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Deck Building Chess Gets Even Better: A Review of ‘For the Crown Second Edition’

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For the Crown 2nd EditionGame Name: For the Crown Second Edition (Boxed Edition)

Publisher: Victory Point Games

Designer: Jeremy Lennert

Year: 2013

Players: 2

Ages: 12+

Playing Time: 30-60 minutes

Retail Price: $51.95

Category: Deck building/Strategy board game hybrid


One 12-page full color Rule book
One 11″ x 17″ game board
123 thick, two-sided, laser-cut game units
150 deck-building cards
One 11″ x 17″ mounted, two-sided, jigsaw-cut game map
One bright red, 9″ x 11 7/8″ Deluxe cardboard VPG game box
One beautiful box cover sleeve
One “Wipes-A-Lot” napkin
One charcoal desiccant packet

From Victory Point Games:

“Civil war has broken out between two royal brothers over the succession of the kingdom, and the people of a once-peaceful nation must choose sides and rush to war. Even when the sun goes down, the war for the crown does not cease. While the battle rages on during the day, both princes and their armies still hope to catch the other unawares under the blanket of darkness. Neither side is safe even then, however, and so both princes are well prepared – they’ve gone through lengths to recruit special units to surprise their enemy, including a Phantom to cloak itself and hopefully use the darkness to its advantage in order to capture the rival King and Heirs.


Do you enjoy deck building games (ala Dominion/Thunderstone)? Check. How about chess? Check. Then no need to read any further: Buy this game! Let me point out, I’m not very good at chess as I can’t remember the last time I won a game. Yet that fact didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying For the Crown (FtC). There are so many strategic options to work with that you’ll be trying different approaches nearly every time you play.

The cards are of standard stock and should hold up nicely to a multitude of plays. The game board and unit pieces are laser cut and are the extra thick style we’re now seeing from VPG.  The board is about 1mm thick while the units are 2mm, both feel “heavy” for what they are. However (and this is an issue with all the new VPG titles with these sorts of chits) there is a residue left on the edges from the cutting process. The included “Wipes-A-Lot” napkin will clean the majority of the edges off and after about four games the residue was gone, so everybody’s fingers remained clean. I just don’t recommend punching the counters out and immediately playing because your hands will be covered in black soot.

Both players will begin with the same ten cards as a Starter Deck: Six Peon and four Guards, as well as a King (Sovereign) unit which is placed on the board. There will also be fourteen piles of cards to buy from out of 25 which come with the base game. Along with these cards are playing pieces which you can place on the board (King, Queen, Bishop, Rook, etc.) and these units move just as standard chess pieces would.

Also available are additional units that move in a variety of different ways. The Spy can attack in any direction up to one square, however it can March (swap places) with another piece you own. The Anointed (Sovereign unit) moves diagonally one or two squares. One of my favorite units is the Charger as it can move 1-3 squares in a straight line, capturing multiple enemy units along its way.  Some units just leap or leap along with their normal movement. This is a sampling of the units available just in the base game as two expansions, Shock & Awe and All the King’s Men, add even more units and cards. Of course the more powerful the unit the more it costs for you to purchase and the longer it will take to build gold to purchase the unit. Learning how best utilize how each unit moves, and effectively taking advantage of their special abilities, will have you coming back to this game over and over again. Yes!  You can have even multiples of any and all units and there are other cards you may buy which give you additional Actions, Buys and Gold.

FTC_2nded_cardsample_5Winning is straight forward as ending your turn with the opponent having no Sovereign units on the board seals your victory. What keeps me coming back to FtC again and again is the means in which you approach that victory. Do you use these beginning cards to get your weak pieces onto the board quickly and try to overwhelm your opponent in order to put them on the defense? Do you work on building your deck to buy the more powerful units? How about a combination of the two? You won’t be able to win simply by deck building though. However, it hasn’t stopped me from including this in my strategies to experiment with. It will take a balance of deck building and moving pieces onto and around the board.

After a dozen plays FtC even has me thinking about it when I’m not playing as I’m making a mental list of things to try. Everyone I’ve introduced to For the Crown has enjoyed it; from people who are Dominion fans to others who are chess masters. Okay, maybe not chess masters but folks who play chess extremely well. One of my gaming buds, also named Chris, has enjoyed playing FtC and can really see himself adding this game to his library. Once again Victory Point Games has lived up to their motto “The Gameplay’s the Thing”. For the Crown is simply a game I know I’ll play whenever anyone asks.



Everyone I’ve introduced to For the Crown has enjoyed it; from people who are Dominion fans to others who are chess masters. Okay, maybe not chess masters but folks who play chess extremely well.

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  1. Huzzah! I publish this game, but like the reviewer really enjoy the heck out of it and for the same reasons. I’m always looking for someone to play against (even though I’m a terrible Chess player).

    One quick factual correction: the review says the supply contains 14 out of 25 possible card types; it should be 14 out of 30 (4 core + 10 out of 26 variable card types).

    Alan Emrich

    • Oops. Alan is correct, of course he is, it’s his game. I didn’t count the four core cards towards the final countdown… (any one get that reference?) FUN game Alan! Thank you for publishing it. I’m always looking for an opponent at my skill level. 😉


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