$20.00
Recommend
47 
 Thumb up
 Hide
32 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

Kingdom Builder» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Kingdom Builder after 200+ play rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Ashley Riddell
Norway
flag msg tools
mbmbmb

Has there been a game as polarizing as Kingdom Builder in the last five years? Let me know if there has, because it feels like there is no middle ground with one, either passionate dislike or adoration.

I have played it a lot the last few years and now believe that it's time for this underrated gem to be reappraised.

First of all, get the app. Then play it against AI for at least 5 or 6 games. Done that? Let's continue then!

There was enormous expectation for Kingdom Builder because of its designer and that worked against it once it hit the table. It's nothing like Dominion! Well, duh. Chess isn't like Bridge either. Reviewers I normally respect had some asinine opinions based entirely on this starting point. It was rarely judged for what it is and that is terribly sad.

I first played KB before it won any prizes and went in not knowing anything about it. My first impressions were mixed. Changeable board and layout? New victory conditions every game? Awesome! Terrain cards that determine where you have to play? Unfair! Have to play adjacent to existing settlements? That sucks.

It felt like an odd combination of flexible yet arbitrary. The first couple of rounds were confusing and tallying points was a chore for the unfamiliar. In short, there seemed to be a lot of drawbacks.

Yet, there was something there. I have played Wei chi (Go) quite a bit and could see there were elements at play in KB lifted straight from the ancient classic. Blocking. Territory enclosure. Forward planning. I can't say I loved it after a couple of plays, but I didn't write it off immediately.

When the Android app came out, I picked it up and started again. Playing against AI was a revelation. Watching AI strategy unfold made the game clear and comprehensible. Using special powers made more sense and the arbitrary nature of terrain became a tactical feature rather than an unfair burden.

I picked up the cardboard game and went at it with friends, evangelizing and showing them different tactics and strategies whenever they got stuck or thought the game was being unfair. Most of all I made them get the app. They would invariably come back and say "Now I get it."

Kingdom Builder is one of the most surprisingly complex yet accessible games you could hope to find. SdJ was a deserved reward, even more so now that the depths of the game has been revealed with the passage of time.

52 
 Thumb up
1.55
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Spalding
United States
Florissant
Missouri
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review. I actually had a very similar experience. I bought the game because the level of difficulty and lack of "take that" seemed to fit my family. We played a couple of times and had a lukewarm response (including from me.)

Then I got the app and started playing it. I still can't beat the hardest AI with any consistency, but like you said "Now I get it".

Since then, I've pulled it off the shelf again with much greater success. I've shared some of the things I learned from the AI, and win or lose everyone seemed to enjoy it more.

A couple of things to point out with respect to playing with my family that I like about Kingdom Builder: 1) Similar to Carcassonne, all of the information is "open" so if you're playing casually like us, you can help each other out to see moves or talk about implications of placement. 2) Also similar to Carcassonne, I like that you can play casually and have an enjoyable experience, or play more cut-throat by actively blocking opponents, etc.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew
Canada
Burnaby
British Columbia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I wasn't too interested in it when it came out, and even when I bought the app I played it a few times and thought 'meh'...

BUT I returned to the app again after a few months, and something clicked. It's an incredibly nuanced game for all the reasons you talk about, with the basic requirements of adjacent building and restrictions based on your terrain card. Some examples:

-One of the boards has the ship token that lies between caverns and desert. If I get a desert terrain card, do I build on both spots touching the token hex to block my opponent, or do I leave the one next to the ocean untouched so that, next turn, I can use the ship token to play a settlement ANYWHERE on the board (because I'm not adjacent to water). It's a big gamble because if my opponent gets a desert card, he can play one settlement there for the ship token and then go somewhere completely different to pick up another token. (Edit: I suppose I could just play on both spots, and then pick up the settlement next to the ocean on my turn as the one I intend to place in ocean...Revelation!)

-Do you block your opponent by building across the flower terrain area he's rooted in? If you do, and he gets a flower card, he may be able to jump to the other side of the board because nothing is adjacent. If you don't, he can sprawl his settlements to his advantage.

-Early in the game, I find it essential to place your first few settlements so that you consciously avoid abutting other terrain types (or as few as possible) so that if you get a card you have options to expand in a non-adjacent manner.

