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Subject: Is the Game of the Year all its cracked up to be? rss

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todd barker
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Kingdom Builder recently won the Game of the Year award (2012) and was the subject of some pretty heated debate; did it really deserve to win game of the year? My answer is yes, it is a game that can be played over and over and enough will be different every game that keeps it from getting boring or stale. The mechanics are easy enough to learn and teach to someone, but there is still enough room to perfect your strategy and create some in-depth plans.


If you would like to see the full review in better quality with bigger images and a better layout go http://toddsboardgames.blogspot.ca/2012/12/game-of-year-2012...

Objective: All points are tallied at the end of the game, the winner will be the player with the most victory points. For details see 'Scoring'. The game ends when one player runs out of blocks, all the other players finish their last turn then you count score.


Gameplay:

On a players turn you play a card. Then you carry out your 'basic action' followed by ALL extra actions. You might be asking what the heck is a basic action or what is and how to I get an extra action? Don't worry that will all be explained.


Basic Action: Play 3 wooden blocks on the terrain type that matches the card you played. (Place 3 blocks in the desert if you played a desert card.)


Extra Actions: In order to use an extra action you must have the corresponding extra action token. To obtain one of these tokens you simply place a block next to a "Location" where there are availbale tokens (there is a limited supply at each location). Your extra actions are as follows:



Farm: This extra action allows
you to place an extra settlement
block onto a grass lands every turn.



Oasis: This lets you place
an extra block on a desert
every turn.



Paddock: This allows you to
move any existing block two
spaces in a straight line,
you can jump over an existing
block but cannot end in the
same hex as one.


Tavern: This allows you to
place a 4th block on either end
of your three basic blocks IF
you build them in a straight line.



Harbor: The Harbor allows you
to move any settlement block
to a water space, this is the
only way to build on a water hex.



Tower: The Tower allows you
to place one additional settlement
block onto a hex on the edge of
the game board. Terrain type
does not matter.


Barn: You can move one
settlement block to the
same type of hex as the
card you played this turn.



Oracle: The Oracle allows you
to place an additional settlement
block onto the same terrain type
as the card you just placed.



Now all this seems pretty straight forward, how does all this add up to game of the year? There is one major twist/golden rule and that is: If you can place adjacent to one of your pieces already on the board you HAVE to. After you have completed placing all the blocks you can on your turn, you draw a new card.


Scoring: Each time you play Kingdom Builder you will have 3 'random' cards that determine how you will score victory points for the entire game. In addition to these cards you will score 3 points for every 'City' you have built at least 1 block adjacent too. The reverse sides of all the board tiles have a scoreboard on them use one of the extra tiles to track score.


Components: The game tiles are good quality, and its hard to make a poor wooden block. The cards are all well printed, the game has nice artwork. There are some 'waste' pieces that we never end up using they are the First Player Marker, and the slightly bigger tiles that show what each location does. Also the little 'Location' tiles that give you your extra actions are a little too small / hard to pick up. Kingdom Builder is fairly quick to set up, I think the best part about the components is how many variations there are. For example there are 10 victory condition cards but you only use 3 per game.



Overall I believe anyone can have a good time playing Kingdom Builder so lets move on to who will enjoy Kingdom Builder and why:

Family Gamers: The game does have some more complicated victory conditions and extra action tokens but instead of randomizing these you could choose the easier ones, for example placing a 4th block instead of moving existing blocks, and victory cards like miners: 1 point for every wooden block built next to a mountain. There is no violence or adult theme to this game its very Euro style and if you start with a easy setup I believe you could then teach this game to just about anyone. Recommended for families with a little gaming experience.


Casual Gamers: Because some of the victory conditions are more complicated than others this is a great bridge game for casual gamers, play with easier conditions at first till they understand the game then swap to the ones that really make you strategize and think to get people hooked on this game! Lots of the mechanics in Kingdom Builder exist in other games and learning them now in a 'lighter' game allows someone to get the hang of other games quicker and easier.


Gamer Gamers: Although lots of hardcore gamers despise 'random elements' I still think this is one to check out. I am the hugest fan of random elements in games however when a game forces to you make the best moves you can out of a not so good situation that is when it shines for me. This is how you really separate the pros from the amateurs; a good strategist can think on their feet and make a solid plan out of almost any situation. The random setup I think is a huge bonus for avid gamers that way you cannot use the same strategy every game or preplan your strategy depending on who you are playing with, overall I would recommend checking this one out.
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E Talley
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I agree. It has been a hit with the family. The expansion adds some interesting twists and make the game even more enjoyable.

You can read about the game here
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgameexpansion/117793/kingdom-b...

Thanks for the review.
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Walter Hunt
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gradman2k3 wrote:
I agree. It has been a hit with the family. The expansion adds some interesting twists and make the game even more enjoyable.


