Game Review: Usurp the King

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Players -5

Time -30-60 mins

Age – 8+

Game Type – Adaptive Strategy, Intrigue

Complexity – 5

Personally, I love political games. Many members of my game group hate them. I think the reason is that political games tend to represent real-life better than many other games. Build up, control, destroy: these are “office politics” problems we face in the everyday world. Many people also hate political games because they are too hot-button right now; with the current crisis in the United States, we need to be coming together not drifting apart. DPH games go around this by going back in time to look for their political intrigue.

Story

Usurp the King is a great quick strategy game where you are trying to control the kingdom. As one of the great houses, you kind of have a “Game of Thrones” feel, without all the nudity and incest. Your goal is to control the member of the court who runs the kingdom at the end of the day. This changes throughout the game – who has the best chance – so you always need to be on alert on when to change loyalties when your favored leader gets the axe. (8 out of 10).

Artwork

The artwork for this game is very good. It has a neo-gothic feel that really immerses the players in the game. The tokens and the cards are well-designed and easy to tell apart. The box is also a good size for the shelf, fitting in with almost all of your mid-sized games. The rules are “play it and you will understand rules,” meaning you will get a good feel for the game and there are a couple of things that you will pick up as you go. (7 of 10).

Mechanics

Usurp the King is a true “card flopper” there are nobles around the house cards and you take turns influencing them to support your house’s goals. Influence is measured by how many cards you have played on each member of the court. Simple, right? Wrong. Each card you play has a positive or negative effect on the noble; you could protect them or you could kill them. This means the playfield is constantly changing. One very nice aspect of the game is that it follows a “snake” pattern rather than an “around the table” pattern. This means you will not have one player playing first each round (or last, which has great advantages). (6 of 10)

Strategy

This game has one of the more balanced strategy approaches I have seen. Offense and defense are right out in the open in this game and they get fierce. Make the wrong move and your noble of choice could die at the end of the game, or – even worse – change loyalties. When it comes to rush, you need to be careful. While you can card load one noble, many cards can be erased by another player’s cards, so there is always a risk. Engine building is difficult in this game, but not impossible because of the “book” mechanic. (6 of 10).

Novelty

this game is very good in the area of political games in that it does not force you to “re-live” real life. When you build up your game in this, you are playing against the cards your opponent plays. There is a lot of saying “sorry” in this game as you knock off your opponent’s choice for the crown. It’s not a game if someone does not lose, right? This is a great game and it stands out from many of the old school card floppers on the market. 6.5

Overall

This is a great quick game that you can play with your friends while you are waiting to get your whole group together. It is aggressive, but the short playtime allows for nasty backstabbing without people being so invested that they get mad. Overall, this game scores 33.5 out of 50, which is a very strong score for a pure card game. With quick rules and an open playstyle, this game is sure to become one of your favorites.

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Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer is a writer for NRN and an adjunct professor at both Penn State University and the University of South Florida. He is the author of several books, most recently “A Criminal History of the Democrat Party” which is available on Amazon and via the publisher, Elite Exclusivity. Follow on Twitter at @Acriminalhisto1

NRN • New Right Network
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