The world of Valeria is quickly becoming an expansive universe to explore with game titles like Valeria Card Kingdoms, Villages of Valeria, Quests for Valeria, and Corsairs of Valeria. Within each uniquely playing game, you will take on different roles which will require you to recruit citizens, defeat monsters, construct buildings and/or position yourself correctly to rule a portion of this glorious kingdom.
The latest game in this universe is entitled Margraves of Valeria and as the name suggests, you will take on the role of a military commander or field lord charged with defending the borders of Valeria. The game plays 2-4 players, age 14+ and will be available on Kickstarter July 15 for a pledge of $59. Let’s learn how to set up and play the game!
Setup – Setup is performed in 4 phases:
- Prepare the Track Board
- Take the Citizen cards with no player number. Add in Citizen cards that have the total number of players or less on them. Shuffle them to form a face-down stack that goes above the top-right area of the board. Deal out five cards face-up to the left of the stack.
- Place 20 Knights in the bottom right corner of the board below the Hero’s Tomb.
- Take Privilege I and II tiles that are unnumbered and shuffle them with the tiles that have the total number of players or less on them. Draw and place three Level I tiles face up. Do the same for the Level II tiles. Place the remaining ones in two stacks next to the track board.
- Prepare the Main Board
- Separate Monster cards by Lair. Form a stack for each Lair that goes 4 shuffled Monsters, 1 Lair Card, and 1 Boss card.
- On the four corners of the board, place a certain number of Gems, Stone, Wood, and Magic based on the player count.
- Take eight Knights from the Track Board and place one in each Location.
- Place Gold in the center of the Main Board.
- Player Setup: Give each player their matching components composed of a Player Board, Margrave, four Influence markers, one Ship, four Ward Towers, four Starter Citizen cards, and one Reference card. Also give them one Strength tracker (placed on the zero space of their Player Board) and one Gem from the Main Board.
- Each player will place their Margrave in the Shilina location and their Ship on the Shipping Track of the Main Board. The four Ward Towers and one Gem will be placed in the storage slots of their Player Board.
- Starting Cards: Shuffle the Start Cards and deal four to every player. Players draft cards one at a time, passing cards to their left. Once you have chosen three of the four cards, the fourth card is discarded, and you are rewarded with the items pictured on your cards.
Game Play – On your turn, you must play a Citizen card from your hand and perform 1 of 4 possible powers:
- Activate the Pennant – There are three icons in the pennant. Going from top to bottom, you may perform the action associated with each icon. These actions including gaining gold, resources, or strength as well as moving your Margrave or deploying a Knight.
- Activate the Citizen Power – Like the above power, you perform the mandatory actions in order, and may choose to perform the optional actions, such as slaying a Monster, deploying a Knight, or exchanging resources.
- Activate the Recall Power – Play any Citizen card from your hand face-down. Discard one Citizen card from the line above the Track Board, removing it from the game. Next, pick up the Citizen cards and place them back in your hand. Lastly, you may pay gold to hire a new Citizen.
- Activate the Build Power – Play any Citizen card from your hand face-down. Pay one stone, one wood, one magic, and one gem from your storage to place a Ward Tower from your Player Board to one of the three building slots in your Margraves’ current location. Next, gain the reward in the slot where you placed your Ward Tower. Last, gain three Influence on your Influence tracks. Note: Building your fourth and final Ward Tower triggers the last round of the game.
The game will end after all players have had an equal number of turns. You will gain Victory Points from Influence, Banner Privilege tiles, and left-over Gold, Gems, and Resources. Most Victory Points is the winner.
Margraves of Valeria is unlike any other game in the Valeria universe. Yes, there are parts of the game you will recognize from other Valerian games like familiar citizens, monsters, and of course that gorgeous Mico art, but there are also lots of differences too, mainly in the form of game play. For starters, the game is a blend of Worker Placement, Deck-Building, and Multi-Use cards. No longer can modern game designs have one core mechanic in their game, you now must make hybrid games into something new, exciting, and not seen before.
The deck-building gives you a larger pool of stronger Citizens to pull from and activate on your turn. However, it’s a timing act of when to play each Citizen, as you might decide later that you wish your Rogue was still available, but he won’t be again until you recall him into your hand. The multi-use cards give your brain four actions to crunch with each of those Citizens, deciding what is the best strategy each turn for each Citizen in an ever-changing world. The worker placement feels a bit traditional, but you aren’t blocking others from that spot in the traditional sense, mainly racing to get to a preferred location for a specific reward.
Another great feature is the shared workers in the Knights. When you deploy them to the main board, you either activate a power or use them for their strength. Both are fine moves, but they can also set up other people to use them later when you need them or cash in on their benefits from being in the Hero’s Tomb. I also like the closed economy of this game. Unlike Valeria Card Kingdoms where you can gain resources ad infinitum, this one limits that number based on player count, making for a crunchier and tighter game.
For the longest time, Valeria Card Kingdoms has been in my Top 10 overall and favorite Valeria game to play. I can easily see this game knocking it from its pedestal and taking the crown away from it. If you are looking for a smooth playing game, with tons of meaningful decisions, and gorgeous art, then this is the game you want to back in 2019!
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Copyright 2019 Stuart Dunn
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