At the end of September, Der Fall des Bergkönigs, the independent prequel to In der Halle des Bergkönigs, will be released. At the same time, the new edition of In der Halle des Bergkönigs will be released by Skellig Games. The trolls are returning to their mountain in this challenging Kenner game. Players take on the role of a leader and strive to become the mountain king. Resources are scarce and are generated through a unique mechanism. In our test, we show how much fun there is in the dark tunnels of the mountain.

In the hall of the mountain king was originally a Kickstarter project by Burnt Island Games. Over 4.300 backers contributed almost 400.000 times the original funding goal with almost 10 Canadian dollars. Skellig Games has secured the rights for the German localization. Now, in a few weeks, the next edition of the successful game will appear together with the prequel The Fall of the Mountain King. In the game, polyominoes are connected to form a network of tunnels, statues are moved and great halls are built. 

Generations ago, the trolls were driven from their home mountain in battle against the gnomes. Now the mountain has collapsed, burying many of the gnomes and itself and driving the rest to flee. Finally the trolls can return. They excavate the tunnels, build Great Halls, and push the statues of their ancestors into their rightful places in the heart of the mountain. Only a troll leader can eventually become the mountain king. The players are in competition for this title and try to collect the most honor. 

The mountain calls

Entering the mountain (opening the game box), the beautifully designed game components greet you there. The start here is the double-sided game board with an autumn side for 2 or 3 people and a winter side for 2, 4 or 5 people. In each of the five colors there is a player mat, scoring markers, gate tiles and starting trolls. Other trolls are divided into three levels, also included in card form. The cards for the magic spells are significantly larger. There are a total of seven different resources in the game, most of which are made of wood. The components that are placed on the playing field complete the content. These are the Statues and Pedestals, the Tunnels of various sizes and shapes, and the Great Halls. 

The resources and tunnels in the inlay of the Kickstarter edition are nicely tidied up. Image: Jonas Dahmen

When setting up the game, the statues are randomly placed on the corresponding squares and everyone places their gate tile on one of the available starting squares. Resources, tunnels and large halls are placed next to the game board. The trolls are placed in three rows in a pyramid shape. Five level 1 trolls, four level 2 trolls and three level 3 trolls make up the display here. Randomly drawn sockets are placed on the tier 2 trolls. Three spells are also placed face up and are available to all. Now workshops are laid out depending on the number of people and the pedestal scoring markers are randomly placed in the corresponding area. 

Before it can start, the players only have to form their "Troll-Thing". To do this, they draft their starting troll cards and always choose one of two cards from their hand, which they add to their troll thing. You will receive the resources shown on these trolls below. During the game, when activating the trolls, they get the resources from the top half.

Helps the mountain regain its former glory

The rules of the game are easy to understand and quickly explained. A turn consists of four steps, one of which can be called the main action. In front of this you can activate a magic spell and a workshop. To activate a spell, a rune from one of your trolls or your personal supply must be placed on it. If spells have been activated three times, they are exchanged. In order to activate a workshop, it must be adjacent to your own tunnel network. The effect can be used as often as there are tunnel sections adjacent to the workshop. Using spells and workshops is optional. 

Next comes the “main action”. Here you either have to recruit a troll or dig a new tunnel section. 
To recruit a troll, you choose one of the twelve trolls on display. If you choose a level 2 or 3 troll, you must bribe the trolls below. For example, a level 2 troll “costs” two bribes and a level 3 troll five bribes. A level 2 troll gives you the pedestal on it and level 3 trolls allow you to choose any pedestal. Place the new troll next to your troll thing so that it lies in the middle over two other trolls. Then there are new resources. These are placed on top of the new troll and any adjacent trolls below it, as long as they aren't already holding their resources. Resources that are on the trolls should therefore always be spent first so that they can be refilled when activated.

Once the last troll has been added to the troll thing, there are many resources available for the final moves. Image: Jonas Dahmen

If you have collected enough specimens of a type of mineral (stone, iron, heart stone), you can dig a tunnel. Depending on the size and material used, there is honor, which corresponds to victory points in the game. If the tunnel runs over rubble fields, hammers must be issued. If you connect an empty workshop space to the tunnel network by digging, you may place one of the available workshop tiles there. Placing the tunnel also allows a statue to be unearthed, which is then placed on top of the tunnel section. The turn in which the tunnel is dug is also the only way to place a socket on the “hole” of the tunnel tile you just placed. Each type of socket may only be placed once per area of ​​the mountain. For this you receive the corresponding socket scoring marker.

