Imposter Kings

The rulebook for Imposter Kings relates a story about the King's nightmare visions about plots to kill him and substitute an imposter clone. This may be of general interest but it is of no more than marginal relevance to the game itself, which is a card game where you lose if you are unable to play a card.



Aside from a King card which everyone starts off with, the cards all have a number 1 through to 9. Cards all represent characters and they each have a special ability. Basically, you must always play a card matching or higher than the card previously played - except that the powers on the cards can be used to override this sequence. There are some initially unintuitive keywords to learn: moving cards to particular locations that allow them to be played out of sequence (disregarding the number value), turning previously played cards face down to effectively reduce their value to 1 or taking cards completely out of the game, but once you've played a couple of hands of Imposter Kings, the terminology will become familiar, as will be the specific powers of the various cards.


With Imposter Kings, Sina Yeganeh has come up with a clever design that has much more depth to the play than you might expect from a cursory glance at the rules. The interactions of the different powers set up some powerful combos, and when dealt their hand, experienced players will treat it like an intriguing optimisation puzzle.



The deck is varied slightly to reflect player count (two-player, three-player, and four-player in pairs) but altering the player count also changes the dynamics. Played with just two players, you have almost perfect information about what cards your opponent has in hand (ie: all the cards you don't have, except that one card is randomly taken out of the deck). Play with three and, at the start of each game, players have to choose three cards to reveal to their opponents, one of which is subject to drafting. With four players, Imposter Kings is played in pairs, so reveals are a way of communicating hand information to your partner, with whom you can also swap two cards.


And what of the eponymous Kings? They can be flipped to avoid (or delay) losing. You'll also have nominated a card (face down) as your King's successor... You score a point for winning (ie: when another player cannot play a card), for having your King unflipped and for having any cards left. The game is won by the first player to accumulate 7 points.


Imposter Games have done a great job in the production of Imposter Kings. The glossy cards are well finished and all sport the attractive artwork of Michael Hirshon. It's a nice touch that the duplicate cards (ie: characters for which the deck includes two copies) are not mere duplicates but generally have small but noticeable differences.


If you're looking for a versatile, filler-length card game, then Imposter Kings is certainly worth checking out.


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