Cover Your Kingdom: Conspire to Acquire Punderful Creatures
Designer: Jeffrey Beck
Artist: April Stott
Published by Grandpa Beck's Games
2 to 8 Players, 45 Minutes, BGG Weight 2/5, 2019
Cover Your Kingdoms, an evolution from "Cover Your Assets," is a game where you're collecting cards with point values in two kingdoms (or three in a two-player game). Now when I say that the game is filled with puns, they're everywhere. You can't turn over a card without there being a pun. Even the player sheets with the kingdom's name have puns that have no impact on gameplay but are genuinely creative. Even the names of the creatures have puns ranging from the "Sighclops," to the "Spydra," to the "LepreCon Man."
So what are you trying to do in this game, and why is it important? Within the two kingdoms of your player sheet, there are two symbols: Mountains and Fields, or as the game names them, the Highlands and the Lowlands. Each of the creatures has certain kingdoms they match. For example, the "Bragon" wants to be in the Highlands while the "UniqueHorn" needs to be in the lowlands. Some creatures can reside in both, if possible. Each card has a point value in the top left-hand corner ranging from 5 to 15 points, and these are the point values for the standard creatures. There are also two types of wild creatures that have points ranging from 20 to 40.
On your turn, you must perform one action but may take up to two. You can form a clan, attempt to recruit another player's clan, add a creature to your clan, play a Free creature, or discard then draw. It should be mentioned that you can repeat some of these actions but must perform at least one.
When you form a clan, you take two matching creatures and place them on your board in either the highlands or lowlands as a pair. You can also pair a creature with a wild that has a rainbow crystal on the upper left-hand corner. You're only allowed to use two cards when forming a clan, and cannot create them with two wild cards.
The next action you can perform is adding a creature to an existing clan. This action allows you to strengthen the clan on top of a kingdom. It can only add 1 creature to the clan, you cannot add wild cards. You may also switch lands the creature is in, as long as it can be in both, or "any land" creatures.
Recruiting a clan, and this is the meat of the game, is where you attempt to steal the top clan of an opposing player's kingdom. There are some "can'ts" that apply here. You can't recruit a clan until you've formed at least one of your own, and you can't steal from an opponent if it's the only one of the opposing players. You can only recruit the top clan from the opponent, and you can't recruit the same creature twice in a row. How this action works is that the player declares which opponent and clan they wish to recruit. They then reveal the creature card matching that clan from their hand. The opposing player can attempt to stop the recruitment by playing the same creature from their hand if they have it. This goes back and forth until one player concedes. It should be mentioned that you can also play wilds, and some of them count as two over the other. The winner takes all the cards played and places them in the clan. This is where the name of the game comes into meaning. "Cover Your Kingdom" is about protecting the cards you have. By stacking them, the clans below the top cannot be stolen from you.
There are free creatures in the deck that perform certain actions, and you can play them to alter the game. Their instructions are relatively straightforward on the card itself.
And the last action you can take is discarding and drawing back up. At the end of your turn, you draw back up to six and pass the player marker along with you. It's meant to show that you are the active player, in case confusion starts with the recruiting action. You will play until the cards have run out of the deck, and out of player's hands.
At the end of the game, you tally up your points from the kingdoms, and whoever has the most points wins. In the case of a tie, the player with the most creatures overall is the winner.
So what do I think of this game? It's good fun. It's a short, quick-paced game that never seems to have a dull moment. While you're attempting to puzzle out your next move in the game, you might have to delay that action when someone tries to recruit your own people. There's a high tension throughout gameplay. "Bragons," and "Klakens" are worth 15 points each, and if they're the top clan in your kingdom, you want those protected. And the wilds are even worth more points. So if you have any vulnerable large point groupings, you're a target. Working quickly throughout the game is critical to your victory, but it's also more entertaining than expected
And if you find yourself bored with the base game, which I have not even done yet after several plays, there are variants. The most interesting one, for sure, is the "Constellation Prizes." (See the pun?). You are given small chits with the creatures on it to place in the kingdom. When you play a clan of that type, you turn it over. If you have any cluster of creatures from the highlands, lowlands, or any lands, you get bonus points at the end, including an astronomical bonus if you got all three.
Grandpa Beck's Games have succeeded in one major aspect. They have brought simple games, usually card games, to the forefront of their company, and each time I introduce one of them to the group, they always enjoy it. "Cover Your Kingdom" is one of those games that's so fast and easy to teach, that we can get a game in within a half-hour. The mechanics are always tight, and the specialty cards make sense when they break the rules for a quick moment. There are hundreds of games with the "do this action, but only if...." moments when those types of cards show up, but this one avoids that. Those cards come and go. There are rare rules lookups in this game, and that, to me, is always a sign of a well-designed rule set.
Larry, one of our store's game connoisseurs, loves this game. "The interaction between players becomes enjoyable. It doesn't feel like a hard 'take-that' game because you bounce back so quickly. The puns are fantastic, along with the artwork and graphic design. They made it a whole lot of fun."
I must say, I never played "Cover Your Assets," so I cannot compare the two. But this one was a must for the collection here at the store. I'm pretty sure that once this whole "COVID-19" pandemic is over, we'll be running a demo of it on game night. When you reach the end of the game, there's always a question of who might've won. Some might have larger piles, but they could all be filled with 5 point creatures. Others could have large wild points hidden underneath, and you just don't know. Being kept on your toes is one of the many aspects of this game I enjoy. But mostly, it's the constant engagement of all players throughout, and downtime rarely exists here.
BGG Rating - 8/10