Manufacturer Spiele aus Timbuktu
Year 2001
Designer Michael Schacht
Kardinal & Koenig das Kartenspiel box

Kardinal & Koenig das Kartenspiel


Kardinal & Koenig, (Web of Power), translated to a card game format. All of the fun without all of the fiddly rules!

Background

Kardinal & Koenig das Kartenspiel can be downloaded from Michael Schacht's website, and can also be purchased. Now I absolutely despise Kardinal & Koenig, (Web of Power in English), and yet I liked the idea of getting a free game and had heard some positve buzz about it, so I thought "what the heck?". I also have been wanting to try my hand at actually printing and mounting a game, so off I went. It was worth the effort.

Jump to my opinions

The Gameplay

The game consists of a deck of 56 cards, representing various countries in 15th century Europe and Scandinavia. In addition there are 8 "Law Cards" which provide rule breaking special abilities or minus 2 victory points. There are 9 countries represented on the Land cards with each being represented by from 8 to 4 cards. For those who have played Web of Power, this aspect of the card corresponds to the placing of a cloister. On each card there can also be various symbols. These are divided into two types, circle symbols and carriage/ship symbols. The circle symbols are somewhat analogous to the advisors in Web of Power, and there are usually two or three different types of symbols within each country. The carriage/ship symbols can be thought of as the "chain scoring" that occurs in Web of Power. The final components in the game are "claiming stones" of which each player gets two or three depending on the number of players. More on these in a bit.

The Land cards are laid out, face up, in 4 rows of 14 cards each, and the Law cards are placed face down on the second card in on the top row, the third card in on the second row, etc. When a player takes a Land card with a Law card on it, the player must also take the Law card. Each player in their turn can perform two actions. The first is picking up Land cards. There are three restrictions on taking Land cards . First, you can only take Land cards that are on either end of a row. Second, you cannot take Land cards from different countries. Finally, you can take, at most, two circle symbols on each turn. Many of the cards contain two circle symbols, so you are generally taking either one card with two circles, or two cards with one. The smallest country, Denmark, has the only cards that don't have any circles on them. After taking cards, you may then place, (or move), one of your claiming stones on a card. The claiming stones let you "reserve" a card to some extent. The only hitch is that just having a claiming stone on a card doesn't prevent another player from taking that card. If they do take it when it has your stone on it, they have to remove one of their claiming stones from the game! Law cards that have been taken in a prior turn can be played during your turn, and these can be pretty nice. One type lets you take back a claiming stone that has been removed. One type lets you take three circles in a turn, and the final type lets you take multiple countries during a turn, (which is especially cool if there are a few Denmarks available). Of course there are as many of the "-2 Victory Points" Law cards as any of the others, so the Law cards are a mixed blessing. The turns progress until all of the cards are gone, and then the game is scored.

The Scoring

Scoring is done in the typical Web of Power manner, with the majority in each country getting points equal to the total number of cards of that country, second place gets points equal to the number of cards the majority player had, etc. The circle symbols are then scored. Within each country whoever has the most identical circle symbols gets that number as points. Finally, after all the countries have been scored, if a player has 5 or more carriage symbols and/or 5 or more ship symbols, they get that number as points. So anyone who has ever played Web of Power will see the similarities between the two games.

Why this game is so great

I have only played one game so far, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. "Why would you enjoy this game when you despise Web of Power" I hear you cry. I enjoy this game because it lacks the one rule that ruins Web of Power for me. The rule that the first player into a country can only play one cloister. This completely bones me, and I think every time before I play, "remember to open in a country you don't plan on playing in", and always promptly do the opposite. In this game, I'm not faced with that. The game has a very similar feel to Web of Power, and the fact that you can see what's on the board and coming up makes for some interesting tactical play. "If I take that Ungarn card that will free up that two circle Frankenreich card, which will give her a tie in circle symbols and she'll get a turn before I do, so she'll probably be able to get to that other Frankenreich card which will give her the majority, so I think I'll look elsewhere." Also, the claiming stones are a cool idea, although with the take back a stone Law cards, their effect is lessened. I think a five player game would be very different from a 3 or 4 player game as well.

Why others don't agree

Some have found this game underwhelming. Nothing great, nothing horrible. I suspect that these people really like Web of Power. Some have also felt that the fact that all of the cards being face up leads to the dreaded analysis paralysis. I haven't played enough to know whether this is the case, or whether the layout of the cards suggests that this will happen.

The other potential problem I see is that the "good" law cards are very good, and the bad one's aren't really all that bad. Now if you were to get stuck with all of the -2 VP cards and none of the good ones, or if one player gets a whole bunch of the goods ones, this could be a bit unbalancing.

Recap

Strategy: 7
Complexity: 5
Fun: 6
Overall: 7

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