With the previous incumbent ‘getting the chop’, your opportunity to become the chief weaponsmith to His Royal Majesty, King Alphons Sedgwickson III, has finally arisen!
However, if you are successful, I’d keep a low profile. Or it might not just be the dice that are rolling…
Brief Overview of King’s Forge
King’s Forge is a straightforward, competitive dice drafting game for two to four players. Each contestant is vying for the vacant title of the King’s Forge. To achieve such a role, you must prove your worth by being the first to craft four items on the king’s special craft list.
Each budding weaponsmith has a number of dice that represent their different materials. With cunning dice management and regular visits from Lady Luck, you must roll the right resources to forge your way to victory ahead of your opponents.
Unboxing King’s Forge
King’s Forge has been masterly smithed. You’ll find inside the box:
- 91 Dice
- 42 Black (metal)
- 22 Green (wood)
- 14 Red (gem)
- 10 Blue (magic)
- 2 White (library)
- 1 Purple (cemetery)
- 53 Cards
- 33 Craft cards
- 18 Gather cards
- 2 Reference cards
- 4 Smithy tiles
- 4 Tokens
- 2 Yellow “Automatic 6” tokens
- 2 Green “+1/+1” tokens
- 1 First Player Anvil
- 1 Game Board
I was really impressed with the production of King’s Forge. A lot of effort went into it in ways that weren’t necessary but certainly appreciated. The dice themselves are of great quality and feel good to roll. While the cards are also well produced and have decent artwork.
For me, though, the stand-out piece is the huge plastic anvil that’ acts as the first player marker. In a game that’s largely dice and card-based, there are few opportunities to actually bring out the theme. The anvil did so brilliantly and I actually let out a little spurt of laughter when I first saw it because it is so imposing. Wile E. Coyote would be proud.
This tongue-in-cheek sense of humor was carried on throughout the rulebook. It’s well-written, with a smattering of “hear ye’s” and a whole load of decrees. It was useful, too, that the rules for each Gather Card were explained in greater detail in the rulebook to answer any questions or clear up any potential disputes. It’s nicely laid out as well, so you can easily refer back if you want a reminder of what a symbol means.
How to Play King’s Forge
First off, every player takes a Smithy Tile (this acts as your storage area) and five metal dice.
Then, take the deck of Craft Cards and rank them from lowest to highest. These cards represent the different items on the King’s list that you can craft. Below their rank, you’ll see a number of colored dice. These represent the types and amount of each resource you need to craft them.
Place the lowest three Craft Cards in three ‘active’ slots on the table, then lay out the remainder of the cards above so you can still see the required resources needed for each one.
Finally, place the required amount of Gather Cards face-down on their designated space on the table next to the four Dock cards. These are location cards with actions on them that let you acquire resource dice or perform other special abilities, providing you have the required resources. Each Gather Card has two potential actions you can take.
The game plays out over a series of rounds, which are themselves made up of three phases. Play moves around clockwise, with each player taking a turn before moving onto the next phase. The phases are:
- Gather phase
The starting player deals out four Gather Cards face-up, then chooses one of three actions:
- Claim a Gather Card – to do so, you must have the number and types of dice displayed on the card. If so, take the card and put it in front of you, placing the required dice on top. In return, acquire from the stock the resource dice shown on the card and put them in your Smithy. Note that any dice you use in this phase cannot be used in any other phases this round.
- Use a Docks action – this allows you to make use of the actions in the middle of the table, which are open to everyone each round. To do so, take a Gather Card and then place the required resource on the Docks tile of your choosing. Bear in mind, though, any dice you use in this manner will be returned to the stock at the end of the round, rather than your own supply.
- Pass – if you choose to pass, then you can take no further action in this phase. However, you won’t be using up any of your dice, meaning they’ll all be available to you in the Craft phase. Also, if you’re the first player to pass, you get to take one extra metal die or a +1/-1 token to use in the Craft phase.
Once every player has passed, you move onto the…
- Craft phase
This is your chance to put your nose to the grindstone and craft some shiny objects for the king!
Take all your unused dice (i.e. not dice that you used in the Gather phase or those in your Smithy) and roll them. Then you can try and match your dice with the ones displayed on an active Craft Card. If you have all the required dice with the same color and appropriate values as on one of the Craft Cards, then you are able to craft it.
