Buzzworthiness: Regicide

A review copy of today’s game was provided by TGG Games.

The start player mechanism in today’s game is that the first player is the one who most recently committed regicide. Please do not commit regicide before playing

image by BGG user andyrichdale

Regicide is a cooperative card game designed by Paul Abrahams, Luke Badger, and Andy Richdale, published by TGG Games. It’s for 1-4 players, and is basically made up of a standard 54-card deck. The idea is that you’re storming a castle, trying to kill all royalty inside (four Jacks, four Queens, and four Kings).

At the start of the game, you create the castle, stacking four shuffled Jacks on top of four shuffled Queens (which are on top of four shuffled Kings). Flip the top Jack face up. The remaining cards are shuffled into a draw deck, including 1-2 Jesters with 3-4 players. Each player draws up to their maximum hand size, and you’re ready to play.

image by BGG user BoardgameConnaisseur

On your turn, you’ll choose a card from your hand and play it. This card does two things – it hits the current member of royalty, and it chooses your special power. Each royal has a certain amount of health – a Jack has 20, a Queen has 30, and a King has 40. If you have exceeded the total health of the royal (damage is cumulative across all players), it is discarded, as are all cards that have thus far been played. If you exactly hit the health number, the royal is discarded to the top of the draw deck.

If you do not defeat the royal, it will strike back for a certain amount of damage – a Jack hits for 10, a Queen hits for 15, a King hits for 20. Discard that value from your hand. If you can’t cover the damage dealt, the team loses.

There are a few things that can mitigate this. The suit that you play gives you an advantage over the enemy:

  • Spades allow you to reduce the damage you take by the value of the card. So if you play a 6 of Spades, you take 6 fewer damage.
  • Clubs double the damage you are dealing. So if you play a 6 of Clubs, you’re dealing 12 points of damage.
  • Diamonds allow you to draw cards from the deck, up to the value of the card. So if you play a 6 of Diamonds, you can draw six cards. These are split among the party.
  • Hearts allow you to return cards from the discard to the bottom of the deck. The discard is shuffled, the cards are removed (six of them if you played a 6 of Hearts), and they are placed on the bottom of the deck.

It should be noted, however, that the suit of the royal you’re fighting will negate the power it matches. So if you’re fighting the Jack of Clubs, your 10 of Clubs is only a 10, not a 20. Playing a Jester will negate this immunity.

Aces in this game are animal companions. You can play an Ace with any other card. It increases the value of that card by one, AND it gives you the power of the Ace suit as well as the regular suit. So an Ace of Diamonds and a 9 of Spades means damage is reduced by 10 AND you get to draw 10 cards.

Combos can be played. Sets of 2, 3, or 4 cards of the same value can be played (though it should be noted that the total value of a set can’t be higher than 10 – no playing all four 10s to get 40 points of damage). If you do this, you get the total value of the combo plus all involved suit powers.

If you manage to defeat the last King, you win. If anyone dies, you lose.

image by BGG user JediLuke

The components for this game are basically a standard deck of cards. Four suits, Ace to King. The art on each card is pretty thematic – each suit has a kind of a story through all ranks, and it’s kind of cool. It makes for a nice deck of cards you could use for other games on top of this one. Might add some flair to my next Cribbage game.

I had a problem with the theme when I first heard the name of the game. I mean, regicide is pretty serious. Fortunately, it’s a fantasy theme and the royalty all look like some bad guys. So I’m OK with it. It’s not pervasive in the game – in the end, you’re playing cards and comparing numbers. It’s pretty abstract, and there’s no real lore offered. You can create your own stories if you want.

Mechanically, it really is just a numbers game. You need to hit a certain target for each royal to defeat them, or you’re going to take a set amount of damage. The suit powers help to give it a little more depth than that, as you have to take into account what the card does. Hearts and Diamonds aren’t good to play at the outset, while Clubs and Spades are necessary for offense and defense. Figuring out what cards to play when is a big part of the strategy of the game.

But, this leads into what I see as a huge problem with this game. Timing is important, but the deck to a large extent controls that timing. If you need cards but have no Diamonds, you’re out of luck. If you need to discard 15 damage but only have low cards, you’re out of luck. If you REALLY need to use your 10 of Clubs to knock out a royal before you die, but that royal happens to be a Club, you’re out of luck. You get to replenish the deck by healing with hearts, but you reshuffle the discards before replacing them, so there’s no guarantee you’re putting good cards back in the deck. And it’ll take a while to get to them anyway.

The immunity of the royals bothers me too. You can’t use the power of the suit belonging to the royal. So, if you happen to be going against the King of Clubs, you’re taking 20 damage a turn and can’t double anything to get up to the 40 you need quicker. Or getting denied the ability to draw cards because you’re up against a Diamond. I know, it’s there to increase the challenge. But it increases it to the point that I don’t know if I’m ever going to win it unless I get super lucky.

And that’s the thing. I want my cooperative/solo games to be challenging. If I win every time, I tend to think there’s something wrong with the game. On the other hand, if I lose every time, I tend to think there’s something wrong with me, and I don’t like feeling like that. I’ve played the game five times and have not won, nor have I ever really thought I might have a chance to win. Usually I perish in the Queens section, though I made it to the Kings once. Call it sour grapes if you want, which very well may be the case. I just feel like I haven’t had the right kind of luck to be successful yet, and hoping for the right cards at the right time is not fun to me. It’s part of the reason why I don’t gamble.

To clarify, I’ve only played this game with 1 and 2 players, so it might be better with higher player counts. BGG says it’s best with 3, which I have not really wanted to try since my experience with the solo and two-player games didn’t work for me. I think, in the end, I like the concept of a more thematic game with a standard deck of cards, but I feel like I’m missing the fun here. And that’s too bad.

IS IT BUZZWORTHY? Unfortunately, this game is not for me. The luck factor is too high, and it’s not fun for me. I don’t feel challenged, I just feel inadequate. I’m sure this game is winnable, but I really feel like the strategy of that is beyond me.

While I do not personally like this game, it has garnered lots of positive comments over on BGG. If the game sounds interesting to you, please check it out. You can order your own copy directly from TGG Games, and at the very least, you can get a nice deck of playing cards.

Thanks again to TGG Games for providing a review copy of Regicide, and thanks to you for reading!

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