WBG Score: 7.5/10
Player Count: 2-5 Players
Published by: IELLO
Designed by: Steve Finn
Fans of 2007 release Biblios will be very familiar with this game. For the King (And Me) is a reimplementation of Biblios, with a new theme and a slight tweak in the scoring mechanism. Dice have been replaced with banners. Other than that, there is not a lot new here, but Biblios, was a very popular game, and as such, if you haven’t played that, this could be something you want to check out. There is a reason games like this get a re-skin. They are good!
For the King (And Me) has replaced the monastery setting from Biblios with a royal palace. The theme is not screaming out in this game. This change is largely redundant, but it is a fun aside to what is a highly entertaining and addictive two phase game. You start with an innovative drafting phase, followed by a quick and exciting bidding phase. Games will take between 10-30 minutes depending on the player count and players speed, but every time you play, I would wager you will want to play again, in fact, I bet you two gold you will want another game!
To The Table!
The board is double sided for different player counts, so pick the one suited for you. Remove any cards with a number marked on it higher than your player count and then remove the number of remaining cards based on your player count in the helpful tally in the rules. Set a three and one banner under each character on the board, and set out the deck of card and you are ready to play.
The cards you are left with will be a mixture of gold cards numbered with a value of one to three. Government cards numbered one to four for each of the five or six colours used in the game. And King cards which are used to modify the banner scores for each colour.
Players will then take it in turns to draft one card more than there are players. One card can go to them in secret. Another is privately placed on the face down Favour deck ready for auctioning in the second phase. The others are placed face up in the centre of the table for the other players to pick from. One by one, starting with the player to the left of the current player.
This will continue until the draw pile is extinguished as which point all players will collect their cards, the Favour deck in the centre is shuffled and we move into the second, bidding phase. Players will use the cards they acquired in phase one to bid for cards in phase two. Either bidding with gold cards on coloured Government cards, or any face down card on gold cards. Players will take it in turns to start the bid, and it will continue clockwise until all but one player passes. The winning bid gets the card.
That is the entire game! The player with the highest collective value for each colour of Government cards wins the highest banner number currently under that colour on the board. The person with the second highest will get the other banner. Everyone else gets nothing. It sounds a little dry written down like this. I admit. But it is a lot more fun that it sounds. I will try and explain why now.
Set Collection. Drafting. Bidding!
Essentially this is a set collection game with a draft phase and then a bidding phase to get the cards for your sets. There will be either five or six different sets to collect depending on the player count and the top two scores for each set will win the banners for that colour. The way you get cards feels fresh, and as there is a huge switch in the manner in which cards are acquired at the mid-way point, it stays this way throughout. I like games with clear mid points like this. It often helps to gives the game a sense of time. Or to help scoring or assessing your current performance. But the complete change in core mechanic at the halfway point in this game does none of this. It simply keeps the game fun. It feels like two games in one.
The banners you are looking to win change constantly throughout the game. The King cards allow players to increase or reduce their value accordingly. This will be done both to help your own game, and to negatively affect the others in the game. Players need to try and keep an eye on what cards people are collecting. Which colours do players gravitate towards? If you can keep an eye open, you may be able to guess which Government colours players are collecting, and as such, try to reduce those banners numbers when you get the chance.
Players can only ever change the top banner but the bottom banner is affected by this. The bottom banner must always be half of the top, rounded down. A six on top means a three on the bottom. A four sees a two below. A five for the highest number will see a two underneath.
You may be racing away collecting the red colour Government cards, with a current value of five at the top for that colour. But then two players who are not collecting reds may noticed that you are after that colour a lot and drop the banners down. Suddenly, your victory on this colour is worth a lot less and you haven’t even had a turn!
In the drafting phase, players will always look at one more card than there are players. Four in a three player, five in a four. This would mean one card being kept by them, one being placed in the pile ready for the second bidding phase, and the others being left for the other players to take. This is a great way for the leading player to not only take a card and place one ready for bidding on phase two, but to judge what other colour cards each other player is collecting.
In the second bidding phase, players will bid using face down cards for Gold cards, and Gold for Government cards. If a three value Gold card comes up, players who collected minimal gold in phase one may go big for this. Those who managed to get a lot of Gold on phase one may pass and let these go. Or perhaps bid one or two just to up the bid to make it more expensive for other players. But later in the round, if a player has no Gold left, they may then go for the Gold cards with more gusto. The relative value for each type of card is constantly changing.
Current Government Advice Is…
The Government cards can be bid on with the Gold cards. If a Government card with a value of four comes up, in the highest current banners colour, you may see some high bids coming in! But of course, only from players who can afford it. Has one player not gone for this as they are not collecting that colour, because they already have loads of cards in that colour already, or simply as they cannot afford it? The entire game is a delicate balancing act between judging what cards each player has in their hand, judging what cards are yet to come out, and assessing the constantly changing value of each colour’s banners.
The game plays quickly and works well with younger players. I have enjoyed with my six- and eight-year-old very successfully. But this is not just a simple family game. This is a strategic, cutthroat, and hilarious game that would work as a perfect filler with most gaming groups. The game works in a two, but I would recommend this for groups of three and up as a minimum. It can be a little bland and predictable with just two players, especially with someone you play regularly with. But it is nice to have that option.
Players will generally focus on trying to get the highest banner on two or three colours, but there is something to be said for having a few cards of each colour and aiming to get the second banner for each colour. Especially in the higher player counts when it is easier for players to focus on the higher value banners. Tactics and strategies are often varied but always devious. This is a game for those that enjoy having a deceptive feeling in games. Does pulling the rug from under your family and friends’ noses appeal to you? How about a bit of bluff a bidding? This game has it all, along with a lot of fun. For the King (And Me) is here in my collection for good.