Kinghill is a card board in the Magic style, but with a ton of originality

Kinghill

2 players 45-90 minutes from 13 years

I confess that I have no need to justify to myself why to fight an opponent, and so, although Kinghill is surrounded by some fantasy story about kingdoms where gods play gods and send people mysterious mighty moonstones falling from of the nearby bluish-purple moon, I don’t care, and I unscrupulously throw my monstrous motives to conquer and break the walls of the enemy’s citadel.

The author’s inspiration in the card games Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering comes as much more important information for playing this record. I think that the regular readers of Games.cz are notoriously familiar with these names, and therefore it is not necessary to explain at length that these are games in which you build your decks of cards casting mainly spells and friendly monsters fighting for your cause. That thing is defeating the enemy. Although there are multiplayer options for Magic, for example, in this case it is a matter for two opponents.

However, Petr Marek, the author of Kinghill, was not satisfied with just reimagining the basic concepts of the mentioned giants. He created an original act combining both the card principles of these patterns and things typical of board games. The result is an excellent and agile game with great variability, fast pace and a surprising range of options for how to bite into the enemy’s walls and scatter them into gravel, boulders and pebbles.

From worker to specialist

In Kinghill, you don’t start with any pre-built package. On the contrary, you have a pair of workers, such ordinary workers as in Warcraft, who you send to one of the fields of the game plan within each round. Of course, you will find five places to profit and extract raw materials for the development of your kingdom: stone, Lunar gold coins and blue-blue crystals. Then an action field for the construction of new buildings to your estate. You will visit a traditional pub to hire mercenaries or even monsters to fight for your or your opponent’s castle.

This would cover the traditional action fields of so-called workerplacement board games. But the author has prepared much more, so another place where we can grind are the upgrade barracks, where complete nymandes can become one of four specialists. Re-education can lead to a soldier, mage, ranger or assassin. Each of them has advantages over other employees of your estate when performing certain actions.

Leaving aside the three specialized places for rangers or assassins, the ingenious move is to add nine positions to the game, which are filled with randomly drawn tiles during preparation. Each round turns one of them with a new action where you can send your worker. During the game, therefore, the range of options for what to do expands, not only which nine of the twelve fields appear in the game, but also in what order. This mechanic alone brings great variability to the game, which radically changes each game and its tempo.

Variability and originality

Readers with Sherlock Holmes’ abilities may have already guessed that the game is not limited to reducing the opponent’s castle defense to zero, but can also end in the ninth round, when the last action board appeared. As a result, each game is sympathetically demarcated and cannot end in an endless stalemate, where neither player can bite through the opponent’s defense. However, I have not experienced any game that would not end with the conquest of the castle, so the rule of no more than nine rounds is definitely not a crutch, but on the contrary a welcome element of time pressure on the player.

Although the game does not contain any spectacular epic story, you realize that it is actually written by itself. The trinity of raw materials is not only diverse by name. The stones are mainly used to build buildings and improve the castle, the money for hiring warriors and crystals will be most appreciated by magically established rulers. But, of course, you’ll find a variety of combinations, so for example, some monsters overflowing with magic need to motivate crystals, while a stone golem doesn’t despise some of the lunch rolls to decide to fight at all.

Speaking of monsters, the author did not forgive himself for the original approach, which cleverly transforms established principles. The battle is not an automatic part of every round, but it is only up to the player when he decides to use the square to attack the opponent in his turn. Each player has this own square in his castle, so the opponent cannot block it. Both players have the opportunity to measure who has the bigger monster in their ranks in each round. But if you don’t feel like fighting, you don’t have to waste your worker’s precious man-hours on a pre-lost fight and rather send him to another event with a view to a better future position.

The last thing I would like to mention is magic. It has a double form and I know it’s awkward, but again it’s presented in the game in a way I’ve never encountered before. Spell cards probably won’t impress anyone. Their playing as crystals, which in a sense represent mana, probably doesn’t. But what is definitely a new element is the four effects that each spell card contains. You only have to choose one, with two standing while playing one crystal, the other two double. It’s hard to lick a spell card and curse a fortune that something useful hasn’t come. At least one of the effects just works for you at all times.

But that is not all. Each round charges you with energy from the moon stones of power, which you can sometimes get in addition with other effects. For five energies, you can cast a powerful spell, which you draw randomly from the deck, but again you select one of the three effects on the card. The author managed to keep the surprise and uncertainty in licking cards with sufficient reduction of chance, so that the victory in the game depends on your abilities.

Painless rules

I could still go on the list of original mechanics. For example, temporary action fields in the menu of buildings, legendary buildings, events that gradually affect the actions of players during the game, advanced ability to play for one of the heroes with special abilities or a detailed analysis of the duel, which consists of two parts, attack on the castle and attack on enemy minions.

But I’ll be content to pick up another thing. Although it may not seem like it from the previous description, the game actually has simple rules. I myself was amazed at how smoothly and quickly I sailed into them. Maybe if you read them yourself, it will take a while to study, but if you have someone to explain them to you, it’s very painless.

Kinghill

Good symbolism and beautiful illustrations also contribute to gaming comfort. Usually I’m a fan of simpler iconography, but Kinghill manages to use a slightly more opulent graphic design in the style of Heartstone without having any negative impact on clarity and playability.

Not only icons and smaller symbols, but also the whole graphic design and illustration must be praised. Firstly, they fell into my note, secondly, the strong stylization often helps the playing itself. You recognize a corrosive snail or golem as a good old acquaintance after the first game.

If you are looking for a beautiful-looking duel combining elements of card and board games and overflowing with a variety of strategies, variability of settings of each game and short game time, you will not step aside with Kinghill. You just have to wait for free sale, the game is only available within at the time of writing kickstarter campaigns.

In the future, the author promised to publish the game in Czech in case of sufficient interest of local backers. In fact, about two hundred local fans are enough, so hopefully such a group can be found. We keep our fingers crossed that this is another author whose Czech boarders will be able to be appropriately proud of.


Source: Games by games.tiscali.cz.

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