Kingdoms Lawn Game: An Outdoor Fantasy Battle

Kingdoms Lawn Game

Build the castles where you can. Let the armies come as they may. Only the valiant are left standing. Kingdoms Lawn Game is a lawn bowling game with a fantasy twist that gives players’ castles (rectangular-shaped pins) and/or armies (balls) special powers to twist the rules of the game.

Designed for 2 to 16 players, the game comes in a canvas bag with four sets of castles, armies, several stakes to outline the play area, and a rulebook. The game is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter for $125 plus shipping.

Gameplay

Setup:

Players start by randomly getting a Kingdom via a blind pull of an army from the canvas bag. Player position and activation on the throw line is determined by their Kingdom for both setup and play. Also, certain Kingdom powers (and the total number of players) can alter setup.

The default playing field is 30 feet by 50 feet (12 paces by 20 paces). The outline of the area can be changed to accommodate more obstacles or additional armies for experienced players.

The players take turns tossing out their castles into the play area in an underhanded fashion. The castles landing in bounds are then stood up with Kingdom logos facing the throw line.

Play:

Players take turns throwing their armies underhanded to knock down castles until they run of out of armies, which ends a round. If no one knocks down a castle, the throw line is moved up by three stake lengths. More rounds continue until a player is declared the winner when they own the last castle standing.

Each Kingdom also has a unique ability that affects gameplay. For instance, Sabre allows you to throw your castles and armies using any throwing motion. The game also has rules for eight future Kingdoms, along with rule variants that can either keep players in the game or give surviving players additional firepower.

Kingdoms Lawn Game components

Review

The branded canvas bag and accompanying components look good to the point that even the stakes are sanded smooth. The whole set has a professional look that is sharp and well designed.

Out in the park, having the play area designated in paces as well as feet made the game quick to set up and players who are familiar with the rules could probably have a game go from bag to ball-tossing in under five minutes if players were eager to play.

More than likely, though, players will take their time lobbing castles to get some strategy rolling (pun intended) right at the start. The shape and weight of the pins make this a challenge. Unless you play on a completely flat surface, most grassy areas are going to have hidden bumps and valleys that first time players may not be able to see.

In this regard, the Kingdom powers are a blessing. They give players leeway to enjoy a new outdoor hobby because their castles and armies are going to roll and bounce in ways that seem "unpredictable" until they learn to read the lay of the land by sight and practice throws. Moving up the throw line when everyone misses also avoids potential frustrations.

Getting out to play a game in the summer in the South Florida sun can be a challenge in its own right. The humidity and heat can suck the strength and will right out of the most iron-willed gamer. So after the playtest team had been throwing castles and armies for the better part of two hours (and ending up soaked in sweat), the consensus was that the game was engaging enough to even beat the Florida heat.

Now if someone would just tackle horseshoes next.

Pros: Good entry point for a new outdoor hobby, surprising replayability without additional complexity, fantasy theme might tempt indoor types to give an outdoor game a try

Cons: Grassier play areas may make the game more challenging than expected [That’s my story for losing two games in a row — and I’m sticking to it]

Disclosure: this preview is based on our evaluation of an unpublished prototype of the game, which is subject to change prior to publication. While a modest payment was received to expedite the review process, our thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and accurate