Tabletop and card games have the ability to bring groups of people together like almost no other activity. With our society moving further and further from the days of sitting around the dinner table and interacting with family members, games are becoming more and more popular, as people see the importance of sitting around the table, putting away their cell phones, and actually interacting with family, friends, and even complete strangers.
Not only do games bring groups of people together, but a really good thematic game has the ability to transport that group to a completely new place, time, or dimension. In a way, players can have, as a group, an out of person experience, where players don’t act like themselves, don’t worry about the stresses in their life, and even subscribe to a bizarre set of laws, simply because a rules manual tells them to.
In “ROAR King of the Pride” a 3-6 player game, by IDW games and Daryl Andrews, with art by Vincent Dutrait, players are transported out of their own bodies, out of contemporary time, back to rural Africa, into the bodies of lions and lionesses, roaming the African plains.
How to play
Roar is an area control game with some resource management involved. The board is a map of Africa that is split up into different territories. Players each pick a lion faction and place their 2 starting lions and 2 starting lionesses onto territories matching their factions color.
Each territory has a number on it, representing the number of food that faction will receive at the end of the round if they control that territory, so this should be considered when placing starting lions. Food will be important, because at the end of each round, if a player does not have enough food to feed their lions (2 food per male and 1 food per female) they will have to remove some of their lions due to starvation.
Each player gets one turn each round. On a players turn, they can choose to perform 2 actions. Available actions are: move, breed, draw 2 secret mission cards, sneak, roar, or attack. Let’s discuss the actions a little more.
Move: The move action allows a player to move all of their lions/lionesses up to 2 spaces, unless a special ability allows them to move more.
Breed: If the player has a male and female lion in the same territory, they may breed to give the player baby lions. The player will roll a die, with a maximum value of 3, and take that many baby lion tokens. They are taken face down, so the player will not know the sex of the baby until he can flip the token over on the next round.
Draw Secret Mission Cards: Each player starts the game by receiving 4 of these cards and may keep as many as they like. They can be completed by performing what the text states, like entering a certain territory, or becoming surrounded by another pride. Once a player completes a mission they place it on the table for points, but if cards that have been kept are not completed, they are negative points at the end of the game.
Sneak: The sneak action allows a player to move their pride past the pride of an opponent if their pride is smaller than the opponents pride. They can move through to the territory on the other side.
Roar: The roar action allows the player to steal a female lion from their opponent if they are in an adjacent territory and their opponents pride is smaller than their own.
Attack: If the active player wants to move to a territory controlled by another player, they may do so if their pride is larger than their opponents (males and females are both worth one strength at the start of the game until “ancestral strength” is utilized.) The opponent must then move all of their lions to adjacent territories.
After all players have taken their turns, players count the amount of food they have and make sure they can feed all of their lions! Otherwise some lions will starve!
At the start of each round, besides the first round, certain events happen before players take their turns.
-The first player marker is passed to the next player.
-Baby lions become cubs (players flip the tokens over to reveal their gender), cubs become adult lions (they are replaced on the board with wooden lion pieces).
-Human huts are added to the board. The player who is now last to take their turn chooses where the hut is placed. There are certain restrictions to placement, but if any lions are in the territory where a hut is placed, they must be moved out of that territory. Sadly, if there are any babies or cubs in the territory, they are removed from the board.
-Ancestral Strength allows players to add one strength to all of their male lions, by sacrificing one male lion and adding him to their ancestral strength.
Once all of the rounds have been played, players add up the points on their mission cards, and gain points based on who has the most male lions, female lions, highest food production, and most territories controlled.
ROAR King of the Pride is a highly thematic, lite, area control and food management game.
Very few games have a unique theme like this, and have found a way to bring it to life in such a consuming way as Roar: King of the Pride has done.
I love the theme of this game, and I love how the mechanics all really work to help the player feel the theme.
Whenever I play this game, I enjoy feeling like a lion pride. I feel strong when I push another pride out of a territory, and I feel sad when something happens to my poor baby lions!
Having my lion babies killed by the humans or eaten by another player’s pride is so disheartening! I feel like they are my babies! Not being able to feed my lions and choosing to kill them off due to starvation is so spot on with the brutality of life for lions on the African plains, it’s fantastic.
The game also sinks in the theme by allowing players to score food on territories only where they have female lions, because in real life, females usually do the hunting. See, we are even learning things!
Aside from the theme, the game itself is still good. It’s basic area control, which is nothing new, and wont really excite someone who loves area control games like Risk or Twilight Imperium, but it works. There is no dice rolling, or card fighting, its just a simple question of who has the biggest pride, and that pride wins. Seems fitting for a game about lions.
I really do love some of the actions available to players also, that add uniqueness to the game. I love the roar action, which really makes players cautious about where they leave their female lions, because they can be stolen! If you really want to make your friends salty, keep doing this action. Don’t tell them I told you to!
The ancestral strength action is also really interesting because a sacrifice of a male lion up front can give an advantage to the player down the road. Whenever I do this action I picture Simba looking up in the clouds and seeing his father talking to him. Again, the theme really comes to life.
The art in the game is fine. Nothing I would really write home about, but I do like the colors. And the quality of the components is nice. I like that there are a ton of lion meeples.
Overall I am really pleased with this game. It is all about the theme. If you enjoy a good thematic experience, I highly recommend checking this out.
If you enjoy some area control, but don’t want a 4 hour game, this is a great game to look to also, because you can scratch that area control itch without your friends rolling their eyes at the thought of spending all day playing a single game. I can just feel the hate for all of the T.I. players out there.
The game is very easy to learn. I was able to teach it to a group very quickly, and for the most part they all understood the game after about the second round.
The game can run a little long, about one round too long. I recommend shaving off the last round in certain situations.
Interested in picking this up? You can find it here!
Play on boys and girls!
ROAR King of the Pride0.00
- Fantastic thematic experience every time
- Easy to learn and to teach
- Gives players a chance at area control without long time commitment
- Lots of "take that" moments where players attack or steal from each other. Know your group before playing.