I’m not going to bury the lead here, King of 12 is an excellent card game. I was initially drawn in by the gorgeous illustrations but keep coming back to the game because of its strategic nature.
2 to 4 players manipulate their own blue 12-sided die with the assistance of fantastical creatures on tarot sized cards. Players are going to have to pay close attention and find ways to exploit their opponents cards each round. If a player wins two rounds, they’ll claim the precious throne.
Creatures to Assist Your Journey
King of 12 comes with a dozen beautifully illustrated over-sized card types. Each game will only include 7 of these cards at a time. The rulebook has a suggested line up for your first game which is a great start. After a game or two, you’re ready to introduce some of the more advanced cards.
Most of the time, players are aiming to have the highest total (die + card effect) at the table. Cards like The Knight, The Lady and The Gambler will change that goal. Since cards are played simultaneously, predicting when your opponents will play these is a lesson in reading your opponents. Other cards like The Troublemakers and The Merchants will affect every die on the table. These two cards can bring chaos to players plans but may just benefit you in the end.
Some cards (The Reverser, The Sorcerer, The Oracle) physically change your die face. They will rotate, flip or let you reroll the die. The rest of the cards modify the die number without physically changing it.
King of 12 is really unique because of how cards, dice and scores cancel one another throughout the round. If players play the same card, those card effects are cancelled and discarded into the individual players discard piles. So two players that wanted to double their die value using The Alchemist will now end up without any numerical boost to their dice.
After all card affects are calculates, players with identical numbers cancel one another out. If Erin and I both end up with a 14 after our cards take affect, we are unable to gain victory points, even if we had the highest values at the table. The player with the highest score (without being cancelled) gets a 2-point token and the runner up receives a 1-point token.
The round ends when a player has 1 card left in their hand. Here’s the kicker. Any players who scored an identical number of victory points in that round are cancelled. One of the craziest strategies is to play a card that helps a player win points, ultimately causing a tie and cancelling their win at the end of a round.
A New Game Night King?
We’ve talked before about how quick and accessible Love Letter has been over the years. King of 12 feels like the next evolution in this style game. The game shares similarities with other card games like Campy Creatures and Citadels. During our time with King of 12, I’ve taught the game to about 8 players of various skill sets. Newer gamers and seasoned gamers alike caught on quick. By the end of the first round, players understand how each card was uniquely created to score points.
Since each round starts with a roll of your blue die, you’ll spend your cards manipulating the die against your opponents. The game gets competitive and moves quickly from round to round. Knowing when to play The Knight card (lowest total wins) is so satisfying when your opponents are all trying to boost their die number.
King of 12 is an excellent card game that can be modified for the audience your playing with just by swapping out a couple cards. Play with the basic 7 cards with newer gamers or throw in some of the more cutthroat cards when you play with the relatives. King of 12 is at its core a bluffing game but isn’t one that’s reliant on dumb luck. Players who remember what their opponents have played and pay attention to the dice on the table will find ways to score points each round.
Don’t be surprised to see King of 12 as part of the rotation in our future game nights as friends and family join us around the game table. This game has everything we want in a fast-paced yet strategic card game.
You can purchase King of 12 from the Lucky Duck webstore or pick up a copy at your local game store after its release on April 22, 2021.
This game was provided to us by the publisher for review. Read more about our review policies at One Board Family.
Beautiful card illustrations and classy blue dice
A dozen card types mean variable game setup
Strategic card play keeps players engaged
Small card text was tough to read for older gamers
Wish the point tokens were larger