I’ve been a long time fan of Z-Man Games, the guys who brought you Agricola, the #1 tabletop game in the world, as well as the smash hit Pandemic. Camelot Legends is yet another well illustrated, infinitely playable card-driven game that while adhering to simple mechanics provides you with a rich, engaging game experience.
The game follows the Arthurian legend, one of the ultimate examples in literature on the subjects of chivalry, betrayal, and triumph. In essence, gameplay consists of sending your knights off to do good deeds and in doing so, they score Victory Points awarded in proportion to the difficulty of the tasks themselves. There are 3 main locations within the game that you’ll dispatch your cadre of Knights and Ladies to, that when said by Dora The Explorer sound a bit funny: “Camelot”, “Cornwall”, and “The Perilous Forest”. Just watch out for Sir Swiper The Fox, he’s a real bastard.
The rather nice components include about 100 myriad cards of good quality and illustration, as well as 4 reference cards to remind you of the order of action, and finally 3 larger-format location cards for you to send your Knights to and place drawn Event cards on.
Each player, at the beginning of their turn, draws and plays a nicely illustrated “Event” card which represents a good deed or mission that the players have to accomplish. These are plentiful and vary from slaying “The Wandering Beast” all the way through performing an “Assasination” and killing an opposing Knight card. This game has some player V. player action, to be sure, but it’s not truly backstabbingly delicious unless you go out of your way to play in that manner. There’s other types of events as well, such as persistent “Heraldic Events” that benefit one type of Knight and are replaced when a new “Heraldic Event” is drawn. Another event type are “Bidding Events” where all players take turns bidding their Knights against one another, with the winner taking the Victory Points for that event and the losers sending their Knights to their inevitable fate in “The Abyss Of Discard”. The final, and least interesting, type of events are “Special Events” where the player who completes that task by meeting the requirements can take a trophy to assign to a Knight, such as the Love Potion, Excalibur, or making them the “High King”, with each providing an ability or bonus to the bearer.
In order to actually accomplish tasks and be awarded the Victory Points, you must play enough Knights to the location that the event resides to beat the statistics score that is printed on the event itself. An example might be an event in the Cornwall location that requires you to have 6 “Combat” and 9 “Chivalry” points across the aggregate scores of all the Knights you’ve dispatched to that location. It’s very simple to play, and the Knights’ special abilities help augment their own statistics and in many cases the statistics of those within their Company of Knights at the same location.
Each character card is nicely illustrated with images of Knights doing the sort of stuff that Knights do as well as the aforementioned card statistics, special abilities, and some “flavor text” that has words like “Thee” “Thou” and “Forsooth”, which are more for comedic value than flavor, in this reviewer’s opinion. The player can place these at locations, bid on events, and the interaction between the cards in play is executed absolutely perfectly. To add to the delight, the gameplay is quite brisk with minimal downtime between players’ turns.
The game comes to its conclusion when the last event card is drawn, which is the “Final Event”, the pinnacle of the in-game theme, and has the highest requirements to defeat. When this card is taken by a player, all players count up their Victory Points and the winner is declared.
All in all, if you like quick-playing, Fantasy themed card games, this is a real winner.
What I liked:
*The artwork is quite nice, and the theme is perfectly adhered to
*The game takes 5 minutes to learn, with minimal rulebook review during play
*This game is one of the few I know of that slides in-between “Beer N’ Pretzels” and “Heavy Euro”
*Downtime between player turns is very short
*The level of player interaction is absolutely perfect for the design
What I detested:
*Some of the cards are a useless waste of space and make no sense, but very few
*The flavor text is cheesier than Chester Cheetah
The card art, adherence to a great theme, and the overall “fun factor” of this game makes it another example of why Z-Man Games continues to be a fan favorite. I have rarely seen a card game that has so perfectly balanced playability and randomness while maintaining a fun, easy-to-access game system. It is truly a remarkably fun, fast playing game.