Thursday, November 23, 2017

Boardgame of the Week: Camelot

In Camelot, players vie for control of Excalibur. Each player controls five Arthurs and a host of other Arthurian characters in a heated attempt to grab and retrieve the sword before any other player succeeds in this task.
On the surface, the game appears to be a very simple wargame, combat being quickly resolved without any dice as characters fight each other. The key to the game, however, is that two players are always taking turns at the same time, the turns being regulated by "turn tokens" that pass around the board. When one player finishes his or her turn, the turn-token is passed to the next player who does not already have one. If one player is a slowpoke taking his turn, then the other turn-token passes around the table, allowing other players to take turns. This forces players to take very fast turns, usually about 5 seconds each, allowing the game to move along with the intensity of a video game. Games usually take 20 to 30 minutes to play, even with three to six players.
Special rules resolve potential conflicts that could occur when two players try to perform actions simultaneously where priority is in question, resolving quickly and simply.
No player ever quite gets knocked out of the game due to loss of characters; Arthurs always "rejuvenate", returning to your pile of pieces (your "village") that can enter the board. Characters start at a chosen entry space at the edge of the board, and move to the center to grab Excalibur, returning the Sword to their entry space to win. Each of the 5 character-types (Merlin, Lancelot, etc) have their own unique abilities, but everyone starts with an identical set of pieces.
There are also two variants in the rules, allowing players to vary the game by going after the "Accoutrements of Kingship" instead of the Sword, or by gathering a number of gold pieces scattered around the board so as to "buy the kingship". Tokens are included for these variants.
The game is very intense and fast, requiring players to think on their feet and make fast realtime decisions; if you are a big fan of slow, deep thinking, strategy games, you might look elsewhere.