It has great depths of shallowness. Around here it comes out occasionally, and is referred to as "the Stupid Game." "Do you want to play the Stupid Game?" "Sure, I'm pretty tired."

I haven't bothered with the expansion, because I have only so much room for Stupid. I expect that the base game will make its way in the world eventually; we'd rather play TTR, or any of a number of other games.
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todd barker
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Kindom Builder is pretty divided most people love it or hate it, I can say I love it for what it is, a lighter game that can be used as a filler, to get new people into the hobby or certainly for those nights where you're just too worn out to think.

I'm still on the fence whether I am going to buy the expansion or not yet, but this is a great game to play with friends who are not 'gamers'
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John Bandettini
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It's my favourite game and my review of it was pretty well received.

More gold for Donald?

I just got the iPad version and while it might not be perfect I've been paying it all week.
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Such a fun game, and I agree that one of the biggest strategic depths comes from the restrictions caused by the adjacency rule, and especially the few occasions you get to break it (like the Paddock).

toddbarker wrote:
Gameplay:

On a players turn you play a card. Then you carry out your 'basic action' followed by ALL extra actions. You might be asking what the heck is a basic action or what is and how to I get an extra action? Don't worry that will all be explained.


Technically, you can play your extra actions before and/or after your normal play, which increases your options as well (use Tower to get adjacent to the appropriate terrain type, use Paddock to jump *away* from it so you can build somewhere else).
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Brad McKenzie
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JohnBandettini wrote:
It's my favourite game and my review of it was pretty well received.

More gold for Donald?

I just got the iPad version and while it might not be perfect I've been paying it all week.


Agree. Like the app, really like the board game. There is strategy there for those that want to find it. For those that don't, you can just plunk down settlements and see what happens. While it has had to make room for Jaipur, my wife and I still enjoy a game of KB.
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Mathue Faulk
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hotc wrote:

I haven't bothered with the expansion, because I have only so much room for Stupid. I expect that the base game will make its way in the world eventually; we'd rather play TTR, or any of a number of other games.

TtR is exactly the game that I compare it to in terms of niche within my collection....except, I'd much rather play Kingdom Builder. The decisions are much more varied and interesting imo.
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Bruno D
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toddbarker wrote:
Kindom Builder is pretty divided most people love it or hate it, I can say I love it for what it is, a lighter game that can be used as a filler, to get new people into the hobby or certainly for those nights where you're just too worn out to think.


Quite frankly, there is barely anything in this game to hate or love.

And I wouldn't think ever of using this game to introduce people to the hobby, the battle would be lost before starting, and I would lose them.

As suggested above, I would rather use Ticket to Ride, or even Dominion.
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Mathue Faulk
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teg2 wrote:
toddbarker wrote:
Kindom Builder is pretty divided most people love it or hate it, I can say I love it for what it is, a lighter game that can be used as a filler, to get new people into the hobby or certainly for those nights where you're just too worn out to think.


Quite frankly, there is barely anything in this game to hate or love.

And I wouldn't think ever of using this game to introduce people to the hobby, the battle would be lost before starting, and I would lose them.

As suggested above, I would rather use Ticket to Ride, or even Dominion.

Where both TtR and Dominion flopped with my father, Kingdom Builder was a success....so it really depends on the group.
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Yours Truly,
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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For this who are dropping in with comments that the game is "so shallow it's stupid" and that "there is no game there"... I would be interested to see their record in a "best of 5" series against experienced Kingdom Builder players... whistle
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Stephen Stewart
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hotc wrote:
gradman2k3 wrote:
I agree. It has been a hit with the family. The expansion adds some interesting twists and make the game even more enjoyable.


It has great depths of shallowness. Around here it comes out occasionally, and is referred to as "the Stupid Game." "Do you want to play the Stupid Game?" "Sure, I'm pretty tired."

I haven't bothered with the expansion, because I have only so much room for Stupid. I expect that the base game will make its way in the world eventually; we'd rather play TTR, or any of a number of other games.



This is a game for the ADHD crowd... You don't have to pay attention to what people are doing, just look at your card and see where you are FORCED to act next turn...Most of the time the spaces aren't filled making it an exciting turn plopping down Meeps....

This is definitely not Game of the Year material.

Varied VC aren't really that varied at all. Most of the time, you'd ignore one of the VC because the other 2 are more valuable. So, Replayability? Not really, just RE-plop-guys-on-boredility.


VERY COLORFUL AND VERY EASY... It's more a "Sorry/Monopoly" crowd type game...

Entertaining to play waiting for your other gamers to show up...but not game of year
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Stephen Stewart
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JohnnyDollar wrote:
For this who are dropping in with comments that the game is "so shallow it's stupid" and that "there is no game there"... I would be interested to see their record in a "best of 5" series against experienced Kingdom Builder players... whistle


Most people that think it's shallow will be hard pressed to GET IN 5 games.

