Game Buzz: Viscounts of the West Kingdom

Today, I wanted to talk about a Kickstarter project that’s wrapping up in a few days that is part of a pretty successful trilogy. It is

image by BGG user shem84

Viscounts of the West Kingdom is a game designed by Shem Phillips and SJ MacDonald, to be published by Garphill Games. It’s the third game in the very popular West Kingdom trilogy, following Architects of the West Kingdom and Paladins of the West Kingdom. This one is for 1-4 players, and is the king tries to bring peace to the land. However, this is seen as weakness, and the viscounts are trying to gain favor with the people in case there is a sudden shift in power.

The game comes with five wedges that are used to randomly create a decagonally shaped board. There’s also a castle pieces that slots into the center of the board. Each player has a personal board, as well as 20 workers, 3 trading posts, 3 guildhalls, 3 workshops, a corruption marker, a virtue marker, 8 starting townsfolk cards, and a viscount. A line of player cards equal to the number of players is created, with a line of Hero Townsfolk below them. In reverse order, everyone picks a pair of these cards, placing their Viscount on the matching numbered space of the board and gaining all resources shown on the player card. The Hero Townsfolk card they got is shuffled in with their starting townsfolk, and players draw three cards as a starting hand.

image by BGG user shem84

On your turn, you will complete six phases: card management, movement, primary action, recruit, resolve collision, and draw cards.

CARD MANAGEMENT: If you have any townsfolk currently on your player board, shift them one space to the right. If a card drops off, it is discarded. You’ll then play a townsfolk card from your hand in the leftmost space. Criminals gain you corruption, and some cards have immediate effects that are resolved now.

MOVEMENT: The townsfolk card you played has a silver value in the top left corner, and you move your Viscount that many spaces clockwise on the board. If you land on a space occupied by another Viscount, that player can rearrange the cards on their own player board. These cards give you icons that can be used for actions (with Criminals being wild).

PRIMARY ACTION: You can take one of the following four actions:

  • Trade. Count the merchant icons (plus any criminals) on your player board to see what you can do. You can gain one silver per merchant, or use two merchants to gain an ink well, gold, or stone. Three merchants can allow you to destroy a townsfolk card from your hand or the top of the draw pile. Four merchants help you flip a debt or a deed card, which if unflipped cost you points at the end of the game.
  • Construct a building. Count the builder icons on your board (plus any criminals). If there’s an empty building spot at your Viscount’s location, you can add a building from your player board – workshops cost three builder icons, trading posts cost five, and guildhalls cost seven. The more of a type of building you have put out, the more points you’ll score at the end of the game. Also, each building removed from your board reveals a new ability you can use for the rest of the game.
  • Place workers. Count the noble icons on your board (plus any criminals). Use 1-3-5-8 to place 1-2-3-4 into the first tier of the castle in the space adjacent to your Viscount. If you now have three or more in that section, move one to the second tier, resolve the effect there, and move the other two to the next room in either direction (still on the first tier). This could cause a ripple effect, with other rooms having at least three workers. After the first tier is finished, check the second. If there are 3 or more in a section, one moves to the third tier, but the others stay put. At the end of this action, check to see if there are more than three workers of any color in any section of the first or second tiers. If so, bump some off until only three remain in a section.
  • Transcribe manuscripts. Count the cleric icons on your board (plus any criminals). If you have enough cleric icons, you can add the adjacent manuscript to your player board. If you’re the first to three manuscripts of the same ribbon color, you get a cleric bonus card that is worth three points at the end of the game. The manuscripts themselves also score points for you.

It should be noted that there are townsfolk cards on the board next to the spaces. Dismissing these by paying a cost will give you extra icons for completing actions.

RECRUIT: If you didn’t dismiss the adjacent townsfolk card next to your Viscount, you can pay the cost in silver to add it to their discard pile.

RESOLVE COLLISION: If your virtue and corruption markers are on the same space, resolve the appropriate effects, then reset the markers to opposite ends of the board.

DRAW CARDS: Draw back up to your hand limit, reshuffling your discards if need be.

The game continues until the Poverty or Prosperity card is revealed from the bottom of the Debts or Deeds pile. Following this, play until everyone has had the same number of turns, then play one more round. At that time, the game is over and final scoring takes place. The player with the highest score wins.

image by BGG user shem84

It’s been really interesting to see what this series, as well as the North Sea trilogy, has been doing with traditional game mechanisms. This one throws in deck building, as well as this kind of variable rondel mechanism. There’s a lot going on in the game, though it doesn’t seem terribly complicated, which is kind of a hallmark of these designs. To date, I have only played Raiders of the North Sea from Garphill/Renegade, and I liked that one a lot. This one also looks like it has a lot of things I enjoy, so it’s one I’ll be interested to play when it comes out.

If you want to check it out, the Kickstarter campaign runs until March 19 at 7:00 PM MDT. You can get a game for $82 NZ (which translates to roughly $51 US), and the game is scheduled for delivery in December of this year. And, it should also be noted that this post isn’t in any way sponsored or advocated for by Garphill Games – in fact, I don’t even know if they know who I am. But I’m putting this out there anyway because I think it looks like an interesting game.

That’s it for today – thanks for reading!

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