The new purchases arrived yesterday.
I love how Shem's games are all the same sized boxes (the base games anyway).
I'll say right off the bat that I'm upset... with myself... For waiting this long to get the other two games in the West Kingdom series. Wow!
This post is NOT a solo post. As usual, I played two-handed with both Paladins & Viscounts yesterday to get a feel of how the games work. Next chance I get them to the table (this weekend), I'll be diving into the solo modes, so stay tuned for more! But for now, let me share my excitement with you. 😃
As always, Shem's games pack a lot of components into a pretty small box. Look at Paladins here. Table hog! And I love it! 😋
I'm a sucker for player boards in any game, but when they're this big and this well done it's even better. For the solo mode, you flip the player board to the opposite side. Awesome double sided player boards!?!? Heck yes I love it!
You can see the "Main board" at the top of this pic as well. This was a very cool and unique part of this game to me as well. Not the typical square game board we often see. It works though, especially since the townsfolk and outsiders cards shift round after round, it keeps it simple having them as "part of the main board" yet off it at the same time.
The West Kingdom series takes place in the 900 A.D era, and walks you through moments during this historic time in different ways. In Architects of the West Kingdom you're working to impress your king and help build up the town around the castle. Paladins of the West Kingdom jumps ahead in the timeline where it's more about protecting the kingdom you've built.
There's a mechanism I really enjoy in this one that happens each round. Each player has the same Paladin deck. At the start of each round, you draw 3 cards from the top of your Paladin deck. You choose which Paladin to keep/use for this round. Each Paladin offers some unique boosts to some of your tracks (strength, influence and faith) and also offers a couple added workers to your crew (fighters, clerics, merchants, scouts, labourers, criminals - I think I remembered them all). The remaining two Paladins go back into your draw deck. You decide which one you put on top of the deck (meaning you're guaranteed to know 1/3 cards next round) and the other goes on the bottom.
I really enjoyed the game and can't wait to experience the solo mode and share more details!
Viscounts of the West Kingdom takes place as the king's reign and influence is declining. Your job as Viscounts is to help maintain peace to bring the kingdom to prosperity, or... poverty. Once again, I played two handed to get the feel and once again, we have another table hog with another unique main board! As the game goes on, the table filled up more as players collected resources, silver, debt and deeds!
This pic shows a little ways into the game and closer view of the main board. Centrally, sits the castle. Your Viscount (the character on the horse with the flag in the foreground) travels around the board with various path options. Movement is based on the townsfolk card you play at the start of the round (along with any movement modifier that may be gained through building).
Your choices of path is dependant not only on the townsfolk card you play, but also whether you choose the inner or outer path. The inner path allows you to write manuscripts OR hire workers (seen in the castle). The outer path allows you to trade OR construct buildings.
Here's a player board showing your town and townsfolk just before starting a new round. Rounds work in phases, and the first phase being to shift your townsfolk to the right on your mat, which pushes one off the end to the discard pile. In some cases, this yields a "discard action", while other cards have either immediate actions/effects when played or on-going effects while they're in the town (like the Trader in this picture).
In Viscounts, you have silver and resources to use for doing various actions throughout the game (trading, constructing, hiring workers and writing manuscripts) but you also have resources that come and go on your player board based on your townsfolk. In this picture above you can see there are three 'trade' resources available to use so far (the blue bags shown on the left of the cards). When I reach the phase where I can take an action, I can use those three trade resources towards a trade action in my viscounts area on the main board. If I want to spend more trade resources, I can use silver as another resource for trade. All actions have the ability to use resources on your mat OR actual physical resources; Gold for hiring workers, Stone for constructing buildings and Inkwells for writing manuscripts. I haven't even touched on criminals! 😮
I was so pleased with these games, and as I said my only complaint is that I waited this long to get the series completed in my collection. Shem Phillips has done it again! 😉 I can't wait to share my solo experiences soon. And I haven't even played my new ROTNS expansion, Fields of Fame yet!
I will say though, look how awesome my "Shem Phillips shelf" looks now...
One last thought on all of these games that I love (besides the art and mechanics); Shem uses similar iconography across his games. When I first purchased Architects, it had an instant familiarity with the iconography (along with the artwork of course). Now with Paladins and Viscounts, the familiarity was there once again due to my experience with Architects. It allowed me to more easily understand the rules since the iconography was familiar. They all blend into each other in that way, yet are different games without question! 😎