I received this game as a gift, it is in no way a paid review. If you would rather watch a video review you can check it out below, and get your own copy here.
Last year I entered the Board Game Spotlight Secret Santa, and as it turned out the person who drew my name is quite the fan of Grandpa Beck’s games, and I wound up with a whole bunch of them! One of them is Cover Your Kingdom, which is a game that I considered backing long and hard when it was on Kickstarter, but I did not in the end, and more or less, forgot about it.
It returned to my mind when I was sent a copy of Antiquity Quest to review, and that got me thinking about the other games, so when it showed up I was pretty excited to try it out. So, with my new understanding of how family oriented Grandpa Beck’s Games are, I took it with me when I took my students to science camp and played it many times with the other teachers who were there.
Like most of their games it is actually pretty simple. Each round you play cards from your hand, or sometimes from the discard pile to place clans of creatures in your kingdom. Your kingdom has both a highland, and a lowland; some creatures only want to live in one place or the other.
This is all well and good. However, here is the catch. Other kingdoms can lure your clans to their kingdom. They can always play a card matching a clan on top of your stack, and then they get to take them, unless of course you can play another one to get them to stay. Then you play until the deck is empty of magical creatures. There are some advanced rules that give you kingdom unique powers, some specific cards that mess with other players stacks or their clans, and an additional scoring mechanic that lets you play with constellations, but that is pretty much the gist of the game.
So what do I think?
First of all the artwork, and puns are fantastic. There was so much care that went into the creation of the world that it is truly delightful. It is delightful enough that I almost wanted to stop our game to tell everyone to look at it, not just play it. I didn’t ’cause that is super annoying to do.
The game mechanics are easy to learn, and there are not many of them to track. This is a game that you can bust out almost any time, for most anyone.
This is a very light strategy game. Yes there is plenty of trying to out think your opponents, and hold cards that will lure them into a trap where they wind up increasing your clans, rather than taking them, but there is not a lot to this game. I was actually surprised that, to me, this game is significantly lighter than Antiquity Quest, more fun loving, and less thinky. That is not what I expected.
This game is very aggressive. It is that way by design, but if you are the type of family that flips the table playing monopoly, then perhaps one of Grandpa Beck’s other titles is more your speed. The only way you win the game is by stealing form other players, and the take that is very high in this game. I say this, not as a bad thing, just a warning, if take that games are not your speed, then let me direct you to Grandpa Beck’s catalog for a different title. In fact, I recommend that you send Grandpa Beck himself a text message and ask for guidance!
Bringing it all together
Cover Your Kingdom is a very light, take that style family game, with exquisite artwork. The game is a delight to play with a large group, and has a few additional levels of complexity that can be added. It never gets particularly complicated, relying instead on light hearted take that fun instead of deep strategy. If take that is not your thing, then you probably want to check out one of Grandpa Beck’s other games, just text him and he will help you. Seriously. I sent him a text message and he responded. It was awesome.
No time to read, got a kingdom to build
* Wonderful art, and puns * The game was a hit to the non-gamers I introduced it to
* Very simple to play, the complexity never gets high even with all the optional rules in place
* An aggressive game that has you stealing from other players to win
* Wound up being lighter than I anticipated
* Grandpa Beck will actually text you back if you have a question or want advice on the best game for you. That’s awesome.