Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig
review by Alapai
Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig is a castle-building game for 3-7 players. In it, you draft tiles to place in two different castles in between you and the players on your left and right, trying to have the most points at the end of the game, but only earning points for your lower-scoring castle.
The game requires everybody to be seated evenly apart from each other around a table. This is because each player will be building castles with their neighbors. To start, throne room tiles are dealt in between each pair of people to get their castle started. There are two rounds of play. At the start of each round, each person is dealt 9 tiles. Simultaneously, each player picks two tiles from their hand and places them face down in front of them. Once everybody has selected tiles, they are revealed and each player places one tile in each of the castles on their right and left, discussing with their neighbors which rooms to place where (this means each castle will get two tiles each turn, one from the player to the right of the castle and one from the player to the left of the castle). Once all the tiles have been placed, each player passes their unselected tiles to their left and each player repeats the process of picking and placing. When there is only one tile left unselected by each player, then those unselected tiles get removed from the game and you move to the next round. The second round plays the same as the first, but with passing unselected tiles to the right instead of the left. Once the second round is over, you calculate the values of each castle. Each player's final score is the lower value among the castles to their right and left.
Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig, as you might be able to tell if you know your board games, is a crossover between two games: Between Two Cities and The Castles of Mad King Ludwig. Like The Castles of Mad King Ludwig, you have the different room types, which have different ways they score based on the tiles around them as well as giving you bonuses based on the type when completing certan objectives. You also have the construction freedom, being able to build as wide a ground floor as you want or as tall as you want. From Between Two Cities, you have the major conceit of the game with the tile drafting and placing tiles to build the structures on your left and right, scoring for the lower value one.
I really like Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig becuase it takes Between Two Cities' structure and implements it with the rooms from The Castles of Mad King Ludwig, one of my favorite games. While the rooms are not a perfect one-to-one from The Castles of Mad King Ludwig (they're only 1 square tile, they don't have entrances you need to keep in mind, etc), they still evoke the feel of The Castles of Mad King Ludwig in a way that I enjoy. I like that the game takes the relative simplicity of Between Two Cities' building mechanic and adds just a bit of complexity by making the tiles like The Castles of Mad King Ludwig. While I do like Between Two Cities, I generally want a little more complexity in my games and so I'm glad that Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig exists so that I can still play Between Two Cities with more oomph.
Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig is available now from our webstore.