Capital Lux is a drafting game. I like drafting games, so this should be a game that I normally would enjoy. It has no theme, no back-story that makes any sense, but it looks quite appealing. The question remains, is it any fun?
Let me first explain how it plays.
In the middle of the table you find four cards in four different colours with four different abilities. This area is called the Capital. The area in front of you is called your home town and on your turn you have to play a card in your home town or in the capital.
You start the game by drafting numbered cards. These cards have the same colours as the Capital cards.
When you choose to play one of the five cards you end up with after the drafting phase in to your home town, you just place that card in front of you next to your other cards of that colour.
If you choose to play a card in the capital you have to play your card on the capital card with same colour and then you execute its action.
The actions of the capital cards are: draw a new card and add it to your hand, take one coin, draw a modifier card and add it to one of the four capital card stacks and, lastly, remove the lowest card of one of the four capital card stacks and add it to your home town.
The round ends after one of the players has played his or her last card. Then all other player can play one more cards and then you go to the scoring phase. Per colour you check which player has a higher total than the total of all the numbered cards in the capital stack. These players lose all the cards of that colour. So, let’s say green has a three, four and six card in the capital. This means that if the green cards in your home town add up to 14 or more, you lose those cards.
You can spend the coins you have to make your illegal card legal. So if you have a value of 15, you can spend one coin and then your are allowed to have these cards in your home town.
Then you check which players has the highest legal value per colour and she then must take the highest capital card of that colour and place it in her score pile.
At the end of the game, after three rounds, you score points equal to the added value of all your home town cards, the added value of all the cards in your score pile, plus one point per coin you did not spend. Most points, wins.
Capital Lux is a really good card game. The card art is beautiful and the game itself is very clever. The drafting is fun and the four card powers in the middle of the table are well thought of.
Drawing new cards sounds like a power that you always want to use. More cards in your hand means more opportunities to play cards, and maybe score more points. However, sometimes you don’t want that extra card. You don’t want to play it in front of you, because you will exceed the limit if you do. And you also don’t want to play that card in the capital, because then you increase the limit of that colour and maybe allowing other player re-enter the scene, while before they would have lost all their cards of that colour, because they exceeded the limit..
Coins are always good to have. They can help you sneak in a win if you are surprised by a sudden lowering of the limit of one of the stacks. Removing the lowest card of a stack is also a tricky one, because in one move you lower the limit and increase the value of the same card colour in your home town. Might be dangerous.
The modifier cards, like minus one or plus four, add some hidden information to the game. Only the player who places the card knows what its value is. Here the push your luck element of the game is really evident. You sometimes don’t know what the real limit of a stack is, so you have to gamble a bit and hope for the best.
You sometimes see that you and another player are going for the same coloured stack and you both trying to have the highest value in front of you. At one point you are both over, because the state of the game changed for some reason. A player removed the lowest card from that stack and now you keep looking at each other, expecting the other player to increase the limit again. That’s also part of the push your luck element in this game. Trying to let other people do the work for you. But how long can you wait?
So, in the end, Capital Lux has pretty simple rules, but its offers more than you might initially think. Like I said, it’s a really clever game, I like it