Knights of the Hula hoopS




We are Knights of the Round Table


England, 932 A.D.: The King let’s his gaze wander silently round the round table, despite his knights running excitedly about and squabbling over chairs; all want to be as near to right of the kind. But where is right or left at a round table? And where sits the king? How fortunate that Merlin has wrought magic on the piglet in the middle – its magical snout always unerringly points to the king’s crown. And if the king changes seats or one of the three princes is crowned king, the piglet and the table move with the king.


This absurdly-funny background story could have been a fitting transformation of the first Monty Python film into a game. But unfortunately everything- except the piglet providing the center and highlight of the design – comes across absolute in earnest. Accordingly, the beginner’ version plays very dryly: All Players hold the same identical set of cards, split into two draw piles. One pile holds the cards which you use to move your own knights, mostly in clockwise direction, no fixed number of steps is given, you can choose any number between a minimum and maximum distance. The other pile holds the cards for moving the king or one of the three princes or for equipping one of the princes with another additional hoop – the princes and king figurines are available to und usable by all players. The point of these movements: On the familiar Kramer track you instantly score positive or negative points for the spot the moving figurine has just vacated - NOT for the spot where the figurine ends its move – or for the spot where the figurine remains in place (the so-called Prince’s Turn.) This rule at first feels funny, because it is a very unusual one. So, first you should work out the possibilities offered by the four cards you draw at the start of the game for all your own and neutral figurines before you decide on the best possible move. This results in quite some down time, until all other players have calculated their possibilities of the moment and have made their move. Planning ahead, obviously, is rather impossible; when it is my turn the next time round, my knights might be in their chairs, but the table probably has turned once again (including the dishes shown on the table, following the credo of „we dine well here in Camelot, we eat ham and jam and spam a lot“). As already mentioned, this can happen due to two different actions: Either the king is moved or a prince is crowned new king and the former king demoted to prince, because a fellow player has graced a prince with his third hoop.


This introductory version offers an easy and fast entry into the game, but whether the occasional players, targeted with this version, will really have fun with it must be doubted. The design of the components is much too insipid and virtuous for this; caricatures of drunk and jaded former heroes, whose best years are long gone, would have been much for fun and fitting. Such characters would also fit the table much better. Rather subtly pictured, you can see that the „traffic-light“ division into three areas – green for positive scores, yellow for zero points, and red for negative points – is based on the fact, that all dishes are empty in the red zone. Could it be that the knights want to seat as near to the king as possible not because he tells such funny stories but because there is something left to eat there?


This would also provide a fitting and plausible explanation for the idiosyncratic „three-hoops-make-a-new-king“ rule. We feed gigantic doughnuts to the princes to make them as well-fed as the king who in turn is so frightened that he speedily loses weight and loses his crown. By the way, the real meaning of the hoops is rings; but what rings have to do in this background story remains totally unfathomable. For one thing, rings usually are not worn around your belly, maybe with the exception of oriental belly-dancers, and for another, rings are the sole provenance of Middle Earth and not Medieval England.


At least, the advanced game provides a bit more fun in playing. This version holds a third drawing pile, the scoring cards. These provide – in relation to the actual positions of your own knights – not only valuably extra points, but sometimes also provide funny dilemma situations: Accept 50 negative points instantly or try to move three knights into the red zone or leave them there, with the disadvantage of a bad future starting position? Or should you score two knights on the red carpet, a rather narrow region on the board? Because if you do not, you must go back 25 steps on the scoring track! There is now way around these scoring cards, as all players must play all their cards at one point in the game. This also enters some memory effect into the game – which cards did I already play, which will I still be able to draw  And you should keep in mind and carefully consider from which pile it would be currently best to draw! Furthermore, in each move you need to combine two cards from your hand, which offers some interesting tactical possibilities. Which in turn result and even longer down-times, as all players consider their possibilities much longer than the wing beat of an African Swallow – you might want to pass the time by going on a quest for the grail.




Players: 2-4

Age: 9+

Time: 60+

Designer: Wolfgang Kramer, Michael Kiesling

Artist: Claus Stephan, Martin Hoffmann

Price: ca. 20 Euro

Publisher: Alea / Ravensburger 2011

Web: www.aleaspiele.de

Genre: Movement and position game

Users: For families

Version: multi

Rules: de en fr

In-game text: no



Rather simple rules * good rules booklet * very “serious” design * too much waiting for one’s move


Compares to:

All tactical movement games


Other editions:

Rio Grande Games, USA


My rating: 4


Harald Schatzl:

Artus is a card-driven tactical movement and position game with few, simple rules, and therefore little fun and only rating 3 stars in the basic variant. Artus plays best in the advanced version and only for two players; a deplorable drawback is the – basically given – chance of a witty and ironical design has been missed.


Chance (pink): 2

Tactic (turquoise): 2

Strategy (blue): 1

Creativity (dark blue): 0

Knowledge (yellow): 0

Memory (orange): 1

Communication (red): 0

Interaction (brown): 2

Dexterity (green): 0

Action (dark green): 0