Had a chance to play the solo mode of #Paladins of the West Kingdom over the weekend and wanted to share my initial thoughts about the game.
(+) The art style is incredible. The art is evocative without being terribly stereotypical, something which is important considering the theme.
(+) The component quality is amazing. The cards feel great with a nice linen finish. The player boards and main boards are durable and glossy. The wooden meeples are great.
(+/-) The rulebook is serviceable. It’s mostly good but there were a few sections that I had to read a couple of times, and one rule that I couldn’t figure out until I watched a gameplay video.
(-) The Box size is too small. There is a lot of game and it just fits in the box. Why not make it a little bit bigger?
(+) There is a LOT of game here, with a lot of interlocking and codependent mechanics.
(+) The solo mode is easy to run and simulates playing against a real person. This is not a “beat your high score” type of AI. Multiple times the AI foiled my plan by placing first a worker where I was going to go, and then by taking a space on the main board that was essential to my plan.
(+) The Engine Building aspects are phenomenal. Once you get something going it’s so fun to watch the engine churn along. It can be difficult to get something going though.
(+) Resources can be tight which makes for really interesting decisions- especially with the suspicion/criminal mechanic. Do you take a criminal on your team and hope to get rewarded with some extra coin? But will that trigger an inquisition by the King... which could land you a debt and negative VPs (unless you can pay that debt)?
(+) The Paladin selection are the beginning of each round is a brilliant idea. You draw 3, pick 1 to use, then send 1 to the top of the deck and 1 to the bottom of the deck. Correctly picking your Paladin is a huge part of this game.
(+/-) There is a lot to wrap your head around in this game. The systems are all connected and amazing and interesting but it can be overwhelming at first. I actually first set this up on Saturday but found I had not prepared enough to play the game. I needed to go back and watch some more videos and learn more about what I was doing. So I put it all away and tried again on Sunday. After additional preparation I was ready to go.
A Quick Rundown about what the game is actually about:
Your primary goal is to earn VPs. You can earn VPs by advancing your 3 tracks - Faith, Influence, and Combat. The higher your score on these tracks the more points you earn at the end of the game.
You advance those tracks by completing various actions on your player board. Actions make sense thematically as well.
Commissioning Monks to send out to convert the population requires a certain level of faith and increases your influence in the kingdom.
Fortifying towns across the West Kingdom requires a level of influence and increases your combat strength.
Sending garrisons out to protect the West Kingdom requires combat strength and increases the people’s faith.
There are 3 more major actions but you can start to see how the interlocking systems play off each other.
You can also recruit townspeople to your squad for long term bonuses or send them on a quest for a one time bonus. And you can attack outsiders for a one time bonus or convert them for a long term bonus.
There is a LOT going on in this game.
This game is great. It was very overwhelming at first but by the end of my first game I was really into it. It’s definitely more thematic than I gave it credit for initially. I’m not sure where I’d rank it right now (I’ve only played it 1.25 times) but I really enjoyed my first play of it.