Kingdom Builder

Courtesy of W Eric Martin of BGG

Publisher:  Queen Games

Designer:  Donald X. Viccarino

Time:  45 Min.

Players: 2-4

Ages: 8+

Kingdom Builder is an abstract territory building game that is quick to learn and easy to play.  Each player plays as a king vying for territory to build the greatest kingdom in the land.  Once a player has placed his last building, the game ends and the king with the most points is the winner.

Kingdom Builder is very polarizing.  Either people really like it or don’t like it at all.  For me, it is a great strategy game for little kids and provides a lot of depth for adults.  As you play it more and more you find different strategies to use to keep things interesting.

The set up is the key to your strategy in Kingdom Builder.  The main board is made up of four randomly selected boards with varying land and locations.  Each board will have two different locations, castles and one other location.  These locations give players special actions to do on their turn.  They are different each game as they are randomly drawn out and placed on the map.  Once the boards are together you then put the tiles on the locations that corresponds to the picture.  You then choose 4 goal cards to put up at the top for scoring at the end of the game.  These will also change every game so each game will play different.  One card might give you points on how many buildings you have in a straight row, or points for your largest city (connected buildings), or points for putting buildings next to water, etc.  Focusing on these scoring goals is the meat of the game but not always that simple.

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There are lots of different set ups.
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Goal cards for scoring.

There are 5 different types of terrain in the game; meadows, prairie, crevasse, desert and forest.  On your turn, you will have a card with one of these terrains on it.  You place 3 buildings on the terrain of your card.  It is that simple!  You have to place next to one of your already existing buildings if you can.  If you can’t, then you can place anywhere on the board that matches your card.  The only places you can’t build are on the water or mountain spaces.  If you place your building next to one of the locations on the board you then get the special action token that goes with it.  Some of these actions allow you to move your buildings, place an extra building on your turn, put buildings on water, etc.

This is the part where people who don’t like the game have an issue.  They feel they are too constricted by only getting one card and must play on that territory.  To me, that is the strategy.  Placing your buildings to allow you to play other places is key.  Finding those spots on the board that minimize your future limitations is what is compelling about this game.  Putting your buildings in an area of only 3 spots allow you more freedom when drawing that same territory in the future.

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Special action tokens from locations.

When the game ends, the board looks great.  Lots of color on the board and things can get really tight.  There are plenty of expansions that you can get with for Kingdom Builder that adds more of everything that even adds to the replayability.  Don’t let this game fool you on how simple it is to play.  Kingdom Builder is very simple for younger kids but gives deeper strategy for adults.  Even kids as young as 4 or 5 can understand the basics of the game and still do well.  Kids love to put their buildings out on the boards and block others.

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Until next time……expand your Kingdom!!

-Tim