“Yet some men say in many parts of England that King Arthur is not dead, but had by the will of our Lord Jesu into another place; and men say that he shall come again, and he shall win the holy cross.”
― Thomas Malory,
The King Is Dead is a board game of politics and power struggles set in Britain in the chaotic period following the death of King Arthur. For the good of the country, a leader must unite the Scots, Welsh, and Romano-British — not by conquest but by diplomacy.
Players are members of King Arthur’s court. Whether a loyal knight, a scheming lord, or an ambitious noblewoman, you all have one thing in common: power. As prospective leaders, each player uses their power to benefit the factions, gaining influence among their ranks. The player with the greatest influence over the most powerful faction is crowned the new ruler of Britain.
There are eight regions on the board representing the game’s eight factions, and each region begins with a number of color coded cubes on it, some random and some not. The cubes represent members of the various factions battling for control of the regions, and ultimately Britain. Each turn players must settle each region by playing (or not playing) cards from their hand. Each player starts with the same eight cards, and these are the only cards a player will have during the game. The cards command various actions such as adding faction members, switching factions members between regions or even changing the order in which power struggles are resolved in a region. The twist is that, after playing a card, you must remove a cube from any region on the board. The cube removed is added to your collection, and this is how you keep track of your influence with each faction. But be careful to remember that you only have 8 cards for the whole game. At the end of the game you see which faction has won the most regions, and then look to see who has the most influence (number of cubes) within that faction. The player with the most influence wins.
Right off the bat I have to say that the inside of the box is a nice touch. I know it seems like a simple thing but it’s a nice touch. I love the board for it’s old world map look, however the regions of Deav & Ratae should not both be on the green color spectrum. It caused confusion for one player who did not initially note the difference in shades of green, and thought that the region of Ratae directly connected to Aquae Sulis.
I love the concept of this game, but I wish there was more urgency to play your cards to settle the initial regions. I felt like I could wait till 4-5 regions were settled and then decide which cards to play based on what was left. I think if you’re a fan of area control games you will like this one as it’s a nice twist on the genre. That you have to take a cube after playing a card to gain the influence of that faction, therefore weakening the position of that faction on the board is a great idea. I have also created a variant ruleset should you be so inclined to try it out.