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Medieval Academy

Players are squires, vying for King Arthur's favor. Fight in tournaments, woo a lady, slay a dragon, and give to charity: all to get a step up against your opponents.

Who will complete the most tasks, win the most points, and join the knights at the round table?

Gameplay

Seven boards are placed in the center of the table and every player puts one of their player tokens on each board. Each board represents a different task the players can perform. Each one has different cards associated with it in the deck, except for the jousting and tournament boards, which share the same cards.

The game takes place over six rounds. At the beginning of each round, every player is dealt five cards. Players take turns drafting a card and passing the remaining cards to the player on their left or right (depending on the round), until each player has selected five.

Players then take turns playing cards one at a time. When you play a card, you move your piece on the matching board the number of spaces shown on the card (you choose which board to apply a jousting/tournament card to). After everyone has played four cards, they discard their fifth card. Boards are then scored. Four of the boards score every round, two score at the end, and one scores twice during the game.

Three of the boards give points to the player whose marker is the farthest along (with fewer points to the player in second place or less). One board awards points based on where your piece is on the board, another board allows the players in the lead to move their pieces forward a number of spaces on any board, and two of the boards award negative points to the players who are the farthest behind on them. At the end of round three, five of the seven boards are reset.

The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Medieval Academy Components

Review

Medieval Academy is simple enough for a family game but offers a good amount of depth and strategy. The fact that cards are played one at a time, and your last one is always discarded, means you can adjust your plans as you see what other players reveal and adapt accordingly. You are not only trying to guess their actions during the drafting phase, but as the cards are played as well.

No board ever feels like a waste of time, so you always have a reason to play into each one, while the resets at the end of the third round ensure that no one ever gets too far ahead simply because of an early lucky card draw.

The artwork in the game is a lot of fun. The cards for each board have an enjoyable progression of a squire becoming more skilled at the specific task based on the number written on them. The point tokens are a little fiddly and small, however, and frustrating to sort through during setup.

After several plays, you can also dive into the fairly sizeable number of variants which change aspects of the game such as how the boards are scored or how they’re reset. This allows you to mix things up, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Medieval Academy’s blend of card drafting and board movement is thoroughly enjoyable. If you enjoy drafting mechanics, it is an excellent entry in the genre and well worth playing.

Pros: Multiple variants, excellent art, board resets prevent anyone from getting too far ahead

Cons: Setup is a little long, scoring tokens are fiddly

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.