BEHIND the THRONE is a clever, strategy card game from ARES Games, the company best known for its amazing WINGS of GLORY and SAILS of GLORY miniatures games and their epic LotR game WAR of the RING.
Designed by Oleksandr Nevskiy & Oleg Sidorenko with absolutely beautiful artwork and illustrations by Denys Martynets (aka "Creative D") this is a 30 minute game for 2-4 players aged 8+
The components are a playing/draw deck of 81 cards in 9 types marked One through Nine plus one Raven card which is used as the game end trigger after the draw deck has been through once and reshuffled (with the Raven card added on the second run).
The game mechanic is quite brilliant, simple but effective. Played in turns the players draw one card at a time from the face down deck, the only criteria that forces them to stop is if they turn over a card with a higher value than the card preceeding it, in which case all cards are discarded and the player gains none of them - unless they currently have a card or cards face up in front of them that allows them to alter the value of the last card or has some other effect - all cards have a different effect on the game but I am not going to just list them here, you'll have to play the game for yourself to understand just how good it is and how clever the variants of cards are, especially when used to their best oossible advantage.
As players gain cards they lay them in front of themselves in a row of ascending values. The card's names and effects are clearly printed in the Rules Booklet, just 8 small pages of text and illustrations, but for a reason best known to Leonid Androschuk (the graphic designer) they are listed out of order: 2, 1, 4, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9; in case you are wondering this is not alphabetical.
Once the deck has expired it is reshuffled with the "Raven" card included. Immediately the Raven card is turned up the game ceases and the player drawing cards collects no cards for the turn. It is important that players remember that at the end of the game only cards that are in front of them in stacks of two or more will score and then only once for the value of the card type, so for instance if you had three Minstrel cards (Minstrel cards have a value of 6) the score for the three cards would be 6 not 18 (you do not multiply the card value by the number of cards in the stack).
Collecting cards in multiples has other advantages too as the player with the most cards of certain types are the only ones who can use the card's effect. It took us a couple of games to get the different meanings and effects into our heads but even though we were slow at first we all felt that the game was extremely good, with more than enough possibilities and tactics to cement it as a favourite short game.
It can be bought online for between $10.00 US and $20.00 US plus, I assume, postage, and £9.95 - £12.95 UK, again with postage to be added. I have to say that if you can pick up a copy for under a tenner you are getting an absolute bargain as well as a super, fun, card game with player interaction, frustration and more than a few tactics and strategy possibilities.