Before I begin I was provided a review copy of the game in exchange for an honest review. This is not a paid review. If you would rather watch a video of this review you can check it out below. Get your own copy here.
I am slightly ashamed to say that I was not particularly familiar with Lucky Duck games until I managed to get myself on their reviewer list. You see I really wanted to check out a game they were looking for reviewers on, and I didn’t get, but they did wind up sending me Tang Garden which I was able to very favorably review. However, what stuck with me was how good the production on it was. It was fantastic, and the gameplay itself was surprisingly significantly better than I anticipated. So I will not lie, I knew NOTHING about Court of Miracles when I learned I could review it, but Tang Garden was quite good, and looked awesome, so I was in for Court of Miracles as well.
In The Court of Miracles you are playing the leader of a faction of the seedy underbelly of Paris: pickpockets, prostitutes, defrocked clergy, and shysters. In the world of the game there is a Penniless King who rules over this underbelly, and every night members of his Court congregate where miracles happen. You are competing to be the most influential guild in Paris, and perhaps take over as the Penniless King should he bite the big one.
Each player will have a set of rogue tokens, each with different assigned points values and different powers. Each turn you will place one out on the board, gain whatever bonus it offers and play a plot card if you so choose. Once one of the districts is full of rogues, then there is a standoff, and whomever has the most power will get to control that district and place out their marker.
Each of the districts has its own additional ability that you get to use when you place a rogue there. These range from moving a rogue that is out on the map to tossing out one of your current tokens and drawing a new one from the bag. In addition to these options, the Penniless King will be making his way around the city to his final destination. As he moves about the city he will stop at various districts and trigger a standoff to see whom had dominance.
The first player to get all of their renown tokens out, or whomever has the most when the Penniless King reaches the end of his track will win.
So what do I think?
The art work is great. It really has a Prince and the Pauper feel to it, which I think is great. The board is this unique shape, being that of the city. Is it necessary? Not at all, but I like it. The rogue tokens are plastic pieces that you can place your faction symbol in, and they feel great. I think they are awesome.
The game play itself was surprising to me. There is so much strategy to the game, and so much reading of your opponents. It is truly delightful having the hidden rogue tokens, and when that is combined with the plot cards, the game is a constant clash of brilliant plans. You think you have the upper hand and then, BOOM you shut out of a district.
This is a game that is going to be a blast with 3-4 players. I am looking forward to taking this bad boy to a con again one day and getting a couple games in.
I enjoyed playing the game two player. There is a cool chess like vibe to it, which is fun. Though I really think that this is a game that was clearly made for more. So it is a fun, quick game at two, but I suspect max player count will be far better. I also wonder if there is not a potential for some king making at higher player counts.
Edit: I actually created a work in progress AI for the game for both solo play and adding AI to regular games, here: shorturl.at/oT028
The game manual has a rather long story introduction which talks about the Court of Miracles, and the magic that happens there. However, I do not get any of that in the game. It also takes time to talk about the different factions, but in the game the only difference is that they are different colors. I wish that they had something slightly different, even just having a slightly different opening rogue load out. I think it is a missed opportunity.
I also think wish that the game had some player aids for all the different rogue tokens. As it is now, you have to look on the back of the rules every time you draw a new one.
Bringing it all together
Court of Miracles is a surprising game to me. It does not do anything particularly new, I have played worker placement games, I have played some with an area majority vibe to it, and even some with hidden strengths on your pawns. However, this game is just tight and fast, and really has a focus on outwitting your opponent in the most delightful way. The production on the game is very good, and the art perfect. I think there is a missed opportunity or two on the factions and theme, but really this is a game that is far, far better than I anticipated. I am really looking forward to taking this with me to a convention and playing with max player counts.
I wish you were the wordless king…sheesh
* Production, and art are great on the game (though there could be an awesome deluxe edition!
* Quick, tight game
* Easy to learn, but a lot of strategy, and outwitting your opponents
* Two player game is good, higher player counts will be tons of fun
* Wish the game had a player aid, and the tiniest bit of asynchronous-ness
* Wish that the idea of miracles happening in the court was more realized
* This is going to be a brilliant game to take to conventions once those are a thing again