Find this at your local game store. It should cost around a very reasonable £30.00 - £35.00
First look at the box, front and back, and I immediately thought of a 60-90 minute worker placement or area control game. A second look told me it was for 2-4 players aged 7+ and that games take 30 minutes from start to end.
I opened the box, looked at the components and was still convinced that this was going to be more than a 30 minute game, or, if it was going to last just 30 minutes, then it was going to be a very disappointing ending - too many games I have played in the past have just got going and then come to an abrupt stop, with all players, even they who had apparently won, looking at each other as if to say "Is that it?" I am happy to report that this most certainly isn't a game with an abrupt or disappointing ending, but 30 minutes ? yes! It takes just 30 minutes to play. If you only play it once (which I would be very surprised if that was all you played it) it would still be more than worth the £1.00 per minute cost.
The 8-page rulesbook is augmented by a very useful double-sided Summary Sheet marked side A and side B. The Rules themselves are written in boxes or short paragraphs and always accentuated by illustrations/game photos. For the most part the rules are also very easy to follow, in fact they are written so you can set up and begin to play by flowing from page to page. We made one simple (silly) mistake on our first game during the setup and only noticed it about halfway into the game when we realised we didn't have enough Tier cards in the supply. I stress that it was our fault; on page 2 it tells you to shuffle the Tier 2 cards (Green backs) and then shuffle the Tier 1 cards (Red cards) and on page 3 there is a small chart that shows how many Tier 1 cards you are to "set aside" depending on the number of players. Being experienced gamers who "think thet know it all" we didn't read page 3 carefully enough and thus with 4 of us at the table we removed 26 Green backed cards from the game and "set them aside" which to us (pooling all our years of experience) meant put the cards back into the box instead of doing as the rules said and placing them on top of the Tier 2 cards to make the central communal supply of citizens and military folk.
There is no components list as such. The coloured plastic Point chips are noted - 10x1 (Red), 25x2 (Grey), 25x10 (Gold), 6x50 (Blue) and 4x100 (Purple and marked separately with Dagger, Goblet, Ring and Circlet, though I have not found any specific reason for this except that they look good). Apart from the Point chips there are two sets of small cards Green back and Red back, marked Tier 1 and Tier 2. There is also a bag of Meeples, all white - these are the workers for all of the players, as you will have noticed they are not colour coded, and a set of 9 cards for each player, all sets containing the same cards.
Tier 1 Cards:
There are 7 Millers, 4 Brewers, 3 Witches, 3 Defenders, 2 Knights, 2 Inn Keepers and 3 Princesses, one illustration per card;
plus 10 Dual cards, 2 workers per card, choose which one you want to use. 3 Millers, 3 Brewers, 2 Witches, 3 Defenders, 2 Knights, 4 Inn Keepers and 3 Princesses.
Tier 2 Cards:
There are 2 Millers, 2 Brewers, 2 Witches, 2 Defenders, 1 Knight, 2 Inn Keepers and 2 Princesses, one illustration per card;
plus 13 Dual cards, 2 Millers, 4 Brewers, 6 Witches, 4 Defenders, 6 Knights, 3 Inn Keepers, 1 Princess.
Each player is given a set of 9 regular playing-card sized cards. One of these will be a Worker card which shows part of the village from which your Realm gets its workers. Each of these Worker cards is slightly different, if you take the time to study them, but the only difference that has any effect is the one with the Mounted Knight visible on it; the player who is dealt this card is the Start Player. These cards all have 5 Meeple shaped outlines on them, as if there had been a Meeple Valentine's Massacre and all that remains are the Police drawn chalk outlines of the victims. Luckily this isn't so, these 5 spaces are just where you store your Meeple Workers. If you gain any more than 5 Meeples in a turn the first five are stored on the Worker card while the others are placed beside it. These may be used during your turn or banked (returned to supply) for a 1 Point chip per Meeple, they may not be held over for your next turn but all the Meeples on the Worker card are kept.
The game mechanic is simple but very good, and although part of it has been used several times before this version has a neat minor twist. From the supply deck 6 cards are removed and displayed face-up in a row from the remainder of the deck. On their turn each player has to take a card but they always have 6 to select from because when one is taken the deck moves along and a new card is flipped over to fill the gap (which now will be next to the card supply. The card at the very end farthest away from the deck is FREE to take, the cards behind it cost in Meeples/Workers, one per card by-passed. So if you want the first card to the left (the farthest away) you just take it, but if you want the card next to it (5th in line) you have to place one of your Meeple workers onto the card you pass over and then take the card, sliding the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th card along and place the top card from the supply face up in the 6th card space next to the deck. The card that you take has to be placed in your Realm under the Location that corresponds to the type of card you have taken. When you place a card there is a reaction, the effect of the Location card is activated. This may give you more Meeples, Points etc and it may also be advantageous to the other players.
