Before I begin, I was sent a prototype of the game, and will receive a copy of the game should it fund in exchange for an honest preview. This is not a paid preview. If you would rather watch a video of this preview, check it out below. Get your own copy here.
Everyone loves a good bandwagon pile up! See someone getting ahead and it is your responsibility to crush them under your armored boots! Ok, perhaps not so true in life, but in game? Yup. Let’s do it.
Riot at the Round Table sees you trying to defeat your rivals to become the new ruler of Camelot. This is a game that is reminiscent of games like Hearts or Spades, with a hint of Red Dragon Inn, and a whole bunch of ruthlessness thrown in for good measure.
Each round sees a single player as the defender. If they are able to defend against the attack on them they will earn a canon card. Canon cards can be used for their abilities, or saved and transformed into clover cards. These clover cards can also be used or turned into scepters. Scepters can be turned into Crowns. Get three crowns and you win! You also get a crown by being the first player to use up all of your cards when the draw deck is empty.
When a player attacks they can place any number of identical numbered cards in front of the defender. Other players will have the opportunity to add on to these attacks, and to defend you will have to play a higher card (or the ever changing trump suit) than EVERY card played against you. If you do not think you can manage this then you can always force the attack on another player…or perhaps you just accept defeat and collect all the cards played against you. So many choices!
So what do I think?
I really enjoy the artwork on the cards, it is whimsical with delightful little details to it, that make the art slightly unexpected. I also really enjoy games that make you choose if you are going to use your resources or convert them into victory points. That little bit of decision making on what will be worth more in the long run is good fun. Along with that, I enjoy the regularly shifting bandwagon beatdown.
Since the only way to get closer to winning is to successfully defend when it is your chance to do so, so it behooves you to pile on as much as you can when it is not your turn to defend. Often I would say this can lead to bad feelings, but you will only be ganged up on for a hot minute, before it is your turn to pile on.
I like all the special cards and how they work. I think they are all clever, and really make you think about whether or not you should use them or hold them at any moment. However, I do wish that there were more than just three of each type. There are only three canon card types, and three clovers. I wish there were more, but what there is, is good.
While I am completely confident that this game will work very well at the higher player counts, it does not work very well as a two player game. There are simply too many details of the game that shine with multiple players piling on. Additionally, some of the rules simply do not work at the two player count.
Edit: The designer has let me know that they are working on a two player variant.
Bringing it all together
Riot at the Round Table is a fun evolution from games like hearts to a fast paced no holds barred slug fest. The game has delightful artwork, and promises to play very well at higher player counts. The game is extremely aggressive, and hardly a turn will go by without you teaming up to take down someone. Finally, the game does not really work at two players, and it needs a specific variant to really work at that player count.
Kind of hard to conquer the kingdom with you blabbing all the time
* Delightful artwork
* Brutal game, where you are constantly teaming up on each other
* Could use some more variety with the special power cards
* Needs a specific two player variant to work at that player count
* Promises to play very well at higher player counts