Now take into account the 100's (ugh) that experienced players put in...(why?!? shake ) and you have someone who is disinterested in the game vs. someone who thinks it's the Spiel des Jahres...and you have a "who cares who wins" attitude....

Although, I'm 2 for 2 on my games against rookies!! devil


Just because you can lose to the "best" doesn't make it the best...

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Mathue Faulk
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ASLChampion wrote:

This is a game for the ADHD crowd... You don't have to pay attention to what people are doing, just look at your card and see where you are FORCED to act next turn...Most of the time the spaces aren't filled making it an exciting turn plopping down Meeps....

This is definitely not Game of the Year material.

Varied VC aren't really that varied at all. Most of the time, you'd ignore one of the VC because the other 2 are more valuable. So, Replayability? Not really, just RE-plop-guys-on-boredility.


VERY COLORFUL AND VERY EASY... It's more a "Sorry/Monopoly" crowd type game...

Entertaining to play waiting for your other gamers to show up...but not game of year

You're kidding, right? You don't have to pay attention to what other people are doing? If you're smart, then you aren't FORCED to play in certain places. That's one of the most important tactics to employ.

It isn't my favorite game, but you've grossly underestimated the gameplay. I honestly wasn't expecting much my first couple plays, but it's become more and more enjoyable as I continue to play...
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Kathy Sheets
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JohnnyDollar wrote:
For this who are dropping in with comments that the game is "so shallow it's stupid" and that "there is no game there"... I would be interested to see their record in a "best of 5" series against experienced Kingdom Builder players... whistle


I agree. It's not really that it's "so stupid it's shallow", it's more that this game just doesn't interest them. And that's fine; I just don't know why so many who don't like *it insist on belittling those who do. I think Dominion is boring beyond belief but if someone else loves it, that's all right with me.

We love Kingdom Builder and it just gets better and better every time we play it. It's so much fun trying to outdo each other. My husband and I play best out of 3...maybe we should bump it up to best of 5.

*edit: left out a word
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Clyde W
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teg2 wrote:
toddbarker wrote:
Kindom Builder is pretty divided most people love it or hate it, I can say I love it for what it is, a lighter game that can be used as a filler, to get new people into the hobby or certainly for those nights where you're just too worn out to think.


Quite frankly, there is barely anything in this game to hate or love.

And I wouldn't think ever of using this game to introduce people to the hobby, the battle would be lost before starting, and I would lose them.

As suggested above, I would rather use Ticket to Ride, or even Dominion.
Disagree. I like quite a bit in the game and am tickled by how seemingly simple it is yet full of subtle strategy.

Definitely NOT the Stupid Game.
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ASLChampion wrote:
hotc wrote:
gradman2k3 wrote:
I agree. It has been a hit with the family. The expansion adds some interesting twists and make the game even more enjoyable.


It has great depths of shallowness. Around here it comes out occasionally, and is referred to as "the Stupid Game." "Do you want to play the Stupid Game?" "Sure, I'm pretty tired."

I haven't bothered with the expansion, because I have only so much room for Stupid. I expect that the base game will make its way in the world eventually; we'd rather play TTR, or any of a number of other games.



This is a game for the ADHD crowd... You don't have to pay attention to what people are doing, just look at your card and see where you are FORCED to act next turn...Most of the time the spaces aren't filled making it an exciting turn plopping down Meeps....

This is definitely not Game of the Year material.

Varied VC aren't really that varied at all. Most of the time, you'd ignore one of the VC because the other 2 are more valuable. So, Replayability? Not really, just RE-plop-guys-on-boredility.


VERY COLORFUL AND VERY EASY... It's more a "Sorry/Monopoly" crowd type game...

Entertaining to play waiting for your other gamers to show up...but not game of year
Completely disagree

Way more interesting player interaction than in, say, Dominion.

You need to anticipate what your opponents will do on their future turns in order to play truly well. Sometimes blocking is right, sometimes it's wrong.

With this attitude about the game, you'll lose every time.
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Walter Hunt
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mfaulk80 wrote:

You're kidding, right? You don't have to pay attention to what other people are doing? If you're smart, then you aren't FORCED to play in certain places. That's one of the most important tactics to employ.


No, clearly you're right. It's not Sorry, and there is interaction. It's just not very compelling.

mfaulk80 wrote:

It isn't my favorite game, but you've grossly underestimated the gameplay. I honestly wasn't expecting much my first couple plays, but it's become more and more enjoyable as I continue to play...


