Kings and Queens were very busy people once upon a time. They had entire countries to rule, armies to muster, reigns to secure. It couldn’t have been easy what with massive opulence and power on the one hand, and having to prevent things from completely deteriorating around them on the other. Yessir, being in charge must have been hard. . .
Luckily we don’t have to worry about that here, as we aren’t royalty. We’re just lowly messengers trying to be granted an audience with said king. That, as it turns out, isn’t all that easy either. As it stands, those monarchs only have time for a handful of reports to be delivered at a time.
In fact, the king only has time for one of us each day. And getting our missives to them are the only way any of us are getting paid…
This is the central premise behind the very light and simple tactics game, Give It To The King!
In it, players must move down a hallway to be first to reach the Throne Room and deliver their message(s). Though this is done through the tried and true Roll And Move mechanic, it comes with some twists (the mechanic, not the hallway). Most importantly, this hallway, to ensure that interior decorating will forever be a pain, is only wide enough for one player at a time. As such, the only way for players to move forward is to leapfrog over one another when they need to press ahead. And just like in leapfrog, the front-most player cannot move.
Players take turns rolling the dice and moving any messenger who isn’t in the lead forward that many spaces, forcing players to move over one another. So long as you don’t move your own pawn, the round doesn’t end, and there are available move options, you continues to roll and move along. When one of those things does happen, your turn ends. The die passes to the next player, and so on, until someone reaches the Throne Room.
What makes the game work, then, are the precious messages themselves. (Otherwise, all we’d have is a drab, closed-corridor Candy Land.) At the start of the game, each player receives two messages that they have in play face-down. Each message has two important parts: an effect if they’re used, and a gold amount if they’re not. If your pawn makes it to the Throne Room to end the round, you get to turn in any messages that aren’t used for the stated amount. This is your win condition: after five rounds the person with the most money wins.
So – you being the shrewd commoner that you are – are probably wondering since they’re worth more than their weight in gold, why use them? Well, information is a powerful thing, and in Give It To The King, this is especially true. Whenever anyone rolls the die, any player (yourself included), can reveal one of their face-down messages. These one-shot messages can make the player re-roll the die, alter the value of the die roll, and even end their turn. You may be relinquishing their gold value to use them, but a well-timed message can prevent a player from, say, jumping right into the Throne Room and securing a bunch of gold for themselves. That’s your gold after all; why should they get it?
It’s this balance of Payment Now vs Payment Deferred where the game is imbued with some light strategy. Players receive a new message each round, and those who were unsuccessful in their attempt to deliver them previously get to keep them, making later rounds potentially very lucrative if successfully delivered. Naturally, then, no one wants to forfeit the value of their messages by using them during a round, but at the same time, only getting a portion of your messages through is better than not getting any at all. Right? It’s not like being a messenger pays all that well to begin with.
From that scope the game succeeds at what it’s trying to accomplish. Give It To The King revolves around making sure that you do everything you can to get your messages across the finish line, while hoping to prevent the others from doing the same. The messages are the player’s only resource to mitigate the chance of the whimsical dice, but they’re also what you need to secure a win. Ergo, does one leave it up to random luck, or do they use their precious cargo? This, of course, creates the game’s tension. Give It To The King! is designed to be played in 30 minutes or less, and so the five rounds speed by pretty quickly. Its rules are simple and easy to follow, making it a decent choice for children, but really, it’s available to any age group that prefers a light filler game. If you’re looking for a game that plays quickly but still gives players some options, leap on down to their Kickstarter.