Friday, October 12, 2007

A Short Rules Preview of King of Siam

The parade of area-majority games continues with King of Siam. In this upcoming game (to be published by Histogame and designed by Peer Sylvester), two to four players use cards as they strive to place followers from three political factions in the eight provinces of the southeast Asian nation. Players also claim followers for themselves in order to dominate one or more of these factions.

One of the more things that should make King of Siam different from the vast horde of similar games is that each player starts the game with an identical set of eight action cards, and never receives any more. Players had better be darn careful about when they play each particular card.

Each faction has a set of color-coded follower markers (presumably little wooden cubes). In the set-up phase, four random followers are placed in most of the provinces. But each of the three factions has a home province which contains two of its follower markers, and two more chosen randomly. Eight province tiles are placed at random on a track that is numbered one to eight. Then control of each province is resolved according to where the province is placed on the track.

To resolve each province, players play cards from their hand. Most the cards allow players to add followers from one faction or another, or swap followers between different provinces. Each player has one card that allows him to switch province tiles on the track, and thus change the order in which the provinces are resolved.

Please note that each player has eight cards, and there are eight provinces to be resolved. This means that if any player plays more than one card in a province, he will not have a card to play in one or more provinces still to be resolved.

After playing a card, each player takes a follower marker from some province on the board and places it in front of him. Followers gained this way are an investment in the control of the faction.

After all players have played their cards to influence a province, the faction with the most followers in the province places a control marker there.

But if two or factions are tied for control of the region, then an imperialist British control marker is placed in the province. If the British ever gain control of four provinces, they are considered to have colonized Siam, the game ends immediately, and a special set of victory conditions applies. The winning player is the person who has the most complete set of followers (a set is one blue, one red, and one yellow marker).

If the British do not gain control of Siam, then the game ends when control of the last province is resolved. The faction that controls the most provinces gains control of Siam. The player who has the most followers in front of him from the winning faction is the winning player.

One other item of note: in a four-player game, players are grouped into two teams who win or lose together.

Because of the limited number of cards to be played in the game, the playing time of King of Siam should be quite short; the rules claim that a game will last between half and hour and a full hour.

If El Grande and Liberte ever had a love-child, it might look a lot like King of Siam. This mechanics of this game aren’t very original, but it looks like it will be an area-majority game for those gamers who think Midgard takes too long.

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