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King of 12

Designed by Rita Modl, with art by Robin Lagofun, and published by Lucky Duck and Corax, King of 12 is a light card and dice game for 2-4 players that uses twelve-sided dice and a hand of tarot-sized cards.

The game uses seven character cards of the 12 that come in the box. Whatever characters you choose to play with, each player has an identical hand. At the start of each round, players all roll their d12. They then choose a card to play, with simultaneous reveal. The card will modify the dice or otherwise alter the win condition for the round, so that, for example, The Reverser rotates your die to the opposite side. Once all the card effects have been implemented, the player with the highest value die takes two points and the runner up takes one point. Unless... The Knight is played, which gives the points for the lowest value, with the runner up being the player with the second lowest die.

Only unique die values score - so if two players both have dice of value 12, then they cancel each other out and it'll be the next highest unique value that scores. Likewise, the cards played each turn must be unique: if two or more players choose the same card, those cards won't take effect.

Play continues until players have used all their cards (so the first round will involve seven turns). Players then tot up the number of points tokens they've collected and the player with the most wins that round. They mark their win by choosing one card to discard face down - so they'll have one less card to choose between on the next (six-turn) round. The game is won by the first player to win two rounds.

This all makes for a fun, joyously chaotic, filler-length trick-taking style game where players are always trying to outguess each other, but knowing that each is doing just that. Our Board's Eye View plays put us all in mind of the poison wine sequence in the cult movie The Princess Bride - itself the subject of other card games, including The Princess Bride: A Battle of Wits (Game Salute/Sparkworks). In King of 12, however, players can draw on their knowledge of the cards opponents have already played that round, so they can expect to have greater agency on later turns than in the first couple of turns each round.

King of 12 satisfies a similar slot to the ever-popular Love Letter (AEG), most recently re-themed as Love Letter: Princess Ever After (Renegade Game Studios/Oni Games). Tho' it is notionally playable with two, King of 12 is much better with 3 or 4 players, and it's made all the more versatile by the fact that it offers 12 character cards when you only ever use seven in a game: it means you can vary games, adding to its replayability. And if you really take to the game, two copies can be combined to take the player count to eight; buy three and you can really be the King of 12!

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