So, you've built a castle before I hear. And you think you know everything about them now? Unlikely.
Secrets of all sorts rest within the confines of Mad King Ludwig's castle, and they all rest at your fingertips. Rooms you've never seen before, hidden swans of all colors, and even more await you here. Are you ready to take these Secrets on? ... Unlikely.
What Is It?
Castles of Mad King Ludwig: Secrets is an expansion for Castles of Mad King Ludwig (surprise), so if you do not like or have or have any interest in that base game, please turn back now. This expansion comes with 4 different parts and 4 new favor tokens. The parts are:
Who Is It For?
I would say that this is for players who like base Castles, obviously, and maybe those who just feel like they need a little bit more variety or choices available to them in the base game. Additionally, anyone who wants to challenge themselves with more restrictions (the moats, which lock you into a square area for building) may like this as well. The expansion doesn't add much difficulty, so I would stick with the recommended age range for base Castles as well, which I would personally put at 12+.
Quality of Components
No complaints here! The expansion adds in some room and favor tiles, moat tiles, starting barbicans, secret passages, reference cards, and swan tokens, all of which are high quality cardboard, perfectly comparable to the base game. *Gives thumbs up*!
I would rank the base game at a solid 3/5 difficulty - middle of the road, not too hard but also not too light - and I'd give the expansion the same rating. Secrets doesn't add anything really difficult to the game - no crazy hard concepts, no big new rules, nothing that really turns the game upside down by any means. The expansion mostly just adds some new restrictions and a little more variety.
Overall I thought this was a pretty good expansion, as I liked most parts of it. I like that there are new tiles to add to the variety of the original game, that's always a plus for me. I really enjoyed collecting swans and thought they were a fun addition, even though they added a bit to the set up and tear down time. Secret passages were easy to forget about, especially if they were the only thing you added in, but having them available to you didn't subtract anything from the game itself, so it is a worthy addition. Personally, I wasn't a fan of the moats. I don't like being restricted in my building, and it always seemed that when they were in play if you were the player that didn't get to build all 3, you fell behind in points. I'll also mention that all of the parts put together is a bit much, because there's a lot of new stuff going on, so if you're going to use the expansion, I'd recommend picking out 1 or 2 at a time.
So in summary, the expansion doesn't reinvent the original or improve it by some astronomical amount, but it does have some cool features. If you like Castles of Mad King Ludwig, and you're interested in trying some new things with it, Castles of Mad King Ludwig: Secrets is definitely worth checking out!
Designer - Ted Alspach
Artist - Keith Curtis, Ollin Timm
Publisher - Bézier Games
BGG - boardgamegeek.com/boardgameexpansion/174296/castles-mad-king-ludwig-secrets
*I was provided a copy of this expansion to do this review*