Board Game Review: Board Royale
Disclaimer: This isn’t a “sponsored” article, but I did receive a free box from Board Royale team for testing purposes.
I have a pen…
I had played very few board games for a long time. Surely I’ve played them here and there but they mainly entered my life with a past D&D group, with a very close friend of mine bringing his Arkham Horror and another one getting Settlers of Catan. When I moved abroad, the board game nights were one of the first places I met with other people in the company… and I started playing more board games. In fact, I ended up owning multiple board games and organizing board game nights myself.
I have an apple…
I paid little attention to PUBG when it came out. I just knew it as the game with a weird name. Then I ended up trying Fortnite (because we thought about buying the “original” version. Sounds so silly now, doesn’t it?) and while I enjoyed it, I was terribad. Apex got hold of me for a short while but I’m just not good enough for these games and the binary feeling of win or lose kinda pushed me eventually.
When I saw the Board Royale reveal trailer, I was instantly interested.
First, it was a game from Turkey, developed by a company called Arvis and the video was really fun and… you know, it had the right mojo. No offense to gaming in Turkey, and it is getting better, but the “right mojo” is usually missing with Turkish companies so I liked it even more!
Second, it was battle royale and third, it was a board game. This meant I could win a battle royale for reals*!
Then again, bringing multiple concepts into one, especially an action based one with a card game… would it work?
So I ended up getting my hands on a test version and played it with colleagues and friends. Let me start by telling how it works.
In short, you are stranded on an island and you have to either kill everyone or escape. A player dies when they have no resources left. Escape happens if you accumulate enough items that give you escape points.
There are two kinds of cards: Items and resources. Resources are what you expect: Wood, stone, iron etc. Items can be permanent, consumable, etc and all have craft costs.
As game starts, some items will be placed in the middle as the craft deck. Each turn you’ll draw resources from the deck or steal from someone. Then you can choose to craft items on the craft deck, as many as you want. The trick is to remember resources are your “hit points.” If you go on a craft spree, you’ll end up with low hit points and open yourself to attacks.
You can also use your items during your turn. Items typically require a resource to use and do things like damaging your opponent or acquire other resources. There are also more “interesting” items like the chest, which allows you to stash resources. If you run out of resources (ie when you’d be dead), you will open the chest and get the resources you stashed.
(PPAP playing in your mind already?)
So, overall the gameplay concept is fun and interesting. We enjoyed playing the game. There are certain strategies such as investing in an item that grants resources, as you can “rent” items to people. This leads to Catan-like interactions. Good items on the craft deck also create a fuss. Maybe you could really use some wood, but the other side is asking for Iron and that’s needed for that cool item. Do you really want them to have it?
The rhythm of the game creates these situations naturally. Coupled with interactions and promises between players, it can lead to a lot of “friendship-breaking” as advertised.
Also, the artwork is nice to look at and the style works well for me. It’s stylized and lightweight, but also still “real enough” for the concept.
Last but not least, the game is easy to learn and is rather fluid. Once we started playing, we just went with it. It was very intuitive and simple to get into, despite having depth in gameplay and tactics.
While we liked the game overall, we felt some parts could be improved as well. Please keep in mind that this was a test run, so I’m sure they’re addressing or will be addressing many things before they finalize he game.
First part was the rules. While we appreciate you can make any kind of agreement with others and betrayal is part of the “everyone for themselves” spirit, we felt there could be more structure/rules on player interaction. We also needed some clarifications regarding the interaction between some cards. This was expected mostly, as they are still finalizing the gameplay (meaning gaps in rules will happen.)
The other part was the rhythm of the game. We felt it was a bit binary: It starts very slow and ends very sharply. For example, in one game we’ve crafted and gathered resources for enough turns to re-shuffle resource deck… then the games over in a single turn when I attacked someone 8 times to get their escape points and ended the game.
That said: They actually do have a “solution” in the game. They recommend a game mode that takes out escape cards so you have to kill others. I haven’t tried that yet, but I’m sure it will change the atmosphere drastically!
Pen Pineapple Apple Pen
Overall, Board Royale has been a fun experience and I’m sure a lot more will be ironed out before it’s out. In fact, it’s on their roadmap! So I can definitely recommend the game to everyone. The fact that they got 90% positive feedback does not surprise me (If you are still doing the math, add me to that majority!). Furthermore, the Kickstarter campaign is already funded and started hitting stretch goals!
*For the record, I did win a duo in Fortnite once.
Bonus: Kickstarter Campaign
Since they are actively on Kickstarter, I also wanted to talk about it. In the past I helped a few KS campaigns and I really enjoy checking them.
The style definitely works. I already mentioned I enjoyed the artwork. The graphic design also works well and the page looks good.
They are obviously a fun bunch and not taking things too seriously (in the right way), which is evident in pretty much everything. That’s my favorite type of people.
And it’s not just good looking and fun, the content explains their plans, includes a roadmap, includes ideas for future expansions, has monetary and social goals and stretch goals, reviews from play testers… I mean, what else can you ask in a Kickstarter campaign? It’s really impressive considering how many bigger teams fail to reach this level of quality.
Now, let’s take a look at rewards. You start with 25$~ for a discounted and early shipped game. At 60$~ you get the game plus all the expansions in a special box plus the travel pack, at even a greater discount. At 150$~ we have a Collectors Edition that has a special numbered box and of course all the expansions. Finally, around 1000$~ you get to design with the devs and name a card after yourself along with a collectors and the 60$ pack.
Pretty straightforward and honestly even the basic stuff looks quite worth it, although I would’ve expected like a map of the island or a few 3d prints for a Collectors Edition (maybe at a higher price).
The stretch goals bring more and more items in the base game, with a card quality upgrade later on. The Social Goals are hidden, but the first one was hit and they committed to adding a kickstarter exclusive expansion for everyone.
Again, the stretch goals are also pretty straightforward and look to be very consumer friendly. For a physical product (ie you have invest production costs for each batch you produce, unlike generating digital keys), I think this is admirable.
I mentioned at the start, I’ll say it again. I did receive a test copy, but that was all. All above are my honest thoughts and I’m going to back them up once I decide my tier.