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  • 1 Map of Britain
  • 2 Draw bag
  • 3 4 sets of Action Cards, each consisting of 8 cards
  • 4 8 Region Cards
  • 5 54 Follower cubes in 3 colors
  • 6 24 Control Tokens (8 for each faction)
  • 7 4 Saxon Control Tokens
  • 8 4 Crown Tokens
  • 9 9 black Follower cubes (used only in the Mordred Variant)

Object of the Game

In The King is Dead players do not play as the Scots, Welsh or Romano-British factions. Instead, they play as powerful members of the late King Arthur's court, vying to be declared ruler over all three groups.

The game consists of 8 power struggles, over each of the 8 regions of the realm. Players use their limited power by playing Action Cards to determine which factions gain control of which regions.

Every time they do this, they gain influence within a faction by 'summoning a Follower to court': removing a Follower from a region and placing it in front of them. Each faction's power in a region is represented by the number of their Followers within it.

The game ends when the final power struggle has been completed, or when the Saxons have invaded. The winner is the player who has the most Followers of the faction which controls the highest number of regions. In the case of an invasion the winner is determined in a slightly different way.


If playing with 2 players, remove 2 Followers from each faction from the game before setup.

Each faction has a home region containing their faction symbol: Caledonia for the Scots, Caerleon for the Welsh and Londinium for the Romano-British. Place 2 Followers of the matching color in each home region and place the rest in the draw bag.

Every player receives a set of 8 Action Cards and 1 Crown Token, and draws 2 Followers from the bag to form their court. Note: a player may have 2 Followers of the same color. However, if 2 or more players all draw Followers of a single color (e.g. if 2 players each draw 2 red Followers) they should both re-draw.

Randomly draw Followers to place on the board until each region contains 4 Followers, including the starting Followers on the home regions. Place the remaining Followers onto the title section of the board to form the common pool.

Shuffle the Region Cards and lay them face up beside the board in positions 1 to 8. Whoever set up the game goes first.

Game Play

Power Struggles

The order of power struggles is determined by the Region Cards - starting with the card in position 1 - unless it is cut short by a Saxon invasion. On their turn players can either play 1 Action Card, or choose to save their cards and pass. Play then continues clockwise.

A player's pass applies to that turn, not the entire power struggle: if a player passes, and another player acts, the first player may choose to play within that power struggle when their turn comes around again.

The power struggle continues until all players have passed consecutively, at which point it ends immediately. The Region Card in the highest position is flipped face down, and whichever faction has the most Followers in that region gains control.

Place a Control Token for that faction in the region, remove all Followers from that region and place them back in the common pool. If there is a tie between factions, or there are no factions present, the region falls to the invaders: place a Saxon Control Token on that region.

The next power struggle then begins, and the next player clockwise takes their turn.

Example Power Struggle: Phil, Jo and Laura are playing. Phil passes, then Jo passes. If Laura were to pass, the power struggle would end immediately, even though no cards have been played. Laura plays instead, and the power struggle continues.

Phil passes again, Jo plays and Laura passes. Phil passes a third time, Jo passes and the power struggle ends immediately. It will be Laura' s turn at the start of the next power struggle.

Taking Actions

Once an Action Card has been played, it is placed face up in front of that player and cannot be used for the rest of the game. This means that each player can only take 8 actions over the course of the game. T

he next Action Card a player uses should be placed directly on top of the previous one. The top card should always be visible, but players may not look through the others: it is up to them to remember which actions have been taken.

After a player plays a card and takes the relevant action, they must summon someone to court by removing 1 Follower from a region and placing it in front of them.

This is how players gain influence within the factions. The player is completely free in their choice of which Follower to take, and from which region, including Followers which they have just placed or moved as an effect of their Action Card. Followers may not be taken from the common pool, or from another player.

The Action Cards can be used to influence any region which has not yet been resolved. This means that players can ignore the region in the current power struggle to affect different areas of the board.

Regions which are already resolved cannot be interfered with - it is never possible to place Followers in a region which has a control token. Note that the home regions are normal regions, and are not controlled until their power struggle is resolved.

The home region symbols on the board only affects starting placement and the Scots, Welsh and Romano-British Action Cards.

If playing with 3 players, the very last Action Card of the game may only be played if the player holding it can use it to win the game outright.

Partial Actions

Sometimes the actions associated with a card cannot be completed. In these cases the actions described on the card must be followed as much as possible.

Players may play an Action Card which will have no other effect whatsoever in order to gain a Follower or to prevent a power struggle from ending, though this is a risky strategy.

Example Partial Actions:

  • Jo plays a Settlement card, but there are no blue Followers left in the common pool. Jo still takes one red and one yellow Follower, places them accordingly , and summons a Follower to court.

  • Laura plays a Welsh card, but there are no Welsh- controlled regions, and the Scots have taken over Caerleon. The card is played even though the action cannot be taken, and Laura summons a Follower to court.

  • There are only 3 unresolved power struggles when Phil plays an Ambassador card. One of the regions is empty, and Phil would like to place a Follower here and swap it for nothing. This would be allowed, except that the third region does have a suitable Follower.

    In this case Phil must execute the action and instead use the Ambassador card to swap the available Followers between the two regions which are not empty. He then summons a Follower, which can be a piece he has just swapped.

  • It is the final power struggle and Alysa plays the Crown card. Since there are no more Region Cards to swap with the current one, Alysa plays the card, takes no action and summons a Follower.

Playing With 4 Players

The 4-player game uses the same rules, but the 2 players sitting opposite each other are working together. Players are not allowed to discuss tactics or strategies during the game, or to show each other their remaining Action Cards.

Each player still collects their own individual Followers and a single ruler is determined according to the rules stated above. That player's teammate shares their victory as the power behind the throne.

If the game ends early due to invasion, and only then, the players on each team pool their Followers. The team with the most complete sets of Followers wins.

End of the Game


The game ends when the last power struggle has been completed. The faction which has control of the most regions is in power, and the player with the most Followers of that faction is crowned King or Queen.

If there is a tie for the most regions, the tied faction which most recently won a power struggle is deemed to have control.

If there is a tie for most Followers, the faction with the next most regions gains importance, and the tied player with the most Followers of that faction becomes ruler. If there is still a tie, the tied player who last played an action card loses - indecisiveness is a poor trait in a leader.


If, at any point, there are four Saxon Control Tokens on the board, the game ends immediately. The Saxons have invaded and gain the throne. The winner is the player with the most complete sets of Followers.

A set consists of one Follower from each faction. This player unites the resistance, and vows to fight off the Saxon hordes. In the case of a tie, the tied player who last played an action card wins - the resistance needs a leader who will be proactive.

Example Game End:

These are Laura and Phil's Followers at the end of a game. If the Scots control the board, then Phil has won as he has more blue Followers.

If the Welsh control the board, then whichever of the Scots or Romano-British controls the most regions will determine the winner: if the Scots, Phil will win as he has more blue Followers; if the Romano-British, Laura will win as she has more yellow Followers.

If the game ended due to Saxon invasion, then Laura has won as she has more matching sets - three to Phil's two.

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