FTW Staff Picks - Castles of Mad King Ludwig May 23 2018

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new. 

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Genre: Tile Placement

Designer: Ted Alspach

Player Size: 1 to 4 Players

Game Length: 60 minutes

For fans of: Suburbia, Quadropolis, Isle of Skye

Most tile-placement games give players uniform-shaped tiles which all fit neatly into a grid. Typically, there are adjacency bonuses awarded for the ways you build your tiles. In Castles of Mad King Ludwig, players have to work around a variety of imperfect shapes and odd fits to build their castles. Placing tiles in certain spots may possibly clog up doorways and lower your potential score. But such is the life of a builder.

In Castles of Mad King Ludwig, players compete to build the most extravagant castle for King Ludwig II. Each round, one player takes on the role of the Master Builder. The Master Builder dictates the price of each Room tile available at the time, and players will then decide which tile to buy and pay the cost directly to the Master Builder. Player may also opt to not purchase a tile in favour of gaining more money. When building their respective Castles, the rooms in each player's Castle must connect from one doorway to another. Each of the 8 types of Rooms give a bonus when all doorways lead to another room. And each tile gives a bonus or negative depending on what other types of Rooms connect to them. The player whose Castle scores the most points at the end of the game is declared the winner!  

There's a lot of moving parts to Castles of Mad King Ludwig. First, you have to track individual Bonus cards. Then you have the King's Favour tiles to guide you. And if it wasn't enough, you have 8 different types of rooms that all grant distinct Completion bonuses. Oh and the different rooms are all shaped differently to make it feel like you're playing some variation of Tetris. And arguably the most important aspect of the game is taking advantage of your turn as the Master Builder. You want to price desirable tiles high enough that you can benefit from them, but not too high or else you risk players passing altogether. The auction dynamic makes this game far more enticing than something like Suburbia, which can feel rather dull and "mathy".

The first time I played Suburbia I felt let down by how much I didn't like it. I love tile-placement games and city-builders so I had such high expectations. But it just wasn't for me. Ted Alpsch won back my favour when he released Castles of Mad King Ludwig. It was all the things I wanted out of Suburbia and more. And while I prefer the quicker Isle of Skye as my goto tile-placer, I won't turn down the opportunity to play a game of Castles of Mad King Ludwig



Most Anticipated Games - May 2018 Edition May 08 2018

Each month at For The Win Board Game Cafe, we take a look at a few future releases that we're really excited about. From new games, to expansions, to Kickstarters we'll be covering it all monthly. 


Many games have mimicked the formula of the all-time popular Werewolf game. But few have dared to reinvent it with the exact same theme. GROWL is a whole new take on the Werewolf universe with updated gameplay. With no moderator required, the game can be played and participated by all. Instead of simply lynching and killing players however, the Wolves have the opportunity to convert Humans into Wolves, switching their team. 

It's not exactly One Night Ultimate Werewolf, but I can definitely see the two games filling the same void. One is an alternative experience, while the other is a condensed version of the original. Time will tell if GROWL can live up to the Werewolf name. 

GROWL ships to Kickstarter backers in December 2018.

My Little Scythe 

As long as there have been table top games, there have been Print N Play versions of them. Whether it's a fan-made expansion to an already existing game or a re-themed edition, the community has always been active in bringing together projects. But very, very rarely has it led to the publishing of an official product. 

My Little Scythe is a family-friendly version of the hugely successful and popular Scythe. And as its title would imply, it started out as a My Little Pony themed version of the original. Created by a 6-year old girl and her father, the fan-made project caught the eyes of the original publisher of Scythe, Stonemaier Games. Of course the official version will not include any of the official My Little Pony assets, but the replacement art is equally as cute. It's really an amazing story that deserves all of the attention its gotten and more.

My Little Scythe will be available in August 2018.

Pantone: The Game

Pantone: The Game might be one of the funniest tabletop titles I've heard in quite a while. I'm not sure if it was intentional, but it's great and I'm sure Pantone™ appreciates the extra licensing money. The game comes with many different coloured cards and a deck of Character cards. Using only the Pantone coloured cards, the active player (the Artist) must convey the secret Character to the rest of the players. 

This game gives me heavy Concept vibes. It comes with 132 Character cards which is not much considering it would be difficult to play with the same cards twice. But given the open-ended nature of the game, I can easily see hundreds of fan-made print & play cards in the future. To this day, I still play Concept using my own concepts.

Pantone: The Game will be available in Q4 2018.

Kodama Duo: Kindred Spirits

If you've ever watched Princess Mononoke, you should be familiar with Kodama, the dryad-like spirits that inhabit the trees in Japanese folklore. A few years ago, a cute game by the name of Kodama: The Tree Spirits was released. Simplistic and zen-like in nature, the game had players building out sprawling trees in hopes to keep their Kodama as happy as possible. 

Kodama Duo: Kindred Spirits, is the two-player specific version of the original.  And in addition to that, it gives owners of the original the ability to play up to 6 players and new draft rules. For fans of the original, it's a no-brainer and for newcomers it's a great spot to jump in. 

Click here to visit the Kickstarter page. Kodama Duo: Kindred Spirits ships to backers in October 2018.


Darwin's Choice

I'm not gonna lie, I picked this one largely due to how cool it looks aesthetically. It's got a charm that is hard to resist, and the box reminded me a lot of Charterstone. As for the game itself, there will no doubt be strong comparisons to Evolution. Players build different species that need to adapt and eat in order to survive the vastly changing landscapes and climates. The way the cards connect to build the different species is a nice touch. The illustration is top notch, and hopefully the game itself will be able to follow suit. 

Click here to visit the Kickstarter page. Darwin's Choice ships to backers in July 2018.