Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game. This post was a paid preview, you can find out more information here.
“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” ~William Shakespeare
“It’s Good to be King.” ~Tom Petty
Based on the popular phone app, Reigns: The Council is an asymmetric party game about a monarch attempting to maintain balance in their kingdom while their advisers attempt to influence them to progress their own goals. Can you please everyone? Or will you reign be cut short by catastrophe…
Reigns: The Council is a light storytelling game currently on Kickstarter for 3-6 players.
Reigns: The Council is a storytelling, push your luck game during which players take turns as the monarch and attempt to maintain balance in the kingdom.
During each reign, the monarch will accept petitions from their advisers. Every petition will influence one or more of the kingdom’s pillars – Church, Army, People, or Wealth. The monarch can choose which proposals to accept or refuse each round, but must keep all the pillars balanced. The advisers each have a secret agenda of their own, however, and hope to topple the monarchy by pushing forward petitions that slide pillars in their favor.
Influence is a balancing act. Depending on your goal, you may want the Monarch to accept or reject your current petition. Advisers pitch their proposal using thematic wording. Your petition will have pictures to help you formulate a request. Additionally, the front of the card will have icons to show what pillars will be affected, but not how (plus or minus).
If one of the pillars becomes too weak or too powerful, the reigning power is toppled and the monarch dies (the adviser that triggered it may tell the story of how the Monarch died for bonus points). If the Monarch gathers 15 accepted proposals they abdicate and retire to the Mediterranean. Players are awarded points for how far they advance their secret agenda, and the deposed Monarch receives points for the number of accepted policies. The next player becomes the Monarch and the advisers receive new secret goals.
Once every player has had an opportunity to rule the kingdom, the game ends. The player with the most points wins.
I came for the quirky block art and stayed for the gameplay.
Reigns: The Council combines the fun and quirkiness of storytelling with a dash of intrigue and a hint of strategy. Are my advisers loyal? Why are they suggesting we start a war with the people of the neighboring bunny kingdom? Does that dollar sign represent money in my coffers or will it put the country in the red?
Simple picture hints will help even the newest storyteller concoct a convincing plea, and may incite some side-splitting tales from more seasoned roleplayers. And the icons on the back of the card may offer a monarch some small clue as to what is to come. In Reigns, table talk is totally welcome, and a shrewd Monarch may start to see some patterns emerge from certain advisers. My game group consisted of every player type from seasoned LARPers to brand new gamers and everyone found their role early. We all really got into the spirit of courtly machinations.
The icons and pictures are very clear and the game isn’t language-dependent. Reign: The Council plays quickly, even at the max player count. While some storytellers may weave longer tales, in general, most petitions are just a couple of sentences. The rulebook is concise and absolutely crystal clear, and setup was a snap.
Reign: The Council is a light storytelling party game that will appeal to casual players and those more interested in deeper fare. Cute, clear graphics let you weave your own tale of political intrigue or courtly drama. Language independence makes this a good choice for multilingual or generational groups. Even those new to storytelling are given a helping hand with graphics to help spark their creativity.
Are you ready to ascend the throne and start the balancing act? If you’d like to get a copy of Reign: The Council, it’s currently in funding on Kickstarter. So head over to the campaign page to become a backer, or for more information.
As always, we don’t post ratings for preview copies as the components and rules may change from the final game. Check back with us after the game is produced for a full review. This post was a paid preview, you can find out more information here.