Updated: Feb 20, 2021
Designed by James Fazio, Regency is a hand management set collection card game from Pique Games where players are drafting cards to populate their rival fiefdoms. Easy-to-grasp rules make this game simple to pick up and play but the excitement mounts as the game progresses because the more citizens you add to your fiefdom, the more actions you are able to trigger on your turn.
Players each choose a historical figure as their Regent. There are a dozen personages to choose from. Each offers a potted biography and space to tuck the six different categories or castes of citizenry. Whichever you play with, each of the historical figures starts with one 'prowess' corresponding to that of one of the castes.
There is a deck of Event cards. These each set out an action that can be taken and there are some that are not caste-specific so they can be used by any player. Most tho' are tied to one of the six castes and you can only use its power if your have that caste in your fiefdom either because it was your Regent's starting prowess or because you've added a citizen to the slot that corresponds to that caste. The Event cards also show an influence value. You can always use the card for its influence value regardless of its caste icon. You can discard any cards you are unable to use and don't want to hold, and you always draw back up to four Event cards at the end of your turn.
A second deck represents the population from which you'll be trying to draft citizens. Every common citizen has one of the caste icons on it; 'privileged' citizens are more versatile because they have more than one icon, which means they can be allocated to a choice of slots on your Regent's board. Six population cards are laid out in two rows of three. The cards in the bottom row are available to be bought using influence, with the first in the row costing 5 influence, the middle one 6 and the card on the right costing 7. When you acquire a citizen card, you add it to your fiefdom by tucking it under your Regent board. This then adds that caste prowess to your fiefdom, opening up the ability to make use of more of the Event cards.
When we first started playing Regency it seemed that luck could all but lock a player out of the game. If you have a hand of four cards and they all have an influence value of 1, then you won't have enough to buy even the cheapest citizen card. At the same time, it's possible that you won't be able to take any useful actions, particularly at the early stage of the game. Even tho' she discarded cards each turn to draw new ones, one of our team went four turns without ever having more than four influence points and so being unable to add a citizen to their fiefdom or take any meaningful action. Meanwhile other players were slowly but steadily adding to theirs...
Initially we thought the game was broken. We were wrong. Those who had made early acquisitions had access to more Event card actions and many of these involved 'take that' sniping. Inevitably, there was much to and fro between players who had had a substantial head start and this provided the opportunity for catch up from the player who hadn't had the citizens to take event card actions but who likewise didn't have citizen cards that could be targeted by the other players.
With each caste that's added increasing the scope you have to use Event cards for their actions, so the game increases in pace. Canny play can allow you a chain of actions so that it is possible to add several citizens to your fiefdom in a single well-planned and/or lucky turn, particularly where you are able to use cards to add more to your hand. Even with players using 'take that' actions to gang up on a player who looks to be on the verge of victory, Regency is never going to overstay its welcome. You can expect most games to take around 20 minutes.
Regency takes 2-6 players. For us it was at its best with 4 or more players. In particular, if you play with just two, that doesn't allow the 'take that' mechanisms to let a lagging player into the game: if you get off to a flying start in a two-player game while your opponent sits through two or three turns without enough influence to spend, then you're very unlikely to be caught.
At Board's Eye View we have been playing an early preview prototype of Regency. The game is expected to go through some changes before it comes to Kickstarter, including further art from Peter Zalba, Reino Monterona and Susanna Saar. Click here to check out the campaign.