Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Review - Alan Moon & Aaron Weissblum's King Lui (King's Breakfast)

Eat all you can buffet tables are evil things. They could be one of the causes of an escalating incidence of obesity in people. What’s the attraction in eating as much as possible until you’re stuffed to the gills? It’s not like the people who partake of buffets aren’t going to see another meal in days.

If we go by the premise of Alan Moon and Aaron Weissblum’s King’s Breakfast it might be good to have a King at every buffet. It’d be better to have a scrawny King, but I guess even a perpetually hungry King like ol’ King Lui will do. At the very least, it’ll regulate how much each person is likely to eat.

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The players are sitting down to breakfast with the King. There are seven kinds of food being served. The players get to eat as much as they want, as long as they don’t eat more than the King. That would be rude!

King’s Breakfast is published by Abacus Spiele and Rio Grande Games. The 110 cards are regular sized and beautifully linen-finished, providing an excellent feel. I wish all cards in all games got the same treatment. The cards come in a double-wide tuck box. The box even plays a role in the game! The art is simple, but appropriate for a humorous game like this one. I still wonder about the dragon – couldn’t they have used a big dog instead? And they passed up a chance to be funny by naming the dragon “Emerald”. Oh well. Overall, a good, high quality yet compact treatment was given to this nice little filler.

The Game

There are seven kinds of food, appearing on 15 cards each. The King’s pet dragon Emerald appears on the other five cards. All the cards are shuffled together into a draw pile.

A randomly-determined starting player (aka the course server) deals out cards equal to twice the number of players. Then, the server gets to take all the cards of a single type of food. Alternatively, if there’s nothing on the table that the player wants, he can choose to call to the kitchen for a mystery dish. (That means he just draws the top card of the draw deck.) The rest of the players follow suit, clockwise. The claimed cards are taken into hand so no one sees what everyone else has taken.

Any leftover food not taken by the players is given to the King, and laid out in front of the box for everyone to see. The role of course server passes clockwise, and the process is repeated.

If the Emerald is dealt out by the course server, the bugger is available to be selected by any player in lieu of taking food cards or calling to the kitchen. When selected, the dragon eats exactly two of the King’s food items, chosen by the player. The dragon then leaves the game to digest the meal. Emerald stays until selected (even multiple instances of him, which are taken one at a time unlike food) or until the game ends.

The game ends when there aren’t enough cards for the server to lay out a full course.

Scoring is simple, if a bit multiplication and addition intensive. Each food card of a player has a value equal to the number of food items of that type given to the King. However, if the player has more of an item than the King, he gets nothing for that food type. The player with the highest total points wins!

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We’re really not supposed to play with our food. We’ll make an exception here though. Since there’s fifteen of each food type, divide that by the number of players plus one (for the King) to get a rough estimation of how many cards the King might end up with. Three or four is usually reasonable depending on the number of players. When you’re in trouble and any selection will take you over what the King’s got in any item, pick one “bust” item (preferably one where the King has just one or two cards) and try to dump any overages there. That way, you don’t lose too much. I wouldn’t bother with the dragon unless you’re in a bust situation. Finally, never send out to the kitchen since that could really ruin your day if it busts your highest food type.

That’s it! This isn’t very complicated.

Reviewer’s Tilt

I kinda like King’s Breakfast. It’s a fast little 10 to 15 minute game that you can pull out and teach in two minutes. It works with kids or adults, and it’s got a goofy theme that you can all rag on. (Quit taking the pastries! You wanna get fatter than you already are? The chicken’s bad for your cholesterol man, lay off!) Sure it’s got a memory element, but why would you even bother? It’s over before you can finish one Krispy Kreme. Some people complain about the scoring, but it’s really not complicated.

King’s Breakfast is really cheap, and can handle a nice range of players. If you’re looking for a simple and quick filler, then give it a look.


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