I hereby decree that you only play wonderful games from this point forward! *bangs gavel on table* Or...I suppose if I'm a Queen... *bangs staff on floor?* I digress. Were I truly a Queen maybe I could make that decree, but since I am not (SIGH) I'm just highly suggest that you do that. Lucky for you, Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig (from here on out referred to as either Between Two Castles or simply B2C) falls in that category. A very interesting cross between 2 different games, Between Two Castles is a multi-mechanic game you'll be eager to get to the table again and again. Let's take a look!
What Is It?
A cross between (is hybrid a better way to put it maybe? *shrugs*) Castles of Mad King Ludwig and Between Two Cities, this game brings together drafting, partner-play, tile placement, and set collection in a creative way that lets you build the castle of your dreams! (Or possibly of your nightmares because 12 outdoor rooms and no kitchen would definitely make me cry... and in reality the castle isn't even for you, so there's that).
Who Is It For?
The game itself recommends ages 10+ and I'd say that, or a little older, would be accurate. It's not all together that difficult to learn or play, but there is a lot going on, and partner-play in this manner is not something you see that often (at least for me, I don't know your life), so it might be more difficult for anyone younger if they aren't familiar with gaming. I recommend to those who like both or one of the games it's based on but - here comes the plot twist - I would also recommend it to anyone who maybe doesn't like one of those on their own, but likes the mechanics pulled into this one because I think it uses them really well.
Quality of Components
The first thing I absolutely have to mention is the fabulous Game Trayz insert. I love that pretty much the whole game is contained within that, and if you shuffle things up at the end, you're immediately ready to go next time you pull it out. Top notch. I think the the art is very pretty, both on the tiles and on the box, and the cardboard tiles and castle pawns are also a nice, sturdy quality. (Though the castle pawns can be seen as a bit unnecessary, but hey, I still like em).
I'd give this one a 3.5/5 for difficulty, and to be honest, I even had a difficult time deciding that. It's not really all that hard of a game - you draft and place two tiles every turn, that's it! But there are a lot of bonuses to be earned and each tile scores a little differently, so it can be a lot to follow to try and build the best castle that there is. Hopefully it doesn't cause too much AP! But I think this is a great game for mid- to heavy-gamers, and they won't find it too difficult.
What else can I say? I really enjoyed this game, probably more than I even thought would, and definitely recommend it. I really like Castles of Mad King Ludwig, but I'm not crazy about Between Two Cities, and I think that this took the cool thngs about both and combined them into a very well done game. I think that you can get very focused on balancing the castles you're working on and have fun building them without even being concerned about winning, which definitely makes a great game in my mind. If you have a chance, definitely check this one out!
Designers - Matthew O'Malley, Ben Rosset
Artists - Laura Bevon, Agnieszka Dabrowiecka, Bartłomiej Kordowski, Noah Adelman
Publishers - Stonemaier Games, Delta Vision Publishing, Feuerland Spiele, Ludofy Creative, Maldito Games, PHALANX
BGG - boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/258036/between-two-castles-mad-king-ludwig
*I was provided a copy of this game to do this review*