Kingdom Builder - Board Game Box Shot

Kingdom Builder

| Published: 2011
Kingdom Builder Game Title

By skillful building of settlements players create their own kingdoms, aiming to earn the most gold at the end of the game. The 3 Kingdom Builder cards specify the conditions which must be met in order to earn the desired gold.

Kingdom Builder Queen Games Boardgame

User Reviews (9)

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10
Critic - Level 5
Professional Advisor
Expert Reviewer
Marquis / Marchioness
7
134 of 141 gamers found this helpful
“Kingdom Builder is its own game - It's not Dominion!”

Everything I initially heard about Kingdom Builder came with a heavy dose of “it’s a new game by the guy that made Dominion – Donald X. Vaccarino”. While true, that seemed to also carry with it a suggestion that this game would borrow heavily from the mechanics that made Dominion a success. Now that the game is starting to become more widely available, people will be finding for themselves that this isn’t Dominion, but that doesn’t make it a bad game.

There are a few similarities with Dominion, but these are rather minor, and may even be a stretch to call similarities. Of specific note, there is no deck building (or card selection at all). The closest overlap with Dominion comes from the set of 10 Kingdom Builder cards, of which 3 are used (randomly selected) each game. These cards will define what the bulk of the end game scoring will be, and heavily influence the strategy of the game.

Game Play

Each game of Kingdom Builder will be different, ensured by two different random setup elements each game. The first is the Kingdom Builder cards defining scoring conditions. Then, there is the game board, made up of four random boards (of the 8 total). The game boards are filled with hexes, each depicting different terrain types. Each type of board will have a different type of location, which can give special powers to people who collect them. You have 40 total settlements; once one player is out of settlements the end game is triggered (play until all players have had equal turns).

Each turn, you’ll have a single card (drawn at the end of the previous turn) that shows what terrain type you must play settlements on. You must play 3 settlements on hexes of the terrain type shown on your card. The main placement rule being you need to put a settlement adjacent to one of your existing ones, if possible.

On your turn (before or after playing your single card) you can use any location powers you’ve previously collected. These are gained by placing a settlement adjacent to the location (if there were any left). These may allow movement of settlements already on the board, or placing additional settlements, and can be used once per turn.

Scoring

Scoring only occurs at the end of the game, and uses a Gold Score Track (score tracks are conveniently located on the back of each game board; just use one of the boards not in play for scoring). You’ll get 3 points for being next to a castle, and they you’ll score based on the Kingdom Builder cards in play. That’s it; the winner is the person with the most points (gold).

My Thoughts

Like Dominion, there isn’t much to the setup / rules of the game. At first, I was expecting there to be more to the game. I’ve found I would now classify it in the Gateway Game category, with some strategy elements, but certainly not a brain burner. The game can be taught (and learned) quickly, and it’s set up to have a good deal of replay, with different boards – location abilities – and Kingdom Builder (scoring) cards. Componentwise, you get a lot of wooden settlements, and 8 heavy gameboards.

The Kingdom Builder cards are a great mechanic for this game. Everyone knows from the beginning which 3 are used, and can build their game around them. I find the best games are those where the cards may require opposing strategies. You can get a set where you want to group your settlements together, and where you want many different groups. This is where the bulk of the strategy comes in: how are you going to prioritize scoring. Do you want to focus on one card? Find synergy between two of them while mostly ignoring the third, or try a balanced game working that works with all three cards?

I’m not a big fan of the single card each turn which defines what terrain type you play your settlements. It keeps the game play quick and straightforward, but does add a bit more of a luck element than I would like. You can certainly work around these issues to some extent, and clever placement of your 3 settlements each turn can be beneficial, but I am left wishing for a bit more. I find this most troubling on Kingdom Builder card sets trios that all work together. In this case, it seems more like a race, everyone following the same strategy, and pulling a card that gives you access to a specific location early can be the difference. This single card draw is the main place in the game I see ripe for house rules.

Kingdom Builder is a fun, if different, successor for Dominion. If you go into it expecting Dominion and/or deckbuilding, you may be disappointed (as with most games, if you mistakenly expect one thing, the game won’t be as enjoyable). If you go into Kingdom Builder expecting a relatively light game with a good deal of replayability owing to the excellent varying scoring mechanic, it can be a lot of fun. Keep an eye on those Kingdom Builder scoring cards and location abilities, and grab victory for your kingdom!

