– The developers of the PC version of Heart of Crown reached out to me via email and wanted to provide support for some of the issues I encountered, as well as to let me know about new features that are underway, such as full screen mode (currently in the beta client), and a tournament that will take place next year to celebrate the international release of Heart of Crown. They also wanted to let me know that there are (text based) chat rooms available on the Discord server (and I’ve adjusted the score for community based on that feedback). Overall, it is encouraging to see an active Dev team who seem to really care about improving the game and connecting with the community. 🙂 I hope they continue to work on polishing up the PC version of the game, but as I said already in my original review, yes the game has issues, but at the price point of $19.99 (at time of this review) it’s a great game and still a lot of fun, and a worthy purchase.
Original Review Below:
I recently picked up both the board game and steam versions of Heart of Crown, a kawaii anime deck building card game. I love the artwork and the theme of the game (multiple princesses vying for the throne). It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite anime (RE:Zero) so I was instantly drawn to this board game when I attended the Pittsburgh Steel City Comic Con 2 weeks ago. (although I actually purchased this one from the large game store, Mr. Nice Guy Games, at the mall nearby the convention center). And then a few days after that, the PC game released on steam, so imagine my excitement having only just heard of Heart of Crown days prior and being hyped by my new kawaii gaming find. As you will learn in this review, I am happy with both purchases, but each has it’s own unique pros and cons. Find out which version of Heart of Crown is right for you in the reviews below.
The gameplay is simple, although it can be confusing at first, and both the manual included in the boardgame, as well as the hidden and horribly confusing tutorial in the PC game, make this gameplay seem much more complex than it actually is.
I will try to briefly describe the gameplay, please bear in mind my experience with this title is still limited to just a handful of play sessions.
To understand the gameplay we must first understand the different card types. Largely these consist of one of the following:
Princess Cards – these cards are available for purchase once you reach 16 points. There are 6 different Princesses in the base game (maybe more in various expansions). Each princess has unique abilities, some passive (always in effect) and some that you can activate during your turn. These abilities may give you advantages such as viewing your draw pile, drawing extra cards, forcing opponents to discard a card, or so on.
The objective of the game is to choose a princess whose ability matches your play style and then “back her” by acquiring points to put her on the throne. I’m not in front of either version of the game at the moment, but I believe the amount needed to back a princess is 21. (might be 20 or 25, somewhere in that range).
When this happens, a “coronation ceremony” will occur. At this time, any other players take one final turn, and if able to do so, may also back and crown a princess. If no other players can put a princess on the throne, you win. However, if another player also gets enough points to back and crown a princess the game enters sudden death where the first player to reach 30 points wins.
But how do you get points you ask? That’s where the other cards come in handy.
Territory Cards: these cards grant you coins (think of it as taxing your people for living in your lands). Coins are used to purchase items from the common shared area known as the market place. Note that cards obtained from the market place go to your discard pile. This is rather quirky and different from most other games I’ve played where they would automatically go to your hand or your draw pile. When you reach the end of your draw pile, your discard pile gets shuffled and becomes your new draw pile, allowing you to finally use the cards you have purchased. Coins may also be spent to activate abilities on some cards.
Action cards – these cards have abilities that affect you or other players such as declaring war to lower their points, or forcing them to discard a card, or allowing you to draw more cards, or take a card from the market place.
Character Cards – these cards all feature a different character, such as a duke, maid, etc. who will grant or sometimes subtract from your total points value. After you have backed a princess, you can play these character cards by placing them under your princess card.
There are also 2 special mechanics in this game.
Keeping Cards: 1 is the ability to “keep” up to 3 cards in your hand by placing them over your kingdom cards (territory cards that were used to back your princess) you cannot keep a card greater than the point value of the territory cards holding it. But by keeping a card, it allows you to use that card on a later turn instead of automatically discarding it at the end of your turn when you would normally discard all of your cards.
Chain Cards: The other interesting fact is that you can chain cards together, some cards have a yellow arrow. This means you can play another card. This is most commonly seen on territory cards.
Putting it all Together:
So the basics of gameplay go like this, draw your cards, play territory cards to get coins, then choose cards from the market place that go to your discard pile. As you run out of cards in your draw pile, the discard pile gets shuffled and turned into the new draw pile, and you may get lucky and draw the cards you purchased from market. Once you reach 16 points, choose a princess to back by carefully considering her special abilities. Continue to play territory cards and purchase more cards from the market – you’re likely going to be looking for cards to increase your point total. Be the first person to reach enough points to crown your princess. Other players may challenge you, so be ready to be the first player to reach 30 points and win the game, or win automatically if no one else can crown their princess after one more turn.
Board Game Version
Overall Score: 52/80 65% “D” “Average Game for Girls”
Geeky: 1/5 – the anime theme and cute girls are the only “geeky” thing here. There is little to no strategy involved with this game, no customization, no legacy, no story, no complexity, no hidden things to explore, etc. Just a straightforward, simple, cute family friendly game with great artwork.
Sweetie: 5/5 – And that great artwork is enough to score it a 5/5 on the sweetie meter. Combine that with the theme of the game, a game about princesses, and you have one of the cutest games ever.
Value for What’s Included: 7/10 – You get a lot of cards, with gorgeous high quality art work, a beautiful box to store the game in, and a lengthy detailed full color glossy manual. However, that manual can be confusing and overwhelming to new players. There is no play mat, card sleeves, tokens, figures, or other goodies, but I still think overall, I feel satisfied with what was included at the $40 price point. Note there are expansions you can buy that add new cards and new features as well.
Initial Learning Curve: 5/10 – setting up the first time and learning what to do can be frustrating. But once you jump into your first game, it really isn’t so bad. Therefore, the learning curve difficulty is somewhere in the middle. It may turn off some casual gamers, but is still simple and friendly enough for family game night or to introduce to your non-gamer friends.
Gameplay: 7/10 – it’s simple, short and sweet. Most games take under 20 minutes to complete. There is a nice variety of cards, from abilities, to characters, and plenty of opportunity to interact with other players. However, the game length is quite short and there’s not much complex or exciting / enticing to help enhance replay value. I think this game will be fun once or twice a month, but don’t see it being a “weekly game board night” staple, when other games offer greater replay incentives and more for even the most seasoned and veteran gamers to discover on multiple playthroughs. Still, if you have young kids, or a significant other who is obsessed with “the kawaii life” they will love this cute little anime game. I bought it simply because I love how cute it is, and I’m not disappointed!
Artwork: 10/10 – I love the artwork, for me it really sold me on this game – Picked it up in a board game store I had never visited before, and had not heard of the game, and bought it simply because of the cute anime girls lol.
Interaction With Other Players: 4/10 – I feel like this is solidly in the middle somewhere. There are plenty of action cards and abilities to play against your friends. But it’s not as social as let’s say cards against humanity nor as encouraging of attacks and alliances as say Munchkin,