mad king ludwig nice castle

Board Game Resource Review – Castles of Mad King Ludwig

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Castles of Mad King Ludwig Review

There are two types of people in this world: those who wish they lived in a wondrous fantasy castles, and dirty stinking liars. Admit it–you would totally rather live in a giant stone fortress with spiral staircases and cone tipped towers than wherever you live right now. That’s certainly what King Ludwig II of Bavaria thought, the “Mad King Ludwig” after whom the game is named.

Ready for a fun history lesson? Mad King Ludwig, after assuming the throne of Bavaria in 1864, decided it was time for his dream to become a reality. King Ludwig II spent copious amounts of royal revenues in building extravagant palaces and castles, the most famous of which being Neuschwanstein Castle, a fantastical fairy tale-esque castle that served as the main inspiration for the Disneyland Castle we all know and love. Ludwig II was so enamored with his contruction projects that he took on massive amounts of debt, upsetting no small number of powerful people. King Ludwig was eventually declared insane, and was found dead shortly after from mysterious causes. Ouch.

mad king ludwig castle

Neuschwanstein – A real castle made by the game’s titular King Ludwig

But that’s not why you’re here, is it? You want to know the juicy details about this game. Well, after learning that little history lesson above, it’s not hard to summarize Castles of Mad King Ludwig–it’s all in the name. This is a game about building wondrous fantasy castles, each player representing a different “master builder” competing against each other to build the best stone fortress for ol’ Ludwig.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig, designed by Ted Alspach and published by Bézier Games in 2014, is a relatively light (yet wonderfully strategic) tile placing games where players take turns purchasing “rooms” for their castles, and placing them in such a way that will yield the most points. While the concept is simple, Mad King Ludwig is a wonderfully satisfying game that hits all the right notes, and has quickly become one of my group’s favorites. Keep on reading to see why this game just works.


mad king ludwig box

You might notice the number of things I “didn’t like” is not at all proportionate to the things I “did” like. The truth is, I don’t like giving positively glowing reviews these days, because it might paint the picture that I’m unable to critically and objectively evaluate a game. But Castles of Mad King Ludwig really is an excellent game that deserves recognition. It just does so many things right that I can’t help but give it some really solid praise. Castles is a game that just WORKS, and it’s hard to pin your finger on the exact reason why. Sometimes you just play a game, and everything just flows together in a way that’s satisfying. Castles of Mad King Ludwig was one such game for me.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig is a wonderful game if you’ve been looking for something that’s nice and light, but not TOO light. It’s strategically deep, but not TOO deep. It’s not too short, but it’s also not too long. It just kind achieves that wonderful middle ground that a lot of games try to aspire to. I haven’t reviewed a game in a long time, but I figured, for my grand return, I’d choose something that really deserved it. Castles of Mad King Ludwig is that game.

See What Others Are Saying About Castles of Mad King Ludwig



  • -You like castles, building castles, or pretending to build castles
  • -You enjoy creating things
  • -You want a game that consistently clocks in at between one to two hours
  • -You’re looking for a strong new gateway game
  • -You appreciate strong strategic depth mixed with inherent simplicity
  • -You enjoy reading your opponents
  • -You like games that don’t have a lot of direct conflict
  • -You appreciate stress-free games
  • -You’re looking for a good two player game


  • -You’re not good at keeping track of your points when you play games
  • -You don’t like games where you can earn huge amounts of endgame points
  • -You like direct conflict games
  • -You’re obsessively compulsive about building something where everything is perfect
  • -You had anything to do with King Ludwig II’s mysterious death

About the Author

Zach Hillegas

Zach is an avid tabletop gamer, and he created Board Game Resource out of his love for the hobby, and his desire to see more people come into it. When he's not writing for or managing BGR, Zach might be hanging out with cats, hiking a mountain, spending time with his lovely wife, or writing about video game stuff for Insert Gamer. Zach has also enjoys creating digital character art. You can check out his (long neglected) gallery here, or follow him on Instagram at @artworkbyzach!

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