The Mad King Ludwig is looking for the perfect layout for his next castle! Are you the architect for the job? The king has a few preferences, of course, but he’s interested in seeing what you can do when left to your own devices. Select rooms to add to the floor plan, use those room’s bonuses to the best of your ability, and create another castle fit for a king!

Open Drafting / Drawing – Each round, every player will pick a room card from those revealed and draw it into their castle. The sketch sheets are transparent, so if players aren’t sure where the best place to put a room is, or if it will fit, they can trace! Players must follow various rules when sketching (i.e. connecting 1 doorway, staying within your castle lot, et cetera) and can’t choose a card they can not draw.

Grid Coverage – As players draw rooms, they will be filling up their sketch sheet. If they complete certain rooms, they can expand their lot which allows them more flexibility when choosing and drawing more rooms.

In-Game Bonuses – As players complete rooms, they will earn bonuses (some instant, some they can use later) such as removing doors, extra turns, and more.

Variable Player Powers – Each player starts the game with a royal decree card which may give them a starting bonuses, an in-game ability, or a scoring opportunity.

  • 1 to 5 Players – Solo is good. Game scales pretty well overall. You’ll see more cards with more players (it’s always 10 rounds) but it is a bit slower with more players, especially when sharing the pencils
  • Ages 10 & Up / Light Gamers – Fairly straightforward rules, so I would say it’s pretty approachable to a wide audience
  • Fans of drafting and drawing + a lot of possibilities for bonuses
  • Fans of Castles of Mad King Ludwig who are looking for a twist on the original
  • Players who don’t mind a game with not a ton of player interaction

Solo – You play alone and compare your score to a chart to see how you did. There is no AI player, but you will compare your floor plan to cards in the reserve in order to determine if you score the king’s favor bonuses. King’s favors and royal decrees that can not be used in solo are very clearly marked, which I also appreciate.

Solo works well overall. It plays quickly, especially once you’re familiar with the game. It can be fun to try different strategies, or go for different bonuses, or if you just want to draw some blueprints! The one thing that can be frustrating is that, since the deck is random, sometimes it is very difficult to have a chance at the king’s favor because there are too many cards left in the reserve for a category.

  • The see-through vellum sketch sheets are cool, especially if you can’t always tell where shapes fit, you can trace them!
  • Components overall are nice quality; I like that the colored pencils are labeled with the room names – nice touch!
  • Good variety of rooms, bonus cards, royal decrees, and king’s favors, especially room since you won’t use all of them in any game
  • Rules are well-written and clear
  • Handy reference cards
  • Love that the room cards have the rooms in multiple directions so you don’t have to mirror them free-hand
  • Removes the money element (pricing rooms for other players to buy) from Castles of Mad King Ludwig, which I personally wasn’t a big fan of anyway
  • Rotating turn order is neat and I like that you can earn bonuses for going last
  • Can go on a bit too long at any count, but especially with more players
  • Yellow is always a hard color to use in drawing games. I thought it was hard to see where the doors were on those rooms
  • Tracing can indent the cards, so be careful!
  • The eraser does not work very well, plus it is the 1st player marker, so you don’t want to overuse/ruin it
  • The randomness of the room deck can be frustrating at times because you don’t know if you’ll see certain size or types of rooms, so it’s hard to try and plan too far ahead or aim for certain bonuses

I’m someone who doesn’t mind a bit of a lack of player interaction; I like being able to focus on my own board, so I liked this because I always felt like I had options, even if a room I wanted was drafted before my turn. It had a nice familiarity to Castles of Mad King Ludwig, while taking out something I wasn’t big on from that game. That said, if you like the money/pricing element of that game, you might find this a little disappointing – others I played with who are big fans of the original felt that way.

While I thought it was a fine “flip and write” type game, aside from the vellum paper (which I did like) I didn’t think the game did anything super new or unique, so it did fall a little flat for me as being just another game in a somewhat crowded category. And I did think it was often a bit too long for what it was, as drawing was a lot slower than laying out tiles.

It’s a bit middle of the road for me. But, if you like this style of drawing game, and want a spin on the original Castles, check it out!

Additional Information:
My Final Rating – 6/10

Designer – Ted Alspach
Artist – Roland MacDonald
Publisher – Bézier Games
MSRP – $49.95

*I was provided a copy of this game to do this review*

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