I hereby decree that you only play wonderful games from this point forward! *bangs gavel on table* Or…I suppose if I’m a Queen… *bangs staff on floor?* I digress. Were I truly a Queen maybe I could make that decree, but since I am not (SIGH) I’m just highly suggest that you do that. Lucky for you, Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig (from here on out referred to as either Between Two Castles or simply B2C) falls in that category. A very interesting cross between 2 different games, Between Two Castles is a multi-mechanic game you’ll be eager to get to the table again and again. Let’s take a look!
What Is It?
A cross between (is hybrid a better way to put it maybe? *shrugs*) Castles of Mad King Ludwig and Between Two Cities, this game brings together drafting, partner-play, tile placement, and set collection in a creative way that lets you build the castle of your dreams! (Or possibly of your nightmares because 12 outdoor rooms and no kitchen would definitely make me cry… and in reality the castle isn’t even for you, so there’s that).
Who Is It For?
The game itself recommends ages 10+ and I’d say that, or a little older, would be accurate. It’s not all together that difficult to learn or play, but there is a lot going on, and partner-play in this manner is not something you see that often (at least for me, I don’t know your life), so it might be more difficult for anyone younger if they aren’t familiar with gaming. I recommend to those who like both or one of the games it’s based on but – here comes the plot twist – I would also recommend it to anyone who maybe doesn’t like one of those on their own, but likes the mechanics pulled into this one, because I think it uses them really well.
Quality of Components
The first thing I absolutely have to mention is the fabulous Game Trayz insert. I love that pretty much the whole game is contained within that, and if you shuffle things up at the end, you’re immediately ready to go next time you pull it out. Top notch. I think the art is very pretty, both on the tiles and on the box, and the cardboard tiles and castle pawns are also a nice, sturdy quality. (Though the castle pawns can be seen as a bit unnecessary, but hey, I still like em).
- Gotta mention the insert again. Hubba-hubba<3
- I liked the points being somewhat up in the air until the end. You have incentive to work hard on both sides and do well, but unless you sit there and constantly calculate* you’re not quite sure how you’re doing, and it’s a positive tension.
- The rules are very detailed and have great examples, really prepares you for the game.
- I find it a pro that it loses the bidding mechanic from Castles of Mad King Ludwig because that’s my least favorite part of that game, but my fiance disagrees and I can see it being a con for some.
- I also find it a pro that this loses the 4×4 grid placement of Between Two Cities because I hate how limited that mechanic makes me feel, and leaves me at the end having no real options. This game never gives me that feeling.
- I appreciate that there is a 2-player variant where each player builds a castle with “Ludwig” as well as each other. I’m not usually into games that have that random, game controlled 3rd player, but I like this game a lot, so I’m glad I can play it at 2 as well. I also love that it mentions right on the box that it has a variant for 2, instead of just saying it plays 2-7.
- *I’ll start with my starred point from above. While points are kind of up in the air until the end, technically they are public knowledge. You always know what is in each of your castles, and the others are out on the table for anyone to see. So you could, technically sit there each turn and calculate how each castle is doing and what needs improvement. That’s not only tedious, but also makes you not very fun to play with so … don’t. But someone I played with brought that up saying that the game could be super AP prone because of the public knowledge, so I wanted to mention it.
- While I adore the inserts (obviously) I definitely wish they had come to the top of the box for additional support.
- Feels kind of short, even though it plays in the hour range for 3 players. I felt like I wanted to do 1 more round and put more stuff in my castles! But I can understand why it’s only 2 rounds, or scoring would be a monstrosity.
- Speaking of, scoring definitely feels a little tedious, but with all the different room types and other extraneous things (like bonus cards) it makes sense, so it’s worth dealing with.
I’d give this one a 3.5/5 for difficulty, and to be honest, I even had a difficult time deciding that. It’s not really all that hard of a game – you draft and place two tiles every turn, that’s it! But there are a lot of bonuses to be earned and each tile scores a little differently, so it can be a lot to follow to try and build the best castle that there is. Hopefully it doesn’t cause too much AP! But I think this is a great game for mid- to heavy-gamers, and they won’t find it too difficult.
What else can I say? I really enjoyed this game, probably more than I even thought would, and I definitely recommend it. I really like Castles of Mad King Ludwig, but I’m not crazy about Between Two Cities, and I think that this took the cool things about both and combined them into a very well done game. I think that you can get very focused on balancing the castles you’re working on and have fun building them without even being concerned about winning, which definitely makes a great game in my mind. If you have a chance, definitely check this one out!
Designers – Matthew O’Malley, Ben Rosset
Artists – Laura Bevon, Agnieszka Dabrowiecka, Bartłomiej Kordowski, Noah Adelman
Publishers – Stonemaier Games, Delta Vision Publishing, Feuerland Spiele, Ludofy Creative, Maldito Games, PHALANX
*I was provided a copy of this game to do this review*
If you like what I do, consider Supporting Me.