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de Winter in the Winter: ‘Mousquetaires du Roy’ Review

Game NameMousquetaires du Roy

Publisher: Rio Grande (Ystari)

Designer: Francois Combe, Gilles Lehmann

Year: 2011

Players:  1 – 5

Ages: 12+

Playing Time: 60-90 Minutes

Retail Price: $59.95

Category: Adventure

Components:

  • 1 Game Board
  • 4 Musketeer Character Cards
  • 5 Figures
  • 10 Special Dice
  • 2 Double-sided Quest Boards
  • 70 Tokens
  • 110 Cards
  • 1 Hourglass
  • 1 Screen
  • Rules

From Ystari/Rio Grande:

1625. Fresh out of Gascony, D’Artagnan, a young man whose ambition is to become a musketeer for the King – Mousquetaire du Roy – becomes acquainted with Athos, Aramis, Porthos and the beautiful Constance, linen maid to the Queen. Soon he finds himself at the heart of an adventure where France’s destiny is at stake.

You are rewriting the story! But will you choose the side of the Musketeers or of Milady on this adventure?

It has been years since I’ve read The Three Musketeers from Alexander Dumas. Like many others, I’ve probably seen the movies more recently than read the book. Regardless of the source, the Musketeers always bring to my mind images of romance, adventure, comedy, heroism, intrigue, danger, duels and death. Ok, that’s a lot of images, but who hasn’t gotten caught up in the adventures of the Musketeers?

Mousquetaires du Roy (King’s Musketeers) from Ystari Games and published in North America by Rio Grande brings that adventure to you, and it is a surprisingly good time.

The game pits the diabolical Milady de Winter as an agent of Cardinal Richelieu against the King’s Musketeers D’Artagnan, Aramis, Athos, and Porthos. One player plays the Lady de Winter and the other players take on the roles of the Musketeers. The game is actually for one to five players. It has rules for one player vs an automatic Milady, or various combinations of other players/musketeers with one player always taking the role of Milady de Winter.

Each of the Musketeers has a character card that lists their four stats and keeps track of their health, upgrades, and equipment. They also have some nice figures and one for Milady de Winter too. There are six blue dice for the Musketeers to use and four red dice for Milady. The dice have special symbols of swords, shields, and lilies used to determine combat results. The board has some beautiful artwork. It represents different locations in France that the characters travel around to perform various actions.

The object of the game for the Musketeers is to complete the recovery quest for the Queen’s jewels which she frivolously gave to her lover. There are four parts to this quest represented by two double-sided boards that must be completed a board at a time. They also have to protect the queen’s honor, keep D’Artagnan’s love Constance alive, assist in the siege at La Rochelle, and stop the various plots by Milady de Winter.

Milady de Winter needs to foil the Musketeers and has multiple ways to win, mainly by the Musketeers failing. If the Queen’s honor is compromised enough then Milady wins. If Constance is killed, Milady wins. If the siege at La Rochelle fails, Milady wins, and if time runs out before the Musketeers complete their quest, then Milady wins.

These are all measured on various tracks on the board. Milady also has a deck of treachery cards to draw from and torment the Musketeers with. She has a deck of adversaries and traps to play and Rochefort, her personal bodyguard who defends her whenever she is discovered.

There is a lot going on in this game, but it is not overly complicated. The rules however are terrible and make the game seem more difficult than it really is. My first two games I spent paging back and forth through the rulebook looking for one bit of info after another. To be fair, the rules are difficult to explain because of everything that is going on. I won’t bother going through this here, instead I’ll take you through a single turn to give you a feel for the game play.

Milady starts by selecting a card representing the location she will be this turn. She places this face down on the table. She plays a treachery card that sends D’Artagnan to prison in the Bastille, then sits back and waits.

D’Artagnan pays one pistole to bribe the guards and moves to the Vieux Colombier. With two actions left he travels to Le Louvre and reads the plot that is afoot. Someone is trying to falsify the Queen’s lineage. There is a Nobility challenge of level six and three strength worth of adversaries to face. Milady selects the adversaries and plays them face down next to Le Louvre on the board. D’Artagnan has a single action left and chooses to face the adversaries because he has no where near enough nobility to pass that challenge.

The trap is sprung. The adversary in Paris is the personal nemesis of Porthos and D’Artagnan cannot face him. Thwarted in his plan, the Musketeer chooses to draw a card from the adventure deck and receives a combat card.

Aramis is next. He upgrades his Erudition skill level to five by discarding an adventure card and placing the token on his board. He also buys an armor upgrade with the last two pistoles the Musketeers have. He travels to the first quest board and proceeds down the stables path. For his last action he flips over the first token on the path. It is an adversary who automatically has two shields. Aramis adds a combat card, so he adds a combat die to his default three and rolls four dice total. He gets lucky and rolls three swords, and a shield. The adversary’s two shields cancel out two swords, but the third sword kills him. The token is removed form the quest track and Aramis turn is over.

Athos travels to La Rochelle and plays a combat card in one of the three open slots. This will give the Musketeers a die to roll during the siege of La Rochelle stage. For his final action he draws and adventure card.

Finally Porthos travels to Paris. There is a Message for the Queen plot there that must be completed or the Queen will lose one honor point each turn. He plays a nobility card and a panache card to complete some of the requirements for the plot for his last two actions.

The final phase of the turn has begun. The siege at La Rochelle is evaluated. Milady rolls a single die according to the turn track, and so do the Musketeers since Athos played a combat card there. Milady rolls a shield and the Musketeers roll a sword. The counter moves one space in favor of the Musketeers. Milady moves the turn counter down by one space, moves the Louvre token down by one since that mission wasn’t completed, and the Queen loses an honor point because the Paris plot wasn’t finished. With that, the turn is over.

As you can see, there is a lot going on and plenty to keep everyone busy. It is difficult for the Musketeers and will require luck, cooperation, and skill for them to win. I really liked that there was so much going on. The game can be quite a challenge for everyone, and scales pretty well for different numbers of players. The time will increase as the number of players goes up, mainly due to the fact that more players mean more discussion which is typical in coop games.

Like I mentioned previously, the rules were bad. They were poorly laid out and required a lot of paging through until we knew them all. Also, the game includes a fifth Musketeer character card, so that you could actually play a game up to six players. However, they do not include the Treville figure or the modified rules. You have to order the figure from Ystari Games website, and download the rules there too. This was pretty annoying and seemed like a tease.

It is a shame that this game hasn’t gotten more attention than it has. I really hadn’t heard much about it before I sat down and played. It is challenging and a great gaming experience. It is thematic, and I think with better rules it would get a lot more positive buzz. I recommend Mousquetaires du Roy to those with the gumption to stick to it and figure the rules out.

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Elliott Miller

Elliott is well versed in all subjects and brings his expertise to bear on strategy, family, and Euro-style gaming. He no longer actively contributes to TGG and runs his own website at voiceofe.com.

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