Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kingdom Builder [Board Game Review]

*Tumbleweeds roll across the wind swept plain, as a figure appears against the sun.*

Hello? Helllllloooooo? Is anyone here? (Squinting) Ah, yes, it looks like I've got a few of you here. I'm back to talk to you about a fun game recently added to our collection - Kingdom Builder. I'd like to thank Geek & Sundry, or more specifically, Table Top, for introducing me to this one. Similarly, Ginny would like to un-thank them. ;-)

Kingdom Builder is a game for 2-4 players and should take no more than 45 minutes. In terms of complexity, this is a fantastic gateway game - a game that you could introduce to board game newbies. The goal of the game is to score the most gold/victory points as you place your settlements across a board of various terrain types - fields, forests, deserts, canyons, and flowers. On your turn, you reveal your face-down card with a terrain type on it and then place 3 settlements on hexes of that terrain type as well as adjacent to any existing settlements you have on the board. The board is setup by choosing 4 of 8 smaller modules and combining into one larger board. This is great for replay ability. Each board contains at least 1 palace/castle hex, and 1 or 2 hexes of a different building. Building next to palaces scores you end game points, and building next to the other building hexes allows you to bend the rules in different ways. As I always say, please refer to the rule book for the full rules description. The end game condition is met when one player runs out of houses to place, at which point everyone gets one more turn (except for the start player). Points are awarded based on 3 cards drawn from a set of 10 scoring cards, each of which awards points for different scenarios (i.e. houses next to water or mountains). Each player then scores 3 points per palace to which they are adjacent. Most points wins!

What do I think of this game? It's easy, and it's fun. The modular boards and end game scoring cards ensure each game will be different. Nyla, now 5, and Naomi, closer to 4 than 3, both really like playing this game. They understand that building next to a palace is good. We haven't explained the 3 scoring cards as of yet - there's only so much they can grasp. Even still, they have a good understanding of the game and look forward to flipping over their card. Some serious gamers will find this one too light and too luck-driven (the terrain cards), and that's certainly understandable. For me, however, I have found myself enjoying these lighter games recently. The girls enjoy it; I enjoy it; Ginny enjoys it. This is a game that I think should be in your collection.