Knights of Charlemagne in Review – Behold… The king of the Franks

knightsofcharlemagne1If you don’t get the title… Charlemagne was king of the Franks. Just a little bit of sophomoric humor. That being said, you do not need to be a history buff or even need access to Wikipedia to appreciate this game. Reiner Knizia’s Knights of Charlemagne (yes, this is the full name of the App) is a game based off of a current card/strategy game. While the translation of card games onto the iDevice platform is nothing new, Knights of Charlemagne’s faithful transition onto a digital platform is of some note. It was ranked the 9th most popular card game of 2006.

knightsofcharlemagne2So, what exactly is Knights of Charlemagne? The developer writes:

Welcome to Knights of Chalemagne; one of Reiner Knizia’s classic board games now available for the iPhone and iPod touch!

The rules are simple; turn by turn you must choose to deploy your Knights to one of the ten Estates on the board. But not all Estates are worth the same! Can you make the right moves and lead your Knights to victory?

knightsofcharlemagne3The board is set with ten Estates. The first five are colorless. Instead, they have numbers going up from 1 to 5. The last five have their own distinct color on them.

You are given a random assortment of 24 Knight cards. You can only see 8 at a time. Each card has both a number and color designation. When it is your turn, you can place one Knight on an Estate. They can only go to an Estate based on either the same color or number. If you have more Knights in one place than your opponent, you lay claim to it. Each player takes a turn until all the cards are gone.

When there are no more cards left, the points are tabulated. The first five Estates are worth their numerical value. The colored ones are each worth 5 point. Also, the first person to win two estates gets a gold crown worth five points. This mitigates the temptation to leave numbers 1 to 4 alone and focus on the colored Estates. If both you and your opponent have the same number of Knights on one place, then no points are awarded for that Estate.

knightsofcharlemagne4Starting the game, only The Squire difficulty level is open. Beating this level once opens up The Knight. Beating this level allows you to play Charlemagne himself. While I can understand the reasoning behind this, having an incentive to make people play, I was able to go against Charlemagne in two rounds. It was easy. This “unlocking” of difficulty levels is a shallow game mechanic that does nothing to enhance your experience. It is just a mild annoyance.

This is the downside of this game. While initially fun, Knights of Charlemagne is a shallow experience. The level of strategy involved lacks depth. Once you understand the actual mechanics of the game, you will consistently win if you draw a decent enough hand. You can’t even opt for going second. You always have to make the first move in the single player mode.

knightsofcharlemagne5Despite all this, the translation of the card game to this digital platform was well done. The controls are intuitive and the sound is adequate enough to warrant no complaints. The graphics do a good job in conveying the experience of the game.

Unfortunately, the core gameplay feels as if it is lacking. There’s a reason Knights of Charlemagne was number 9 out of the top 10 card games of 2006, and being on the iPhone and iTouch won’t change that.

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App Summary
Title:Reiner Knizia’s Knights of Charlemagne (v1.0)Developer:Conian Rios
Price:$1.99App Size:2.5 MB
  • Good translation of a card game
  • Good controls
  • Shallow Gameplay
  • Can’t go second
  • Only 2 players max

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