We have had good times chez Board's Eye View with a couple of Grandpa Beck's games recently: Skull King is a lifelong keeper (but then we do have a soft spot for trick-taking games); The Bears and the Bees gave us a good buzz for a small box filler. Coming in a slightly larger box, Cover Your Kingdom, by Jeffrey Beck with art by Apryl Stott is a retheming of an earlier Grandpa Beck game, the more titillatingly entitled, Cover Your Assets.
Cover Your Kingdom is an uncomplicated family/tween-age card game for 2–5 to punsters, which sees players pairing up mythical creatures like Sighclopses and Peglegasuses into Clans, defending their higher scoring Clans while stealing others', and using lower scoring ones as blockers. Most Clans are assigned to either the Highlands or Lowlands (separate stacks), while the Hentaurs and Pigxies may be placed in either. When attacking another Kingdom, players can only target the top Clan of either stack.
The simplest use for high scoring Wildcards like the CerbeRussell Terrier is to form Clans with singletons but they can also be used to counter another player's attack or counter on your Kingdom. Some critters, like the Minnowtaur and MobGoblins, don't form Clans but have special powers which break the rinse/repeat cycle of picking two from make a clan / grow a clan / steal a clan / swap a card. At game end, highest points value of cards in the Kingdom wins.
Pretty, light, and fluffy, Cover Your Kingdom can be played mostly 'brain off': not that it's rote - you need to protect high scoring Clans and be alert for opportunities to nab a Clan from an opponent. Overall tho' the tactics are simple for experienced gamers, which is why it's ideal for tweens, especially with the current vogue for all things UniqueHorn. Issues arise, as usual at the extremities of the player count: with few players the large deck runs the game a little too long for the weight; with more, the take that-ery ramps up.
Options to make the game simpler should probably be ignored, but on the flipside of the Kingdom mats are ten Constellation slots - one for each type of Clan - which add a little set collection aspect, with bonuses for having all the Lowland, Highland and either-land creatures. There are also unique Kingdom Power cards that can be dealt out to change things up. The two-player variant adds a Maneland region for equines and porcines and a head-to-head drafting mechanism rather than the luck of the draw where a couple of unseen Spydra could easily swing things.
So, attractive and engaging, but by far the lightest Grandpa Beck game we've played, Cover Your Kingdom is probably a little fantastical for beer & pretzels players but is a punderful game for tweens or families with kids that can cope with having their Kingdoms usurped.
(Review by David Fox)