Kingsburg


Fantasy Flight Games (by way of Germany), 2007, 2-5 players, ages 13 and up. In Kingsburg, players vie for the influence of various members of the king's court in order to amass the resources necessary to construct the buildings that will earn them the most victory points by the end of the game (whew). In addition to constructing buildings and earning victory points, players must also prepare their defenses for the periodic attacks launched by the forces of evil and chaos.

The game takes place over the course of five years, each of which is divided into 8 different phases. In phase 1, the player with the fewest buildings is awarded an extra influence die in the first building phase of the year (phase 2 - spring). In each of the building phases (phases 2, 4, and 6 - spring, summer and fall), players roll three six-sided dice (or more if they've earned it). Starting with the player who rolled the lowest total, dice are then placed on the various "influence" spaces (numbered 1-18) on the main board (in the numbered square corresponding to the value of the die or dice used). EG, if you rolled three, five and six you could put the three on space three and the five and six on space eleven. The wrinkle is that you can't put your dice on a square that someone else has already claimed (not unless you have the king's envoy, that is). Each space earns you either a resource (or resources), a soldier, a +2 die modifier (to be used to change a future die roll), a peek at the upcoming evil attack card, or one or more victory points (or some combination of the above). The higher the number, the greater the award.

Once players have finished placing their dice and collecting their influence rewards, they may then spend resources to construct a building (or two buildings if they have both the necessary resources and the king's envoy marker). Resources consist of gold, wood and stone; and with different buildings costing different combinations of said resources. Players' building cards consist of four rows of four buildings (with each row being more or less themed - church, commerce, defense, and infrastructure). Buildings must be constructed left to right on the card (IE, you can't construct the building in column two of the church row until you've first built the building in column one). Constructing a building generally earns you victory points. Also, most of them give you some sort of ongoing special ability (a permanant +1 to your defensive strength, an extra influence die, decreased construction costs, etc). The awards (and costs) of the buildings increase as you move from left to right on the card.

In phase 3, the player with the most buildings is awarded a victory point. In phase 5, the player with the fewest buildings is awarded the king's envoy (giving him the aforementioned special "leg up" abilities). In phase 7, players have the opportunity to trade resources for soldiers (two resources per). In phase 8 (the end of the year) a "monster" card is drawn and each player must fight it. A die is rolled (1-6) representing the king's forces (which each player gets to use). Players add to that their total defensive strength (either from soldiers gained during the previous influence phases, soldiers purchased during phase 7, or from the defensive strength provided by certain buildings). If a player beats the attack value of the monster card they are awarded the victory bonus (as printed on the card). This is generally victory points or resources. Conversely, if their total is less than the monster's attack value they must pay a penalty (also printed on the card). This generally involves the loss of victory points and/or resources (and sometimes even the loss of a building). Ties are a "no result". The monsters get increasingly tougher as the years progress (although you always know within a couple of points just how tough a given year's monster is going to be). Once the monster has been dealt with, all the soldiers acquired during the year go away, a new year starts and it's back to phase 1. At the end of the fifth year, the player with the most victory points is declared the winner.

This game has a lot in common with the other German games of its ilk (Caylus, Puerto Rico, et al). In fact, I'd go so far as to call it "Puerto Rico Lite" as it shares much of that game's feel - y'know, no direct inter-player conflict (apart from passive-aggressively blocking spaces on the influence board), collecting resources, constructing buildings, earning victory points, etc. I guess the main difference is all of the randomness introduced by the dice. That, and the fact that there's just not quite as much going on in Kingsburg as there is in Puerto Rico (hence "Lite"). I think the main problem with the game is that there's really only one viable strategy (build an embassy as quickly as possible). After that it pretty much boils down to how lucky you are with the dice. Still, it's a relatively entertaining game with simple rules, and one that plays pretty quickly (not much more than an hour once everybody gets things figured out).

As of this 2011 writing there are numerous Kingsburg expansions available from FFG. However, having never tried any of them I have no idea what all they might add to the game. Here's hoping they provide more avenues for victory beyond simply being the first guy to build an embassy.



Spookshow Home