Jester's upcoming Barbarian Kingdoms game.
Image Source: Jester

“Barbarian Kingdoms” is the debut board game of the indie French studio Jester. The game will be designed by Christophe Lebrun, who is also the head of the studio. The game’s artwork is done by lead artists Aurélie Lebrun du Puytison, Nasos Maloudis, and Sergey Shikin, all of which are relatively new to the hobby by the look of it.

This will be the first game they are working on, but this doesn’t mean the quality is lacking. In fact, the art of the game is visually impressive and immersive. Just by looking at the cover alone, you can tell that there was a lot of work and passion involved in the creation of the art. This also translates on the various game pieces – the game and player boards, the standees, and the tokens.

Lebrun has also been kind enough to answer community questions. Regarding when the game will be released, he shared that the game is planned for release in mid-2023. “Barbarian Kingdoms” has had a Gamefound page since June and the official campaign is set to launch in 50 days at the time of writing.

Will the Game Be Historically Accurate?

So far as the historical accuracy of the game, Lebrun shared that it is not so much a historical game, but more of a historically inspired game. However, he did delve into historical books while designing the game, like Les Royaumes barbares en Occident by Bruno Dumézil for example.
The barbarian kingdoms featured in the game did exist, however, some historical deviation is to be expected. The Huns are one such example, as Atilla was dead at the time of the rise of the “Barbarian Kingdoms”

Interestingly, “Barbarian Kingdoms” will also be Lebrun’s debut as a game designer. However, much like with the artwork, this doesn’t mean the game will suffer from complexity or lackluster mechanics.

However, before we delve into that, let’s have a look at the setting of the game. “Barbarian Kingdoms” is set just as the Huns and their horde had swept across Europe, which forced the Germanic tribes into exodus. They crossed the borders of the Western Roman Empire and, either by looting or waging wars, eventually caused its collapse. These barbaric nations founded their own kingdoms on the former territories of the Western Roman Empire and are now fighting for dominance.

The Game’s Setting and Innovative Mechanics

“Barbarian Kingdoms” will be an asymmetrical and competitive strategy game, aimed at intermediate adult players, which is Jester’s target audience. This means that it will carry advanced mechanics, which will be easy to understand, but hard to master. It will be a challenge for new players.

Each player will control his own barbarian kingdom, take the role of their respective king, and compete for supremacy over Western Europe. Each turn, players must choose and resolves an action of their choosing. There are several possible actions to pick from, such as:

  • Recruitment: deploy a warrior from the reserve by paying its cost.
  • Taxation: collect money from the provinces of his kingdom.
  • Assault: invade a province or attack an enemy unit.
  • Maneuvers: reposition your units in one of your provinces or towards the sea.
  • Claim: try to take control of a province by paying a cost.

Assault and Claim actions can be immediately challenged by any opponent. Such a challenge can only be resolved by battle. Players may attempt to challenge an opponent to try to reverse an unwanted outcome.

The first player to control seven territories wins the game. Alternatively, the game can be won by killing two enemy kings. Another interesting feature is that even if your kind is killed, you can still play to win by points!

A self-proclaimed warrior-poet, Krasen is a man of many hobbies – ranging from combat sports training, LARPing, to writing poetry. One of those many hobbies happens to be board games. Be it with a fist, pen, sword or keyboard – he aims to be just, merciless and effective.