 
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3
Gamer - Level 3
Critic - Level 2
Sophomore
6
153 of 162 gamers found this helpful
“Shibumi”

That’s the Japanese word that couples two seemingly diametrically opposing ideals: simplicity and complexity. And that’s what we have here in this game – a game that you can learn in mere minutes but, due to some smart design, has a depth that is belied by such simple mechanics.

Some have described Kingdom Builder as “Through the Desert Lite”. And, to me, that’d be a compliment. TtD is one of Knizia’s better titles and one of his personal favourites. KB takes the general premise of TtD, simplifies it in some ways, but makes it more compelling in others – the 3 random (and sometimes contradictory!) goals being the main driving force here. The changing goals plus modular board setup makes for excellent replay value. The ease of learning makes the game well-suited for introductory gaming, playing with younger people (my 8-year old son can play well and teach the game to adults), and tournament play (as seen at BGG.con last weekend).

My personal take on this game is that I wouldn’t say no to playing it because it is learned and played so quickly – with almost no down time between players – that it doesn’t matter if I wanted to play something else – KB is not going to eat up too much time on the table. It’s just gravy on top that I can play it with my 8-year old. I’m not going to go out of my way to pick up a copy on my own behalf, but if my son sees it and wants it, it’d be a no-brainer – I’m sure my wife would like it and my younger son is just going to get older 😀

 
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6
Canada
Gamer - Level 6
9
92 of 100 gamers found this helpful
“Game of the year: Overrated or not”

Kingdom Builder recently won the Game of the Year award (2012) and was the subject of some pretty heated debate, did it really deserve to win game of the year? My answer is yes, it is a game that can be played over and over and enough will be different every game that keeps it from getting boring or stale. The mechanics are easy enough to learn and teach to someone, but there is still enough room to perfect your strategy and create some in-depth plans.

For a better laid out review complete with picture explanations go to http://toddsboardgames.blogspot.ca

Objective: All points are tallied at the end of the game, the winner will be the player with the most victory points. For details see ‘Scoring’. The game ends when one player runs out of blocks, all the other players finish their last turn then you count score.

Gameplay:

On a players turn you play a card. Then you carry out your ‘basic action’ followed by ALL extra actions. You might be asking what the heck is a basic action or what is and how to I get an extra action? Don’t worry that will all be explained.

Basic Action: Play 3 wooden blocks on the terrain type that matches the card you played. (Place 3 blocks in the desert if you played a desert card.)

Extra Actions: In order to use an extra action you must have the corresponding extra action token. To obtain one of these tokens you simply place a block next to a “Location” where there are available tokens (there is a limited supply at each location). Your extra actions are as follows:

Farm: This extra action allows you to place an extra settlement

block onto a grass lands every turn.

Oasis: This lets you place an extra block on a desert every turn.

Paddock: This allows you to move any existing block two

spaces in a straight line, you can jump over an existing

block but cannot end in the same hex as one.

Tavern: This allows you to place a 4th block on either end

of your three basic blocks IF you build them in a straight line.

Harbor: The Harbor allows you to move any settlement block

to a water space, this is the only way to build on a water hex.

Tower: The Tower allows you to place one additional settlement

block onto a hex on the edge of the game board. Terrain type

does not matter.

Barn: You can move one settlement block to the same

type of hex as the card you played this turn.

Oracle: The Oracle allows you to place an additional settlement

block onto the same terrain type as the card you just placed.

Now all this seems pretty straight forward, how does all this add up to game of the year? There is one major twist/golden rule and that is: If you can place adjacent to one of your pieces already on the board you HAVE to. After you have completed placing all the blocks you can on your turn, you draw a new card.

Scoring: Each time you play Kingdom Builder you will have 3 ‘random’ cards that determine how you will score victory points for the entire game. In addition to these cards you will score 3 points for every ‘City’ you have built at least 1 block adjacent too. The reverse sides of all the board tiles have a scoreboard on them use one of the extra tiles to track score.

Components: The game tiles are good quality, and it’s hard to make a poor wooden block. The cards are all well printed, the game has nice artwork. There are some ‘waste’ pieces that we never end up using they are the First Player Marker, and the slightly bigger tiles that show what each location does. Also the little ‘Location’ tiles that give you your extra actions are a little too small / hard to pick up. Kingdom Builder is fairly quick to set up, I think the best part about the components is how many variations there are. For example there are 10 victory condition cards but you only use 3 per game.

