Publisher: Stonemaier Games and Bezier Games
Player Count: 2-7 Players
Dedicated Solo mode: No
Game Length: 45-60 Minutes
Complexity 2.25/5

What the king wants.. the king gets! As a master builder it’s up to you to provide the Mad King Ludwig with a castle that suits his greatness. But you won’t be working alone. A castle of this magnitude will require two master builders, each working diligently to produce the most monumental monument to the king.

Between Two Castle of Mad King Ludwig is the product of a mash-up between two of the industry’s biggest publishers: Stonemaier Games and Bezier Games. Previously, Stonemier had produced Between Two Cities and Bezier did Castles of Mad King Ludwig, so it made sense to the powers that be to mix the two together and see what happens.

This is a tile drafting game where players are not building just one castle, but two, cooperating with your opponents to the left and right of you at the table. Each tile represents a room in the castle and features their own unique scoring opportunities where placement, and type matter. Bonuses can be earned, but balance is key in this unique setup. Let’s find out if you’re up for the task of the Mad King himself.


Each player begins the game with a stack of tiles and castle throne room sitting between them and their neighbor. Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig introduces a unique concept I really haven’t seen anywhere else. You’ll be cooperatively working with the opponent on your left and the opponent on your right to build the castle between the two of you.

The game takes place over two rounds, with each round made up of 4 turns. Each turn is played simultaneously where you draft two tiles from your stack, pass the stack onto the next player and play a single tile on each of your castles. Your opponents will do the same adding a total of two tiles to each castle each turn.

Each tile represents a type of room available to be built in the castle. You’ll have the opportunity to build bedrooms, eating areas, gardens and dungeons to name a few. Each tile also features unique symbols and a unique scoring ability that will either depend on the placement in the castle or how it relates to other types of rooms throughout (example: earn 2 points for each utility room in your castle). Tiles will dictate whether they can be played above ground or below. Bonuses can be earned by playing 3 of a kind in your castle which can create expanded scoring opportunities and even a combo or two.

Once the second round has been completed, players score each castle and the lower value of the two you worked on is your final score. The player with the highest score is the ultimate master builder and everyone else ends up in shackles, in one the newly crafted dungeons.


The artwork here is fairly well done as a whole, but the tiles are pretty small and definitely take away from the impact the art could have had overall on the game. In fact, all my complaints stem from the small size of the tiles. The icons and symbols throughout are really hard to read. This can really be a problem if your play area isn’t ideal, giving you easy access to both of your adjacent castle-building projects.

The tile storage solution is really solid and makes setup and tear down super easy—I love the thought and consideration that went into this.

The rulebook does a good job communicating each tile’s actions. There were only a couple times I had questions about a tile’s scoring requirement, but they are all pretty intuitive and easy to figure out.


➕ Simple gameplay is easy to teach and pick up for new players

➕ Great storage solution make for an easy setup

➕ Fun theme and unique gameplay

➕ Good for both families and gamers


➖ Effectively managing two castles can be a bit much

➖ While the scoring is cool in itself, it is a pain to compile at the end of the game

➖ Gameplay feels a bit dated and dry


This is a tile-laying game with a strong puzzle-y element. Players who enjoy abstract games with a stronger theme are going to get the most out of this one.


The best thing about this game is the unique, cooperative gameplay. While there is only a single winner, players must work with their neighbors to build the most point-tastic scoring castle.


On the surface, Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig is a fairly simple game. During your turn, you draft two tiles and place those tiles. You continue this over 8 turns and that’s it.

The theme does a good job of selling a bigger idea with more backstory that draws you into this world. The tiles have a lot of personality and setup is a breeze, so there is a lot to like from the get-go. I haven’t had the opportunity to play either of the predecessors to Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig, so I’m coming in without any expectations or preconceptions.

The semi-cooperative nature of the game really stood out. I love the idea of working with another player in our own little mini game. While I’m sure there are a few, off the top of my head, I can’t think of another game that works quite like this one does.

I’m also a huge fan of open drafting. I love the pick and pass concept especially in games where the hand or tile stack will come back around. That’s likely not the case here since you’re typically playing 3 or more players and the most you’ll see your original hand again is once. In this case, you’re hoping to leave your neighbor with tiles that will benefit and even compliment  your mutual castle. There aren’t any rules to communicating this, but we typically refrained from making suggestions to our neighbor just to keep things civil.

Each tile features some unique scoring path you’ll need to meet to earn points. This might mean how you align tiles within your castle such as placing them next to a certain tile type or surrounding it with another or how many of a certain type live in your castle at the end of the game. This may have been unique when it was first released, but feels a little standard and dated at this point (5 years later). I’m ok with this concept for a single castle, but it feels a little more chaotic than it should when you’re trying to manage two separate castles. As your castle’s grow there is more to keep track of and it becomes a little much for me. When you collect three tiles of the same type, you’re able to earn a bonus. This is a nice addition to the game, but I likely missed out on a few of these because it’s difficult to keep up with all the tiles you and your partner have played.

My biggest struggle is the size of the icons on each tile. It’s critical to be able to easily identify these for strategy and scoring direction, but the icons are so small it’s often hard to make them out sitting between the two structures. There is a lot the developers wanted to include on each tile (artwork & icons) while facing the limitation of keeping them at a decent size. I understand the challenge, but that doesn’t make the players actions any easier. The tiles are a bit of a mess from a functionality standpoint and that definitely affected my enjoyment of the game.

In the end, I really appreciate what Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig is trying to do. It has that nice polish you get from a Stonemier or Bezier game, but it struggles a bit due to some unfriendly concepts. The scoring at the end, while satisfying to an extent, is so tedious that it really deflates any momentum and good will built up over the course of the game. I LOVE the easy setup and clean up and that may be the game’s saving grace. It’s also highly accessible, being easy to teach and could be a lot of fun for gateway gamers looking for a “think-y challenge”. For me, it ends up feeling a little dated and creates speed bumps that bog down the flow and my enjoyment of the game. It’s a game that I wouldn’t be opposed to pulling off the shelf, but I’ll likely recommend two or three others that fill the same void, but do it just a little bit better.