Previews

Gambit Of Kings: Adventure Expansion Pack Preview – More Variables To Strategize For

Chess is one of the most classic, iconic, and long-lasting board games of all time. The basics are simple but the strategy is endless. However, there are some people who have wanted more. So First Edition Gaming debuted the Gambit of Kings back in 2022, putting a fantasy spin on the venerable traditions of chess combined with a little touch of Stratego.

At TantrumCon 2023, First Edition Gaming brought Gambit of Kings: Adventure Expansion Pack to the table and to Kickstarter. The components list for the Expansion Pack is simple. Each player gets eights cards corresponding to their specific pieces, a set of six dice (two 6-sided, two 8-sided, and two 10-sided dice,) and three adventure tokens used for special limited-use actions. Then it all comes with a rulebook to help break down what players are able to do with the new components and rules set.

The base Gambit of Kings is simple and plays a lot like chess. You move your pieces around using their distinct movesets in an attempt to capture your opponent’s castle (which takes the place of the king in chess.) However, you cannot move your castle, much like the flag in Stratego. Otherwise, it proceeds much like chess on a slightly larger board with a few extra men (10×10 board with 20 pieces to either side.)

The story is that an exiled king has returned to exact revenge for his banishment at the hand of the light-side king due to the exile’s use of dark magic. The board does a fantastic job depicting the struggle between the light and the dark/good vs evil motif with the light side having water and a verdant green side of the board contrasted with a dark and foreboding mountainous side for the dark player. The two sides swirl together in the center where it evokes fire and electricity.

The players’ pieces also continue with this struggle between good and evil. While the sides are correctly balanced, the cards for the pieces depict their opposing sides. The dark side has skeletons and orcs while the light side has soldiers and elves. The light side has knights and lions while the dark side has death knights and dire wolves. Finally, the dark side has dragons, ogres, and a lich while the light side has griffins, giants, and a paladin. Each corresponding piece (soldier/skeleton and so on) has the same moveset, so it never feels unbalanced. It’s simply flavoring, but it fits thematically.

What the Adventure Expansion Pack does is add more flexibility (and even chaos!) to a strategic game. Each piece now has a corresponding player card that details a new “adventure ability.” This effect can be triggered through an even result on an 8-sided die at the beginning of your turn, and it usually modifies movement. Specifics will be listed on each card.

From there, you can play a chaotic version of the game where you roll the 8-sided die at the start of the turn to determine what piece you are moving on that turn. If you roll a piece that cannot be moved, you can then move a different piece that is preventing the first piece from moving. If you don’t have that piece anymore, you can move any piece you like. If you rolled the castle which cannot move, you get to move any piece that you like.

Also, you can play Gambit of Kings with dice combat rather than simply chess-style piece-taking mechanics. Each piece has a dice value assigned to it. When you are attacking, you roll the die corresponding to your attacking piece’s value as well as the die corresponding to the defending piece’s value. The defender simply rolls their piece’s value.

To help mitigate that, the included adventure tokens can force re-rolls, either of your own roll or your opponent’s roll. Did they get an extremely lucky roll as a defender? Make them roll again. Or did you roll incredibly poorly when trying to take your opponent’s castle? Roll again! However, that can only be done three times in a single game, so be careful.

The Adventure Expansion Pack can be used in any number of ways. At TantrumCon, I was able to play with Michael Stutz from First Edition Gaming with the expansion pack using the entirety of the new rules. That meant we rolled for what piece was being moved, all three adventure tokens, and rolling for combat. This took an extremely strategic chess experience and made it feel like a more traditional board game. It was chaotic, fun, and led to some really funny moments. It made the game more simple to play for younger players or people who haven’t had much experience playing chess.

For more information about the base game of Gambit of Kings, you can visit http://www.gambitofkings.com. For more information about the Adventure Expansion Pack and more details about what’s included, check it out on Kickstarter! It is only on Kickstarter until Monday, March 6th, so check it out soon. Stay tuned for more information and hopefully a more in-depth review after it funds!

Tabletop Editor | [email protected]

Jeremy is a freelance writer covering multiple subjects from board games to sports to barbecue. He lives outside of Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and their three kids. They love to play boards game together, ranging from Qwixx and Azul and Splendor to Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth.

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