Overall I believe anyone can have a good time playing Kingdom Builder so lets move on to who will enjoy Kingdom Builder and why:

Family Gamers: The game does have some more complicated victory conditions and extra action tokens but instead of randomizing these you could choose the easier ones, for example placing a 4th block instead of moving existing blocks, and victory cards like miners: 1 point for every wooden block built next to a mountain. There is no violence or adult theme to this game its very Euro style and if you start with a easy setup I believe you could then teach this game to just about anyone. Recommended for families with a little gaming experience.

Casual Gamers: Because some of the victory conditions are more complicated than others this is a great bridge game for casual gamers, play with easier conditions at first till they understand the game then swap to the ones that really make you strategize and think to get people hooked on this game! Lots of the mechanics in Kingdom Builder exist in other games and learning them now in a ‘lighter’ game allows someone to get the hang of other games quicker and easier.

Gamer Gamers: Although lots of hardcore gamers despise ‘random elements’ I still think this is one to check out. I am the hugest fan of random elements in games however when a game forces to you make the best moves you can out of a not so good situation that is when it shines for me. This is how you really separate the pros from the amateurs, a good strategist can think on their feet and make a solid plan out of almost any situation. The random setup I think is a huge bonus for avid gamers that way you cannot use the same strategy every game or preplan your strategy depending on who you are playing with, overall I would recommend checking this one out

 
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6
Tactician
Professional Advisor
Tinkerer
Senior
6
154 of 169 gamers found this helpful
“Clever but Clumsy”

In Kingdom Builder, players place settlements on a map, claim special abilities to enhance their placement options, and compete to score the most points according to scoring rules that are different each game.

The key tactical consideration is that your placements must be adjacent when possible, but when not possible (under other constraints), you can place anywhere. Thus, touching lots of options is better than touching few, but touching none at all is best. This sometimes promotes interesting tactics, but I find it counter-intuitive and frustrating. I specifically remarked upon it when someone was teaching me, and yet still managed to horribly trap myself for much of that first game. There’s strategy invoked by this rule, but also a very great deal of luck, and an early disadvantage tends to compound.

The randomized combination of scoring rules is an elegant and thought-provoking design, and by all rights should mark this game for excellence, but the details just seem to fall flat. For example, several rules award points for particular terrain features, but in practice players seem to pick these up incidentally without materially altering their plans. One awards points to the player with the most settlements in a sector, which slowed the game down as players kept counting to try to keep track of who was leading and by how much, and then the player who went last got most of the points anyway because he was able to rearrange his settlements to have exactly 1 more than rivals in several areas. There have been brief moments when I thought I saw something more shine through, but they’ve been disappointingly rare. Perhaps I’ve gotten unlucky so far.

I feel like this game stands close to greatness, yet separated behind iron bars. I’d willingly play it from time to time, but do not think I would ever request to play it.

 
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6
Bard
I play yellow
Miniature Painter
5
66 of 73 gamers found this helpful
“Short and unexciting”

I really do prefer dicey ameri-trash games, so I’m probably not the guy who should be talking about this game, but I am posting this as a different opinion. I hope it will be of some help to others like myself.

Goal

The goal of the game is to build houses in different areas of the map and score the most points. How points are scored is determined by three randomly picked cards.

Rules

Easy to teach and learn and very simple and clear. That’s it, really.

Gameplay

You put houses on hexes and then you count. The game didn’t gave me the feeling of expanding my kingdom the way games like – say 7 Wonders – do. You put pieces in (not so) various ways and count your points in the end. The game has several special rules, but not nearly enough to spice things up.
There is no player interaction in any form.

Theme

Again, the theme is houses on hexes. It takes some imagination to view it as a growing empire. The special rules don’t make much sense thematically.

Replayability

The game has various maps and win conditions. It is very replayable and versatile. That is, if you want to play it again, of course 🙂

Art and components

It looks really nice. The cards and boards are pretty, though the wooden house pieces are too simple for my taste. The game is beautiful to look at and the components are very high quality.

My thoughts:

This game is pretty, easy and very quick to play. That makes it good filler between other games, or better yet – good last game after a long playing session, when people are burned out. It doesn’t require extreme strategizing and could be fun if played at the right time and with the right group.

That being said, I personally find the game really unexciting, even boring. With no player interaction and no deep strategies you could come up with, it simply isn’t the game for me.

However, I think that many groups will like it – especially with family, kids and friends who are not gamers. The game has it’s place on many shelves, just not on mine.

