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Michael Carpenter
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For the Meeple, by the Meeple


SUMMARY




In Kingsburg 2-5 players will compete to influence members of the King's Council. In doing so, players will collect resources to improve the territories they have been sent to develop and train troops to fight off various types of invaders. The player who earns the most points while developing and defending their new territory will win the game.


THE BOARD


The main board in Kingsburg has multiple elements. The majority of the board is made up of 18 council members numbered from 1-18. Each of these council members requires a total value exactly equal to the number of their space on the board. Players may use any number of dice and a +2 bonus to equal the exact number of a council member. If a player is able to use dice to equal the value of a council member they will receive the benefit the council member provides.





Two other major areas of the board are the soldier chart and the calendar track.



- Calendar Track



- Soldier Chart


The calendar track is used to help players keep track of which production season they are in and which season bonus is currently available. The column beside the season track keeps track of which round the game is in.

The soldier track is used to keep track of how many soldiers each player has trained during the current year.

There are also several minor features of the board, starting with the turn order track and scoring track.





There are also four sections in the upper right corner of the board that hold three types of resource cubes and +2 bonus tokens that players can add to dice rolls.






Each player also has a player board.





Each player board in the expansion has 7 rows and 4 columns. Players will be using these mats to keep track of which buildings or features they have developed throughout the game. Each of these buildings have required resources (gold, stone, or lumber) to build them and a number of points they reward to the player once built. Each building also provides a permanent benefit to the player.

When playing with the expansion players will be able to customize up to two rows of their player board (province sheet) by covering up to two of the building rows with alternate building rows.



The most important rule about these province sheets is that players must build the first building in each row before they can build the second building in the row and so on.

A player may build the first, then second, then third building in one row before building in any other row.



THE COMPONENTS


The original game of Kingsburg features:
- 1 game board
- 5 province sheets
- 21 six-sided dice
- 15 disc tokens
- 60 goods cubes
- 85 building tokens
- 1 king's envoy marker
- 20 +2 tokens
- 1 season marker
- 1 year marker
- 25 enemies cards (5 types with 5 cards each)

The expansion adds:
- 5 new province sheets
- 14 alternative building rows (2 copies of 7 different building rows)
- 24 governor cards
- 29 destiny cards
- 30 soldier tokens



- Dice used to influence council members and Soldier Tokens used to alter the number of soldiers a player has in each year.



- Enemies cards used to see how many soldiers each player needs to defend their territory.



- Building tokens used to track which buildings a player has built on their province sheet.



THE GAMEPLAY


To setup for the game players should each take a province sheet then randomly choose two of the alternate building rows and choose to use one, both, or none of the alternate building rows. Each player also takes the three dice, six soldier tokens, and 17 building tokens in their color and keeps them near their playing area.

When playing with the expansion players may also draw three governor cards, choose one and return the other two to the box. Each governor card provides a special benefit to the player who chooses it.

If using the destiny cards shuffle the deck and place it near the board. Each player places one of their three disc tokens on the score track, one on the soldier chart, and one on the turn order track. Place King's envoy marker, the season token, and one of each of the types of enemies cards on the designated spaces on the calendar track. Finally places the year token on the round tracker portion of the calendar track.

Kingsburg is played over five years (rounds). Each year consists of eight phases which are then broken into the four seasons of a year. Each year begins in spring and ends in winter.

Before phase one of each year players should reveal the top card of the Destiny deck and apply the effect immediately.

1. Aid of the King - The first thing players should do during the Aid of the King is check to see which player has built the fewest buildings. That player receives one additional white die to roll during the spring production phase. If there are multiple players tied for the fewest buildings the tied player with the fewest resources receives the King's aid. If there is still a tie, all tied players for fewest buildings and resources receive the King's aid.

2. Spring Production Season - To begin the spring production phase all players should roll their dice and adjust the turn order chart (the turn order is determined by placing the player who rolled the lowest value of all three dice combined first, followed by the lowest and so on. If there is ever a tie, the player who was already ahead in the turn order remains ahead in the turn order. Players will then influence the council members. Players will then receive the help provided by the council members. Once all players have received their help from the council members they will then choose whether or not to build one new building on their province sheet.

