I’ve written a few articles on tabletop games of late, with my most recent articles of that nature being a look at the point-and-click PC adventure inspired The Dungeon and the D&D-themed, fast-paced chaos of Dungeon Mayhem.
Both are very different experiences indeed. Rainbow Knights is another tabletop game that feels very different to a lot of games out there, especially as the main way to play is in real-time.
There’s a cute, very colourful and charming look to Rainbow Knights. Characters are very distinct from one another too, with some oddly surreal touches (one rides a giant chipmunk and another a pig, for example). The overall look is very reminiscent of surreal cartoon fantasy such as Adventure Time, which is no bad thing.
The aim of the game is to lay as many of your cards as possible, with your cards being used to create paths that can’t intersect with obstacles or the paths of other players. As mentioned, players will be laying their paths in real time across the play area (which is defined by the use of cards displaying corners on the surface you’re using to play); it does pay to do this quickly, to ensure you aren’t blocked by other players before you’ve had a chance to get your path going. Playing in real time, a round usually doesn’t take any longer than a single minute, so it’s a very fast-paced game indeed.
What I really love about Rainbow Knights – aside from the general visual design of the knights and the clouds – is the transparent cards. When you lay a card, you position it over the knight on your previous card, giving the impression of a fast-moving character along your trail. It’s really clever!
The game itself is a little basic, however, and the rules for overlapping your own path don’t come across particularly clearly. The rules state that you can overlap because ‘that’s how you build your trail’, but it doesn’t make sense that you’d be able to pass through your previously laid path. The included visual example to demonstrate the rules still doesn’t make this clear, either.
The other issue is the obstacles, which – given the undefined nature of the play area – can be a little haphazard in terms of placement. It’s a little too open and vague, as is the concept of the corners and sides of the playing area.
That said, with games taking just a few minutes even if you’re taking turns to lay your path (rather than playing in real time), Rainbow Knights hardly outstays its welcome – and, if an indistinct or too spacious playing area is an issue, it’s entirely up to the players to decide how large or small they want to make it.
The transparent tiles are excellent and it’s really satisfying to build a path through the clouds, but it is a shame that the game is so basic. It’s a great game for families and younger players, however, being as quick to teach and learn as it is to play – and the cartoony style is sure to appeal to kids.
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