Friday, 11 January 2008

Ollie courts the King for lack of any competition


Times are tough when only two people turn up for games night. Things get tougher when both parties only bring 3, 4 or 5 player games. Luckily Tom had left a copy of Go in the cupboard for just such an occasion. Unluckily neither of us knew how to play Go…thus summing up my whole Christmas game playing experiences.

We had all agreed (by all I mean some and by agreed I mean told) that the first NBG of the year would be on Tuesday Jan 1st despite possible problems, hangovers should have passed. Not it seems for anyone except me and Ollie – who incidentally travelled all the way from Canada to be there.

We would love to have played, twilight struggle, battle lore or 1960 making of the president but we couldn’t as neither of us had predicted a two person turn out, so neither one of us had brought appropriate games. Not since the very first meeting between Matt and myself do I recall only two members appearing. True I have the memory of a fish but I recall three players on several occasions but never two. It must be my dazzling personality that keeps so many people from coming back week on week.

As it happens Ollie and I were able to play a rather open game of Hacienda – which Ollie won and three rounds of ‘To Court the King’ which again Ollie won 2-1. It was remarked that ‘To Court The King’ was like a F***ed up Yahtzee, where no matter what you rolled you were able to “cheat” and manipulate the dice as you liked… within 2CTK rules obviously.

For those of you unfamiliar with this dice fest let me explain. Players start with 2 dice, they roll the dice (known as active dice) then have to keep/ hold back at least one of those active dice. Players then pick up the remaining dice and roll again. The dice removed are permanent and can not be changed this go. Each roll the player must decide which of the active dice they wish to keep. When the go is finished and all dice are kept the player then ‘spends’ his score to purchase a character card which enables him to improve / manipulate the dice he rolls.

There are two main types of cards that the player may ‘purchase’. The first adds more dice to the rolls (either before rolling or after rolling), the second changes the outcome of the dice by adding additional pips or moving pips from one die to another (two cards allow you to change any one die to a different number). The better the card the more it costs and the more powerful cards are not available until you have acquired more dice…by purchasing lower valued cards. There is a fool card for players who fail to achieve a score worthy of a card and 2 fools = 1 extra dice. Pretty much every card can be used successfully, some are more popular than others and a few are very powerful. Costs range from 1 pair to scores above 15 or 30, full houses, 3 pairs, straights etc…yahtzee / poker dice type things, all written out easy to understand on the cards and our player aids.

The end game starts when a player rolls 7 dice with the same value and chooses to purchase the king, they in turn are rewarded with the queen card also. After every player has had an equal number of turns, every player then gets one more turn to roll the best dice possible. Number of dice of a kind is the only thing that counts and pip score breaks ties so five 3’s beats five 1’s and eight 1’s would beat seven 6’s. The player with the best score takes the king from who ever has it and the player who has the queen, who started the end game, rolls last, this play needs to only match the best dice roll in order to win back the king – basically best dice wins and having the queen is the tie breaker.

The first game was reasonably curious where both of us tried different things and Ollie came out on top. By the second game we both knew what cards we wanted and what cards we knew we didn’t want the opponent to have. This led to much shouting mockery and lambasting when an opponent picked up a crucial card or for that matter rolled bad dice and was unable to get said card. Ollie rolled ridiculous dice and with thoughtful play was able to thrash me. The third and final game was the most one sided of all which I won.

I feel the game probably plays best with three or maybe at a push four (the game is scaled so more cards are available the more players you include – max 6). Downtime can be an issue but I enjoyed helping and receiving help when working out what to do with the dice. This moved the game on reasonably well. The more manipulation cards you have the more possibilities arrive. If you have a notion as to what you are aiming for than play can move along fairly swiftly. Once we knew the game and understood the cards, that was certainly the case for us.
Happy new year.

1 comment:

Pete the Brit said...

If I'd known that numbers were gonna be that low I would have flown in from Texas!!

Have you tried Kingsburg? I've heard it compared to a more complex 'To Court The King'. I'm waiting for me copy to arrive :)