King of the Gauntlet is an in-hand game, a genre that I’m currently fascinated by. It takes a race game and transfers it to nine cards and two paper clips. The theme is a parkour obstacle course but it is really just a race.
One card serves as the board, which is a simple sixteen space track. The paper clips serve as pawns on either side of the card. The rest of the deck is for movement and actions.
The abilities of the cards are on opposite corners so the active one will be on the upper left. That way, you can easily fan the cards and see all of the actions. On your turn, you perform two actions, choosing from the first three cards. Used cards are flipped and sent to the back of the deck.
Whoever makes it to the finish line first wins.
The basic actions are just moving back and forth on the track but the advanced rules have actions that let you rearrange the deck. And, honestly, the basic actions are way too basic to keep the game from being monotonous too quickly.
I’m of two minds of King of the Gauntlet. On the one hand, it’s a game that is more about messing without your opponent than focusing on getting ahead. I feel like the game is a lot of countermoves and little progress. That can hurt the fun.
On the other hand, King of the Gauntlet takes a completely ludicrous concept for a game and made it functional. Part of my Print-and-Play hobby is looking for good games but another part is looking for weird, experimental projects. King of the Gauntlet, a reinvention of roll-and-move as an in-hand game, definitely qualifies.
I have to also note that I’ve come to be leery of in-hand games being too intricate. When I have to try and juggle cards in four different orientations and angles. Just having to fan the cards goes a long way to making King of the Gauntlet.
While Looney Lab’s Proton remains the best game I’ve found for standing in line, King of the Gauntlet is a nice addition to the mix. I’ve been playing an earlier prototype of the game but I’m planning on making the latest version. I’m not convinced it’s a good game but it is an interesting experiment.
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