City of Crowns (Expansion for Paladins of the West Kingdom)
- Designers: Shem Phillips, SJ MacDonald
- Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
- Players: 1-4
- Age: 12+
- Time: about 2 hours
Two years ago, we looked a Paladins of the West Kingdom – https://opinionatedgamers.com/2019/10/07/dale-yu-essen-preview-of-paladins-of-the-west-kingdom/ – and we concluded at that time that this was a much more complex and involved game than Architects of the West Kingdom, the earlier entry in the trilogy.
In this new 2021 release, there is now an expansion for Paladins of the West Kingdom. In this game, “ noble allies have responded to the recent attacks against our borders. Only through careful negotiation and diplomacy will these dukes, barons, counts and margraves offer the aid we so desperately need. Will you be able to muster enough support to once again defend this great city, or will you crumble beneath the weight of indecision and apathy?”
What do you get in this expansion? You get extensions to both the main board and the player boards. The main board now gets to extensions that pretty much cause it to stretch the length of our small game table. (If you are playing solo, that board also gets its own extension) You also get new Outsider, Townsfolk, King’s Order and King’s Favor cards that are shuffled into their respective decks. There is also a new deck of Muster cards which are placed on the left side board expansion. The deck of new Negotiate cards is also shuffled and three are placed under the new board expansion. The Diplomat is placed on the right most Muster card in the display. There are also 4 Ally cards which are set along the side of the board.
Each player also gets a little extension to their personal board to give them room to account for the new actions: Muster and Negotiate. There is room for cards for each above and below this extension.
In general the rules are mostly the same. Some of the important changes are – now when drawing paladins, you draw 4 instead of 3 – 1 to play this round, 1 to the top of the Paladin draw pile, one to the bottom and one to be discarded from the game.
Muster – this requires a Scout, a Cleric, one other worker and some provisions (based on the cards the diplomat moves over). You cannot choose the card where the Diplomat stands, Move the Diplomat to the card you want, pay the passed over Provisions and take the Muster card. Take any workers sitting on it, resolve the rewards on the bottom on the card – such as attribute bumps. Keep the cards as you will also score 1VP for every 2 Muster cards picked up.
Negotiate – This requires a Merchant, a Fighter and one other worker, and some money (as shown on the board). You can either Entrust or Enlist with this actions. When you Entrust, you only look at the top of the Negotiate card; if you can pay the cost, then take the action found in the upper right of the card. If you choose to Enlist, you only look at the bottom of the card, and if you have the required attribute/money, you can take the card and place it under the Negotiate part of your player extension. You immediately gain a Diplomacy attribute and at the end of the game, you can score up to 9 VP for each set of unique icons on collected Negotiate cards. Also, a set of 3 Matching cards can get you an Ally card.
So – I would start by saying that this is something that should only be played by veterans of Paladins of the West Kingdom. The base game is already pretty complex, and honestly, if you haven’t mastered the base game, you’re just gonna add more things to consider in what I would say is already a fairly bewildering game for a newbie.
I’m honestly in that group (having not mastered the base game), and for me, this added more complexity and more options to the game that I think I want. The base game already easily passes the 2 hour mark for us, and adding extra options only makes the game a bit longer. Now sure, I don’t really like games with such length, so for me, that’s a negative.
But… the local group that likes that sort of thing is salivating at the new actions. At first, I wasn’t sure about the Muster action, as it seemed like an expensive way to gain half a point – but I was missing the importance of the attribute bump as well as the action on the card. Sure, they’re not always going to be great for you, but if the timing is right, it can be totally worth it.
The Negotiate cards offer a nice way to score a bunch of points. It is conceivable to get 20 or 30 points from these cards as there is no limit to the scoring. Alos, if you concentrate on these cards, getting the Ally cards is a nice bonus on top of it.
So will you like this? Honestly, I think this just comes down to your personal tolerance for complexity in games. For me personally, it’s more than I want. But i’m also a gamer who rarely plays with expansions. For most of my friends, almost all of whom have the dreaded gamer-completness gene, this will be an autobuy and guaranteed to come out with each future playing of Paladins of the West Kingdom. Though I don’t play the game solo, I think it’s also quite nice that the expansion has its own set of components and rules to augment the solo game as well. Many expansions don’t include solo play, so I would make mention of that here.
For me, it’s already time to look forward to the next trilogy (as North and West are done…) – Wayfarers of the South Tigris…
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor