With isolation and limited ability to go outside the home, I find myself in a position (along with the rest of you) of nervousness and boredom. One can only watch so much Netflix before you develop bedsores and a stiff neck! So, I’ve set myself a challenge to play at least one board game a day during this time and if possible pair it with a good beer, wine, or cocktail. Why not! Feel free to play along. Today marks one full week of quarantine gaming for myself and my wife Sarajo. Just so my readers know, I’m not actually in quarantine yet–I’m a pediatrician and am still going into work on my regular work days. So while I’m not technically stuck at home, I am in a high-stress work environment these days and really need game playing as an outlet when I get home.

City Of Kings

For the 8th day of quasi-quarantine, we broke out the City of Kings. This is a game by Frank West of City of Games. This started out as a high profile and expensice Kickstarter, but I bought it from a local game hoarder (like me) who was looking to weed his collection. This is a hefty box, but not nearly as big as Gloomhaven or Kingdom Death: Monster.

This game is a mix of card and boardgame, with a somewhat randomized set of tiles that lead to a bit of difference every time you play the game. There is an overarching epic story with each chapter starting with a card of set-up and story, leading into several more chapters to take part in. Each chapter has a different set-up–tile choice and placement, experience points for characters, and monsters to fight.

There is combat in the game, but a lot of the process is actually more akin to a Euro game, since each character has a token Worker that goes around gathering resources like wood, stone, and fish for building equipment and completing quests.

Poirot gets a close up look at Sj’s character

The character sheets are burly with a lot of information on them. The little wooden squares mark the character’s ratings in each skill like attack, health, luck, movement, range, etc. These can be upgraded with equipment, as well as experience points gained as the heroes complete quests and tasks. There is also a skill tree (seen on the left side of this sheet) which tokens are added to over time and gives stat bonuses and special character specific skills.

We played Story 2 and made it only through 2 chapters before we lost due to decreased morale in the City of Kings. This was due to a mix of us bumping up the wrong stats, bad luck with rolling, and just plain bad luck with draws of cards.

To pair with this royal game, we opened last year’s William the Conqueror, an English Barleywine aged in whiskey barrels, by perenial favorite Lupulin Brewing. When I first got this beer (2 bottles) it was a bit harsh and bitter for me. Now, aged a year, it has mellowed and has more dark fruit character and less sharp bitterness. A kingly drink for a kingly city!

I really do like this game, as a lot of its concepts are unique. However, there is a lot of randomization, between what quests you pull, the rolls of dice when trying to gather resources, the placement of tiles, etc. One can have good luck or extremely poor, which leads to a lot of swinginess in difficulty. In this game our workers both got trapped by a monster and couldn’t do anything until our heroes got strong enough the take on the beast–leading to a lot of lost time and missed actions. I also really like the monster randomization: each monster is unique, with a cardboard bar including stats like attack, range, health. Then each monster draws tokens from a bag (green for easy, yellow for medium, red for difficult) and these give each monster unique skills like firebolts, curse, healing, etc. Again–really cool concept–but takes a lot of time to look up each skill. This game shines when you play it often–letting you remember the large amount of rules and skills. Opening it once every 6 months is a recipe for frustration. Also you have to watch a video tutorial to teach you how to fit the whole game back in the box!

So there we go–another day of gaming successful! Keep Calm and Game On!

King of the Box!