Die Glücksritter

A game by Klaus Kreowski, published by Schmidt (Germany)
These comments copyright 2002 by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated November 30, 2002

This isn't really a review - just an outline and a link to a variant.

The Basic Premise and the First Three Fields

Die Glücksritter ("The Soldiers of Fortune") is a handsome game with nice components: a large board, 48 wooden castle pieces in two types, 100 wooden coins in two denominations, 36 action cards, 25 document cards, 18 Ducat cards, two dice, a draw-string bag for holding the money, and rules.

It's a simple game of castle building: each player is a knight with six identical helpers. The helpers are shown on the six action cards each player has. Each turn, you choose two of your helpers and reveal them simultaneously with the other players.

The helpers are numbered 1-6, and those who chose action #1 now resolve it. When done, all those who chose action #2 resolve that, and so on. The board shows, in addition to where each player is to build their castle, six fields where the actions take place.

The first three actions require you to spend money (probably). They allow you to buy document cards, build castle walls, and build castle towers, respectively. The fourth action is to become the Black Knight: there can only be one each turn, and they get to rob something or somebody. The fifth and sixth actions allow you to earn money, assuming someone hasn't stolen it all with document cards and/or the Black Knight by then.

In the first three fields, if you are the only person there, you buy things cheaply. If there are two or more players in a field, though, the price goes up.

The Last Three Fields

If you are the only player to choose the Black Knight, you may rob either field 5, field 6, or another player. If two players choose the Black Knight, they duel with a die roll: loser goes to the dungeon, winner becomes the Black Knight. If three or more players choose the fourth field, they all go to the dungeon. Knight cards in the dungeon can be ransomed for four Ducats.

Each turn, fields 5 and 6 are seeded with money drawn randomly from a bag. That is, a Ducat card is turned over and it might tell you to put five coins on field 5 and ten coins on field 6. You draw five coins from the bag without discriminating against value: you may have a mix of one-Ducat and two-Ducat coins, which are the same size and feel, but colored differently. Whoever plays a helper to these fields collects the money there - you have to split it with everyone who showed up, though. The Black Knight can take all the two-Ducat coins from any one field, and there are document cards that allow you to take the one-Ducat coins from a field, also.

Most document cards are played face down with your two helpers for the turn. Some allow you to gain money, others to gain a castle piece, etc. They're usually worth collecting.

Game Over!

The player who finishes a round with four castle walls and four castle towers wins the game.

Much Maligned

I haven't heard much good about this game on the internet - it seems to have a bad reputation. Most negative comments revolve around the duel to become Black Knight. By the rules as written, if two players try to become the Black Knight, they simply each roll a d6 and high roller wins. Not much skill involved.

The game is actually more enjoyable than detractors give it credit for, though I admit that the duel mechanic is very lackluster. Consequently, I've written a variant which imports the barter mechanic from Basari in place of the single-die duel of the rules as written. In addition, I've changed the rules to make it very hard to become the Black Knight two turns in a row.

With that simple fix, I think it's a much better game now. If you own Die Glücksritter and haven't played it much, give this variant a try and let me know if you think it's any better.

Links to the Variant and Printing Instructions

The following .pdf file contains the full game rules with my variant in place of the duel mechanism. It's four pages, and I recommend you print it back to back. This is because page 4 is actually a summary and game outline: leave the rules on the table with that side face up and it will explain each step of the way, as a player aid.

Variant rules.

The following .pdf file contains English translations of the document cards. These are specific to my variant, so some have been changed from the original text! These are formatted to be printed to laser printer Name Badges (Avery 5395), which will fit very nicely over spare CCG cards, such as Magic the Gathering commons, which can be obtained dirt cheap (if not free) from any CCG junkie or store. The rules talk about "red" and "yellow" document cards: I use a red highlighter to highlight the italicized text on every card that says, "Must be played at the start of a round, with normal card play." I then highlight the italic text on the other cards in yellow.

Variant cards.

Please note that the game comes with 25 document cards, but I only have 24 cards in the file above. This is because Avery 5395 Name Badges come eight to the sheet, and I hate to print a whole sheet just for one more card. If you want the exact 25-card mix, however, print an extra Royal Permit card.


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