Back in 2014, Garphill Games published Shipwrights of the North Sea, successfully kicking off a trilogy of games that included the Kennerspiel des Jahres-nominated Raiders of the North Sea (2015), as well as Explorers of the North Sea (2016). In 2018, the company started a new trilogy: The West Kingdom trilogy. Last year’s Architects of the West Kingdom was quite successful, and now we have
Paladins of the West Kingdom is a 1-4 player game designed by Shem Phillips and SJ Macdonald. In the game, players are attempting to build out the city of West Francia with the aid of Paladins sent by the king. It’s a worker placement and pool building game with lots of action options.
The game has a main board, which consists of a track for eight cards – three King’s Orders and five King’s Favors. There are also placed for Townsfolk cards, Wall cards, Debby cards, Suspicion cards, Tavern cards, and Outsider cards. The main board also has spots to place Monks and Outposts. Players all get a player board with more action spots, as well as eight Workshops, seven Monks, seven Outposts, seven Jars, and three Attribute markers (red, black, and blue). Players each have a deck of 12 identical Paladin cards.
At the start of each round, reveal the King’s Order and/or King’s Favor for the current round (one of each will be revealed in round three). King’s Orders give scoring opportunities to be fulfilled by the end of the game, while King’s Favors open up new action spots. You’ll also reveal Tavern cards equal to the number of players plus one, and each player draws three Paladins – one for the current round, one for the top of the deck, one for the bottom. The Paladin will give you two workers for the current round. Each player will also draft one of the Tavern cards, which will give them four more.
After this, players will take turns taking actions until everyone has passed. An action is performed by placing one or more workers on an available space on a player board or King’s Favor card. Any color worker can be placed on transparent spaces, and only workers of the proper color can be placed on colored spaces, though purple workers (criminals) are wild, which means they can go anywhere.
- Develop. Use any two workers and pay four silver to take the leftmost Workshop and place it on a building space of your board. These spots are associated with actions, and mean you have to use fewer workers when taking those actions. Removing Workshops also gains you new workers as each revealed spot shows a type of worker you get.
- Recruit. Use one worker of any type to discard one Townsfolk card from the line to gain an immediate bonus. You could choose to send two workers (one of which must be red) to instead recruit a Townsperson. These provide permanent benefits. This could also cost silver, depending on where in the line the Townsperson is, or you could even choose to take a Debt instead of paying. Debts lose you three VP at the end of the game if unpaid, but paid Debts gain you one VP.
- Hunt and Trade. Using a single worker for Hunt gains you a Provision, and using one for Trade gets you a Silver. Using two workers (including a green for Hunt or a blue for Trade) increases what you get up to three.
- Pray. Use one black worker and two Silver to remove all workers from a space on your board back to the supply, opening it up for you to use again.
- Conspire. Use any worker to gain one purple worker. This is a shady action, however, and gains you a Suspicion card. Suspicion could get you some Silver from the Tax supply, but if that runs out, the person with the most Suspicion gains a Debt.
- Commission. For one green, one black, and one any type of worker (or fewer if some of the spaces have Workshops on them), as well as 1-3 Provisions, you can take a Monk from the leftmost spot and put it on a space on the main board, collecting the benefit. Each region requires a certain amount of Faith before you can place there – 0 for the first region, 2 for the second, 4 for the third, and so on. Placing a Monk also gains you Influence as revealed when you removed it from its track.
- Fortify. For three workers (blue, green, and any color) plus 1-3 Provisions, you can draw and place a Wall card at the top of your player board. Each space requires you to have a certain amount of Influence before playing there, but a successfully placed wall will give you benefits, usually at least one level of Strength.
- Garrison. For three workers (blue, red, and any color) plus 1-3 Provisions, you can place an Outpost on the main board. This works just like Monks, except you have to use Strength and it gains you Faith.
- Absolve. For three workers (black, blue, and any color) plus 1-3 Silver, you can move the leftmost Jar to an available space on your board, gaining the indicated reward. You need at least as much Influence as the number on the Jar to do this, and moving the Jar will increase your Faith.
- Attack. For three workers (green, red, and any color), you use your Strength to attack Outsiders. Each one has a certain Strength you need, but you can spend Silver to make up the difference. This will help you gain Influence, as well as other rewards.
- Convert. For three workers (red, black, and any color) plus 0-3 Silver, you use your Faith to convert Outsiders. Each one has a certain amount of Faith you need for the conversion. This will gain you some Strength immediately, and give you an endgame scoring bonus as well.
When you determine that you can’t (or won’t) do anything else, you pass. This consists of returning all workers that you used to your supply. You can keep up to three that were unused for the next round. When all players have passed, the round is over. Bring out new Townsfolk and Outsiders, and proceed to the new round. After the seventh round, the player with the highest score wins.
An interesting thing about the games in the North Sea and West Kingdom trilogies is that, while they all look very similar (thanks to some distinctive art from Mihajlo Dimitrievski), they really are quite unique in their own way, and none of them seem to play the same way. The only one of the games that I’ve had a chance to play is Raiders of the North Sea, which is also a worker placement game, but has a unique mechanism of placing a worker, then taking a worker to activate actions. Paladins uses multicolored workers (as does Raiders), but throws in the twist of drafting them. There’s a ton of stuff going on, and balancing all the different attributes to accomplish what you need to seems to be the key to the game. I’m interested to check this one out sometime.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading!