Happy Tabletop Tuesday, adventurers, and welcome to a post that isn’t about City of Mist or Dungeon World! That’s right, today I’m branching out to tell you not about a game that I have played or am playing, but about a cool game I recently heard about that’s currently gaining momentum on Kickstarter. That game (as you might have guessed from the title) is called The King Is Dead, and it’s a card-based party game for three to five eager players.
A little background on where this game is coming from. The creators of this title are Vincent and Meg Baker of Lumpley Games, an indie game outfit that I personally first heard of as the creators of Apocalypse World. That in itself is pretty impressive as far as credentials – Apocalypse World has gone on to effectively establish an entire school of RPG design, changing the way that game makers think about roleplaying games. However, there are other impressive games in Lumpley’s repertoire: Dogs in the Vineyard and Murderous Ghosts are other titles you might have heard of if you’re into the indie RPG scene. Their latest contribution to the tabletop has been compared to Mario Party and Game of Thrones.
“Uh, how the heck do those two things work together?”
Those were exactly my thoughts when I first saw that statement, so worry not – you’re not alone. Let’s break it down. The Mario Party comparison refers to the gameplay. In The King is Dead, each player has a rulebook as well as a hand of cards from a standard deck of 52 playing cards. Those cards are exchanged in a series of mini-games chosen by the players. Victory in a mini-game helps you to cement your position of power in the game. Hence the comparison to Mario Party.
Meanwhile, the Game of Thrones comparison refers to the thematic elements of The King Is Dead. The game tells the story of a kingdom where the king…well, is dead. Five noble houses have a legitimate claim to the throne and must compete for which one will crown the new monarch. You as the player portray a warrior prince or princess who is participating in this battle for the crown. The various methods through which you can gain the throne – swordplay, courtly drama, forbidden romance, etc. – are all represented by the game’s various mini-games. In the end there is a coronation in which the players discover the winning house – and whether or not that house’s victory is long term.
It’s a pretty cool concept and one that’s accessible to both experienced roleplayers and those who prefer a simpler board game experience. While active members of the indie RPG community might have this on their radar due to Lumpley’s other successes in the industry, I can see this game having just as much appeal for those whose journey into the realm of “nerdy board games” consists exclusively of Settlers of Catan and Forbidden Island.
If you think the concept sounds interesting in theory but have doubts about the execution, Lumpley has another game you can check out with a pretty similar structure in a different setting. Mobile Frame Zero: Firebrands has many of the features of this game – the mini-game format, political intrigue, fighting and romance – but set in space instead of fantasy and uses coins instead of cards. The game is five dollars on the Lumpley Games website and all you need to play are the rules and a few stray coins. I just picked the game up myself and will likely feature a review here on the blog once I get the chance to try it out a time or two.
I personally am excited to try out The King Is Dead with my roleplaying group, and I think this could be a fun game to play with our friends who don’t normally join in on the RPG shenanigans. If you think you’d be interested in backing the game, then you can check out the Kickstarter and see more details for yourself. As of the writing of this post, the game is already 85% backed and still has 28 days to go, so if you’re interested in the idea then this is a pretty safe investment. I hope you’ll consider checking out the game (mostly out of selfish desire for the Kickstarter to succeed so I can check out the game, haha), and I appreciate you coming by to visit Adventure Rules on this Tabletop Tuesday. Thanks for reading, adventurers!