Designer: Rita Modl
Publisher: Lucky Duck Games
Artist: Robin Lagofun
The twelve-sided stones of power decide who is to rule the twelve realms. The manipulation of the stones is an art, and impossible to accomplish alone. You‘ll need the support of beings from all across the Twelve Kingdoms. Only those who most skilfully employ their powers will claim the throne. - Description from the publisher.
We were kindly sent a copy of King of 12 by Lucky Duck games for review.
In King of 12, players will each have one 12 sided die and a deck of 12 cards. The aim of the game is to win rounds by collecting the most points, each round consists of several turns at the end of which the winner and runner up of the turn get points.
To set up the game, the point tokens are placed in a supply and players decide on which 7 of the 12 character they will play with for the rest of the game. The only requirements for choosing cards are that The Knight must always be in the starting cards and there must be at least 2 cards with the blue die icon at the top of the card. The remaining 4 cards can be chosen by a random draw if players so wish.
Before starting a round each player rolls their 12 sided die then play can begin. At the beginning of the turn, players look secretly at their cards and select one to play, putting it face down on the table. When everyone is ready, the cards are flipped over and players compare their cards, if the same card is duplicated anywhere they cancelled out and discarded face down.
Any cards that remain are actioned, and their unique abilities take effect; cards like The Sorcerer, The Reverser and The Oracle require players to physically change their die whereas other cards like “The Alchemist”, “The Parasite” and “The Machine” allow players to temporarily add or subtract numbers to the value of their die (this means that players can have a value beyond the 12 faces of the die).
Some cards need to be actioned in a particular order, for example “The Merchants” must be activated before any others as it requires the players to pass their die clockwise to their neighbour while The Oracle allows the player to roll their die just before the scoring stage, accepting whatever they roll.
The Troublemakers card requires all players to rotate their die to the opposite side but doesn’t stipulate when to do this, this means that each player at the table can choose when the card affects their die.
Other Cards like The Knight and The Lady change the rules for the duration of a turn. The Knight card flips the game so that the lowest value die wins the turn with the 2nd lowest getting the runner up points. The Lady cancels all other played cards unless two are played in the same turn, in this case the player of The Lady card with the lowest die value can steal a point token of their choice from the other player.
Once the card effects have all taken place, all players compare the values of their die - if any of the values match, they are cancelled for the turn!
If there are any dice left at this stage points are distributed, generally speaking the player with the highest die value gets 2 points and the runner up gets 1 point.
The round ends when either one player has gotten 8 points or if a player has only one card left in their hand. At this point players do one final comparison of the points they have acquired if any players have the exact number of points, these are also cancelled. This means that in a 3 player game, 2 people could end up finishing the round with 8 points but would cancel each other and instead the third runner up would win the round, even if they had only 1 point!
Play begins again as before, however the winner of the round must choose 1 card from their hand to discard from their hand permanently placing it underneath their die.
Once a player has won 2 rounds the game is over with the victor claiming the throne for themselves!
So what do we think of King of 12?
We were very fortunate to have the opportunity to play King of 12 just before its release in the UK by Lucky Duck games.
King of 12 is a fantastic amount of fun, with a play time of 15 minutes it is quick to play, the rules are straightforward and easy to pick up quickly.
Due to it’s quick play time King of 12 would make a perfect warm up game on a games evening or a lighter more snappy game you could play during a lunch break. This along with the artwork is what initially attracted us to the game, however, in reality, we often find ourselves playing it multiple times back to back because of how much fun it is!
Though the game is simple and easy to learn, King of 12 still packs one hell of a punch and there are many layers of strategy to be explored.
The game has a recommended set of cards for beginners which involves less player interaction but after a few games, we would recommend mixing in some of the cards that involve more direct interactions with players as this is where the game really thrives.
While we were really enjoying the game at a 2 player count, it really starts to shine at 3 players - we arranged to play a game with the lovely Az from Lucky Duck Games on our Twitch channel prior to the release. It was then that we really saw the game come to life.
The strategy ramps up even more with 3-4 players and each move feels tense and exciting. Whilst you may start out with a plan when you play your card, you can never count on what someone else is going to play. Having more players really escalates the unpredictable nature of the game in a brilliant way, especially so towards the later stages of the round where you have less card choices in your hand (especially if you’ve previously won a round and have had to discard a card).
We clipped a particular part of our game with Az which perfectly highlights this chaotic nature. Ben was close to winning the first round with 7 points with Kelly on 6 not far behind. The round however ended up flipping on it's head for a very amusing outcome, find out what happened by watching along below...
The game is so much fun, sometimes you can play a card only for someone else to play something that combats it, and someone else will play something which combats that. It creates an amusing chain of actions which either cancel each other out or amend the winning conditions of the round - often this creates an amusing moment where you stop, and take a second to realise the result of the chain of actions, and then... commence groans from around the table and a triumphant cheer from the victor.
While randomness is inherent when playing King of 12 is there is also an element of bluffing and memory involved in the game too. If you can remember the cards that have already been played, you can help to mitigate some of the random luck by strategically playing cards to benefit your game. While everyone is generally trying to aim for high die values, you could sneak in a Knight or Gambler card that turns the game on its head.
There was a time in one of our games where Ben’s die was sitting on a 12 and he played The Lady card to cancel the other cards securing another 2, in a later game however, The Lady was used to keep two dice at the same value causing a cancellation with the remaining player picking up an easy 2 points whilst having a low number.
The production quality of the game is fantastic. The box has a clean yet striking design with nice spot uv finish, a pack of simple yet beautiful icy blue translucent 12 sided dice and tarot sized cards.
The artwork in the game is really attractive and eye-catching, the piercing blue colours stand out beautifully against the simple clean white backgrounds on the cards. They are laid out clearly, and each of the card powers are concisely explained on each card.
The cards feature beautiful and wonderfully whimsical illustrations from Robin Lagofun, a new illustrator to the board game world; who we fully expect will have no issues whatsoever picking up future work in the industry following their stunning work in this game.
A gorgeous touch to the artwork in the game is that each of the cards includes the blue D12 incorporated somewhere within the illustration; the outrageously cute foxes in the The Troublemakers are each playing with their own a large D12 die, the inquisitive Machine peers into a tiny D12 with the light blue glow emanating from inside the dice illuminating its face, and the sorcerer wears a glowing D12 around their neck which appears to be the source of their power. There are so many intricate details and in the illustrations like the Ladybug pauldrons and acorn helmet of The Knight and the alchemists books which are scrawled with tiny illustrations of potion bottles and yet more dice. Everything about the art is just so captivating!
Overall we have absolutely loved King of 12 and highly recommend it, it is a game which piles so much fun, excitement and a whole bunch of strategy in a neat little package!