3. The King's Reward - To perform the King's Reward phase the players check to see which player has built the most buildings. That player receives one victory point. If there is a tie for most buildings all tied players receive one victory point.

4. Summer Productive Season - This phase is played exactly like the spring productive season.

5. The King's Envoy - To perform The King's Envoy players check to see which player has built the fewest buildings. This player receives the King's Envoy Marker. The King's Envoy Marker allows a player to either build two buildings during a production season or influence a council member that has already been influenced by an opponent. If there is a tie for fewest buildings no player receives the King's Envoy Marker. If a player does receive the marker he or she must use the marker before the fifth phase of the following season or he or she will lose the marker and the benefit it offers.

6. Autumn Production Season - This phase is played exactly like the spring and summer production seasons.

7. Recruit Soldiers - To perform this phase players must decide if they would like to recruit one soldier for every two resources cubes spent.

8. Winter - The Battle - To perform this phase players must determine if they have enough soldiers to defeat the invader for that year. Each invader has a strength that fits within a range that is shown on the back of each enemies card. This information is known by the players throughout the year but they do not know the exact amount of strength unless they use a benefit that will allow them to peek at the card before the battle. To perform the battle in the original version of the game one player must first roll one white die to see how many soldiers the king will send to help each player. This is not done in the expansion, instead players must choose one of their six soldier tokens and add that number of soldiers to their current number of soldiers on the soldier track. These soldier tokens range from 0 to 4. The soldier token that each player does not use during the game will provide them victory points equal to the number on the token at the end of the game. Players then reveal the enemy and see which players have more soldiers than the strength number of the enemy. All players that have more (not equal to) soldiers than the strength of the enemy will receive a benefit for defeating the enemy and all players with a number of soldiers less than or equal to the strength of the enemy will suffer a penalty for losing to the enemy.

HOW TO PERFORM THE PRODUCTION SEASONS
The spring, summer, and autumn production seasons are all played as follows:

In turn order each player may place one, two, three, or in some cases four dice on one council member. Players may also add a single +2 token to the dice he or she would like to use to influence a council member. You must place a number of dice that total value equal the number of the council member you have chosen to influence. You may not influence a council member that has already been influenced unless given this ability by a bonus. Players will place any number of dice on their turn and then receive the help provided by the council member and then play will move to the next player. Since players can place any number of dice they wish on their turn players can take different numbers of turns each production phase. Once a player has placed all of their dice they no longer participate in the current production season.




Once all players have finished placing dice, players will simultaneously construct one building (sometimes two if using the King's Envoy Marker) by paying the correct resources. Players should score the appropriate number of points immediately.

Each year of Kingsburg is played in this fashion. Once all five years have been completed players will calculate end of game scoring by adding the value of their remaining soldier token (if playing with the expansion module). There are no other forms of hidden scoring so once these points are added the player with the most points wins the game.



FINAL THOUGHTS


My first impressions of Kingsburg without the expansion were good. Then they slowly dropped because of the lack of diversity in strategy regarding which buildings to focus on each game. This was really my only concern but it was a big one because if made the game not only feel samey from game to game but it made my feel as though if I did not take what appeared to be the best strategy I had very little chance of winning. This was really only because their were technically so few choices even though there were several buildings. This is because you can only build the left-most building in each row and you can only build one building per production phase (typically). I do not dislike the method by which you build, it just felt limited in the base game.

Once I got my hands on the expansion that concern was taken care of with the two additional rows on the province sheet and the alternate building rows that could customize your own province sheet. These additions completely alleviated my concern with the longevity of Kingsburg.

As for the other modules added in the expansion I could live without the Destiny Deck and Governor Cards but the soldier tokens are actually pretty useful. I don't know that I prefer their function regarding soldiers more than a random dice roll but I do like that they influence end of game scoring and create more decisions in the game.