Going back to selecting a card from the display, if you wanted the third card from the left it would cost you one Meeple on Card 1 and one on card 2 and so on and so forth. Obviously you cannot obtain cards that you do not have enough Meeples to reach, but if you are careful you may be able to collect extra Meeples that you can then use or fill up your five Worker spaces ready for use on your next turn. If you select one of the cards that is split into two, like a regular Royal playing card it has a head at each end only these are of different persuasions, then you decide which end to use but once chosen there is no changing your mind. When selecting Character (Tier) cards from the display things to remember are that the farthest left card is always Free but not often the card that you want, but it is the card you have to take if you have no Meeples left on your Worker card. Balancing the spending of your Meeples is very important but you must also think that if you don't take the plunge and buy the card you want it may be a fatal mistake for your strategic plan for victory.
There is no playing board, the central display of cards takes on this role, instead you have in front of you the nine cards of your personal set. The eight Location cards are placed in a row in a specific order - Mill, Brewery, Cottage, Guard House, Barracks, Inn, Castle, Infirmary - these cards are colour coded and also have their own specific symbol in the top left corner of the title which corresponds to the symbols found in the top right corner of the Tier cards. When you select a Tier card you place it under the correct Location in your Realm and activate that Locations Special Effect - clearly defined by pictogram and summarised on the additional rules sheet. The Worker card is placed Landscape orientation above the display and 5 Meeple workers are placed on it.
Each of the Special Effects/Abilities are very useful but as the game ends at the completion of the round in which all players have exactly 12 cards in their display (you can have these in any connotation that suits you) it is your strategy in collecting that can win or lose you the game. The scoring is a little convoluted and contrived and is something you must take in and understand clearly before playing. The player with the most points wins, that's a given, but it's how you go about gaining those points that makes the game so interesting. At the final totting up each player loses one point for every card in their Infirmary - cards get put there face down when an opposition Knight "attacks" and you have no defence - the Knights special ability is to attack all other players. Realms with Defenders that match or beat the number of Knights attacking are not affected but Realms that cannot defend themselves lose their left-most (counting from the Mill) Tier card (character) to their Infirmary - Witches played into the Cottage heal cards from the Infirmary.
Once the Infirmary has been taken into account the next points are gained by multiplying the number of Locations with Character cards by itself; so for example if you have put 4 cards on each of three Locations you score 9 (3x3) the number of cards at the Location is not taken into account. If you manage to place at least one card in each of the 7 Locations (obviously discounting the Infirmary) you score 49 (7x7).
The final part of the scoring is counting the value of each Location; the player who has the majority of Characters (Tier cards) at each Location scores the points shown on the bottom right of the Location card. Running from left (the Mill) to right (the Castle) the points value begin at 10 and rise in 1 point increments to 16, thus the player with the most characters at the Mill gains 10 points, the player with the most characters at the Castle gains 16 points. We have had winners who scored the 49 points from all Locations and winners who have played to have the majority in the last 3 or 4 Locations; 13, 14, 15, 16, the last 4 scoring them 58 or last 3 Locations for 45 points. The scoring mechanics aren't totally complicated but they can sway your decision making. It is worth noting that unlike many other games if there is a tie for majority on any Location then all tied players receive the points for that Location, they are not divided or otherwise adjusted for the number of tied players.
This is a beautifully produced game, well worth the rrp. It is a fairly light strategy game and good for many plays from purchase, and also to keep in your games collection ready to bring out whenever a fairly indepth but quick game is required when time is tight. Even if you have to read the rules or refresh your memory of them before commencing to play, games still only take no more than 45 minutes from opening the box to closing it at game end. It is a satisfying entertainment, easily understandable by children of the appropriate age (10+) or by slightly younger children of regular board game players who have been brought up playing strategy games. I know and understand that liking games is subjective, which is one of the main reasons I don't give percentage scores, marks out of 5 or 10, or stars for games when I review them. Another reason being that to which game or games do you award top marks ? for once you have given a 10/10 for example you are saying there can be no better game. My "scoring" of a game is based on whether I would be happy to play it again and again and to keep it in my collection to play anytime in the future. MAJESTY For The Realm falls into that reasoning. It is a game I will happily introduce to others, especially to friends who like to chat and play over a coffee or two with snacks.