The Red Book of the Elf King

This game really grabbed my attention when it came out in 2018. It’s an unashamedly personal project from Steve and Joe Saleh of Lucid Eye Publications, with rules written by Rick Priestley. Red Book is set in a fantasy world, the Isles of Eas, drawing heavily upon Poul Anderson’s novel The Broken Sword, the works of Michael Moorcock and a large dose of faerie lore.

Right: The Red Book of the Elf King cover art by Julien Delval, copyright Lucid Eye Publications 2018. Used with permission.

Games are played between different thanes (elf, human or troll lords), each with a circle (warband) composed of six groups of three companions (warriors). This means that each side has 7 units (the thane is a one-figure unit), giving an almost ritualised feel to the game. Rick’s rules really shine with simplicity; in my first game, I’d got the rules sorted within 30 minutes, but the tactics took longer. Magic is a key component of the game, with an imaginative deck of spells that range from slightly crazed to completely insane! Because of the nature of the background, some even allow your thanes to play with the fabric of space and time itself. The now-common ‘draw bag’ activation mechanic absolutely comes into its own here, with all kinds of random factors in play. The game isn’t for everyone, being set in a very specific fantasy world with set units and troop types, but gives a fantastic narrative and is worth a try.

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