Emperor's New Clothes—A Double Take Review

Emperor'sA couple of weeks ago we received prototype copies of the Kickstarter game Emperor's New Clothes—a game with a new twist on an old tale. We can't wait to share our thoughts with you. The game includes:

1 - Game Board

64 - Player cards

8 - Role cards (1 Emperor, 2 Swindlers, 4 Townsfolk, and 1 Child who breaks the illusion)

4 - Six sided dice

A whole pile of resource tokens

4 Meeples (for score keeping)

1- Starting player pawn

and the rule book.

The game begins with players randomly choosing a role and keeping that role secret. And dealing 5 cards to each player—it's pretty much that easy!

The player turn goes something like this: The starting player rolls all four dice, then decides whether to keep them, or re-roll any number of them, up to two times. The reason for keeping a certain numbers/combinations relies solely on the cards in your hand. Each card has certain abilities that can be triggered by certain dice roll totals or combos (or both in some cases) which will then allow you to score resource tokens.

emperor's 2Resource tokens are used for 1 of 2 things on your turn: either to buy you victory points, or you can cash them in for more cards. It often depends on what your role is. So the players take turns rolling dice, and using them to activate cards out of there hands, which then scores them resource tokens. After players have decided whether to spend or save their resource tokens, the round continues with the next player's turn. One round consists of each player taking a turn, and then victory conditions are checked. If no one has won, then the next round begins; players select new roles, the starting player pawn is passed to the left, and the whole thing starts over. The tricky part is there are sooo many ways to win and/or lose in this game! It all depends on which role you have (which, by the way, changes after every round!!). There's an element of "The Resistance" in this game, which basically means that if someone finds out who you are mid-round, there are plenty of "Town Crier" cards in the deck which players can use to block certain actions, take dice away, and stop you from scoring resources.

Emperor full artThe beautiful part of this game is the marriage of old-school table-top gaming, and technology. The cards, game board and even the dice have been printed using some ridiculous ground breaking process - that we would almost call magic! We certainly don't claim to understand how it works, and Hoke's gaming (designers) and Game Salute are definitely not spilling the beans (something about patent lawyers and all that). But as far as we can tell it's like a mix between those "hidden picture" images they used to sell at the mall kiosks, and the technology described in this video from MIT:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rWycBEHn3s]

It's said that because of the printing process there are actually a small percentage of gamers (estimated to be around 3%) who will actually not be able to see the artwork—or at least not in great detail.

Jeremiah—Let's put aside the unreal components for a minute. If this game was printed via a standard process, it would be an amazing game. There's enough depth in the mechanics to keep the veteran gamers coming back, but it's light and fun enough to introduce to a new or casual gamer.

Firestone—I'm always looking for a game that's going to be a hit with my game group, but that I can also bring out with newbies. Emperor's fills that void.

Jeremiah—Let's also not forget the humor side of this! Sabotaging your friends with cards like "Skid Mark" and "Holey Sock" add a decent and light-hearted amount of skullduggery to the mix, without giving too much power to the swindlers!

Firestone—I thought the "Bamboozle" card was a little overpowered, but for the most part these were a good mix. I'll never forget the look on my friend's face when I played "The Man Who Was Thursday" on him.

Jeremiah—I know Scott is probably going to disagree with me on this, but I love the randomness of changing roles after every round!! It keeps you invested in the game, and keeps you always thinking! Having just ONE strategy will not score you the victory in this game!

Firestone—Oh Jeremiah, you and your crazy love of chaos...

Jeremiah—What can I say about the components... When I opened the box it was breathtaking. To get that kind of depth, movement, and clarity on a completely FLAT surface, without the use of glasses or special lights! Totally science-fiction-type stuff; the future is here, folks!

Firestone—Agreed! The kids were begging to play this as soon as they spotted that board. And it's not just pretty; all of the information you need in the game is right there on the board. The meeples were great; I'm so sick of companies insisting on giving me crappy plastic pieces. I love the old-school basic-ness of the wooden bits. Basic-ness sounds like bacon; now I'm hungry...

Jeremiah—I fell in love with this game and the idea from the word go! The mechanics are an incredible amalgamation of card and resource management, dice rolling, and backstabby role playing, with a dash of chaos mixed in. All that wrapped in a beautiful package! This is a future Game Of the Year candidate, I score it an 11!

Firestone—This gets a big thumbs-up from me, too. Often games with this many mechanisms don't do any of them particularly well, but they've managed to combine everything into a nearly perfect whole. Emperor's New Clothes should be seen to be believed.

The Kickstarter project ends in just 6 days, so check it out and see what you're missing.