Kings of Air and Steam - Board Game Box Shot

Kings of Air and Steam

| Published: 2013
57 12 7

On the cusp of the twentieth century, America is the undisputed land of industry. Factories fire their machines twenty-four hours a day, and demand is skyrocketing in the cities. A small but fierce rivalry of shipping barons must manage their amazing airships and the extensive railroad system in order to get goods to the cities before the demand is met by someone else. Anyone who can't stay competitive will be left with nothing but dust in their coffers!

The process is simple: Factories produce the goods (machinery, textiles, chemicals, food, and luxuries) that are coveted by the city folk Airships – forbidden from landing in the cities but capable of carrying cargo over great distances – must be used to gather those goods and deliver them to depots along the rail network. Trains then haul the goods to the cities that want them, earning cash for the competitor that gets there first! Will you be the "King of Air and Steam"?

Kings of Air and Steam spans five rounds, and at the beginning of each round, players plan their Airship flights using four of their movement cards. When everyone is ready, everyone reveals their first planned card. According to the turn order and movement limits of their cards, players move their Airships, then take an Action; Actions include Building Depots, Upgrading your Airship or Train, Shipping Goods by rail, and Soliciting Funds from the bank. When all players have acted, the second planned cards are revealed, and so on through the four planned cards until all players have finished carrying out their plans for the round. All the while, players must keep aware of the rising values of the different types of Goods, and try to get the most-valuable Goods from the specialized factories that produce them to the cities that want them. At the end of the game, the player with the most money and the greatest shipping network will be declared King of Air and Steam!Kings of Air and Steam includes seven teams of characters, each with unique powers to give them a competitive edge, and a modular game board that makes each game a different experience.

User Reviews (4)

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“The Would-Be King of Gateways”

Way back in 2013, with the seeds of dominance in the pocket-game arena just beginning to take root in his mind, Tiny Epic Scott Almes designed a full-sized gem in Kings of Air and Steam that seems to have become an afterthought for its pint-sized siblings. But for me, Kings of Air and Steam is the one Scott Almes will be remembered for, a truly unique hodgepodge of mechanics with terrific artwork, ample replay value and the ability to move from a tight-quarters competition for limited resources to a sprawling, room-for-everyone transit builder where the ******** plans will shine the brightest at the whim of the players.

Observed Set-Up and Play Time
There are 7 modular board tiles in Kings of Air and Steam, but they aren’t designed to be set up randomly. The rulebook will lay out the tiles for you based on player count and desired “tightness” of the board. Set up takes the same amount of time with 7 tiles or 3; you’ll be arranging them and placing starting goods on the board, then arranging player boards, cards, train depots and zeppelins. It takes a good 15 minutes to get everything ready – much more for the first game, when you’ve got all that rulebooking and cardboard punching to do. The rulebook is a fairly easy read, but you’ll have to check back in with it for a game or two. The publisher’s 90 minute play time estimate holds true for 4 player games; 2-player games can be completed in around an hour, while 6- or 7-player games are likely over 2 hours (I haven’t played with more than 4, but while the game has several simultaneous actions to limit additional time there are still several things that must be done one player at a time).


My Learning Curve and Teach Time
I would classify Kings of Air and Steam as a “just-above-gateway” level game – it’s not difficult to learn, and it doesn’t take long to understand the best strategies. Astute players will figure out the optimum approaches after only a game or two. But that won’t hinder replay value – there’s still satisfaction in building your freight network, and the competition is great when all players understand their priorities. It takes around a half-hour to teach all of the rules to a newcomer – there’s many things you can’t leave for “when they come up during gameplay”, so teaching is pretty front-loaded.


Group Sizes and Dynamics
I have played Kings of Air and Steam with 2 to 4 players, mostly made up of Casual Gamers. It was definitely a hit with them, although they didn’t like all the rules I had to explain ahead of time. My greatest regret with this game is that I haven’t been able to play with 6 or 7. It seems like it would be outstanding at that count, as the actions that are taken simultaneously should keep it from getting too long, and the board would become a bustling expanse of rail networks. Unfortunately, when I have that many players together they always want to play lighter party games.


Objectionable Material
There really isn’t anything objectionable to the game. There are variable player powers, and one of the groups specializes in thievery – but that’s as adult as it gets. A smart ten-year-old could probably play and enjoy Kings of Air and Steam, but I would think there’s too muich going on to try it with a child much younger.


Comparable Titles
It’s funny that @Granny compared this to Ticket to Ride, as I always thought of this as a step up from Settlers of Catan. I do agree with all of his comparisons to TtR – there can be as much frustration in Kings of Air and Steam over somebody filling a city you need as there is in TtR when somebody takes a route you need that seems to serve no purpose to them just to block you. But it reminds me of Catan a little more because of the rush to collect resources and place your depots close to where those resources produce. Where this improved on Catan greatly for me was the foresight of the resources – there are no dice to role to determine what’s producing (here everything produces in equal amounts), but instead a change in value of resources at the beginning of each round that will have you either adjusting your plans to get the most valuable stuff, or sticking to your strategy and making do with a little less money this round.


