THE KING IS DEAD
..and your supporters have determined that you are the rightful heir to the throne. There's just one hitch; there are others who claim to be ahead of you in line for succession. Your objective is to gather more supporters (on the markers on the right hand side of the board) and use them to become the King of England (by capturing the Crown). Lastly, you must kill off all other suitors (represented by the roses found at the very bottom of the board) so there can be no additional claims to the throne.
The shields on the map of England represent 26 factions/houses whose support you will need in order to ascend to the throne and become the next king. In order to control the loyalty of any given house, you must hold its shields on the map.
Once you control a house, you gain control of that house's 'marker' (found on the right hand side of the board) on your next turn. The large number on the marker tells you how many prominent members (lords, earls, and nobles, etc.) that house has, and on your next turn, the members from all of your established markers are tallied and placed in the upper left corner of each marker. You will only use units on the markers (and mercenaries/see below) at the end of the game when attempting to take the crown.
You keep the sworn loyalty of the members on a marker even if you lose partial control of the house (by losing a shield). The only way to steal a marker from an opponent is to capture all of its related shields on the map.
The smaller number at the bottom right hand corner of the marker shows the number of vassals that are loyal to that house. The number of vassals you receive is equivalent to the number of shields the house has on the map. Vassals are awarded as "standard" bonus units when you capture that marker. They can be placed on the map or used to hire mercenaries (see below) at the beginning of a turn.
Vassals are fickle when it comes to their loyalty. You will lose your standard bonus if you do not control all that house's shields at the beginning of any turn. When this happens, you may still hold the marker and retain all house priveledges including access to the crown, but you will not collect the Vassal bonus until you once again control the entire house with all of its shields.
At any point in the game you can "prove your claim" by attacking the crown at the bottom of the board with the members on your active markers. Don't worry if you fail and use up all of your members; they will return to you (they're loyal remember!) on the following turn (provided the marker hasn't been stolen).
It is recommended that when you decide to prove your claim, you hedge your bets by hiring mercenaries at the beginning of your turn. This can be done by placing units in the box on the left hand side of the board. You should hire mercenaries only when you are ready to prove your claim. Unused mercenaries will remain on the board. They have been paid for and will do anyone's bidding ..including the next player!
DISPATCHING ALL OTHER SUITORS
Once you have captured the crown, you will be the new king, but at that point you will likely be extremely vulnerable. You must immediately assasinate, or perhaps execute all pretenders to the throne (for heresy, of course - after all, it is your divine right as king), by attacking their house seats represented by the roses found directly below the crown. They are not that difficult to kill as they will only have one unit each, but failure to kill them will likely result in your demise because the weakened crown will be an easy target on subsequent turns. To assist you in this endeavor, you will receive a small elimination bonus for each suitor you kill to assist with the 'dirty work'. There are always late comers looking to curry favor with the new King.
It is highly recommended that when you make a claim, you test your forces slowly (using your lower valued markers first) and don't take the crown until you are confident that when you take it, you will have the resources to kill all players. The (neutral) defenders of the crown will always return to a full complement on an unsuccessful attack...so there's no harm in trying if you are inclined to give it an early shot
Long Live the New King!
Bonuses, Limits and Dice