Preview: Rurik: Dawn of Kiev

Vaughn Reynolds

I was lucky enough for Kirk Dennison of PieceKeeper Games to hand me a prototype copy of Rurik: Dawn of Kiev when I was at Origins. I had spoken to him a couple times online, but had no idea just how amazing of a game I was getting my hands on. I packed it away with a heap of other printed and prototype games I got and flew back to Vermont.

The funded Kickstarter ends in LESS THAN 50 HOURS! AAAIIIIEEEE! (I’m super late on this one!)

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I finally got a chance to open the box up, and honestly my first reaction was, “Oh crap…” because I thought I had picked up a heavy-weight Euro that would take me hours to get through the rulebook, etc.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the rulebook and saw it was SEVEN pages long. That struck me as either amazing, or horrifying… it was definitely the prior. Concise, smart rules, that covered everything you needed to know, and even situational questions. And this was just the prototype!

My wife and I got it all set up and here’s what it looks like!

We’ve played it 3 times now, and it’s SOLID. If you love worker placement and area control, this game is definitely for you. If you love Scythe, but don’t have a lot of time to sit down, setup, and commit to a game session, get Rurik: Dawn of Kiev to the table! It takes about 5 minutes to set up, and a 2 player game only takes about 30 minutes! (45 minutes if you think more than I do! :D)

Each player gets a Variable Player Power, which gives them a unique (and beautiful) mini!

And I have to say, by far, the most amazing and fun part of this game is the Auction Programming mechanic of it! This is how you choose your actions for the turn, but their order of resolution can be trumped by other players decisions! It’s a VERY smart design and quite a lot of fun in gameplay. I think this one element will set it apart from most other games in its genre.

Auction Programming. The gameplay in Rurik revolves around a central strategy board. Openly bid for actions with your advisors in this novel “auction programming” mechanic. Higher numbered advisors earn greater benefits, but lower numbered advisors resolve their actions sooner.

As far as overall gameplay, you begin the game by selecting a character (there are 6 in the base game). You then go back and forth placing starting units. You can place them in unoccupied territories, territories occupied by your opponents, or reinforce locations you have already placed in. This adds a nice level of tension from the very first actions on turn 1!

You then have only 4 rounds to collect resources, claim territories and force your enemies out as you claim victory points to be crowned the next ruler of Kiev!

I highly encourage you to check this game out at GenCon if you are attending and seriously consider backing it on Kickstarter if you are even remotely into area control games. It’s solid fun.

You can learn more about the publisher at PieceKeeper Games!