I get to play Kings of Air and Steam a lot less now than I’d like to – it’s one of a dozen or so games that I’ve had for over a year that I still get really excited to play. I continue to long for the day that I get to play this with 7 players. One small quibble I have is with zeppelin size – they are huge, and while that looks cool, the bases are much too big for the spaces on the board. Because of the shape of the bases in relation to the shape of the spaces, one corner of the zeppelin base will always overlap into another space. But the bigger problem is that, per the rules, more than one zeppelin can be in the same space at the same time – which is impossible with the size of the zeppelins. You have to cram two side-by-side, each straddling 2 spaces, and hope nobody else needs to move into any of those spaces. Not that big of a deal, but a small annoyance (until 3 zeppelins want to occupy the same space – then it’s a big deal.) This is a great game – one that anybody who appreciates some strategy in their (near) gateways should own.

 
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Petroglyph
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“Zeppelins! It's Got Zeppelins! 'Nuff Said.”

Hello my little air pirates! Today, we are going to talk about a little game called Kings of Air and Steam. This is a beautifully designed pick up and deliver game by Tasty Minstrels who have been on a tear lately making high quality strategic games. This one is a gem!

How to play…

KoAaS has a standard pick up and deliver mechanic, but adds a few twists that raise the replay ability that I normally don’t find. First, it has variable player powers. Second, it has two levels of movement for the goods (train and airship) where most games only have one. Finally, it has the coolest little airship minis. How can you pass up on a game with zeppelin minis? Well, I can’t. The components raise this game from an 8 to a 9.

The goal of the game is to pick up good at factories with your airship , move them to one of your train stations, and then move the goods by rail to a city that wants them. On a given turn you have multiple options to choose from, uincluding a unique ability based on the character you have chosen. Some of these options require money which you earn when you bring goods to a city. This amount of money you earn per type of good is determined by a marketplace that changes each round. All of this adds up to a deeply strategic endeavor where every decision has consequences. I really enjoy games that keep me thinking and paying attention to my opponents activity. Watch they don’t fill up my city before me.

Another great feature of the game is the ability to upgrade your ship and train. This becomes evident as the game moves on and may prove more beneficial depending on the character you have chosen. This is another plus in the replay ability of the game. I find the upgrades versus building stations to be a balancing act. In the end, you get points for levels of upgrades, stations, and money you have. Making sure all of these are maximized stretches your brain just enough without snapping it.

My Conclusion…

I find this game to be an excellent example of a pick up and deliver game. Thigh it is strategically deep, it is an easy game to teach and learn, making it a good candidate as a gateway game. Not only that, it can handle up to seven players. Aside from Seven Wonders, there aren’t many good seven player strategy games. I’ve only played this with three and four players, but I imagine it will work quite well with more, as your tactics will need to change, but the ultimate goal remains the same. More interaction is always a good thing in my book.

Is this game for everyone? Well, it might be too brain burning for some casual gamers, but this game borders the same realm as Ticket to Ride or Carcassonne… with just a slight moe complexity. It’s beautiful board and components tend to interest new players and they are willing to overcome the strategic hurdles placed before them. One other possible issue with the game is the player interaction itself. Some powers allow you to steal goods, and you always have the ability to fill up a city someone else needs. Some people hate this, but even Ticket to Ride has this anguish as part of its allure. You just need to manage your disappointment and move on.

All in all, I highly recommend this game for its strength in strategic decisions, components, and ability to go up to seven players. I think this game will come out a year or two from now, as well as next weekend…making it the kind of game worthy of any collection. Try it first, but I think you will agree. This is one fine game.

Granny loves Zeppelins!

 
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“Zeppelins, trains and goods, oh my!”

I like this game a good amount. Let me break down the game into it’s parts.

Gameplay:
The game plays pretty easy although you can definitely miss a few rules and play completely wrong. There are two sets of rules, an introduction game that plays without factions and then the more advanced game with factions.
I would recommend only starting with the introduction game and maybe even playing it twice before venturing into the advanced rules. It is still a fun game played this way, so you don’t have to worry about that.
The basic premise of the game is picking up and delivering goods for the best return on your effort. The fun part is that the game randomly increases the prices of the goods and it also charges you for storing the goods past the end of the turn.
There is a lot more to this game than that, but I don’t want to type the rules here.

Components:
I’m not sure if every copy came with the giant Zeppelins, because I kickstarted the game, but they look awesome. The only problem is they are too big for the hexes on the map, so if you can get your hands on different Zeppelins, I would recommend doing that. Beyond that, I like the board set up a lot and the rest are basic pieces.

Replayability:
There are a few different factions and two characters for each faction that you choose one from. This allows you to play it many times with the possibility of changing up your strategy if you so choose.

Overall:
I like this game, it isn’t too complicated (especially the intro game), but it does provide good strategy. My favorite part (it bothers other people though) is how you have to plan your four moves before anyone moves for that round. Then it depends on what you played to see who goes first for each move of the round. That adds a ton of strategy and disappointment when your plan is thwarted by others mid-round. Flexibility is key!

 
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Gamer - Level 2
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112 of 146 gamers found this helpful
“Difficult to plan ahead”

I really wanted to like this game. The steampunk theme and art are very attractive to me, and the rules seemed simple enough.

Pros
Art is beautiful (especially the money)
Component quality is amazing
Simple rules
Replay-ability (for others) would be expansive

Cons
Planning 4 turns is difficult
Plans can be ruined for 4 whole turns
The only player interaction is unintentional
Mostly multi-player solitaire
The airships seem a little big for the board

I was very excited to play KoAaS, but was really disappointed by the game play. I’m sure there are plenty of people that would enjoy this type of game (my husband, for one, loves the game) but I just can’t wrap my head around the planning ahead 4 turns (I never could play chess either). I guess it’s just not for me.

 

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