Spotlight on Games > War Games > Reviews
Blood Royale
Derek Carver; Games Workshop-1987; 3-5; 240. Art by Christos Achilleos.
For those of you unfamiliar with the game, it is set in 14th century Europe (with the names and geography slightly re-arranged). The aspect of the medieval life simulated best are the many dynastic successions so prevalent of that era.

The game is for 3 to 5 with 5 appearing to be optimal. There isn't much solitaire playability here, but probably quite a bit of potential for play by e-mail. Each player takes on one of England, Germany, Italy, Spain or France, each nation conveniently already united, though such was not really the case in 1300.

The idea of the game is to collect the most amount of money by game's end. Money is gained by taxing your provinces, conquering new provinces to tax, trade and by marrying off your daughters to foreign kings.

Each player begins with a king, queen and royal child. Each turn, it is necessary to roll for the survival of each member of the royal family, a roll which may be modified by factors such as age and childbirth. In addition, married couples may roll to see whether they are blessed with heirs (crucial for success in the game). In addition, characters may be married off to foreign princes and princesses. Not only do these marriages carry with them financial rewards (dowries or increased income) and dynastic complications, but also often a marriage contract stipulating an agreement between monarchs which is to last until the marriage is ended. The rules here for succession and contracts are very well done.

Trade works as follows. Many of the provinces in the game produce resource units. These are one of cloth, metal, food, wine or gold. Collection of one of each of these enables the player to turn them in for money. Since no player initially owns a complete set, trade and/or conquest is encouraged. (Note: this is somewhat similar to Borderlands if you know that game.)

Combat is simple, though interesting and unpredictable. Princes and Kings can have enormous effects on your success, depending on their abilities. Each character has three attributes: Constitution (affects longevity), Charisma (for kings, helps with rebellions, for brides, provides more income) and Strength/Guile (male strength helps in combat whereas a wife's guile is added to her husband's strength).

The game features a delightful set of Random Events appropriate for the period including Plague, Rebellion, Trade Boom, War with Neutrals, Mercenary Captains & Companies, Famine, Pretenders, Bastards and Crusades.

Included are stand-up plastic playing pieces for kings and princes, plus plastic coins and paper bills to represent money. Also included are loads of character cards and marriage contracts. The board is approximately two feet by three and is of the hard cardboard "puzzle" variety. As is typical of today's (1987) market, the game is selling for $35. Certainly, it does approach that value in terms of number and quality of components.

By the way, if you don't like the Random Events, don't blame the designer who says that he never had anything to do with them, but which were foisted on the game by the publisher.

Also ...

  • Analysis
  • Background
  • Errata
  • Famine chart
  • Summary
  • Pictures at Trev's Site
  • Designer Comments (at the Westpark Gamers)
    Reviewing the Reviewer
    Fri Sep 21 16:39:32 PDT 2001
    Review written 1987.
    Please forward any comments and additions for this site to Rick Heli