A Month of Kingsburg

Kingsburg was this month’s Game of the Month. Remember, the point of the Game of the Month feature is not to necessarily to review a game, but to rather explore a game by repeated play over a particular month. I may refer to my initial post, so if you want to go back and read it, here is the link.

In Kingsburg, players are nobles who are sent from the king to develop the outer regions of the kingdom, using resources to create structures that will both enhance the region’s prestige and to protect the area from hostile armies. The game takes place over a series of five years (turns) that is broken up into seasons (phases).

The main part of a season is the allocation of dice to a variety of court advisers that can provide the player with valuable resources, soldiers, victory points, and information about the invading army that attacks at the end of each year in the winter.

There is an expansion set called Kingsburg: To Forge a Realm.

I only managed to play Kingsburg three times this month, but I did get to play all of the expansions, and I will discuss those a bit later, but first I want to answer the questions I had asked people to consider as they played Kingsburg this month.

  • When is this the right game to bring out?
    • I wouldn’t bring this game out too late in the evening, and I wouldn’t suggest it for a group of slower players. I would also not treat this as a gateway game because of its length. So if you have experienced gamers who want to roll dice for a couple of hours, Kingsburg is a great choice.
  • How long does it really take?
    • The box says 90 minutes, but it’s probably going to take 2 hours or more. This is my only complaint with this game. I wish I could figure out how to play it in under 90 minutes.
  • Is there a sweet spot with the number of players?
    • I think three is the sweet spot for me, but four is good too. The two player version seems clumsy as you have to simulate a third player, and hey, there are quite a few two-player games out there that are much better. I don’t plan on ever playing this again with five. It makes it way too long and frustrating.
  • Can it be played solo?
    • This really isn’t a good game for solo play. I’m not sure why I asked such a dumb question.
  • Is there an essential strategy?
    • I don’t think there is a single strategy that’s better than any other, but I think you do need to complete at least one row of buildings to have any chance of winning. I’ve won with the Wizard’s Guild, but I’ve seen the Merchant’s Guild used very effectively. If you can finish the Merchant’s Guild before the end of year four, the extra gold generated allows you to build the Church and Cathedral for lots of victory points.
  • If you are using the expansions, what modules are the best?
    • The expansion modules are:
      1. Additional building rows
      2. Alternative building rows
      3. Governor Cards
      4. Destiny Cards
      5. Soldier Tokens
    • The soldier tokens are the only essential expansion in my opinion. I don’t ever plan on playing the game again without them, and they are easy to add to your own copy if you want to try them without purchasing Kingsburg: To Forge a Realm, which I recommend you do anyway, because it really does add a lot to the game. However, you could use a set of markers or cards in place of the soldier token to the same effect. I used cards from my copy of Rat-a-Tat-Cat. In the base game, you roll a die to determine how much help you get when you fight the monster. The soldier tokens remove this random element.
    • The destiny cards are probably my least favorite of the expansions. I really don’t think they add that much to the game, although I do think they help tell a sort of story about the five years of play. That would be great if Kingsburg was a game that depended on an interesting narrative, but it’s not. If anything, it just slows things down, which is exactly what I don’t want happening in Kingsburg.
    • I think the Governor cards are fun, and I imagine that I will almost always use them. They give you the opportunity to form an initial strategy, even if that strategy can be totally hosed with bad dice rolls.
    • The alternate and additional building rows are good, but I don’t know that I would need to use them every time I play. I like them. They are big. Tarzan like big.
  • What are some important building and adviser combos?
    • The only building/adviser combo I can think of is the use of the Stable and the advisers on the five and ten spots, which will get you an additional soldier. The queen will also get you additional soldiers. I only recently discovered that there are complex strategies for Kingsburg that are discussed over at Boardgamegeek.com. They have cool names like Super Defense and the Turtle. I play most games like a mad scientist experimenting with random chemicals in hopes that I will accidentally gain super-powers. If I have to research a strategy for a dice game, then that’s going to take some of the fun out of it. Maybe I will read up on them and give one a try the next time I play.

My friend Davebo answered each of the questions in his comment on the introductory post, which is exactly what I wanted. Yay, Dave!

Even though I didn’t get to play the game as often as I wanted to over the month, I think that it will hit the table a bit more often as a result of being GotM. It’s a good game, and I just might play it tonight. If you have anything to add, please post your comments. I know some friends played a two-player game recently, and I would like to hear how that went. Another friend plays regularly on BSW, and I would like to hear about how that works. Please feel free to contribute.

Disclaimer: I have recieved no review copies of this game. I have included links to funagain.com, an online retailer that I support by including affiliate links to games. If you purchase something from Funagain, and include my affiliate code, P2RX, then I get a few pennies of store credit so I can buy more games.

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