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Knights of the Hound Table

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

We haven't been able to confirm this but it's hard to escape the suspicion that this is one of those games where the title came first. It's certainly a catchy title and it sums up the basic tongue-in-cheek premise of combat between two armies of dogs.

Knights of the Hound Table is a card combat game designed by Kenny Chapman, with art by Claudia Dillard, and published by We Ride Games. It's designed to be played as a head-to-head two-player game, although the rules include a variant that allows the game to be played with three players.

Players start by drafting cards until they have a deck representing their army of hounds. The cards all display a value to be used in attack or defence and a special ability. Each round, you draw three cards and you decide which of the three to use for attack, which for defence and which for its special ability. These are positioned so that the attack card is on the left, the defence on the right and the card using its ability text in the middle. Unless modified by the ability card, attacks are resolved simply by comparing the number on the attack card with that on the defender card. That means, unmodified, the combat is like a very basic version of Top Trumps. Unless you've been very unlucky with your card draw, however, your attack or defence is likely to be modified in some way by the special ability. It's this that keeps the successive rounds of combat interesting.

The fact that players are comparing card values means that it's essential that cards are revealed simultaneously. The rules suggest playing the cards face down and then flipping them. We tried that but found it overly fiddly; especially as it's a process you're going to be repeating multiple times throughout the game. As an alternative, we improvised a screen so that each player could lay out their cards face up without the other seeing them until the screen was lifted. When this game comes to Kickstarter next week, it'd be good to see a screen offered either as a stretch goal or an add-on; although, if not, it's easy enough to cobble together your own.

Winning an attack (ie: having an attack value higher than the defence) will mean inflicting damage on the other player (you each start off with 20 points of health) and will earn you Treat tokens. These are, in effect, the currency of the game; they are used to recruit 'hero' cards. This, in turn, is the deck builder aspect. The hero cards are mostly much more powerful than the ordinary 'hound' cards, both in terms of combat value and special ability. As in most deck builders, when you acquire a hero card it goes into your discard pile but it becomes available to you when your deck is reshuffled.

Knights of the Hound Table is a light game with a high luck quotient. You have agency over how to deploy the three cards that you draw but you are likely to take damage if you draw low-value cards and no particularly useful special ability (some special abilities are inapplicable, for example, in the first part of the game). The hero cards are so much more powerful than the hounds that the game becomes a race to 'buy' the hero cards on offer. When eventually you draw a hero, it can be quite a tough decision whether to use it for its heavy hitting attack value or whether instead to use its ability.

Once the heroes join the fray, the game accelerates to its conclusion because damage racks up faster. We found games tended to run to about 20 minutes; making Knights of the Hound Table a family-friendly filler-length card game.

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