Kingdoms from Strackspelsfabriken adds a whole new depth to the classic card-laying mechanics of the game Sevens. The most obvious addition is the fantasy setting. Rather than simple suits, the cards now play in fanciful kingdoms, ruled over by the powers of animals, the sea, fairies, and dragons. The silhouette art adds to the mystical aesthetic, allowing players’ minds to fill in the gaps and imagine the whole of the world interacting as the cards go flying.
The basic mechanic of Kingdoms resembles Sevens: the four kingdoms are laid out, and the player with the green seven goes first. Play continues with each following player laying down a six or eight green or a seven in any of the other kingdoms. Players continue, taking turns to lay consecutively lower or higher cards, gradually building up to 13 or down to one. The turns roll on until one player empties his or her hand. It is a time-tested way to play and serves well as a foundation while the rest of Kingdoms goes into whole new realms of play.
The addition of coins adds a level of points to play, both at the end of rounds and in the midst of play. Players begin with 20 coins, a number that will quickly go up or down as cards begin to fly. A player with no coins at the end of a round is eliminated. Players can stay in the game by taking loans, and the topsy-turvy nature of the cards may even mean that such a player could win at the end.
When a player runs out of cards, the round ends, and any players with cards still in hand must pay penalties for them. The player with the most coins after all penalties are paid wins, which is often not the first player to go out.
Every card in Kingdoms, aside from the green seven, comes with a cost that must be paid in coins. In return, players not only get rid of a card but also have a special action. Lower cards give penalties like extra cost while higher cards give benefits. Cards may also allow players to draw from the Prosperity deck, which supplies a wide range of actions. Some are simple, like gaining or losing money, while others are environmental effects that can change the whole game. Costs can rise, kingdoms can be blocked from playing for a round, or players may even get free loans. This wildness heightens the levity of the game, keeping players on their toes.
Kingdoms is a card game for three to five players aged 12 and up. Each round moves quickly, lasting only 10 or 15 minutes. Players can choose to play just one round, or they may continue keeping score for a campaign of play in which they add their new winnings from each round to their previous hordes. Fans of card games with solid mechanics and players who love to choose their victims for penalties will greatly enjoy the new take on a classic in Kingdoms.