Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Alea/Ravensburger, 2-4 players, ages 9 to adult, about 60 minutes; $34.95)


artusboxOne of the most romantic eras in human history is the Age of Knights and Chivalry. Novels and films abound that are set in that time. Games have also found this time to be a fertile area to explore as knighthood has served as the theme for many of them. When you think of knighthood, you almost always think of King Arthur and Arthur and the knights of the Round Table are the focus of the latest small box game in the Alea line (number 7 if you’re counting) from the design team of Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling: Artus.

In Artus (appropriately subtitled “… and the Knights of the Round Table”), players command a group of knights on a quest to amass the greatest prestige at King Arthur’s court. They will do that by maneuvering their seating positions at the Round Table and, in the “Advanced Game” (the version most recommended), by completing various assignments.

The board depicts the Round Table with a rotating surface at its center. Around this rotating surface are “seats” (spaces) where knights will take up their positions. These spaces come in three colors: green (worth positive points from 1 to 10), yellow (worth 0 points) and red (worth negative points from -1 to -15). At the top and bottom of the board, three spaces each (six in total) are the “red carpet”. Four “Princes” (two gold and two silver pawns) are placed in their marked areas (shown by crowns) on the perimeter. Three of them begin with one ring placed on them; the fourth is given three rings. The three-ringed prince is the King and occupies the large crown space on the board. Now, players draw their opening hands.

Each player has their own identical deck of cards divided into three types. These types are separated and shuffled to create three draw decks. For the first turn, players draw (in the Advanced Game) three Knight and three King cards.

Knight cards will move a knight ahead around the table a specified range of spaces (say, from 7 to 9 spaces at the player’s discretion). One of these cards allows backward movement.

Some King cards will move the gold or silver prince pieces (color depending on the background color of the card) in a similar manner; others allow you to place another ring on a prince piece. The King piece is “full” so no additional rings may be placed on that piece. Assignment cards (only used in the Advanced game) offer additional scoring opportunities and may only be drawn after the first turn.

artus2Once players have their starting hands, they place their Knights, one at a time in counter-clockwise order, around the Round Table. Once all knights have been placed, the game begins with turns taken in clockwise order.

On a turn, a player plays TWO cards in any order. Moving a Knight onto a space earns a player the number of Prestige Points equal to the number on the space. Negative number? Then LOSE that number of points. (Prestige Points totals are kept on the the board’s scoring track.) Knights may move over other pieces. If a Knight lands on an occupied space, then the previous tenant is dislodged and moved back to the next open space. If a Prince is moved, the player receives the value of the Prestige Points equal to the number found on the space the Prince has LEFT! Placing a ring on a Prince earns that player the number of PPs equal to the space the Prince occupies. Should any Prince receive a third ring, he becomes the new King and the board ROTATES so that the table’s large crown faces the new King thus changing the values of all the pieces sitting around the Round Table! (The old King loses all his rings but one.) But the biggest chunks of scoring are reserved for the Assignment cards.

Each player has six Assignment cards in his deck and they trigger different scoring configurations. One card allows a player to score ALL his knights (based on their current positions), another to score all of his knights but REVERSING their +/- values! A third card will score one knight each on the yellow, green and red spaces, the fourth to score 2 knights on the “red carpet” (or lose 25 points if unable to comply). The fifth card will score 3 knights on red spaces (or lose 50 points) while the final card shows some flexibility by providing three options: move ANY piece 1-3 spaces OR add a ring to any prince OR choose score 1 knight of that player’s to score. Once two cards have been played, the player draws two cards from ANY of his three stacks of card types to replenish his hand and it’s the next player’s turn.

After 11 rounds, all cards have been played and positions on the scoring track are compared. The player with the most Prestige Points is the victor!

Artus is essentially an abstract game with only the slightest flavor of theme and, at its core, extremely tactical. Its nature makes for indirect interaction as no card will directly target an opponent. Instead, players must concentrate on their own positions and possibilities to maximize scores. As the game progresses, the King’s position will continue to shift so that values and positions of Knights change. This constant fluidity of positioning can wreak havoc with a player’s plans making a long range strategy difficult if not impossible. Gamers who fancy themselves “grand strategists” should stay away from this one. However, several factors prevent the game from sinking into complete chaos while giving it its own distinct appeal.

First is the fact that EVERYONE has the same set of cards and ALL cards will be played and have an effect. Second, YOU choose which cards to draw to complete your hand each round. While it is true that you can’t be sure when particular cards will appear, you know they will and can guard yourself (or, at least, try to guard yourself) against situations detrimental to your prestige scoring. In particular, I’m thinking of the scoring card that forces you to score THREE knights on red spaces. Since all red spaces result in negative points, you are guaranteed to lose points with this card. A smart player, however, can try to draw and hold this card, ready to be played when three of his knights are on the lesser negative spaces. For that reason, it is a good idea to draw scoring cards relatively early (to be prepared to optimize scoring situations when they present themselves) and to keep one or two Knight cards in reserve so that you can exert some control over the movement of your pieces and are not solely at the mercy of board shifts. Third, on each turn, a player plays TWO cards. This also gives some control and allows a player to set up a situation with the first card and then deliver a powerhouse blow with the second (like a championship fighter in a title fight).

