Dale Yu: First Impressions of Kilt Castle


Kilt Castle

  • Designer: Guenter Burkhardt
  • Publisher: Zoch
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 10+
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Times played: 2, with review copy provided by Zoch


This year, there were two Burkhardt games that caught my eye, and each of them uses an interesting (and different) action selection mechanic.  Though Burkhardt is one of the more prolific designers, I have yet to find one of his designs as a personal favorite, though many of them are liked.  At the Zoch press event at SPIEL 2016, I had the chance to play Kilt Castle – one of the aforementioned games.

In this game, players are working together to build the towers of Kilt Castle – the ancestral home of their shared clan.  The board shows an incomplete 5×5 grid of building spaces.  Around the outer border of the board, the building action cards are placed – some of these are single colored while others have combinations of two different colors.   Each player has a supply of 16 plastic towers, with 2 of them having a “2 crest” sticker on the top and 3 having a “1 crest” sticker.   Each player also starts with 10 ducats.  The two multicolored roof tiles start next to the board.


On your turn, you first move an action card.  Then, each player whose color is on that card which moved gets to build a tower floor.  When you choose a card, you are able to choose any card around the board.  That card must move clockwise around the board.  If it is moved to the most forward position, there cannot be a gap from the card columns behind it.  No card row can have more than 4 cards in it.  Finally, there can never be more than 5 card rows.  As long as you adhere to these three placement rules, you can move any card from any stack clockwise into any other position.  If the card that you chose is a multi-colored card, you must rotate the orientation of the two colors as you move the card.  Also make a note (by flipping over the active player marker) if you created an empty column – that is, you moved the last card in the column.  This will trigger a payout after building.

Now, using the card that just moved, one or two players get to build tower floors – if a multicolored card was moved, the player whose color is closer to the board must go first.  A tower must be build in the row where the action card has been placed.  The player can build on the first empty space (working in from the edge of the board) for free, OR the player can overbuild – that is play on top of any already existing tower.  To overbuild, you must pay a fee in ducats equal to the number of previously existing floors in the tower, and this amount is paid to the player whose color was previously on top of the tower.  (If you were on top of the tower previously, then you don’t have to pay anything).  Whichever color is top of a tower is considered to be the owner of the entire tower.

If a multicolored card is moved, and both of the players choose to build in the same space, the second player places a roof tile on top of the tower (after he has paid for the placement of his own tower piece).  If both roof towers are already on the board, you must move one of the two tiles from its previous placement.  Roofs may never be overbuilt – they must be moved by creating a roof need somewhere else.  Roofs are important because they cause that particular tower to be owned by all players.


After all the building is done, conduct a payout if it was triggered.  Each player looks at the board and calculates their most valuable contiguous area.  You score 1 ducat per tower/roof and visible crest in the area.  Take the ducats from the supply.

The active player marker then moves clockwise to the next player who then chooses a card to move, and the game continues on.  The game ends when one player has played his final tower piece to the board.  If there is a payout triggered on this final turn, it still happens as usual (i.e. each player scores their single most valuable area.)

Then, a final payout is made at the end of the game which is 1 ducat per tower controlled by the player as well as 1 ducat per visible crest.  All such towers are scored, not just the largest contiguous area.  The player with the most ducats wins.  Tiebreakers goes to the player who has built the most floors.

My thoughts on the game

Kilt Castle is a game which caught my eye with the interesting action selection mechanism.  While, in general, you will likely be choosing to play cards with your own color on them – there are occasions when you can cleverly force your opponents to play in places that they do not want to or to force them to play in places against a common opponent.

Timing is also a key thing – the rotation of order cards can be a big thing in the game – as the order in which tower sections are built.  You only get credit for tower pieces if they help you control a tower AND there is a scoring round triggered – though sometimes it’s worth it to overbuild an opponent just to break up his big scoring area.   If it’s a desirable area, you could end up being repaid quickly when someone later overbuilds you.


It is also definitely a viable plan to build in the same place as the first player to build – while there will be a roof on that space in the short term – you will control part of the tower – and then once the roof tile is removed, you’ll have sole control of the tower.

The game action ebbs and flows on the board.  As you’re only able to build in the row where the action card moves to – the active area of the board also rotates around the board as the game moves on.  If you are clever, you can set up areas on control that you can keep for a few scoring rounds and build up a nice supply of ducats.

The artwork by Dennis Lohausen is nice.  My only quibble with the components are the weird use of both counters and cards for the ducats.  I’m guessing that this was a form factor thing just determined by running out of space on the punchboard sheet (and having cards left over in the printing sheet).


Like most other Burkhardt games that I’ve played, the game is solidly designed and plays well – but I’m not sure that this will become an all-time keeper for me.  But, we’re enjoying it now in the post-Essen gaming flurry, and I suspect it will get to at least 5 plays before the end of the season.


Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it! Ted A
  • I like it. Dale Y, Doug G. (1 play)
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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1 Response to Dale Yu: First Impressions of Kilt Castle

  1. Dan Blum says:

    I didn’t like this much at all. Early in the game there is little point in thinking about what you are doing unless you can cause a scoring round, as anything else you do can be effectively undone by your next turn (assuming a four-player game – it’s probably better with fewer players). And roofs are very much a matter of groupthink – if everyone thinks roofs are good, building one may be a good idea, but if not, they are a terrible idea, since if you build the only one it will be stuck there for the entire game.

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