to build, then they may exchange four villages for one city.

In phase six players will be able to go on an expedition. Players may be able to rearrange their forces between lands. Rearranging armies will let a player regroup from battles or units retreating. Players may also be able to move their trading carts.

Players will see battle in phase seven. Players will be able to move one land or into a neighboring kingdom. They will do this by secretly writing down their army number, the letter of the land they are from, & then the destination they are headed to.

Players will reveal their plans simultaneously. They will then move their armies to those destinations. If armies meet, then they will begin a battle. Battles consist of three phases.

Players will meet for battle. Only one army will be able to survive. If an invading army wins a battle then they continue with the siege portion of battle. This is only if there is a castle in the invaded land. If the invading force wins the battle then they may either raid the land or to claim it.

After the battles are over, players will enter into the final phase of the game. In phase eight players will check the happiness (morale) of their citizens. The player with the most happiness begins the next turn (year) as the player with initiative for that turn.

Now if a player’s happiness number goes over ninety during the happiness phase, they may unite kingdoms & form a country. The game will end after one more turn once a country is formed. If this is the case then players will count up their score. The player with the highest score wins. If a player happens to have their happiness score drop passed zero then they lose the game.

If play continues through ten turns, without someone forming a country, then the player with the most points will end up winning the game.

A few things I hadn’t mentioned is that players may be able to recruit dragons during the game. Each player may only control one dragon each. A dragon can be recruited during the trading & resource phase of the game. Dragons are worth a bunch of points at the end of the game & cost nothing to upkeep.

Spies are a great way to do a range of actions during the game. Spies can be used as great defense, bonuses to offense, or even being able to be used to commit treason against another player. It gives the player with the most spies to the ability to target another player & give them a -5 to their happiness.

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Castles & Dragons is a war game with an interesting market system. I really enjoyed messing around with this one. This is one of those Saturday afternoon war games where you gather some friends to have some fun.

I’ve played a few dozen war based games in my lifetime & I know that sometimes you have to take your time & ease your way into the game. With Castles & Dragons the first turn gives everyone time to test the waters. The first turn allows players to not worry about attacks or attempts of espionage.

I really enjoyed the market track system. I like how the prices get evaluated by the player with initiative. That player basically gets to speculate how much the values of resources are worth. Some may cost less or may cost more. The trading system in Castles & Dragons is one of the best systems I have seen in many years.

First of all players will still need to take their time, especially during battle, to read the rules thoroughly. The first play through will probably take about three to four hours to play. But once players learn how to play, additional games will take less time.

I know when I first played the most difficult decisions I think I made were how to tax my lands. Players will have to be able to balance how much money they would like to receive while trying to keep their citizens happy. If they can’t then the players will suffer repercussions such as riots. Riots will shut down villages all while cutting taxes in cities by almost half. If happiness continues to drop, especially early on, then players are destined to lose the game.

Everything I received were your basic prototype pieces except for a handful of some of the miniatures being produced for the game. The piece are 3D printed & are really nice & sharp looking.

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Like I mentioned above Castles & Dragons will launch as a Kickstarter project on December 6th. Once it launches I will add a link to this page.

Get ready to rule & expand your kingdom while watching the happiness of your citizens & game on!

-Christopher Richter

Twitter: @Boardgaming_FTW

Facebook: Boardgaming For the Win

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