Lead your clan and win the favor of the Daimio at The White Castle
Shei S. and Isra C., the famous authors of The Red Cathedral, return with a game set in Himeji Castle,
one of the most iconic fortresses in modern Japan.
Japan, 1761. Harima Province. Daimyo Sakai Tadazumi is one of the most prominent advisors of the Edo Shogunate, ruling the region from Himeji Castle, the great white fortress. The various local clans will do well to curry favor with the Sakai clan. In order to have influence, it will be important to have family members at all levels of castle life, from politics to the military, through the humble gardeners who take care of every last detail of the palace gardens.
In The White Castle, players will assume the role of minor clan leaders and turn by turn try to accumulate influence at court. Timely management of resources and placement of family members in key locations in Himeji Castle will lead players to victory.
The authors of the game are Israel Cendrero and Sheila Santos, the designer duo known as Llama Dice, authors of several board games recognized throughout the world, including The Red Cathedral. The art is signed by Joan Guardiet (La Viña, Checkpoint Charlie), who has been inspired by traditional Japanese ukiyo-e style prints to illustrate the cover and the central panel.
As usual with Devir's games, The White Castle's box is packed with high-quality components. The main element of the game is the center game board, which shows Himeji Castle in all its splendor. We observe different areas with which we can interact: on the left side is the pond and the garden area, with the three bridges. The center of the board is the largest area, showing the interior of the castle divided into three floors. From the entrance where an audience is requested and passing through the room with a thousand carpets, the courtiers must go up until they reach the circle closest to the Daimyo, at the top of the fortress. Finally, in the upper right part of the board, we find the training fields, where the warriors practice with bows and swords.
On the other hand, the players have their own board, the personal domain, where the members of the clan wait before traveling to the castle. In this area they will also keep accounts of the food, iron and mother-of-pearl at their disposal, as well as the money and the Daimio stamps that they obtain during the game. In the personal space there is also a place reserved for an active action card and the space for the lamp rewards, in which resources and various rewards can be accumulated.
Both the general board and the personal domain have beautiful illustrations and a clear and pleasant iconography, designed to guide players in their decision making. The wooden components are not far behind, as they have unique details that contribute to the immersive experience: the different members of the clan can be differentiated according to the characteristics of each pawn: the gardeners hold a rake and wear a traditional straw hat, the samurai brandish their katana and courtiers wear the ceremonial tunic and cap. To mark the turn order, each player has a great heron of his color (this bird is the symbol of Himeji castle) and for the fame point and time passage markers, each player has a fan and a sphere with an emblem or mon of their own.
One last element to highlight is the three cardboard bridges that can be assembled to add volume to the board. The dice that each player will use during their turn will be arranged on these bridges, making up a main element of the game.
Ready to expand your influence across Himeji Castle? In The White Castle, players must use the resources and actions of their clan members wisely and seek the most beneficial actions at all times. There are many options and combinations available, but only 9 turns per player in the entire game. By having variable preparation, the challenge will be different for each new game session, and it will not always be easy to know how to make the best possible decision.
During game setup, players roll the dice and then group them by color and line them up from smallest to largest on the three bridges on the pond, which is located on the left side of the center game board. On their turn, players will take one of these dice to perform an action. Depending on the color of the dice they will be able to activate one or the other action cards of the castle, and depending on the number they will be able to activate more or less powerful actions on the entire board and even in their personal domain. You can always pay coins to make up for low die results, but running out of savings is never a good idea!
At the start of the game, the players' personal domains are full of clan members. Through the outer space squares of the castle, they will be able to send them to their respective locations on the board, unlocking fame points and useful resources for the next turns. To place gardeners in the pond we will have to spend a certain amount of food; to send the warriors to the training camps, iron; and to facilitate the social ascent of our diplomats at court, we will need mother-of-pearl. Also, at any time, you can visit the Okiku well, one of the most enigmatic places in the white fortress, which will offer resources to players without restrictions.
The spaces on the board are limited, so not all players will always be able to carry out the actions they want. In games with 3 and 4 players the competition to occupy places is fierce, but in exchange you can stack up to a maximum of two dice per location. Sometimes the best strategy can consist of blocking vital spaces for our rivals with high numbers...
The White Castle can also be enjoyed solo, and as usual in games designed by Llama Dice, winning will be quite a challenge. The "Visit from the Tokugawa Clan" mode has its own deck of cards that serves to guide the actions of the AI and three difficulty modes to adapt the game experience to the desired level.
The White Castle is Devir's great bet for the international fair in Essen, Germany, which every year brings together the main designers, illustrators, professionals and leading publishers in the sector on the continent. A key meeting point for the board games industry and a luxury showcase to present the novelties that will hit the stores for the European public. The same week of the presentation of The White Castle at the fair in Essen the game will be released simultaneously worldwide, thanks to the cooperation of all our publishing partners who will distribute the game in their respective countries and in different languages.