Tabletop Game Review – Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig: Secrets and Soiree Expansion

Secrets & Soiree Expansion

Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig: Secrets & Soiree Expansion by Stonemaier Games and Bezier Games
Price: ~$20.00
1 to 8 (with expansion)
25 to 60 minutes
Perfect for:
Players who enjoy strategic tile-laying mechanics and intricate scoring.

The Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig: Secrets & Soiree Expansion expands upon the excellent game of clever construction at the crossroads of collaboration and competition. For context, in the base game (which is necessary for this expansion), players serve on two teams of two working with the person to their left and the person to their right, drafting and placing tiles. The goal is to create two castles each with the highest point value possible; at the end of the game the player will only keep the score of the lowest castle they worked on of the two.

The Secrets & Soiree Expansion offers several new features all of which increase the value, complexity, and engagement of the core game in addition to 21 new “regular” tiles. First are activity rooms with new placement rules—if their tile is adjacent to another of a particular type, the total scoring value gets reduced. Next are ballroom tiles which score based upon tiles in adjacent castles. Finally, the expansion includes new secret rooms which duplicate the scoring rules and values of other tiles.

RELATED: Tabletop Game Review: Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Additionally, Secrets & Soiree Expansion brings with it two all-new single-player modes: the Automa system which plays like one human vs. two artificial opponents, and the Introvert Variant which has a one-on-one feel to it. Both have incredibly detailed rules and scoring mechanics so players will feel engaged and at the end, size up their own relative ability.

For those who enjoy Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig with others, this expansion offers some fun new twists to the gameplay. The secret rooms in particular can really alter strategy, as a few well-placed tiles could drastically alter the scoring (especially since you can stack them by duplicating a duplicator!). But the real value of Secrets & Soiree Expansion are the two solitary modes. Each version changes the game interactions resulting in enjoyable, immersive experiences. They also serve as an excellent way to practice and learn optimal scoring paradigms.

This may seem a little too obvious, but really the only who people who won’t enjoy the Secrets & Soiree Expansion are those who don’t really like Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig to begin with (or like it just the way it is and fear change!). There’s really nothing about this expansion that lessens or diminishes the base game—so it’s more an individual preference regarding its worth.

Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig: Secrets & Soiree Expansion is a lovely addition to the base game. Its value proposition might be a little bit higher for those who will take advantage of the solo modes, but the added characteristics to the base game definitely spice things up.

Recommended if you like: Between Two Cities, Sushi Go, 7 Wonders

Final Grade: A-

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Fox Troilo

Fox serves as an entertainment journalist in the Washington, D.C. When not covering cinematic news for LRM, he critiques films as a member of the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. Fox also has a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Strategy from Indiana University Bloomington.

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