A long time ago in a land far, far away, there was a thriving valley with various inhabitants. They wandered aimlessly in need of a true leader to guide them. Are you the king who will lead them the way? Do you have a strategy to acquire their trust, and are you cunning enough to challenge other would-be kings? They cannot be trusted as they will do anything to claim the crown you deserve. No sacrifice is too big or small for them. They may think being king is as easy as summoning subjects to their side, squeezing the gold from their pockets through taxes, and arranging some marriages, but only a true king will be able to keep up the morale and lead the inhabitants through the chaos of the ever-changing circumstances in the valley and the hills.
In King of the Valley, you must obtain the highest reputation of all the kingly contenders, with reputation being determined by influence, bonuses, and gold. To set up, lay out 25 of the character tiles from age I in a 5x5 grid, with each king starting on a different tile and with 2 gold in their reserve.
On a turn, you can first choose to acquire a tile from the "hill" for the listed gold price; the hill has two columns of six characters, with the characters costing 2-10 gold based on their height on the hill. When you acquire a tile, add it to your personal castle board. Characters have 0-5 influence, with the 1-5 influence characters being sorted by type and with the 0-value jester standing in for a character of your choice (but still being worth 0 influence). You then move your king orthogonally or diagonally, stopping on the character tile you want to claim; alternatively, you can move across 2-3 identical characters in a line, stopping on the space after them in order to collect them all! Add these character tile(s) to your castle board, and if you now have face-up characters with influence from 1-5, you can turn them face down to claim a kingdom bonus of points and coins.
To end your turn, refill empty spaces in the grid by choosing one column of the hill, then drawing characters from it as needed to fill empty spaces. Finally, draw character tiles from the stack to refill the hill, thereby giving everyone a glimpse at what can come on the playing area in the future, not to mention what can be acquired if you have enough coins in hand.
Specialist characters show up on the board — the priest, the wizard, and the tax collector — with you receiving immediate bonus actions should you collect them.
When the hill can’t be fill completely, the game ends. All characters in your collection add their influence points to your score. Collecting 3-5 knights in the same order grants you bonus points, as does each pairing of a farmer with a farmer’s wife. Add any kingdom bonuses to your sum, then whoever has the highest reputation wins.