People say that long ago the Misty Mountains used to be a quiet and deserted range. However, since countless deposits of precious metals and gems had been found, the peace and tranquility that once reigned has now disappeared forever. Who do the underground treasures belong to? Skillful Master-Dwarfs who discovered the first deposits? Powerful Giants, who had settled on the mountain tops long before the other races came there? Is it the Orcs, a fearless band of warriors, commanded by the will of the strongest ones? Or do they belong to the Sly Goblins – they are as clean as any others. Alas, a peaceful solution of the conflict is out of the question, and now the kings of the four races are gathering armies to start a merciless fight for resources. Indeed, not only are the control of vast treasures on the line, but also fame, respect, and honor. The player who will capture and develop the most profitable mines will be crowned as the King Under Mountains.
Kings Under Mountains is a card board game, where each player controls one of the four fantasy races – Dwarfs, Goblins, Orcs or Giants. With the help of their fighting units, players capture profitable mines while giving unprofitable ones to their competitors. They also must develop their own mines in order to get Victory Points. The player who earns the most Victory Points by the end of the game wins, and becomes the Underground King.
In Kings Under Mountains special two-sided cards are used. On the card face, there is a unit of one of the four races, and on the back side there is a mine. Each unit has an indicator of its strength from 0 to 9, which defines the order of playing cards. The mine has three numbers displaying the defense (how many unit cards are needed to capture the mine), the size (how many units of slave-miners are needed to develop the mine), and value (how many Victory Points the player might receive). These numbers show how profitable the mine is. For example, it is better to keep for yourself a three-point mine in which only one slave-miner is required. As for a one-point mine where three slave miners are needed, it would be wise to give it to your opponents. When participants play cards from hand, they use the side where units are depicted. As for mines, they are always put on the table; no one’s mines are placed in the middle of the table, and captured mines are on the tables of the players they belong to.
First, players decide which race they will be playing for. Each player gets one of the four King-Cards and places it for all to see. If the number of players is less than four, the remaining king cards are put back in the box, however the units of these races don’t leave the game. After drawing, each player gets six cards from the deck in their hands. The players hold their cards with the units facing them. Four cards are then placed in the center of the table, facing mines up. The next four cards are placed next to the deck, facing units up. Cards of the same race are placed in one pile, and the last player to be in a cave or in the mountains becomes the first player.
During his turn, a player must play a unit card from his hand, and then take one card in hand. The card can only be put on his own mine, or on the mine which belongs to no one. At the beginning of the game, players don’t have their own mines, so they can only try to capture the mines that have been placed in the center of the table. If the mine you want to capture has already been played by other units, you can only play a card with a higher strength (cards with the strength ‘nine’ can be covered by only a card with the strength zero). Then, if the mine didn’t belong to anyone, and the number of units placed on it became equal to the number of its defense, it is taken by the king of the race who played the last unit card on it. All unit cards on the mine are moved to the camp, and a new mine is placed from the deck instead of a captured mine. So, not only can players capture mines for themselves, but also make their opponents take the mines, even if the latest get a disadvantage. If the mine belonged to the player and the number of units became equal to the number of its size, all of those units are then discarded and the mine card is placed under your king: The card’s ‘value’ is now the number of your Victory Points. As a rule, you cannot send your own units to develop a mine. However, some mines besides slaves require a Foreseer – an extra unit of your own.
When you draw a card, you can take the top card from the deck (without seeing it) or the top card from any pile in the Camp (in this case, you can see which unit you will be getting). As soon as the deck is depleted, the game ends, and players count their Victory Points. Fully developed mines bring Victory Points equal to the ‘value of the mine’. Those mines which were captured yet not fully developed are subtracted from a player’s points. The player with the most points, wins.
Kings Under Mountains is a simple, yet dynamic board game. It is popular with very different companies, but fans of fantasy will be especially interested in it. Thanks to its small size, it can be taken on trips, and a short playing time makes it possible to play several rounds during the evening.