Banquet Royal review

15 October 2018
banquet-royal-36179.jpg Banquet Royal
A visual feast that leaves you hungry

If Banquet Royal teaches us anything, it’s that royals, even if imaginary, eat simple foods: burgers, salads, fruit and – to bring some fancy into the equation – trifles. However, what they lack in originality when it comes to choosing dishes, they make up for with quantity and presentation. 

Although players are cooks in the game, rushing to fulfil the orders of capricious royals, the only time the game itself makes players work is right at the start, when all the dishes need to be popped out of cardboard and assembled together. This effort pays off as the dishes start populating the game board, creating a beautiful colourful three-dimensional forest and filling the entire spread by the end of the game. Look a little closer, though, and it isn’t hard to see where the artwork came off the cardboard through popping or pieces are just a little bit too wobbly. 

Once all the pieces have been assembled, Banquet Royal never overstays its welcome or feels arduous to play. Unfortunately, it is also a dish that lacks that certain special sauce and contains some out-of-place ingredients. 

Throughout the game, players place different dishes on trays to create an alignment of three foods that correspond to menu cards dealt at the beginning. Completing a card rewards players with points; there are different levels of difficulty of cards to spice things up. 

The beginning of the game is especially treacherous, as players try to place dishes on the board without setting up the next player for scoring a card – especially hard to do in a four-player game. Following that it becomes pretty easy to score a card per turn until the very end of the game, when the free spaces become limited. Sometimes there is nothing else to do but attempt to block your opponent, as there are no opportunities to score yourself, or thoughtlessly place any dish on the board to bring the game closer to an end. 

There is another action players can do that feels at odds with the rest of the game. Random dish tokens are redistributed on certain trays and hidden under the cloches. (The fact that tokens slot neatly with the cloches is a nice touch.) At the beginning of the game, players are given a chance to memorise which dishes are under which cloches and later attempt to guess for a bonus victory point. This mechanic feels like it is from a completely different game and, frankly, Banquet Royal may have benefited from more rules that fit better with the core concept of building an alignment of particular dishes. One of them, for example, could be to allow players to score multiple cards on their turn, raising the stakes and making the gameplay more challenging and competitive. Although there is a dedicated ‘gourmet’ mode in Banquet Royal for more experienced players, it feels inessential. 

The royals may end up satisfied with their feast but, as players, it is hard to leave the table feeling comfortably full. There is a certain joy in simplicity and straightforwardness of the gameplay that only lasts 20 minutes, but it also lacks a challenge. Scoring feels a little too easy and effortless, and the repetitiveness of going through the same motions each turn takes the fun out of it.




The colourful vibrancy of Banquet Royal’s components and design unfortunately does not translate into its gameplay, the main virtue of which is its shortness.


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Designer: Alain Rivollet

Artist: Vincent Joubert

Time: 20 minutes

Players: 2-4

Age: 7+

Price: £23


This review originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.



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