And I have found it more numbing and boring as I continue to play. My Game of the Year would have been Trajan. So maybe it's a difference of taste. I bought it and Lords of Waterdeep for my wife for her birthday; guess which one she asks for more often?

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Bruno D
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clydeiii wrote:
teg2 wrote:
toddbarker wrote:
Kindom Builder is pretty divided most people love it or hate it, I can say I love it for what it is, a lighter game that can be used as a filler, to get new people into the hobby or certainly for those nights where you're just too worn out to think.


Quite frankly, there is barely anything in this game to hate or love.

And I wouldn't think ever of using this game to introduce people to the hobby, the battle would be lost before starting, and I would lose them.

As suggested above, I would rather use Ticket to Ride, or even Dominion.
Disagree. I like quite a bit in the game and am tickled by how seemingly simple it is yet full of subtle strategy.

Definitely NOT the Stupid Game.


I did not call it the Stupid game.

Hey, you like/enjoy it, good for you. I respect that.

Me, my group, feel it is quite dull, not much going on, limited decisions, mostly automated play. No need for human intervention
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Mathue Faulk
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hotc wrote:
mfaulk80 wrote:

You're kidding, right? You don't have to pay attention to what other people are doing? If you're smart, then you aren't FORCED to play in certain places. That's one of the most important tactics to employ.


No, clearly you're right. It's not Sorry, and there is interaction. It's just not very compelling.

mfaulk80 wrote:

It isn't my favorite game, but you've grossly underestimated the gameplay. I honestly wasn't expecting much my first couple plays, but it's become more and more enjoyable as I continue to play...


And I have found it more numbing and boring as I continue to play. My Game of the Year would have been Trajan. So maybe it's a difference of taste. I bought it and Lords of Waterdeep for my wife for her birthday; guess which one she asks for more often?


My Game of the Year would have been Trajan too, so maybe our tastes aren't so different...

The difference is that I wouldn't even consider breaking out Trajan (or any other of my top games) with my family this Christmas, but I won't hesitate to pull out Kingdom Builder.
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Kevin
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I'm a Kingdom Builder fan and think that a lot of people expect this game to be something more than what it was intended to be. I think it was probably designed to scratch that gateway itch along the lines of a Ticket to Ride/Carcassonne. It's not meant to be DEEP, nor do I find it shallow. It is quite tactical with some subtle strategies depending on what scoring cards and special tokens are represented. I love the fact that because of the modular nature of this game, no game plays quite the same, similar to Dominion.

To each their own. Sometimes a game just doesn't "speak" to a person. For example, I like Puerto Rico, but find Le Havre to be boring. Can't explain why, it just doesn't click with me.
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hotc wrote:
My Game of the Year would have been Trajan. So maybe it's a difference of taste.


This statement alone tells me you know nothing about SdJ, what its mission statement is and who their awards are targeted towards. It's for family type games. Not gamer's games. SdJ wasn't claiming this was the best complex strategy game of the year, they awarded it SdJ game of the year as per their criteria.

International Gamers Awards would be more towards your personal tastes (http://www.internationalgamersawards.net/winners-and-nominee...).

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Rick Teverbaugh
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I always chuckle when people use anything similar to the term "automated" about this game. Only bad plays by a gamer will make it automated so I understand why gamers who aren't careful and thoughtful about playing would get into automated situations a lot and think it is the fault of the game and not their fault. It was a great Game of the Year choice in my opinion.
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todd barker
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teg2 wrote:

Quite frankly, there is barely anything in this game to hate or love.

And I wouldn't think ever of using this game to introduce people to the hobby, the battle would be lost before starting, and I would lose them.

As suggested above, I would rather use Ticket to Ride, or even Dominion.


Nothing to love or hate? Comments on this page say otherwise

Since I recently moved I dont have any 'gamer' friends in the area and Kingdom Builder is a big hit with my 'non gamer' friends. I'm sure its different with every group and each individual's background with gaming, but my friends eyes tend to glaze over at card games and although ttr is a good intro game, the whole train theme doesn't tend to make people jump up and down with excitement
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hotc wrote:
mfaulk80 wrote:

You're kidding, right? You don't have to pay attention to what other people are doing? If you're smart, then you aren't FORCED to play in certain places. That's one of the most important tactics to employ.


No, clearly you're right. It's not Sorry, and there is interaction. It's just not very compelling.

mfaulk80 wrote:

It isn't my favorite game, but you've grossly underestimated the gameplay. I honestly wasn't expecting much my first couple plays, but it's become more and more enjoyable as I continue to play...


And I have found it more numbing and boring as I continue to play. My Game of the Year would have been Trajan. So maybe it's a difference of taste. I bought it and Lords of Waterdeep for my wife for her birthday; guess which one she asks for more often?

I like Trajan quite a bit too. I still think KB is at least as good of a game, and certainly will age better.
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