As for the way the game plays. I enjoy dice/worker placement games a lot and I do like Kingsburg because it offers a unique twist on worker placement strategy. This is because of the way dice can be different from roll to roll versus most worker placement games having fixed types of workers that do not change. Almost every production season makes you think about how you are going to combine the totals of your dice and how you are going to order the use of those combinations. The only time this is not the case is if you simply have to use all your dice
on one council member. If you do a poor job of choosing the correct order in which to influence the council members you wish to receive help from you will not win this game. There seems to be a pretty good amount of blocking in this game because there are a lot of times that multiple players will only have a 1 or 2 available and typically only one of the players will be able to get the council member.

The decisions are the same each round but it doesn't get boring and I think this has a lot to do with the benefits the council members provide. While there is plenty of intentional and unintentional blocking, there are ways to achieve what you are trying to do if you get creative. While the soldiers and the battling seems out of place, not thematically, just mechanically, I think it is a vital piece of the game because it adds a solid amount stress you have to pay attention to so that you do not suffer very detrimental penalties for losing the battle against the enemies. I think the game would be dull and possibly too easy without the battle, even though it is an extremely simplistic combat system.

This is an interesting mixture of mechanics that work well together. The game typically does not last longer than it is welcome but occasionally it can run a bit long and feel like it needs to end sooner rather than later.

I would recommend this game to fans of worker placement because it is a great game in the genre but I don't think it is interesting enough to make anyone that is not a fan of worker placement enough of a fan to play this game.


Rating: 7/10

If you enjoy my reviews please recommend and check out my geeklist For the Meeple, by the Meeple
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Marty Strubczewski
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Gettysburg
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Excellent Review and fair assessment of Kingsburg. It's a staple in my collection and I introduce it to folks not familiar with the hobby. This game opens their eyes that there is more than just Sorry and Monopoly.
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Michael Carpenter
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Thanks! I don't typically start with this game with new gamers but I will quickly go to it once I see they are interested in the hobby and willing to play more games. I think the dice placement mechanic is a great way to show people exactly what you are talking about, new ways to play games!
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Joe Evangelista
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Thank you for a great review on a game I really like and I agree with the 7 rating. However, I always play with the Destiny and Governor cards and I would not care to play without them. Concerning the Soldier Tokens at first I used them all the time because I am good at resource management but I went back to the dice because it is just more fun and exiting during the Winter Battle.
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Michael Carpenter
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I can understand that. To be fair I am not a fan of expansions. I really only add them if I see that they can "fix" something in the game that I am not enjoying. Kingsburg wasn't broken by any means. Just got a little samey so I really only added what I wanted to add without changing the game too much. That's really my own philosophy though. Thanks for reading!
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Andrea Bampi
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I think it's worth mentioning that a new edition of Kingsburg is about to be published by Giochi Uniti / Stratelibri. It will feature new graphics, all "old" expansions and a brand new one (it seems). Latest info I found about the new edition is on Stratelibri's fb page (latest post dated 19 aug.).
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Marty Strubczewski
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RickNash wrote:
I think it's worth mentioning that a new edition of Kingsburg is about to be published by Giochi Uniti / Stratelibri. It will feature new graphics, all "old" expansions and a brand new one (it seems). Latest info I found about the new edition is on Stratelibri's fb page (latest post dated 19 aug.).


I just saw the new board design. I really hope that it is not final. It is soooooo ugly.
 
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David Christopher
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Solid Snake wrote:
Thank you for a great review on a game I really like and I agree with the 7 rating. However, I always play with the Destiny and Governor cards and I would not care to play without them. Concerning the Soldier Tokens at first I used them all the time because I am good at resource management but I went back to the dice because it is just more fun and exiting during the Winter Battle.


This is one of those expansions that just takes it to the next level. With the expansion it means you will never get the same game twice. You will have different governor cards, as well as the destiny cards which are one of my favorite additions.

With the base game, every year is the same, with the expansion, every year is different.

Great game overall though, we just played this with a newcomer the other night and he enjoyed it very much. I give it 8.5/10
 
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Michael Carpenter
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Definitely a fair assessment! It is definitely worth holding on to this one for a long time. You guys have also convinced me to give the Destiny cards another try.
 
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