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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Royal Punks

GP Rating

Royal Punks is an anarchic strategy game for two to four players.  Each player takes on the role of a member of royalty as they vie with each other to seize the crown following the death of the king.

There are three ways to win the game.  The first, and most brutal, method is to eliminate the other players.  Alternatively, if a player’s Royal Punk is upgraded to level 7, then they have achieved recognition and won the game.  Finally, seizing control of all the cities ensures the general populous is under their control and they have won the game.  These victory conditions involve mastering different sets of strategies.

The game is played across hexagonal tiles that are laid in a series of concentric hexagons.  The closer to the centre, the more powerful the map tiles, but the more exposed they are to other players.  Each map tile has a purpose and the randomised nature of their deployment ensures variety.

The starting player is the one determined to be the most beautiful, which is guaranteed to provide a source of amusement and lively debate before beginning the game.  They are followed by the person sitting next to them in a clockwise direction.  Each player takes a turn to lay their base tile anywhere along the edge of the map that has been formed, with the only caveat being they cannot start immediately next to another player.  Naturally, the first – and most beautiful – player has the advantage, in that they get to choose a prime starting location for their base.

Each player begins the game with their royal punk, a commander, a cannon, a mansion and some troops.  Each of the units have a function and none of them feel superfluous.  The punk is the most powerful piece and can move other units with them, but each player only has one.  Commanders are tactically useful as they also enable mass movement. Cannons can support troops in battle from adjacent tiles.  Troops are the core element and are essential for fighting battles.

There is also the mob, which act as another faction with the game.  This group represents the rampaging mob following the king’s death and their presence counters the effects of any tile they are on.  Their movement can be controlled by the players under certain conditions and they provide an additional tactical element that needs to be considered.

At the start of a player’s turn, they gain income and troops, based on tiles they have under their control.  Control is determined by production facilities that have been built (or taken over). Only a limited number of production facilities can be under a player’s control at any one time, hence having production facilities near the centre becomes desirable.  Players are also able to purchase power cards, which offer additional benefits.

Construction of units and production facilities requires the careful expenditure of gold.  Gold is also used for the movement of troops.  It can become a delicate balancing act between generating gold, moving troops and prioritising what needs to be spent.

As the players’ forces move across the board, they will come into contact with each other.  When this happens, a battle takes place.  The first round involves rolling the unique dice for cannons, before the main battle takes place.  There is a reason why the troops are also called ‘cannon fodder’.  Battles are then conducted by rolling a series of dice based on troops on the tile.  Every player has three core dice; the dice rolls can be augmented with punk dice if their punk is present, a defender dice if they are defending a city, and other variables.  Each dice role determines how many troops and commanders the other player loses and any damage (expressed as levels) to the punk.

There can be some ambiguity when it comes to interpreting dice rolls.  For example, if troop losses are rolled on the dice, but all the troops are killed, what happens to this damage?  Does the troop damage equate to lost cannons or commanders?  Greater clarity in this area, or examples of a battle, would have been greatly appreciated.

Also, other than the artwork, it is unclear how the game relates to punks.  Anyone hoping for a game reflecting punk culture and values might be disappointed.

Despite these minor quibbles, Royal Punks is a brilliantly designed strategy game, with just the right amount of complexity to ensure that there are a variety of potential strategies.  The core concepts are easy to understand and act as a solid foundation for the gameplay.

The game estimates that it can take 45-90 minutes to play, but from experience we have found that games can take at least 90 minutes.  The map that the tiles form is perfect for three to four players, but may seem overly large for just two players.

Overall; Royal Punks is a fun but deep strategy game offering multiple ways to win and has lots of re-playability due to the random nature of the map generation.

Note: Royal Punks is still in development and was played using a November 2023 version of the rules.

Peter Ray Allison
Peter Ray Allisonhttp://www.peterallison.net
Science Fiction: the final frontier. These are the articles of the freelance journalist Peter Ray Allison. His continuing mission: to explore strange new realms of fiction, to seek out new genres and new visions of the future, to boldly geek where no one has geeked before.

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Royal Punks is a fun but deep strategy game offering multiple ways to win and has lots of re-playability due to the random nature of the map generation.Royal Punks