GTM #235 - Paladins of the West Kingdom
by Renegade Game Studios

Defend Against North Sea Vikings and Other Outsiders
in Paladins of the West Kingdom


You’ve built a beautiful city, filled with remarkable landmarks and a cathedral which has pleased the King and demonstrated your faith. But the tranquil life of the folk in the West Kingdom is now interrupted by heathen outsiders. With the help of venerable warriors, you must now defend the life and city you have built in Paladins of the West Kingdom.

This new standalone evolves the game world familiar to many gamers as a sequel to the beloved and critically lauded Architects of the West Kingdom. At the same time, it connects world of the West Kingdom to that of The North Sea series, including the North Sea trilogy of board games (Raiders of the North Sea, Shipwrights of the North Sea, and Explorers of the North Sea) and the RPG based on that world, Epilogues of the North Sea

The fleshing out of the world exposes the peaceful and thriving populace of the Carolingian Empire gamers were introduced to in Architects, to outside conquering warriors, including Vikings, Byzantines and Saracens. In Paladins, players being confronted with this threat need to fortify the city, construct outposts, and prepare for confrontations with these outsiders, earning victory points along the way by building outposts and fortifications, commissioning monks and confronting outsiders.

Additionally, each round, players will enlist the help of a specific Paladin and gather workers to carry out tasks. As the game progresses, players will slowly increase their faith, strength and influence. Not only will these affect their final score, but they will also determine the significance of their actions. The game marries worker placement mechanics with engine-building elements, which adds a strategic puzzle experience to the gameplay. The game has a fixed end point at the end of the seventh round, though each round provides players with a multitude of meaningful choices, providing a deeply satisfying gameplay experience.

The designers of Architects of the West Kingdom, Shem Phillips and Sam MacDonald, sought to create an immersive, meatier game experience in Paladins. Phillips provided insight into what fans of the The North Sea Trilogy and Architects can expect from Paladins. 

Paladins is our most in-depth game to date. So be prepared for a slightly longer game, with more tension and tougher decisions on each turn. Each round you will be drafting a selection of workers, which you'll use to take various actions, primarily on your own player board. 

A lot of the art and iconography is very similar, so fans of Architects will feel right at home. Paladins features a suspicion system, which will give a similar feel to how virtue worked in Architects. There are still criminals and debts, for those who enjoyed the lower half of the virtue track. Paladins is very much like a next step for Architects. It will feel similar in some ways, but also much more complex and engaging mentally than Architects.

Phillips and MacDonald sought to delight and challenge players through the connected faith, strength, and influence tracks. Levering these tracks well will not only score more points, but will also help power up various actions in the game. This engine-building mechanic rewards players for subsequent plays as they develop strategies in effectively leveraging it. Phillips provided insight into this compelling element: “There are six main ‘point-scoring’ actions in the game. Each of these requires a certain attribute and will reward one of the other two. This creates a really fun puzzle, with a wide range of paths for players to explore.” 

When playing with two to four players, this Euro-game influenced title offers just the right amount of player interaction, without frustrating take-that mechanics. Additionally, gamers can enjoy a solo play mode, which allows them to develop fluency and mastery within the game on their own. 

A lot of thought and time was spent on designing a game that provided meaningful choices for players. Phillips describes the design experience and design decisions made to the game to appeal to players both familiar and new to The West Kingdom and The North Sea games. ”We spent a lot of time early on, just trying to land on a good mechanism. I knew that there should be 12 Paladins. I also liked the idea of having a long, thin main board, with cards sliding in from either side.”

The hard work paid off, as the player boards, designed by MacDonald, met the mechanics and the game started to click, particularly with the key mechanics of attribute tracks. “It took a while to get the three attributes working together, but it was definitely worth all the sleepless nights!”

Paladins of the West Kingdom’s thoughtful design is intended to have familiar elements for fans of Architects, but provide them with novelty as well. Phillips describes his approach in creating a standalone experience that appeals to those already familiar with games of his design: 

"With each game in this series, it's important for me to retain some constants, such as workers, coins, townsfolk cards, etc. I also want to give each game a few points of difference. Not only in gameplay experience, but also in areas like table presence and unique mechanisms."

Another familiar element specific to The North Sea and The West Kingdom series of games is the art of illustrator Mihajlo Dimitrievski, known colloquially as The Mico. The characterful representations of the people who fill the game world, along with his depiction of the world they inhabit, is a hallmark of the game series. Phillips too loves working with Dimitrievski, “He is a mastermind. I love the characters and colourful worlds he creates and he's a pleasure to work with. Two of my favourites from Paladins are Engelier and Girard. They just look so cool!”

Ultimately, the game has appeal for fans of The North Sea trilogy and Architects of the West Kingdom as well appeal for gamers looking for heavier, strategic, and puzzle-solving style of game that plays longer and deeper than Architects, though it doesn’t make the game inaccessible. Phillips and MacDonald created a gameplay experience that is easy to learn but rewards fluency and expertise in the game. Paladins of the West Kingdom the kind of game to appeal to a large group of gamers who crave satisfying, thoughtful, and strategic gameplay married with beautiful art and a unique table presence. 

Paladins of the West Kingdom plays 1-4 players aged 12+ in 90-120 minutes, with an MSRP of $55 and is published by Renegade Game Studios and Garphill Games.



Shem Phillips has been designing and publishing games under the Garphill Games’ brand since 2007. He is most commonly recognized for his work on the North Sea series, including Raiders of the North Sea. Shem takes pride in producing beautiful games with interesting mechanics.

Teri Litorco is a professional tabletop game fangirl and Senior Marketing Manager at Renegade Game Studios. She can be found painting tabletop miniatures, playing board games with her family, and taking photos of her cats sitting in empty game box lids.