OK, so this is a lot more fun than most "historical" games, so stay with me while I set this one up. It's worth it - I promise.
King Ludwig II of Bavaria loves his castles. He already owns Neuschwanstein Castle - ya know the one Walt will lust after eighty-seven years later. King Ludwig has tasked you with building another castle (because you can't just own one). Thing is, he hasn't just tasked you - he's tasked a few other builders too. Your job is to build the best of the lot, catering to the King's every whim while selling your services to your competing builders (but saving the best stuff for yourself).
In Castles of Mad King Ludwig, each player starts with a foyer to build their own castle off of. At the start of a round, one player takes their turn as the "Master Builder". The Master Builder builds (selects) some rooms and assigns pricing. Players may then pay the Master Builder for these rooms, leaving the Master Builder the leftovers for their own castle. Castles is a points based game and points are awarded by completing rooms, from the placement relationship of those rooms to other ones, from completed bonus cards (that contain objectives hidden to other players) and completed "King's Favors" which are "open" objectives that all players compete to complete. When the room card deck is depleted, the game ends and scoring happens to determine the winner.
The game sounds simple, but the interactions between the rooms, the pricing strategies between the players as well as all the different points bonuses, makes this game really entertaining and it is a different experience every time thanks to the randomness of the bonus cards. That alone would make Castles an easy game to recommend - but it just gets better. There are solo rules that allow for a pretty good round of solitaire, there is a great expansion already available and Bezier just released the game on mobile devices, so you can fit all this gaming in your pocket for $6.99!
The interface for the mobile game uses a lot of the original art (with some slight alterations to make the angles perfect) and its gorgeous. It has the feel of actually playing the cardboard version. There is a tutorial that walks you through the rules, a campaign to play through and a way to start a stand-alone game. AI is there for solo gamers to battle and pass and play between actual humans is supported. The iOS version even supports gamecenter achievements for the score junkies out there. It's a heck of a lot of game for seven bucks.
I love that Bezier did the app development internal to the company, hiring a developer and shepherding it through the process. Sometimes licensed games are thrown together and released on a hard timeline to fulfill a contract and it shows. This game is polished and exudes the love of the original material. The Geek has an interview up with the game designer Ted Alspach, who personally oversaw the game's development. Its a great read if you are a techie like me.
If you are a tabletop fan I don't know why you wouldn't pick this up. Whether you pick cardboard or digital bits, this is an amazing game with a fantastic experience. Who knew a historically based game could be this fun? Now go build a castle for your king.