Artus is a game that rewards the ability to think on your feet, pounce on situations that open up rapidly (and disappear just as quickly) and manage your cards to maximize scoring potential. These characteristics of game play are aspects I enjoy. If this is something we share, then you will find Artus a royal treat!



natural disasters essay concept paper example us pharmacy viagra examples of successful scholarship essays que es mas fuerte viagra o cialis writing argument essayВ follow url follow site how do i delete multiple emails on my iphone 5s how do i set up my email on my iphone se resume objective sample nursing follow business case study format manuscript editing services viagra nose black cialis 800 mg source site que consecuencias tiene el tomar viagra homework help brainfuse source link follow link information technology resume writing services nyc dissertation binding services sheffield go to site go site clomid that can be paid for by paypal someone write my essay for me viagra edinburgh pages search free Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.

Fall 2011 GA Report Articles


Reviewed by Frank Hamrick (Treefrog/Mayfair Games, 2 players, ages 12 to adult, 60-90 minutes; $55) Two hundred and fifty years after Voltaire said it, it became a game! The British and French struggled for control of North America from the early 1700s until the final battle of Quebec in 1760. That final battle ended the long French and Indian War and led to Voltaire's supposed ...
Read More
Reviewed by Andrea "Liga" Ligabue (Lo Scarabeo, 3-5 players, ages 10 to adult, 45 minutes; $59.99) Arcanum, from Lo Scarabeo, is the new game from Andrea Chiavesio and Pierluca Zizzi, released in Essen 2011. I really like Andrea's designs starting from Kingsburg, one of the greatest dice games ever (and featured in the Spring 2008 Gamers Alliance Report), down to last year's release Olympus. This ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Alea/Ravensburger, 2-4 players, ages 9 to adult, about 60 minutes; $34.95) One of the most romantic eras in human history is the Age of Knights and Chivalry. Novels and films abound that are set in that time. Games have also found this time to be a fertile area to explore as knighthood has served as the theme for many of them ...
Read More
Baseball on the Table-top - Part IV Games of the 1980's and 90's by K-ban If the 70’s were the time for table-top baseball game designers to explore, in new and different ways, the confrontation between pitcher and batter (see Part #3 of this series in the Spring 2011 GA Report), the next generation of statistical baseball games to hit the market sought to add ...
Read More
Reviewed by Chris Kovac (Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro, 2 to 4 players, ages 13 and up, 120 minutes; $65) One of the popular games of my childhood back in the 70's was the game Battleship where you and your opponent placed ships on hidden grids and then took turns calling out row and column coordinates to try to find and sink the enemy's hidden ships ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Gamewright Games, 2 teams or players, ages 8 to adult, 15 minutes; $19.99) When you have two successful games, it seems inevitable that someone will think "why not combine them?" The two games in question are the vintage game of Cathedral (whose spin-off Cathedral World was reviewed in the Spring 2004 GA Report) and the relatively recent and very successful FITS ...
Read More
Betty Grable, Legs and Feet Betty Grable had legs - and man, what legs! For those of you who may not recognize the name, the lovely Betty was Queen of the Pin-ups during World War II. Her image in that famous photo (reproduced here) decorated hundreds (thousands? hundreds of thousands?) of soldiers' barracks as well as the fuselages of their fighter planes. If lonely and ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Gigamic distributed by Back Alley Traders, 2 players, ages 8 to adult, 10-20 minutes; $30) Back in 1985, Claude Leroy (for Swiss Games) came up with an idea for a rather clever abstract game and clever it was. Still, despite its originality, the game soon vanished from gaming stores making it hard to find. But Gigamic has solved that problem and returned ...
Read More
Reviewed by Ted Cheatham (Queen Games, 2-5 players, ages 8 to adult, 45-60 minutes; $54.95) Ugh, must go to hunt Mammut. Me big cave man! And that leads us to the premise of the game of Mammut, designed by Kristian Amundsen Ostby. In Mammut, cave people are off to hunt for mammoths and forage. After the big day, there are all kinds of booty that ...
Read More
Reviewed by Pevans (Ystari/Rio Grande Games, 3-5 players, ages 13 to adult, 75+ minutes; $54.95) Ye gods! French publisher Ystari has a fine track record and Olympos is the latest addition to the line (Rio Grande is publishing the English language version). The game’s designer is well known, too: Philippe Keyaerts is the man behind Vinci (and thus Small World) and Evo. As soon as ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Columbia Games, 2-6 players, ages 8 to adult, 30-60 minutes; $24.99) If this game seems familiar, that shouldn't be too surprising as it has had a long history. Slapshot is credited to Tom Dalgliesh and Lance Gutteridge. Dalgliesh may be best known for his wargame designing efforts for Columbia Games collaborating on such games as Hammer of the Scots (Winter 2003 GA ...
Read More
THE GAMER'S BOOKSHELF: THE KOBOLD GUIDE TO BOARD GAME DESIGN by Mike Selinker (Kobold Quarterly/Open Design, 138 pages, $19.99 print/$9.99 pdf) It seems like everyone who has ever played a game thinks to themselves, "Hey, I can make a game too!". Well maybe you can and maybe you can't. But it's always good to draw some insight and inspiration from those who actually have had ...
Read More
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser (What's Your Game?, 2-4 players, ages 12 to adult, 2 to 3 hours; $65.99) For years, the subject of wine-making was a sorely overlooked theme in the gaming industry. There have been a few games utilizing the theme but, for such a popular and intricate industry, the overlooking of this theme was baffling. This was corrected in a major way ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Gryphon Games, 2 players, ages 10 to adult, 45-60 minutes; $29.99) Several decades ago, in the early 1970s, game designer Phil Orbanes decided to start his own game company. The result was Gamut of Games. Although a relatively short-lived enterprise, the company published many games of note including Cartel and Infinity (both by Orbanes) and two word games - Montage and ...
Read More

If you enjoy games, then Gamers Alliance is right for you!