Tudor is a euro game that’s fresh off a successful Kickstarter campaign from Academy Games. Academy Games are known for their historical games, typically, ranging from titles like Mare Nostrum, to Fief, to the Birth of America Series (1775 – Rebellion, and 1812 – The Invasion of Canada). They even put out the very popular tactical wargame series Conflict of Heroes. Tudor breaks that mold, to a certain degree, and offers a worker placement, set collecting victory point based game.
When we sat down to demo the game, I was immediately over whelmed by the myriad colours and symbols covering the board. It’d been a long day at Origins 2018 and this was our very last demo. But don’t let this scare you. The board does look very, very busy but the mechanics of the game are that you’re trying to collect sets of the different coloured squares from the board by moving your courtiers onto them (your courtiers are simply your own coloured cubes).
Sounds simple enough right? And the goal of the game is. You need to get victory points, and that is done by getting different colours that provide victory points on a sliding scale based on how many you have. Executing your moves to achieve the goal however is where the key to the game lies. And that’s where these giant hands come in. In what initially looked like the weirdest game component I’ve ever seen, is buried a deep, rich, and thinky game.
You can only move onto a coloured square (and subsequently pick it up) if you take a move action. And most of the move actions have limitations to them. Some actions require cards matching the colour onto which you want to move. Others require a ring of the matching colour. So their’s really three layers of set collection in Tudor. You need rings of different colours, cards of different colours, and all of those need to match where you’re trying to move on the board. Phew! That’s a lot of colours.
Did I mention that which finger you wear the rings on matters? Because it does! When you have a few rings you can adjust their positioning on your fingers, and if you check out the back of the standee pictured above you’ll see a billion symbols. There is a lot of iconography in this game and that can be a little difficult to pick up at first but once we played it became easier to pick up. The different configurations provide enhancements to the actions you can take on the board. So having rings on fingers 1, 2, and 3 allows you to move onto any space when you take the move action ‘A’, which is normally limited to moving on a space matching a ring colour.
Academy Games didn’t miss the chance for some real history which was a nice touch. Having some historical figures on the board seemed to ground the game a bit and make it seem a little less like a medieval King’s Court drama. But I do also think it’s important not to forget that that’s what the game is. You’re sending your courtiers around trying to gain influence, to gain more rings, which are symbols of your station and power within the court. The more rings you have, the more easily you can maneuver the board. Again, an abstraction of politicking, bribing, persuading and corralling your peers in the Royal Court.
I sat down and was intimidated by this one at first, it seemed to have a lot of moving parts, but that’s easy to pick up once you get familiar with the symbology. One thing I will say is that the rules might not be too hard to learn, but to really grok this game and be able to say “I am good at this”, would be very difficult. We were a little prone to AP (that’s also just who I am) but know that you can get into thinking pretty deeply in this one.
I had fun playing it, once I got it after the first round. The game is both a mini engine builder in collecting the rings, but also very puzzly in how you maneuver through the board in order to get where you need to go. Make sure to hold onto your seats of power, because they can be taken from you and handing your rings to your opponents does not feel good!
I felt like “Little Finger” playing this one!