Capital Lux 2: Generations
- Designers: Eilif Svensson & Kristian A. Ostby
- Publisher: Aporta Games
- Players: 1-4
- Age: 10+
- Time: 30-40 minutes
- Played with review copy provided by the publisher
Capital Lux (the original) was a interesting tactical “trick taking” card game which came out in 2016 at the SPIEL fair in Essen. We previewed that game at its release – https://opinionatedgamers.com/2016/09/28/dale-yu-essen-2016-preview-of-capital-lux/. The original game had admittedly slipped out of the play rotation in the intervening years, but there is now a new standalone sequel, clevely named Capital Lux 2.
In this new (and improved IMHO) version, the game is still set in the futuristic Lux world. The four Families (Spirituals, Nobles, Scientists and Rebels) have lived side by side, but with new generations come new challenges. Will you send family members to your Home base for points? Or do you send them to the Capital to benefit from their unique powers? The key concept of this game is the same as the original: At the end of a round, you are not allowed to have a higher total value in your home base for any color than the current total value in the capital. Exceeding the limit makes you lose those cards.
The main difference here is that each of the four Families (suits/colors) in the game has four different power tiles, only one of which is chosen for each game. When you set up the game, each color has one of their tiles randomly drawn; thus leading to 256 different possible combinations of powers for your game. These powers are placed on the Capital board; which itself is placed in the center of the table. (You can choose to take power tiles randomly, or use any of the 4 pre-determined sets of powers found in the rulebook.)
The deck of 100 citizen cards, split up into the 4 different families, with values varying from 2-6, are shuffled, and then the top 3 cards are placed face up on the table. The cards are organized so that they are found directly below the column matching their color on the Capital board. Each player also gets their own quad-colored Home Base board which matches the four colors seen on the Capital board; Any cards that a player plays to their own Home will be organized here in a similar way.
The game plays over three rounds, with each one following an identical format. Each player is dealt six cards at the beginning of each round. There is then a draft; each player chooses two of his hand cards and places them face down on the table, and the remainder are passed to the left. Then, from the newly gained hand of four cards, each player again chooses two to place face down in front of him and then passes the final two cards on which automatically become part of the next player’s hand. Each player will end this draft with 6 cards; 4 of which he chose and two which were given to him at the end from his neighbor.
Players will take turns playing cards – the main choice is whether to play it to their home board (in front of them) or to the capital (center of the table). Cards played in the home area can eventually turn into victory points. Cards played to the Capital will affect which cards might score AND the player will get a special action depending on the color of card played. The card played should initially be placed under the color matching it. However, note that powers in the game can later move cards to different columns. The particular power you get to take advantage of is found on the power tiles placed on each column in setup. They are quite variable, and I would make sure that everyone understands the four actions in play for any particular game before starting to play. Arrange the cards so that the numbers on the cards are easily visible and can be summed.
Play continues around the table until one player has no more cards left in their hand (Players may end up playing different numbers of cards due to the powers found in the Capital). At this point, all other players get one more turn and then the round will end. Any player who has cards left in their hands at this point must play them to their Home Base area.
Now resolve each of the four colors. Total up all the cards in each column in the Capital – again noting that some powers may have caused different colored cards to be in the column. If any player has a sum of cards that is more than the corresponding column in the Capital, that player must discard all the cards from that column in his home area. Do this for all four columns.
Then score each column. Whichever player has the highest total in the column gets to take the highest valued card from the matching column in the Capital, and that card is placed face down in his scoring pile. If there is a tie for the most in that column, all tied players take a gold token worth 2 points and the highest card from the Capital column is discarded.
All other cards in the Capital and the Home Areas remain where they are, the start player marker is passed, and the whole thing is repeated two times. At the end of the third round, there is some final scoring.
You add up the values of ALL the cards in your home area at the end of the game, adding in any bonus cards collected at the end of each round as well as the gold tokens (worth 2 VP each). The player with the highest score wins. Ties broken in favor of the fewest gold tokens.
My thoughts on the game
Like the original game, there is an interesting push-pull from the card playing here. While you’d like to play as many cards as you can to your own home area in order to score points, you have to also contribute to the center in order to make sure that you stay under the limit. Given that your final score is largely based on the total sum of cards in your home area; you’d really rather not lose cards along the way. Of course, if you play it too safe, you might not have enough points to win at the end!
Even if things look good after the end of the first or second round, you have to remain on your toes to stay ahead (well behind) the capital. The highest card in each Capital column is removed in each Bonus scoring, so you might have to plan on playing cards to the Capital to keep yourself under the limit. Also, beware of Powers that allow modification of cards or movement of Capital cards as this can quickly change the situation!
You’ll hopefully have some idea of which cards are available to be played due to the drafting at the start of each round. As the draft happens, you’ll also have to be sure to try to choose the right numbers and colors to suit your purposes.
Additionally, each of the special actions can be quite valuable at the right time, and there may be plenty of times when you just need/want to take a particular action rather than play a card to the table. Remember that the actions change for each game (4 choices of each suit), so you’ll probably want to figure out from the start how the chosen actions might work together .
Some actions grant you extra cards; and if so, you might want to play this color to the Capital early in the round to give you more flexibility. Alternatively, as this will likely be a popular choice, you could instead place a high card in that color in your home area, feeling fairly confident that the Capital will have many cards played to that column.
The original game was a bit simpler, and the original scoring rules and non-mutable powers made the game a bit swingy. It felt less like a strategic game, and more like one where you were along for the ride, just trying to manage the ups and downs of the game. Capital Lux 2 is a bit meatier and less capricious game; in the updated version, I feel like you have more control over what is happening to you – though of course, there is still plenty of room to be surprised by a clever play of your opponent!
The ability to use different powers for each color in each game also helps keep the game from being too static or feel solvable. Each time we have played, the random set of powers chosen presents a new challenge to solve, and I like that aspect of the game. You will definitely have interesting choices to make in this game, but it will almost never outstay its welcome, as most games should conclude around the half hour mark.
For me, this is a distinct improvement on the original, and one that I plan to explore more now that we’re able to play games together again!
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Dale Y
- Not for me…
I got to play this at the Gathering, having never played the original game, and overall, I was disappointed with it. The concept is a sound one, but there really isn’t much control, as the game state changes very rapidly and mercurially. You do your best to judge how things will go and then hope for the best, but the process isn’t a very satisfying one. It’s not a bad game, but not one I have much interest in playing again. Rating: Neutral.