In what seems like the blink of an eye, Essen has sadly been and gone, and now, so has Christmas. Essen usually has some fantastic game releases amid a wave of anticipation from keen gamers the world over. Unsurprisingly, this years convention was no different to previous years and we’ve seen some excellent games grace gaming tables everywhere. Lords of Xidit is one such game!
Lords of Xidit is the latest game by French designer Regis Bonnessee and published by Libellud. Looking at the artwork for Lords of Xidit, you’d be forgiven for comparing it to 2012’s Seasons. It is, after all, created by the same game designer with the same artists involved in its creation.
In Lords of Xidit, players play as Idrakys – the noble heirs of the land of Xidit. Idrakys travel the lands recruiting soldiers and restoring cities in exchange for rewards of money, the building of sorcerer’s guilds and the lands bards singing the praises of your heroic acts.
The game is played over the course of 12 years (or 9 for those that fancy a slightly shorter game) with each player travelling the lands in a bid to earn the most money and bard tokens.
Money, Towers and Bards??? So How do I Play???
The Xidit board has various towns numbered 1 to 21 and each is connected to others by either blue, black or red roads. There are a number of double sided tiles – one side representing recruitment and the other side threats. These tiles are shuffled and split, five are then selected and placed on the corresponding numbered space with the recruitment side facing upwards. The next five are placed in the same way but with the threat side face up.
From the remaining tiles, five are placed, recruitment face up, on the recruitment draw space and the rest are placed, threat side up, on the threat draw pile.
Recruitment tiles have 5 spaces on them, each with a different colour representing the five units players can recruit into their army – Peasant Militia, Archers, Infantry, Clerics (white!), and Battle Mages. These little figures are placed in the tile when it enters play and are a limited resource.
Threat tiles show the threat that a particular city faces, which units are required to defeat the threat, and what rewards can be won by doing so.
Enough About the Tiles… Get to the Action!!!
Each player takes a player screen, action dial, bard tokens and sorcerers guild storeys of their chosen colour. During each round, they then choose the actions they want to take.
A series of actions are selected in secret and “programmed” in using the players action dial. When everyone has finished programming their actions, everyone reveals their dial. The actions are carried out in player order and chaos ensues. As with any “programming” mechanic, someone will always do something just before you get a chance to do it and you will be left empty handed! A series of heated debates about whether it was done on purpose ensue and the game develops a life of it’s own!
When players select an action they can choose one of the following:
Move: Lets you move along a road (either blue, black or red.)
Recruit: Lets you recruit a unit to your cause, this will be the first available unit on a recruitment tile. If it’s not the one you want or they’ve all been taken… Tough!
Fight: Let’s you eliminate a threat.
Pass: Let’s you do nothing for that action, effectively waiting.
When a recruitment tile is emptied by using the recruit action to take the last unit, the tile is placed in the threat tile discard pile. Likewise, when a threat tile is removed by using the fight action, it’s placed in the recruitment tile discard pile so that they can be randomly drawn again throughout the game as the opposite type of tile. For each tile removed from the board, a new one of the same type is drawn and placed on the board. Watch out though because you need to keep a careful eye on the threat tile discard pile – if it’s ever emptied and cannot be replenished from it’s discard pile, the Slumbering Titans are awakened (More on this later!)
Threaten Me Will You??? Dealing With Threats!!!
As I already mentioned, to overcome a threat you need to have recruited specific types of unit into your army. When you defeat a threat you discard the units specified on the threat tile. You then choose one of three rewards – you can take the number of gold coins shown on the threat tile (these are placed behind your player screen and kept secret until the end of the game), you can place bard tokens equal to the number shown on the threat tile onto the board. Bard tokens are placed in any number of regions adjacent to your Idraky. If the Idraky is adjacent to the central region, the bard tokens can be placed in what’s known as the bastion (an area in the centre of the board that is hidden all players can add bard tokens to the bastion!
Finally, the third reward lets you build Sorcerers Guild Storeys, equal to the number shown on the threat tile, to a maximum of four storeys high. There can only be one Sorcerers Guild tower of any players colour at a tower location, so if your opponent already has one at the current tower location then you’re not going to be using this option this time round.
Whichever reward a player chooses for eliminating threats, it will earn them points at the end of the game.
What about the Slumbering Titans??? They Sound Terrifying!!!
Slumbering Titans are six, special, threat tiles placed in three available spaces on the board. When the Titans wake, the three top tiles in the spaces are flipped and they become raging titans which trigger the arrival of reinforcements. Any remaining tiles in the threat discard pile are flipped and placed on top of the recruitment pile. Two of these tiles are placed on the recruitment pile, while all of the others are placed on to the threat pile. Players then need to eliminate the Raging Titans like they would any other threat.
The important difference between Titans and regular threats is that Titans aren’t associated with any particular city. Therefore, as long as a threat hasn’t already been eliminated in a city, a player can opt to eliminate a Raging Titan from any space on the board.
Time Really Flies… I’ve Been Playing This Game For Twelve Years!!!
After the 4th, 8th and 12th game years, a military census is carried out. Players choose whether to show other players which units of militia they have – the one with the most gains a reward specific to that unit type and the game then continues as normal until the end of the 12th year and players return their military units behind their player screen.
Players then go through the scoring process to determine the winner – although it’s not as straight forward as simply being the player with the most money etc – you also have to have earned a good reputation by building sorcerers guilds and earning reputation through bard tokens.
The game ends after the military census at the end of the 12th year. Three assessments are then completed to identify the winner – the Idraky who has fought and wowed their way to the top! The three assessments rank the players on their wealth, level of influence with the magical community, and reputation across the kingdom. At each assessment stage, a player is eliminated from the running based on how well they’ve done. For example if you lost on the first assessment, you will not be assessed on the second criteria, and the loser of the second will not be assessed for the third! By the time the third assessment is done, there should be only two players vying for the title of ‘top dog….or Idraky!’. It’s worth noting that three assessments done in a random order that’s decided randomly at the start of the game!
The wealth assessment looks at the total combined wealth of your gold coins. Each player then places one of their player score markers at the correct number on a chart at the side of the board. The player with the highest number, places their token at the top space on the Hall of Fame spaces. Each player then places their score markers in the spaces below the first player. If players tie, they stack their tokens in the same spot. In a five player game, the bottom two ranking players are eliminated, and one in the second round, leaving two to battle it out for the final assessment. The key to ensuring that you are crowned the winner, is watching carefully what rewards other players are getting, and taking note of the order the assessments will be completed in! Get a balance across the three different assessments and you’re in with a fighting chance.
The Scoring Sounds Complex… Is It Worth the Effort???
I personally love this game. It is far easier to play than it sounds from the rules (though they are far better written than my attempt at explaining them!). It flows really easily and once you get the rules figured out, it’s quite a quick game. Like Seasons, the artwork on the game is incredible and I quickly found myself hoping an expansion won’t be too far off so I can enjoy even more plays of this fun game. The components are excellent quality, and the fairly short gameplay means the game will end before anyone has the opportunity to get bored. I really would recommend this game and I for one, am hoping we have a chance to get it to the table again soon!
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Nikki is a social worker, and proud auntie, with a passion for board games. She strongly believes that games help provide quality time for families, teach young people new skills, and make relationships stronger! She loves to play games of all types, particularly those with a strong theme and a good story!