Castles of Mad King Ludwig board game review

Castles of Mad King Ludwig board game

Ready to build some crazy castles?

If I ever get over to Bavaria on vacation, I’m going to check out as many castles as I can.

And the Romanesque fortress, Schloss Neuschwanstein, by King Ludwig II, is at the top of my “would love to see” castle list.

So when I heard about the board game Castles of Mad King Ludwig — where you get to build crazy castles — I was very anxious to give it a try.

My chance to play the game first struck at SaltCon 2015.

While I didn’t do very well on my first play, I was totally hooked. I left wanting to play again and again.

And Castles of Mad King Ludwig shot to the top of my games wish list along with Colt Express — both of which I was lucky enough to get for my birthday soon after.

Well, it’s finally time to post our full review of Castles of Mad King Ludwig. Enjoy!

Can the whole family enjoy Castles of Mad King Ludwig?

Castles of Mad King Ludwig board game

Let’s get building!

As much as I love playing Castles of Mad King Ludwig, I’ll happily admit that it’s not for everyone.

While the premise of building crazy castles can appeal to people of all ages, the board game has a 13+ age recommendation for a reason.

It’s not that there’s any content you need to worry about. But rather, there’s a lot to analyze as you play.

While placing one room connecting to the doorway of a room to another is simple enough for young kids to do, the strategic elements in the game may go over their heads.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig board game

Which rooms will you have in your castle?

As you can see in our video review, there are plenty of ways to score points in the game. And figuring out which choices will score the most points takes a good mental effort.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig board game

The first few rooms have been added.

For starters, each room scores points in different ways as you place them. There are points for the room itself as well as additional points (or subtract points) depending on which room you connect it to or place adjacent to it.

But that’s not all.

Players also need to stay focused on the additional ways to score points at the end of the game based on both the King’s Favors and Bonus cards.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig board game

Secret Bonus cards add points at the end.

Each game begins by setting out a set number of King’s Favors at random. The game includes 24 King’s Favors tiles, but only 4 (or less depending on the number of players) will be used each game.

The variety is fantastic, but it also means players need to plan according, and differently, each game.

Each player will also have their own, secret Bonus cards that they’ll get at the start of the game and may gain more during the game that will grant them more points at the end of the game as well.

Choosing Bonus cards wisely will have a big impact on the outcome of the game.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig board game

Double-sided reference card for scoring and room completion bonus actions.

If that weren’t enough, every time a player completes a room, they get a specific type of bonus based on the type of room completed. These range from more points and extra turns, to more money and extra bonus cards.

Figuring out which rooms to complete and how best to do so also has a big impact on the game.

Yet that’s still not all.

Because every turn the Master Builder gets to decide the price of each room up for sale. And when players buy a room, they pay the money to the Master Builder.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig board game

The Master Builder sets the prices.

Who the Master Builder is changes each round — so everyone gets their chance to set the price and earn money that way. But figuring out how to price each room is another tricky element of the game.

And I love it!

But not everyone will.

 

What I love about Castles of Mad King Ludwig

I really enjoy playing Castles of Mad King Ludwig for a number of reasons.

First, I love building crazy castles.

I love tile-laying games where you start with a blank slate and you get to see something grow before your eyes. I love how the countryside develops before your eyes in Carcassonne and I love how unique castles develop in Castles of Mad King Ludwig.

Every game means another bunch of unique castles are about to be built.

And even if I don’t win, I love seeing how my castle takes shape along the way.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig board game

Who wants to live in my castle?

Second, I love doing puzzles.

I love both putting puzzles together as well as doing mental puzzles and brain teasers. And Castles of Mad King Ludwig feels like both at the same time.

The physical construction of the castle itself looks like a puzzle. All the unique room shapes must fit together. And I love working out how to make them fit in cool ways.

But I also love the mental puzzle of figuring out which rooms will score more points as well as get me closer to getting the King’s Favors as well as scoring my secret bonus points. Since the King’s Favors differ every game, figuring out how to align my castle construction to those unique objectives keeps me puzzling the whole game.

Which leads me to my next point…

Castles of Mad King Ludwig board game

It’s fun to configure the castle rooms.

Third, I love the variety.

I’m not just talking about the variety of how each castle looks at the end of the game. I also love the variety during the game play.

Yes, the random King’s Favor creates a unique set of objectives at the outset of each game. But the way the rooms come out makes every turn a new challenge as well.

Deciding which rooms to buy, as well as how to price each room when I’m the Master Builder, is like a little mini-challenge every game round.

They keep my mind engaged the whole time and I really enjoy that.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig board game

The King’s Favors determine end-game scoring.

 

How does Castles of Mad King Ludwig score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?

Castles of Mad King Ludwig board gameIf you haven’t guessed already, Castles of Mad King Ludwig scores very high on my “let’s play again” game meter.

But, unfortunately it doesn’t score high on all of our game meters. Not everyone in our family enjoys these puzzle-like games like I do.

And chances are high that you have a mix of game interests in your family as well.

If you’re wondering whether it will be a good fit for your family, you can get the full run-through by watching our video review above.

The good news is that I have some friends that also enjoy such games. So I’ll keep Castles of Mad King Ludwig at the ready for when they’re over for game night. Because I’m ready to start building another castle!

 

Extras:

Just last week, a digital version of Castles of Mad King Ludwig was released for iOS and Android. I bought a copy and think it’s a great implementation of the game. I’ve found it a great way to get in a game of Castles when others aren’t in the castle-building mood.

Check it out: iOS and Android

Castles of Mad King Ludwig board game

The Daedalus Productions game insert is fantastic!

We’ve also put together a custom game insert for Castles of Mad King Ludwig by Daedalus Productions. It’s a fantastic insert that looks fantastic as well as keeps everything in its place. In fact, you don’t even have to take the pieces out of the insert. You can play the game with the room tiles and cards staying put in the insert.

If you want to see more, you can check out our video of the Daedalus Productions Castles of Mad King Ludwig insert.

Get one here: Daedalus Productions, Inc.




 

Comments: 2

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Great review Trent. I also first played this at SaltCon 2015 and kept itching to play it and get it. It finally landed in my collection this past Christmas. I was lucky enough to find that my wife and oldest son enjoy playing it with me (when I can pull him away from Dead of Winter).

I saw that the app came out and was intrigued by it. Is it a single player only with AI and puzzles/challenges? Or does it have multiplayer as well (pass-and-play or otherwise)?

Thanks again for your fun reviews.

 

Reply

     

    Chris – Very cool. In addition to challenges, the app lets you play against others (pass-and-play). It works pretty well, but I still prefer the physical construction of castles on a table. (However, I can see playing it on a plane or such where you don’t have much table space.)

     

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