 
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3
9
64 of 71 gamers found this helpful
“Earning a Kings Ransom”

Components
As with other Queen Games the components are of a really good quality. The artwork is really excellent, though a quick glance the Chasm and Desert art looks very similar on the cards, thankfully the Hex symbol on each card is a good match for those on the board. The main game boards have the score track printed on the reverse so one unused one can be turned over to score. The artwork on the Location tiles and guides are well done and fitting for this game.

Setup
From the 8 game boards 4 are selected and arranged to form the game board. On each of these boards will be depicted some Special Locations. The tiles matching these are stacked on each one (2 on each), again there are 8 different types but only 4 will appear each time.
You then shuffle the Kingdom Builder Cards and deal 3 of them faceup near the board. There are 10 of these but only 3 are used each game and they provide the many ways of scoring this game.

The Terrain cards are shuffled and each player dealt one to start with.

Gameplay
At the start you have only one action – which is a Mandatory build of 3 settlements which have to be placed on hexes matching your terrain card and adjacent to one of your settlements if possible.
When completed you discard your card and draw another.

As things progress you may end up building next to one of the special location tiles, if so you grab one (but only one from each stack) which can be used on subsequent turns. These tiles provide means of making additional builds or moving your existing pieces, these allow you to improve your scoring chances by manipulating your settlement placement. These tiles can be used before or after your mandatory action so sometimes careful planning is required to maximise the benefits.

The mechanics of this game are really simple to pickup and teach, but with the various scoring methods (some of which fight against each other) it is difficult to try and score on everything especially as getting your settlements down in the right places can be hard. The variety provided by the random setup means that each game is unique, presenting a new challenge meaning it is difficult for someone to come up with a single winning strategy to use each time. This game is really good fun and is one of the few games I have played multiple times in one game session.

The game progresses well with very little downtime and you can think about your moves between turns, although the turns are usually quite quick even when people have the additional actions. There is also the opportunity to use your placements to block or otherwise scupper your opponents plans.

The end game is triggered once someone has placed there last settlement, the round is then completed back round to the start player and then the game is scored.

There is a fixed score each game of 3 gold for building next to a castle, the rest is determined by the various cards which I will not go into detail here but you score each card for all players. The player with the most gold at the end wins.

Conclusion
This is a real gem of a game that will see a lot of time on the table for me, I love the way it plays and the fact that no two games will be alike. The total game time is reasonable and the game does not drag it always feels quite pacey.

There are real decisions to be made here as well as opportunities for strategy, there is a degree of player interaction as your placements can seriously disrupt other players plans.

All in all a great game worthy of a place in your collection.

 
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7
USA
I play red
The Bronze Heart
9
77 of 101 gamers found this helpful
“Game Time”

Kingdom Builder

I bought this game at Gen Con, and have played it several times at home and at our club meetings. This is a fast game that is fun for all players even non gamers. My wife even likes this game and she is not a big gamer. We played it with three players and it is just as enjoyable as with four players
The games ten different ways to gain victory Points towards winning the game makes for great replay ability.
We have yet to repeat the same three victory conditions. I am looking forward to the expanison to add even more to his game.

 
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9
Gamer - Level 7
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Petroglyph
Explorer - Level 3
8
98 of 136 gamers found this helpful
“Yet another Tier 1.”

Andy has given a good explanation of the mechanics so I will focus on the strength and weaknesses and who will probably like it. This is another good tier 1 game(Settlers, etc…)If you are trying to encourage players to try boardgaming. The placement is entirely luck driven. There are 5 terrain types and at the end of your turn you draw a card and that is the terrain where you will do your mandatory placement(of three settlements) on your next turn. In my first 2 games I did not draw a single flowers terrain card. The rule that all settlements must be placed adjacent when possible adds a little strategy for the more experienced gamer while limiting choices for the novice. The player interaction is indirect, since you don’t know what terrain your opponents are holding you cannot interfere on purpose, however, since you all play under the same scoring conditions a given location will usually be equally attractive to all and keeps anyone from feeling to picked on.
So, if you like luck based games with only a little in the way of planned strategy or are looking for games to ease your friends into the world of boardgames this is a good choice. If you like deep strategy, control of your fate, and/or heavy player interaction this is not the game for you.

 
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6
I play blue
USA
7
83 of 182 gamers found this helpful
“more than meets the eye.”

It looks like a light weight almost filler game. While it does play quick this doesn’t mean it is light. This is a surprisingly nice mid-weight strategy game. The various different boards with special tokens and end scoring cards will keep the game fresh. If you play this out there is an expansion coming and no don’t more to follow.

 

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