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Board GameThe Duke Review
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Posted: 12 weeks ago, last updated 11 weeks ago.

Author: @GeekDadGamer and Rob Prior.


The Duke is an old-world strategy battle like chess, but played with character tiles whose abilities both vary and change as they move. You play by choosing a tile to move ultimately aiming to capture your opponent's Duke character, but also whittling down their defences. The twist is that each time you move a piece you flip a tile to reveal alternating abilities.

Play starts by each player placing their Duke in the middle of the grid with two Footman characters guarding him. Each turn you can either move a Character tile as indicated on the side you can see, or draw a new Character tile from the bag. As you progress a battle evolves with the fifteen different character types.

Moving a tile means you also flip it over to show its reverse. One side is a more defensive posture and the other more offensive. What's clever is that each tile shows you your options on the face up side with little symbols on a grid. The circle indicates movement, the hollow circle is a jump like a knight, the arrow is a slide like a bishop, the star is a special ranged attack.

As you become more expert at the game there are a range of special additions. You can place Terrain tiles on the board to have to work around. You can play with additional rules, including a game-controlled Dark Rider character which pits five Pikeman against a lone Knight.

The result is a game similar to chess, but with more complex movement patterns. Although there's a lot to learn and a lot of flexibility, you always know what you can do because the tiles show you. This approachability, combined with the fantasy role-play feel of the game make it great for children turned off by how Chess can appear staid -- and it may well lead on to them trying Chess properly.

DetailsGame Details

Release Date: 01/01/2013, updated in 2019

Genres: Battle, Brain Game, Sequencing, Strategy and Traversal

Pieces: Board and Figures

Developer: Catalyst Game Lab (@CatalystGameLab)

Players: 2



View our choice of games like The Duke. This game is good if you want to:


Learn to Play: This takes 35 minutes to learn. Although it is a complex and deep game, the approachable pieces and built in explanations of movement actions make it quicker to learn.

The first time you play the following can help:
  • Go through the pieces and their moves for each side.
  • Highlight how the end-game works and how you need to indicate an opponents Duke being under threat like saying "Check" in Chess.

Play Time: This game will take between half an hour and 45 minutes to complete.

Play StylePlay Style

You can play with 2 players in the same room.

You can play this game in the following styles:

Age RatingsAge Ratings

Content Rating

We haven’t documented this game’s content rating.


You can purchase expansions to extend the game:
  • The Duke: Robin Hood Expansion (2013) - Adds seven characters taken from the Robin Hood literary universe including Robin Hood, Little John, Maid Marion, Friar Tuck, Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham.
  • The Duke: Robert E. Howard Expansion (2013) - Adds four characters taken from the Robert E. Howard literary universe.
  • The Duke: Musketeers Expansion (2013) - Adds seven characters taken from the Musketeers literary universe, including D’Artagnon, Aramis, Porthos, Athos, Richlieu, Rochefort and De Winter.
  • The Duke: Middle Ages Siege Engines Expansion (2013) - Adds new tiles like Battering Ram, Trebuchet, Catapult, Ballista and Engineer. They have new abilities like Smash, Hammer, Area-Effect, and Non-capturing Move/Jump.
  • The Duke: Arthurian Legends Expansion (2013) - Adds seven mythical figures from the Arthurian legends. Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot, Guinevere, Perceval, Morgana, Mordred and Camelot.
  • The Duke: Reinforcements – City Troops (2014) - Adds tiles to replace the originals: Militia, Thief, Baron, Watch Tower.
  • The Duke: Reinforcements – Gunpowder Uprising (2019) - Adds eight new tiles for Guy Fawkes.
  • The Duke: Reinforcements – Battle Troops (2019) - Adds 12 tiles to capture enemy troops, Halberd Man, Heavy Horse, Highwayman and Crusader.


We haven't documented accessibility features for this game yet. Our The Duke Accessibility Report details system-wide settings that may help, and suggests similar games with accessibility features. Tweet the developer (@CatalystGameLab) to let them know about our Accessibility Questionnaire.

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Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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