LORDS OF SCOTLAND QUICK LOOK
by Jesse Mackenzie, 5.2.15

A Muse N Games is hosting a demo of Lords of Scotland 2nd Edition May 2, 2015 from noon to 5 PM, and they were kind enough to let me have a Quick Look at the game in advance of the demo! Here’s my first impressions.

GAMEPLAY AND COMPONENTS

The gameplay in Lords of Scotland takes inspiration from the Wizards of the Coast title Three-Dragon Ante, with some Coup-like elements as well.

Your goal is to have the group of Followers with the highest Strength total at the end of the game. Followers have a Strength score, a Rank score, and are divided into Clans (Bruce, Wemyss, Scott, Cockburn, et cetera). Each Clan has a unique power, allowing you to steal other Followers, count a Follower as a member of a different Clan, and so on.

During each round, players go around the table, choosing to either A.) draw a Follower from a Recruit pile, or B.) play a Follower from their hand, either face-up or face-down. Face-up Followers may immediately activate their special power if there is no other Follower card of the same clan and a lower Strength number in the current round. Face-down Followers will be revealed at the end of the round—hiding their Strength until the right moment, allowing you to sneak in a win when your opponents least expect it.

At the end of each round, face-down Followers are flipped over and players total up their Strength scores from the round. The player with the highest Strength total wins the round. In order from most to least total Strength starting with the winner, players select Follower cards from the “Supporter” piles near the draw pile to add to their own Supporter pile.

The game ends when the Strength total of a player’s Supporter pile hits 40 or higher. The player with the highest total Strength in their Supporter pile wins the game.

The components are very high in quality, with a nice linen finish and slip factor on the Follower cards and thick, heavy chipboard for the tokens. The rulebook is clear and easy to understand, with illustrated examples and quick references for clan powers and rules clarifications. The box is small and very portable—very easy to travel with.

IMPRESSIONS

The quick gameplay forces you into making very strategic decisions at speed, providing the same kind of rush you get from Coup and Dominion. There’s also a nice push-and-pull tension between choosing to play a low-Strength Follower to activate their power immediately, and high-Strength Followers in order to, y’know, win the round. This means you’re always making interesting decisions, and making them quickly, straight through to the end of the game.

Designer Richard James has added a twist to the Three-Dragon Ante model by allowing you to place cards face-down—not only adding a layer of hidden information to the gameplay, but allowing the players to do that at their leisure. All of a sudden, you’re spending much more time reading your fellow players instead of reading the cards on the board, and I’m always a fan of that!

Finally, A Muse N Games is retailing Lords of Scotland 2nd Edition for $20.00, which is fantastic for a game with this level of quality in its components and this level of strategy and replayability.

COME ON DOWN!

If all this has you interested, come on down to A Muse N Games – Demo copies of Lords of Scotland are in our library and it is now on sale.

Hope to see you there!

Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor for A Muse N Games. Check out “The Mana Dork”, his biweekly column on getting back into Magic: the Gathering, every second Tuesday.