I love a clever game app. I like quick, cheap and innovative (oh err missus). I recently bought Reigns which has for a few days has been hoping around in front of me like an excited child on various gaming portals. I dipped in
Reigns is stupendously simple single player ruler game. You play on your phone/device/computer and take the role of a king who exercises their power by making one of two choices from those offered each round by your various cast of minions.
So for example your general might appear and say there’s Vikings attacking from the North and your options might be to Attack them or Defend against them. Every choice has an effect on your four resources. The church, the people, your army and your gold. There’s a fifth resource as such, your life, which can end very quickly indeed if you make bad choices.
When the game starts you have a limited amount of event “cards” in your deck and these get turned over each turn and present you with choices. I say limited but there’s actually quite a few in there. Cards are probably a bad description too. They’re more like short pages from a fighting fantasy novel.
Once you kick the bucket and you will sooner than you think you get go start a new reign as a fresh King and hopefully learn from your earlier mistakes. As the game progresses you might encounter new characters that add additional cards to your deck. These characters are permanent in a legacy fashion. So once you meet the doctor all future Kings will have access to the cards he brings. There’s a good number of these characters so it will take some time for the experience to feel stale.
The four resources are a clever mechanic. You really need to balance all four. You get an option to build up your army for example and approving this increases your army but reduces your gold. On the flip side not building up your army decreases your population (from attacks I presume). Likewise building a hospital helps the people but decreases the church who don’t hold with new fangled ideas. Choices have other knock on effects too that lead to other cards. So a peasant revolt not quelled might lead to an arson attack on your castle and so on. It’s usually the best worse choice you’re hoping for and every action has a cost.
A resource dropping to zero spells the end for your reign as does pushing any resource too high. Too much church power and they rise up and take over and so on. I’m not saying it’s turn based flappy birds…. But It’s sort of turn based flappy birds.
On top of this there’s a couple of mini games that can kick off like fencing, gambling, walking the dog, navigating a labyrinth and so on. These are fun little distractions and have of course knock on effects. Various events and choices can cause continuous effects (also bad) like famine where your people are reducing each turn so your other choices require you to above all else increase the population.
Games are always over too quick. You slip up and BOOM! you’re dead. Death is always just around the corner and it’s a tough game to survive in for long but there’s such a “one more go” vibe you don’t get too upset by the loss.
There’s a great sense of humor in there too. Some interesting references to other games and movies. Weird stuff happens every so often like your alchemist finding mushrooms and suggesting you try them out. A witch cursing you with old age so you can’t read what people are saying. After dozens of plays it’s still not got repetitive although the same themes pop up again and again. I’ve no doubt I’ll bore with it at some stage but for now it’s proving go be a great little mindless distraction.
It’s not a serious game. Sometimes it’s impossible to continue no matter what choice you take and that’s ok although I would prefer everything based on my decisions rather than luck based. Maybe it is and I’m just a terrible King.
The meta game across all the reigns is clever too offering challenges of achieving certain things on each reign. Recruit the doctor. Fight the dragon and so on. Building certain things like barns and city walls carry on in the next reign and offer help in different situations
It’s a slick little app. The graphics are minimal but very effective. It has a lovely style to it. A sort of 2D vector graphic look. I really like it. The theme is very tongue in cheek throughout
It’s really simple to play and I see the developers are working on updates to it which is great. I can see this style of gaming appearing more in the future and lots of clones popping up
All in all for the price of a coffee this is great fun and I highly recommend it
Vic (the wise)