Monday, April 25, 2005

Review: King's Breakfast

King's Breakfast (A.K.A. King Lui) is a nice little card game by Alan R. Moon and Aaron Weissblum.

This is what's commonly referred to as a "filler game". That's a game that you break out when you've got a little bit of time to fill. It's an hours d'oeuvre, not a main course. It supports from 3-5 people and it plays in under 15 mintues.

In King's Breakfast, players have been invited to dine with the king. Seven different courses are available and there are fifteen portions of each. Your goal is to have as many portions of the king's favorite dishes as possible without having more than the king (it won't do to out-eat the king).

Players start with no cards in their hand. The first player shuffles the deck and deals two cards for each player, face up in the center of the table. The cards are grouped by food type (hams go with hams, wine goes with wine, etc.). Then each player, beginning with the dealer, takes all the portions of a single type of food, or takes a single card from the top of the deck. When all players have made their choice, any food that's left over goes to the king. The deck passes to the player on the left and the process is repeated until there are no longer enough cards in the deck to deal out the right number of portions. At that point the game is over and the players' hands are scored.

Scoring is very simple. For each food category, if you have more portions than the king, you get nothing; otherwise you multiply the number of portions you have in that category by the number of portions the king has in that category. Do that for each of the seven categories and add them up. The total sum is your score.

There is one other element in the game that I should mention. Mixed in with the 105 portion cards are five "Emerald" cards. Emerald is the king's pet dragon. When someone takes an Emerald card, they must choose two portions of food from the King's plate to feed the dragon. These portions are removed from the game. This is one of the ways that a player can affect the other players' scores.

This is a good game for children. The colors are bright, the art is nice, there is no reading required, and the game is random enough that you can luck into winning even if you don't understand the strategy. The scoring involves enough math that if your child is working on her multiplication tables, she might find it challenging. It's also fun for adults but don't expect this to be a deep game. It's not meant to be. It's just a light filler.

If you already have plenty of filler games in your collection then there probably isn't much of a reason to pick this one up. But if you're looking for another light filler game, particularly if you want something you can play with children, then this is a fine choice.


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