As I left for a council of war, I gave clear instructions to my generals and gave them orders to perform in strict order. I thought, that I can predict with absolute certainty actions of the enemy. After my return, however, I was unpleasantly surprised. Everything was completely different and our first line lay devastated in trenches. It’s time to catch everything firmly in the hands of our army again and give it back its confidence.
Little foresight is a prerequisity for all players interested in board game Lords of Xidit. Regis Bonnessée has created it and set it into the world of Kingdom Xidit, that you already know from his previous game Seasons. This news production saw the light in 2014 thanks to company Libellud in distribution by Asmodée. Life and its unique appearance was given by Naiade and Stéphane Gantiez. But game mechanics are not original, but it comes as a redesign and re-edition of the game called Himalaya.
We will look down on the kingdom in company of a hero and his pet already as part of the cover. The Box comes in a classic square format, so it is clear, that the content will probably be at least a little interesting in volume. And moreover, it will surpass all expectations.
In the first phase, we are attacked by a game board, which shows a map divided into several regions and cities connected by colored paths. On the left, there is turn counter, while the right position belongs to spaces for different tile supplies. But there are also screens and planning boards in the box. Players will have to pay more attention to them at the beginning, because they require relatively large assembly – every plan gets six discs and will always display six icons in event windows.
From cardboard are also made round tiles, with white side representing a threat, while black side will allow players to recruit units. Everything is accompanied by necessary icons. Among these pieces, players find also several disks representing powerful Titans. Smaller tokens represent gold coins, bardic songs and figurines of heroes for individual players. Rest of the troops and magician towers already consists of plastic pieces – mainly seventy army characters (infantry, archers, warriors, clerics and mages).
At the beginning of the game, players equip each city with one round piece – five cities with threats of attack, while another five will provide places to recruit units. Remaining pieces of cities create a draw pile for both types and also boards of the Titans. Position of cities, that serve as recruitment points are equipped with five pieces of units, that can be hired here. In center of the board is placed a cardboard fort with openings on top. Both opponents will get one hero of their selected color (placing it on the board in any city), a screen, planning board, bard tokens and magical towers hats. Most coins and tokens have their place somewhere on the board.
Game is divided into twelve full rounds, so-called years. Each of them has a special procedure at the beginning. All players pick up their planning board and choose six orders, which will gradually be executed by their heroes. Players have to decide about them now and can not change them later.
There are four actions to choose from. The main one, that occupies three positions on each wheel, is movement. Individual slots each contain a different color (blue, red and black), which match colors of the roads. Most cities are connected to the outside world by three roads and player will determine with his choices, which one will his hero take.
Consequently, hero may reach some city and perform two other actions there – either hire one unit for his army (the least powerful ne) or deal with the threat, that plagues the location. Last action to choose from is yellow cross and means passing command without any activity (which may be good for tactical reasons).
Recruited units are kept by players behind a screen. But whenever he makes his army stronger, he can always retrieve only the weakest unit. When dealing with the threat, player just needs to give up corresponding number of units and get a reward for it in the form of golden coins. But this is not the only type of rewards, always based on threat defeated. The other two are more interesting: option to place token of bardic songs into one of the neighboring regions (each town has several of those) or build part of the magical tower. This however must be monochromatic, so whoever starts building there, is also only one, who can continue improving it up to four floors maximum.
After playing the whole year, that is six orders by each player, tiles on board have to be adjusted. In some cities, threats and recruitment tokens are changed, some place may even be visited by a Titan, which is not easy to beat.
Three times in the game (after the fourth, eighth and twelfth lap), there will be held also a military comparison. Players may reveal part of their troops and get a bonus for being the strongest. This option will take place gradually for all types of units. But the most important scoring occurs at the end of the game, where players get reward for their reputation (bards), but also from built tower mages and wealth. Elimination rounds of scoring decide about overall winner and are set before the match, so each player may adapt to them during the game.
Lords of Xidit is a truly unique game, that combines planning of commands in secret with military fighting on the map. Players do not battle directly against each other, but against common threats. Everyone is still interested in his own goals, so there is no place for deals or working together.
Centerpiece of the whole game is secret planning of orders. These six actions are not easy to wrap your head around, because you must take into account many variables. And it is virtually certain, that during second half of the orders, situation on the board will be nothing like you expected. By combining secret orders of more players, interesting and unexpected situations emerge. They are foundation of success with players and guarantee a great atmosphere.
Planning itself remains simple, because players should not focus so much on the choice of actions themselves, but mostly to time arrival of their units well. Whether you are too fast or too slow, it always brings with it a loss or unexpected consequences for future moves. Unlike the excellent Robo Rally, fortunately player’s miniatures at least are not move unexpectedly to another city and do not die suddenly.
But game has simultaneously also plenty of tactical options, because all the movement on the map is only aimed on gaining ascendancy. Actual scheduling may combined with other players look randomly. And that is the only reason, why anyone can be unhappy, when playing Lords of Xidit. The game is very much dependent not only on what you choose, but also what your opponents will decide to do. Only the perfect interplay of both elements can reach an ideal planning.
Rules themselves are easy to do, until you want replenish tiles at the end of the round. They are reversible and their mutual exchange is a bit of a head-turner. The second moment, when you have to read the rules carefully, is the final evaluation. And it is very unique, because there is a process of elimination with the aid of tokens, always with different order and emphasis. Each focuses on a different property of the nation and players must try to have a balanced strength across all three elements.
Due to the space on the board and emphasis on interaction, it is important, that the game is played with as many players as possible. Therefore, game can be played with three only with a virtual player, who does not add his forces to the map, but only graduated raises his rankings across all three features. These will then be compared with rivals of flesh and bones. This game is best in five. At the same time, it does not take too long and ninety minutes are usually reasonably achievable objective to look for.
Icing on the cake and our praise can then be turned to processing. Beautiful, detailed and colorful illustrations are supplemented with a pile of miniatures. All this creates impression of a true eye-catcher. Game looks simply amazing.
Lords of Xidit is excellent strategy game, that inspires everyone, who does not focus on purely non-random and predictable game to a tee. This one is definitely not predictable, but uses luck as an element of tactics and makes the game a real experience. Lords of Xidit are nice looking game, that plays not well, but brilliantly. Its a real hit!
Lords of Xidit offer filling maps with your heroic deeds. Neighboring kingdoms will be singing about them for a long time, because players earn reputation of their people. Combating threats of cities is only the result of good planning, because each general has six orders programmed ahead and they are step by step revealed and evaluated. This makes the game very dynamic and fluent. At the same time, Lords of Xidit is significantly lacking some more direct interaction and game is quite dependent on the number of players. This is all compensated by gameplay and tension. Lords of Xidit belong among the games, that can make a name for themselves and will stay for a long time on your shelf without dust.