Game Day September 2010: King Me

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series September Game Day

King Me Box ArtI hadn’t played King Me before, but ever since my girlfriend played it with the rest of that same group, she’s been interested in getting me to try it.  Everyone thought it would be a great game to try out for someone with a visual impairment, since the game seems simple enough and there isn’t a lot to keep track of.  While I appreciate the simplicity of the game and did have a lot o fun with it, I still had a bit of trouble picking it up and playing immediately.  I can see how a few modifications would make the game more enjoyable for someone who is visually impaired, and I think overall it would be a real blast to try again.

King Me, for those of you not familiar, is a simple game in which each player attempts to elect a King (or Queen) from a list of given characters… and try to keep them in office so they don’t get assassinated.  Each player begins play with a small card containing 5 or 6 names, and each name on the card corresponds with one of about a dozen or so characters who are vying for the throne.  During the initial phase of the game, each player selects two characters that they would like to place on the game board, which has about 6 different levels (everywhere from the Basement to the Kitchen to the Throne).  Each player takes turns voting to move a character up one level in the castle, and once someone reaches the Throne everyone votes on whether or not that character gets to remain king.

Voting is done anonymously so that nobody else can see whether or not you voted for or against the character.  Each player gets one Yes vote card and a certain number of No vote cards (depending on the number of players; we had 5 players so each person had 2 No votes).  If you vote Yes to keep someone as king, you get to keep your card.  A vote of No by anyone at the table means the character is assassinated and play continues as normal.  When you vote No you discard one of your No cards; it’s important to choose who you want to assassinate very wisely, since you won’t be able to rid of the throne of every character you don’t want, and some times you will just have to hope that another player eliminates a character you don’t like.

If everyone votes Yes on the same character, play stops and a scoring phase begins.  Players whose secret card contains the name of the elected king earn 10 points, but players also gain points for other characters on the board depending on that character’s rank when the game ends.  For example, if Dario is on your card and in the position on the board that lies just before the throne, you will gain 5 points, even if the person who was elected King doesn’t appear on your card at all.  Scoring continues until all non-assassinated characters are tallied up and points are dished out accordingly.  The player with the most points at the end of 3 such rounds of play is the overall winner of the game.

King Me is easy to learn and plays very quickly.  The three rounds total only took about half an hour, and that included some hiccups based on my visual impairment.  Unfortunately, the character cards are printed with small letters and are difficult to see.  I needed a magnifier to read them, but because each one is color-coded there were still a few I had trouble reading, since the text color and its background color made the name blend in to the background and I couldn’t even read it magnified.  This could be a problem for some color-blind folks as well, but it certainly wouldn’t be difficult to print your own copies of the cards in larger print and without the different colors.

The game board was another struggle and its nature may be a little more challenging to overcome from an accessibility standpoint.  While it isn’t always completely necessary to know which character stands at which position on the board, it is certainly helpful.  Because there are so many different characters though, it’s difficult to simply ask someone to describe where each character is standing, since the answer, put in to words, would be lengthy and hard to keep track of.  Asking about a particular character is also risky, since other players aren’t supposed to know who is on your character card.  I found myself having to memorize the names of characters not on my own card so I could promote them and ask questions about them without giving myself away.  Once, I accidentally promoted a person to King without intending to, since I hadn’t stopped to ask what position on the board they were before I selected them for promotion.

Overall, the experience was fun and one that I would like to repeat.  I could see the game being made more accessible with some large print or Braille character cards and voting cards (I had also accidentally voted No one time when I meant to vote Yes, since I had trouble discerning the voting cards from each other).  King Me strikes me as a fun family game that is perfect for quick pick-up-and-play sessions.

We were in our last round of King Me when the rest of the crew arrived with A Touch of Evil, an epic adventure game from Flying Frog Productions.  The game supports anywhere from 2 to 8 players, which was perfect since there were 8 of us in the apartment now.  We were looking for a big game to get everyone involved, and this was most certainly it.

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