Normally, I hate those sorts of Eurogames in which there is either extremely limited or virtually no direct player vs. player interaction. Then why is it that I love Castles of Mad King Ludwig – a game that has no direct and almost no indirect player interaction – and recommend it as a tool in the arsenal of any DM?
Because Castles of Mad King Ludwig is essentially competitive dungeon building – the player who builds the best dungeon wins.
The game is devilishly simple: players take turns being the “master builder”, assigning rooms (which are essentially dungeon geomorphs) a price, then players pay the builder that price and stick the room somewhere on their castle. There are different rewards for “finishing” rooms (connecting all doors to other rooms or halls) based on the type of the room; points are awarded for connecting certain types of rooms to certain other types of rooms, and various “goals” (cards you can earn by completing one kind of room) give you extra points for fulfilling certain criteria.
I’ve gotten to where I’m pretty good at it; I don’t know that I could say that I have a solid strategy, but avoiding wasting time on hallways and underground rooms (cool as many of them seem) and instead going for goal cards and just all around finishing rooms in ways that earn the most points seems to work.
So, why do I recommend it as a tool for DMs? Well, remember how I was talking about Thiefy stuff yesterday and how one of the problems a DM faces is having to come up with rich people’s houses to rob when the Thief is all “I want to rob a rich person’s house”?
A DM need only take a handful of pieces from a set of Castles, arrange them semi-slapdash, and in a matter of moments has a mansion micro-dungeon, complete with dimensions to grid.