“A little kingdom I possess, where thoughts and feelings dwell; And very hard the task I find of governing it well.”
– Louisa May Alcott
“Three wooden cubes do I place, next to others of their kind; And a card I must then take, to ease my troubled mind.”
– Jeff Myers
Kingdom Builder was designed by Donald X. Vaccarino, who also created the deck building juggernaut, Dominion. Kingdom Builder is published by Queen Games, and features illustrations by artist Oliver Schlemmer.
The game can be played with 2 – 4 players and you can easily finish a game in under an hour. If you are unable to do this, then someone at the table is taking way too long to take a turn and should be given the stink eye.
The game is fairly simple and can be enjoyed by younger players. My eight-year-old had no problem with Kingdom Builder.
Inside the box, you will find:
- 8 interlocking game boards
- 28 location tiles
- 160 wooden settlement houses
- 4 gold markers
- 1 start player marker
- 25 terrain cards
- 10 Kingdom Builder cards
- 8 large location summary tiles
- 1 rules booklet
Players take turns placing settlements on the board, earning victory points depending mostly on which builder cards have been chosen for that particular game. When a player has placed their last settlement on the board, then the round is played out and the game is over. At the start of your turn, you will have a single terrain card of one of five types; grass, canyon, desert, forest, or flower. Yes, flower is a terrain type. Make sure you have a tin woodsman and a scarecrow with you when traveling through flower terrain. You must place three of your settlements in a flower hex on the board. If possible, you must place settlements adjacent to existing settlements.
Each board will feature one of eight special locations. If you place a settlement next to one of the special locations, then you get a tile that matches that location to place in front of you. These tiles will allow you the option to place additional settlements before or after your regular turn. Where you can place these additional settlements will depend on the location tile and your current terrain card.
Kingdom Builder is extremely variable in its set-up. The builder cards determine the primary scoring rules for each game, and you randomly choose three out of the ten cards to use each game. This coupled with the fact that you randomly choose four player boards, each featuring a different special location, make every game of Kingdom Builder a potentially unique experience.
I like Kingdom Builder well enough. My family bought it for me as a birthday present, and we’ve played it a few times. I actually enjoy playing the game with my family more than I enjoy playing it with regular gamers. My family doesn’t take so long to take their turn. The game won the 2012 Spiel des Jahres, which is a reasonable choice I think, because it is a very family friendly game. Was it the best choice? I don’t know. I didn’t play any of the other nominees for 2012. Personally, I think King of Tokyo should have been considered, but who cares what Jeff from Fresno thinks? Not the SdJ committee!
I wanted to include a picture of the inside of the box. I have added a couple of things to my KB game. First, I made a tuckbox for the cards, because I like tuckboxes and I like making them. The file for the tuckbox is available on boardgamegeek. I also made a holder for all of the 28 location tiles, because I’m a crazy person and that’s the kind of thing that crazy people do. If you are similarly crazy, then you can also find the plans for the tile holder on BGG. Do they add anything to the game? Well, I do think that the tile holder is pretty nifty, and does save some time having to look for the location tiles. It’s a personal preference. I like to have an organized game box. If you are curious about the extra cards held with magic tape, they are builder cards in a variety of languages.
This is part of my Spiel des Jahres winner series. If you would like to comment on the 2012 winner, Kingdom Builder, then please do so on this post. If you would like to discuss or comment on the Spiel des Jahres award in general, please do so on the Spiel des Jahres series post.