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Stealing the Throne (2021)

Stealing the Throne (2021) is a collaborative storytelling game about a heist to steal a mech (the titular Throne). I love a heist!

So, first things players do is collaborate to determine which of the ten surviving Throne they’re stealing and where it is housed. I’m partial to the Burning Soldier and “the Outer Dark, where the Throne stands in eternal vigilance” but you can pick, or make up, your own. Players then work off prompts to narrate the history of the Throne, each defining a core system or feature of the mech.

The game plays out in rounds, with one player narrating the Throne and setting a challenge for the Thief, who needs to come up with clever ways to overcome (this back and forth reminds me a bit of the one-upping of Baron Munchausen), while the rest of the players are “back up,” adding narrative details and coming to assist the Thief if called. Narration goes back and forth until the stakes are clear, then resolved through the play of cards, with the highest card winning. If the Throne wins, the situation escalates, alarms go off, and the Thief must call for help, go out in a blaze of glory or betray their pals.

Once everyone has been the throne and the thief, play moves to the Getaway, thieves powering up systems with cards, traitors swap those cards for ones with lower values, with each thief measuring their cards against randomly drawn cards for the Throne to see if they survive and escape. Who will survive, what will be left of them and what will they do with a giant robot?

A brisk exercise in escalation, Stealing the Throne is gleeful in tone. The card mechanic is a great way to balance and ground the ambiguity of narrative play and four playsets of prompts for four of the Thrones further shores up the game’s structure, should anyone freeze up and not have any bombastic thievery ideas. Giant robot heist!

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