SNAP Review – King of 12
Roll your 12-sided die, then use cards to manipulate the value and win conditions. Can you prove yourself the king of 12?
King of 12 is a short tactical game for 2-4 players using dice and cards, designed by Rita Modl. It’s best for ages 10 and up and was brought to the United States by Lucky Duck Games.
The art in this game was created by Robin Lagofun; it has an elegant feel with lots of white space and subtle variations to distinguish the player decks.
We love the art style and art design. The amount of whitespace accentuates the detail and the richly colored characters. It makes the game seem incredibly elegant.
The cards are large, tarot-sized, so even though the characters are comparatively small, you can still see lots of detail on them.
Our only quibble with the art is that the text that tells you what a card does is a little small compared to everything else.
Every player has a 12-sided die.
At the beginning of a round, all players roll their die. Unless a card changes it, you will not touch your die again until the next round.
Now every player chooses a card from their hand. Reveal simultaneously: any matching cards cancel out. Any cards that weren’t canceled, apply their effects (there’s some ordering information on the cards themselves).
Some cards affect die values, some affect the dice themselves (rotate or roll), and some affect win conditions for the hand. For example, The Knight makes the lowest die value win that round instead of the highest.
After all cards have been applied, compare die values. If any match, they cancel out. The winning value gets a 2 point chip and the runner up gets a 1 point chip.
When any player has only one card left in hand, or if one player has 8 points of chips, the round ends. Compare chip values.
If any two players have the same chip values, they cancel out. The highest remaining chip value wins the round! They pick a card from their hand to permanently lay down on the table, marking their win.
Then all players gather their cards, roll their dice, and start a new round.
A game of King of 12 ends when a player has won two rounds.
We talked about the elegance of the art. Even the box has a gorgeous spot varnish. In the right light, you realize there’s much more to the design of the box cover.
There’s not much on the table at any one time: every player is showing one card and one die. The majority of the game is trying to outwit your opponent(s). Predict what they’re going to do, then decide if you want to cancel it, modify it, or try to get around it somehow.
We did not expect a memory component. It helps a lot to remember what everyone else has played. Factor that into the mental game where you try to outwit your opponent(s).
Since any card can only be played once by a player in a round, it benefits you to keep track of major, game-changing cards, and whether or not they’ve been played yet.
Another big surprise was the effect of repeatedly canceling matches. Since matches always cancel, whether it’s cards, die values, or even point totals at the end of a round. This can make for fascinating turnarounds, but if two players go for a major game-changer card at the same time, it’s wasted for this round.
On the flip side, you’re always able to try to match cards on purpose to prevent a game-changer from being used. (Example: play the Knight when you have the highest die.)
Unfortunately, the matching can also be very frustrating if two players are too well “in sync” with each other. I’ve played games where three or four hands in a row, I’m not making any progress because I’m canceling over and over again.
That leads to the game within the game – know what your opponent is going to do, so you can do something different!
There’s a ton of replayability in the box for King of 12. There’s a recommended starting set, but there are several alternate cards you can add in and play with all the different variations.
Number of Players
You can play King of 12 with two players, but it’s not great. It’s not bad, but there is a lot of canceling, or trading back and forth (this time I get 2 and you get 1, next time I get 1 and you get 2.. and then we match points and no one wins this round).
It’s a much better game at three or four players, and probably best at three players if you want to feel like you’re always making progress.
Social Deduction with Focus
King of 12 at its core is a social deduction game. It’s got some extra mechanics, and the use of the die makes it very interesting. Obviously, the title of the game shows us that the 12-sided die is intended to be the focus of the game.
The two of us don’t usually love social deduction games, but having the die as the focus of the game gives a concrete goal. I want to get my die value high (or possibly low). Having that concrete goal made King of 12 a game we could really enjoy.
If you don’t like social deduction games normally, you might still want to check out King of 12 because it has this extra element to it.
We would have liked to see this game at a higher player count. It’s an inexpensive game (under $25) and if it can support 6 players, it could have gone to a slightly higher price and still been acceptable. It’s really just OK at two players. 3-6 players could have been better, if the materials were in the box.
We highly recommend it at three players, and recommend it at four. It’s playable at two players, but we don’t love it.
Since the game feels limited to a 3-4 player count, we give it 3.5 die rolls out of 5. Find it at your local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of King of 12 from Lucky Duck Games for this review.
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SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
King of 12
Age Range: 10+
Playtime: 20 minutes
Number of Players: 2-4