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KING’S BREAKFAST

Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser

KING’S BREAKFAST (Abacus Spiele/ Rio Grande Games, 3 – 5 players, 20 – 30 minutes; $10)

 

This is one of the gazillion games released this year by designers Alan Moon and Aaron Weissblum.  Although this is certainly WAY down on the complexity scale and so light it practically floats away, it is the one that I will likely play the most.  Is it their best?  No … but it is light, fun and fast, making it easily accessible to a wide variety of folks and groups.  That is why it will likely be played far more often than other games they have designed, even though some of those other games are “meatier” and more strategy oriented.

In King’s Breakfast, players vie to collect various items of food, but must be careful not to grab more of an item than is reserved for the king.  That would be rude.  In fact, the king would be so incensed that it would render all of the food you collected of that type worthless.  Otherwise, if you were more careful and made sure that you only had an amount of each item equal to or less than the king possessed on his table, then you would be handsomely rewarded.  In this case, each item you collected would be worth an amount equal to the number of that particular item that was on the king’s table.  The player with the greatest amount gains the king’s favor. kingb1

The large deck of cards consists of 8 different food and drink items, with 15 cards of each item.  In addition, there are five pesky “Emerald” cards – the king’s pet dragon.  The deck is shuffled and two cards per player are revealed.  Duplicate food items are overlapped so that everyone can see just how many cards there are of each item.

On a player’s turn, he quite simply either takes one stack of food items or draws the top card from the deck into his hand.  If a player opts to take an item that contains multiple cards, he MUST take ALL of the cards of that item.  He cannot simply elect to take one card of an item if there are multiple cards of that item on the table.

Each player, in turn, does the same thing.  If after all players have selected cards there are items remaining on the table, these are moved onto the king’s table.  We line these up on one side of the table so that everyone can see just how many of each food item is possessed by the king.

Then, new cards are revealed and this cycle is repeated.  If any dragon cards are revealed, they, too, remain on the table and may be selected by a player.  However, if there are multiple dragon cards on the table, a player only takes ONE of them – not the entire stack.  A dragon card MUST be used immediately to remove TWO cards from the king’s table.  They can be the same type or different items.  The player MUST, however, remove exactly two items; he cannot choose to remove fewer.

It is the use of these dragons – and the persistent threat that they will surface and be used – that keeps the game interesting.  You see, there is always the danger that some of the food items can be removed from the king’s table.  Rest assured that astute players will notice which players have scooped an abundance of a particular food item and subsequently use Emerald to devour those food items from the king’s table, rendering worthless the matching items in that player’s hand.  Nasty, nasty.  The only defense against such an affront is to scoop the dragon cards before your opponents do.  Of course, you can play it conservative and not collect too many of one particular food item, thereby attempting to escape notice.

The game certainly takes on a different feel depending upon how soon or late the dragon cards surface.  If they surface early, the fear of having items removed from the king’s table is removed and players can collect cards with greater confidence.  If their appearance is delayed, however, there is a persistent danger present throughout the game.

The game ends when there are not enough food items remaining in the deck to deal a new set of cards to the table.  At that point, each player tallies the value of the cards he possesses.  As mentioned, each food item is examined independently.  If a player has more of a particular item than what is present on the king’s table, those cards are worthless and discarded.  Otherwise, each card of a particular item is worth a number of points equal to the number of cards of that item present on the king’s table.  For example, if the king has three wine cards on his table, then each wine card in a player’s hand is worth three points.  Players tally the value of all their cards and the player with the greatest total is victorious.

Is there a lot of strategy here?  No.  In fact, not much at all.  Still, it is fun to play and has a nice element of nastiness.  The game has gone over well with both gamers and my casual gaming friends.  I know it will also prove popular with my wife’s family.  That is a big plus and gives this pleasant little game great versatility.

I’ve also found that it is easy to adapt the game to more players.  This does require the purchase of a second deck, but in my opinion it is worth it since I now can play the game with up to ten players.  Simply add three of each food item and one dragon for each additional player beyond five.  I’ve played with six players using this method and it worked just fine.  Again, great versatility. – – – – – – –  Greg J. Schloesser


 

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