After you have carried out one of the two main actions, you can inaugurate a Great Hall. To do this, your tunnel network must fully match the shape of the chosen Great Hall. Statues are simply placed in the same space in the hall. Pedestals are removed from the game as the Great Halls have altars that function similarly. As a last action you can spend carts to move statues. The statue may be moved to any space in the current or an adjacent tunnel per lore. 

Who will be crowned King of the Mountains?

This move pattern continues in turn until the second person adds the tenth troll to their troll thing. The two who do this first get the coronation tokens, which are worth 5 and 3 points respectively. After completing the current round, everyone has two more turns before the game ends.

Then it goes to the final evaluation. In addition to the points that you have collected for tunnel construction, there are five other sources of points. The coronation tokens and the pedestal scoring tokens give the points depicted on them. Each set of three of the same resource earns you more points. Large halls also score points. There is significantly more through them when a statue has been placed on the altar. At the end of the scoring there are still points for statues depending on whether they stand on a pedestal and in which area of ​​the mountain they are located. Whoever has collected the most honor points wins the game and becomes the new mountain king. 

For this review, we have not dealt in detail with the two (mini) expansions “Cursed Mountain” and “Champions”, which are included directly in the German edition. With “Cursed Mountain” the game becomes cooperative and can also be played solo. The "Champions" are powerful trolls that are drafted at the beginning of a game and offer powerful effects. 

Infobox

Number of players: 2-5 people (cooperative/solo possible with included “Cursed Mountain” expansion)
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: 90 minutes
Difficulty: medium to high
Long-term motivation: good
Genre: Kennerspiel
Core mechanisms: network building, tile laying, polyominoes

Author: Jay Cormier and Graeme Jahns
Illustrations: Kwanchai Moriya
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2019
Language: German
Cost: € 60

Summary

It is an art to develop a challenging game that has a fascinating depth of play despite simple rules. That's exactly what it does In the hall of the mountain king. Resources are scarce and timing, especially towards the end of the game, is everything. 
The theme is refreshing and beautifully implemented in all respects. Visually, the game is absolutely successful. 

The rules of the game are easy to understand and quickly come back to you even after a long break, without you having to go back to the rules in detail. The thematic implementation was also considered in the rules and small subordinate clauses ensure that the topic comes alive here as well. No questions remain unanswered after the regular course. Everything that is important for the course of the round is also in a nutshell on the individual player boards. 

The game material is excellent. Not only the deluxe components of the Kickstarter are of impeccable quality. The tunnel tiles fit neatly together and can be easily placed on the spacious game board. The quality of the cards is also very good. All symbols in the game, of which there are not too many, are unique. Everything necessary is supplemented by text and not desperately tried to represent with confused symbols. 

The tunnel network runs through the mountain from the entrance. Image: Jonas Dahmen

can really shine In the hall of the mountain king especially with its unique resource mechanism. It always feels like resources are missing and activating the right trolls at the right time or using their resources is a real challenge. The trains run well one after the other. Due to the scarcity of resources and the importance of timing, the mental performance per move is high and can lead to longer idle phases between your own moves. With five players, the game can drag on noticeably. Except for the possibility of digging tunnels to block others and possibly buy trolls away from them, the interaction between the players is rather low. Since there is no real two-player game plan, it rarely happens that you get in each other's way when building the tunnel. The game is ideally played with three or four players, but apart from the lack of a risk of blocking, there is nothing to complain about even with two.

Apart from the newly revealed trolls and spells, there is no random element in this post-build game. The strategic claim is high. The stimulus to play against each other is still more than sufficient due to the variable composition of these elements. If other resources are available with the trolls, you must inevitably play differently. 
The distribution of points is also very balanced. Depending on the tunnel construction, you have collected between a third and half of the points through the tunnel. All other “small” point sources are also wonderfully balanced. Of course, the focus here has to be on the statues. In Great Halls or on pedestals, their points are essential to victory. 

As a pure solo game, it is not recommended, at least with the cooperative expansion. This works much more appealing with several players. But there is an excellent unofficial solo mode on BoardGameGeek that only uses game materials that are included in the base game and introduces the two-headed troll as an opponent. This also elegantly circumvents the two-player "problem" that there is (too) much space in the mountain. This automated enemy is controlled via Troll Cards and builds its tunnel network from two gates. You can choose between four levels of difficulty. This unofficial variant even offers the possibility to add a third “player” in the two-player game.

Skellig Games has another excellent polyomino game in this upscale connoisseur game, albeit not quite as cute as island of cats is, but in terms of aspiration is a perfect next step into the world of complex board games. 


Last updated on 25.09.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API