Over the years there has been a lot of IP from Disney to choose from when developing a game. The features about this one that drew me in compared to others were that it is designed for two players and has classic characters like Daisy, Donald, Goofy, Mickey, Minnie, and Peg-Leg Pete to choose from.
Disney Shadowed Kingdom is a cooperative memory card game for 2 players that takes about 15 minutes to play. There are no official variants that will allow you to play this solo or with three or more players so it’s best that you stick to two.
Note that there is a more advanced variant of this game and any modifications to setup for that variant are included in the rulebook. The following gameplay is just for the standard setup.
As is customary for a two-player game, players sit across from each other at the table. Both players receive a hero card which will be one of the classic Disney characters and a 10-card draw pile. To prepare the main play area known as the Kingdom Grid, each player draws the top 2 cards from their draw pile, looks at them secretly, and then places them in front of themselves to create a 2 x 2 grid.
Player 1 will select one of their two cards in their hand and then add it to the Kingdom Grid face down without revealing it to Player 2. The manner in which Player 1 adds their card to the Kingdom Grid determines which card Player 2 must reveal and play.
There are two ways to add a card to the Kingdom Grid: Discover (push a card toward your partner) and Dispel (push a card left or right out of the grid).
When Discovering cards, Player 2 must immediately flip over the card that was pushed out of the Kingdom Grid toward them, making it “in play”. The text on the card must be read aloud and the corresponding action on the card taken. Once the action is completed, Player 2 takes the in-play card into their hand.
When Dispelling cards, the card that has been in Player 1’s hand the longest is placed face down at the left or right edge of either of the two rows, then pushed left (if placed on the right edge) or pushed right (if placed on the left edge). Player 2 then takes the card that was pushed out, flips it over, and then places it on top of their discard pile. Then, they draw the top card of their draw pile and that card is now in play.
Gameplay continues like this until either the Shadow or Magic levels on the tracker reach maximum value. Once per game, there is a Wish available that can cancel the effects of a Discovered card but the catch is that the Kingdom Grid is randomized. Each Hero has a hero ability that triggers upon Discovering a specific card. If that still doesn’t help, sadly the players only win if the Magic level reaches max before Shadow.
For a card game, I’m not very happy with the cards. They’re very thin, flimsy, and easily dented. The Hero cards have good heft to them since they’re layered cardboard but they really don’t get that much handling so it’s a weird component to invest in. You’re almost immediately required to sleeve this because you are always sliding and moving the cards around for the grid. Another complaint I have is that it’s really difficult to read the rulebook. In order to keep the box small, they needed to make the rulebook small and thus the font is small, too.
That being said, the gameplay is sadly also mediocre but at the same time not uninteresting. In the rulebook, the game claims that it features “deduction, memory, and luck” and it isn’t exaggerating. The way that the Kingdom Grid is constantly moving and how player hands are kept small makes starting up the game for the first time straightforward yet exciting. Trying to find Magic in the kingdom without also encountering Shadow during the game was quite rare since there are more Shadow cards than Magic cards, so the urgency was there to really work together. I’m glad that the grid wasn’t any larger because having to keep tabs on more than four things at once would have been impossible for me since I don’t have a good memory.
Hero cards were not taken into consideration as much as trying to get specific cards into play that bumped Magic by 1 (out of 5 needed). I’m not sure if they are more important in the Advanced game than they are in the standard game because we ended up winning the standard without using them. What I can confirm is that the Hero cards at least provide unique opportunities that the playing cards do not. I think this is where the luck factor comes in because there were several cards in our decks we never even got to that would have set us back a lot. For example, some cards mess up the order of the Kingdom Grid or force your partner to Dispel or Discover without your planning for it.
Taking all of this into consideration, I do not think that the theme really permeated through the gameplay. Really any theme or backdrop in which you are trying to search for some kind of unknown thing against the odds with variable player powers would have worked for this game. Like I mentioned in my introduction, my draw to this game was primarily because of the Disney theme and secondarily because it was two-player so it was pragmatically a good choice on the publisher and/or designer to go with this IP.
Shadowed Kingdom is for those looking for a short and light two-player Disney-themed game that doesn’t take a lot of shelf space. If you already have a good memory, there is an advanced variant of the game included with the base game that can increase the challenge. If you don’t have a good memory, Shadowed Kingdom is still playable and not immediately discouraging like other memory games.
Final Score: 2.5 Stars – Team up as your favorite classic Disney heroes to find Magic and stop Shadow from polluting the Kingdom in this cooperative memory card game for two players.
• Component quality is lacking
• Unknown impact of variable player powers
• Theme does not permeate through