Game Profile: Castles Of Mad King Ludwig

The king demands that you
build an extravagant castle.

Classification Strategy Game
Mechanics Pattern Building, Tile Placement, Set Collection
Publication B├ęzier Games, 2014
Ages 13+
Time 90
Players 1 – 4

Castles Of Mad King Ludwig lets each player build their own castle. The question is which player will score the most points based on the 4 randomly selected scoring tiles visible to all in addition to their secret bonus scoring cards. Each player will build their castle from a selection of 10 different sizes & shapes of rooms in 7 different colors, hallways, stairs plus a starting foyer. With 24 different public scoring tiles, 27 unique bonus cards, and 75 rooms of various shapes, sizes & colors no two games are going to be the same.

The game has what I think is a brilliant mechanic at the start of each round. The starting player will be the master builder for that round and has the role of drawing and revealing the 7 rooms that will be available for purchase and determining the sale price of each room. The master builder will determine which price slot each of the rooms will be placed into with prices ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 and with only one room per price slot. In turn order beginning with the player to the left of the master builder, each player will have an opportunity to purchase one of these rooms or a hallway or stairs with the master builder purchasing last. The beauty is that each player will pay the purchase cost of the tile they want to the master builder. However, the master builder will pay the bank for the tile he/she acquires. Players add their newly acquired building to their individual castle scoring plus &/or minus points depending on its relation with adjacent rooms. In addition, a player may gain a special action bonus when any room that has been completed meaning all doors of a room are matched by doors from adjoining rooms. The game proceeds in this manner of rounds with the next player becoming the master builder. The game ends when the card deck used to bring out more rooms has been exhausted. Some scoring is done during the course of the game based on rooms played and bonuses received. Most of the points are awarded at the end when player scores are calculated for the 4 public goals and for any private goals that have been achieved. 

Castles Of Mad King Ludwig has an easy rule set to get through and to understand. The game play is variable and entertaining. The role of the master build is challenging. Which rooms will opponents pay a premium for versus how high I as the master builder price the room I want and hope that room is still available at the end of the round? How will each I maximize points using the public goals and my 2 secret goals? This game packs a ton of fun into a 90 minute play time.

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