Note that for the number on a die to be correct, it can either match or exceed the required amount on the Craft Card. For example, if a Craft Card requires a green die with a two on it, a green die with a four can be used to fill the allocation.
Once crafted, place the card in front of you with the allotted dice on top. Then, move the next Craft Card from the waiting pile into the active space.
However, it’s not yours yet. Subsequent players can also choose to steal Craft Cards that you crafted that round. To do so, they must follow the same process as above, but with at least one die being greater in value than the previous player’s.
Players can craft as many items as they wish in each phase, and items can be stolen several times, too. Once all players have had a turn crafting, the next phase begins.
Clean-up phase and next round
Move any Craft Cards that remain in front of you under your Smithy, then return all dice on Docks tiles to the main stock.
Any dice in a player’s Smithy are added to their usable supply. A new round then begins!
Winning the game
If a player has four Craft Cards in their Smithy, they win the game! If two players have both achieved four Craft Cards in the same round, the player with the highest-ranked card wins.
Your First Game of King’s Forge
When first getting started with King’s Forge, a big consideration you’ll have is whether or not to focus on building up your quantity of dice or choosing instead to try and acquire the less common materials. By being the first player to have some of the red or blue dice, it can put you in a very strong position as it will mean you can craft items that others won’t be able to steal. At least for a round, perhaps.
However, by focusing on improving the quality of your stock, you may end up ignoring the low-ranked Craft Cards, putting you behind the others early on.
Of course, working out this balance is part of the strategy of the game. However, bear in mind where you are in the playing order and how this might affect your chances of acquiring a Craft Card.
If you’re first, it’s much more likely that people will be able to steal the low-ranked crafted items. One of the very first items, for example (the Anvil), only requires the owner to have three black dice for them to be in with a chance of acquiring it. Perhaps it might be worth building up your supply instead, and let the others fight it out…
Pros & Cons
- Good introductory dice drafting game
- Great presentation of the theme
- Huge anvil
- Can be overly-reliant on luck
King’s Forge is a very simple game, however, it required enough strategy and planning each time to keep it challenging. Choosing to use the Dock actions is always a risk, however, with a limited number of each die it can be risky leaving it too late. After all, once you’ve got your hands on a red die or two it can make the rest of the game a whole lot easier. But if you use those dice now, will you be leaving one round too early to really cash in?
These are all quite tough decisions. But, with you able to see which Craft Cards are coming next, you’re able to prepare for them.
The stealing element, though, is what adds the real excitement for me, and introduces the key area of interaction into the game. You can spend an entire round saving up your dice to craft an item, only for someone to steal it from you at the very last minute. I can tell you, it’s at times like that I found myself sympathizing with the head-chopping tendencies of King Alphons.
The main possible frustration with the game is that there is a whole lotta luck required to win. You could very skillfully plan ahead and acquire loads of the right dice but, ultimately, if you aren’t rolling the right numbers you aren’t going to be able to craft the item.
Luck in games isn’t usually a big problem for me. It’s often part of the fun! But for some reason, this time around I couldn’t help but find it slightly peeving when, no matter how much foresight I employed ahead of a Craft Card coming onto the table, I still lost out to a lucky throw from an ill-prepared opponent.
My final thought, though, has to go to the great theme and design. As mentioned before, the great production and quality of the dice, along with the huge anvil, were a nice touch. Not to mention the tongue-in-cheek story-telling (fart humor will always win me over).
King’s Forge is a simple yet engaging dice-drafting game that sees opponents race to become the first to craft four special items for the king. It’s fast-paced and easy to learn, making it great for all types of players.
As with any dice game, luck has a big role to play here. And, while there is certainly strategy involved, the simplicity of the game means some may find the luck element slightly too potent.
But that doesn’t detract from what is an enjoyable introductory game, with a fantastic theme to boot.
King’s Forge hits a great balance between accessibility and strategy for all types of gamer. It will be a fantastic introduction to the dice drafting genre for any newbies, yet will still provide a challenging enough experience for the more experienced heads to get some kicks out of it, too.
The quick-moving gameplay and direct competition between opposing players also make it incredibly entertaining as a group experience. However, some may find the nature of the mechanics a little too reliant on the rolls of some dice, rather than foresight and strategy.
If you ask me, though, this game is worth a punt purely to get your hands on the huge anvil.