I have well over 250 plays on the app now, and can quite consistently beat the hard AI. I've since traded for the physical game with Nomads and Crossroads and am slowly introducing the base game to the wife. The only problem is, with the disparity in plays I can see the nuance far more than she can so I've taken to trying to explain my strategy as I go to "fast-track" her development/appreciation. Not normally one for teaching strategy as I explain rules, but I'm really wanting her to get on board with this game, and am eager to dig into the expansions!!
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
ARTHUR REILLY
United States
New York
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review. This is one of the best games in my collection. A very popular Video Reviewer had reviewed this game and all through the review he kept mentioning over and over how he had just 1 card to play. This unnamed reviewwe (TV) either didn't understand the instructions or hadn't read them at all. I think that one review (which should have been redone) really hurt this game, which was very unfortunate.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Frank Hamrick
United States
Rocky Mount
North Carolina
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I've been a fan of KB from the day it came out. After a few plays I started seeing the nuances and subtleties of the game that are not apparent if you only play it a few times and dismiss it as a simple game of luck. It has become one of my favorite games - but for the reasons you suggest, I have a difficult time getting it to the table. Too many people dismiss it after a single play without taking the time to get to 'dig' it.

So glad the app is helping people to see its depth. BTW - I'm not great at playing it, but am always fascinated at the new little strategies and tactics you learn by playing it repeatedly. I have all the expansions and look forward to Marshlands and Harvest.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan C
United States
Florida
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I have never played the table version but have really enjoyed the app. I can kind of see how people could judge it from preconceived expectations. Too bad because there's a good game here.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Clyde W
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
flag msg tools
Red Team
badge
#YOLO
mbmbmb
Totally agree with your review. Underrated and undervalued gem of a game! Most people say "it plays itself" and if I could play against them, I'd show them how wrong they are.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Clyde W
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
flag msg tools
Red Team
badge
#YOLO
mbmbmb
Also, for any critic the game, this is required reading: Informal experiment: how easy to find "the optimal move" in various positions?
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Schott
United States
Roanoke
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
MENAREUS2000 wrote:
Great review. This is one of the best games in my collection. A very popular Video Reviewer had reviewed this game and all through the review he kept mentioning over and over how he had just 1 card to play. This unnamed reviewwe (TV) either didn't understand the instructions or hadn't read them at all. I think that one review (which should have been redone) really hurt this game, which was very unfortunate.

To be fair, I don't think it was just one reviewer. Tom may have had his issues, but I think other reviewers tended to agree with the "one card" thing. I picked up the game (still have it) and have not had time to dig into it for any nuances. It fell kind of flat in our family play through where nobody wanted to play it again. The OP here has convinced me that I should try picking up the app to give it a try that way.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Miguel
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I, too, have several hundred plays under my belt thanks to the app (and perhaps a dozen plays of the physical game).

One thing I've noticed since board games started coming out on mobile devices is that very few games have the replayability necessary to withstand the amount of play that mobile games can get. Despite owning many, many of these digital games, I have consistently let most fall to the wayside after a number of plays but I keep coming back to this one (and Ra and Tigris and Euphrates, if anyone cares). Why? I think it's because like the two others I've mentioned KB manages to have a great balance of straightforward gameplay, luck and important decisions.

I've had games where the luck of the draw did me in, but they are not the norm. In most matches, you are making placements and gambling on certain things turning up. A good player knows how to maximize the odds of certain things happening. Sometimes they won't, but most times they do.

As an example, if the goal is hermit, it's really important to go straight to the powers tiles that allow you to pick up a tile and place it elsewhere. This creates individual tiles faster than placement ever could. That's pretty obvious, but it follows that you should also really try to never place in a really large zone of a single type of terrain, and also not adjacent to too many types of terrain. Both these placements open you up to having the game dictate where you place, growing an ever increasing clump of tokens (which give no points in this scenario).

That said, if the goal is merchants, maybe placing at the intersection of many terrain types will allow you to connect two power tiles before anyone else.

You always have to re-evaluate the meaning of each setup at the start of the game. Although there are certainly some winning strategies (basically, almost always get the boat if you can and almost always try to get as many power tiles that give you extra placement in order to finish the game as early as possible), very few strategies work every time. I think this is the biggest resemblance to Dominion, the need to evaluate the game state at the beginning to anticipate how things will interact and play out a strategy accordingly.

Like many card games that have withstood the test of time, I think the randomness, simplicity and strategy on offer here keep the game endlessly replayable whereas many other games get played out once their strategies have been uncovered.

Just my two cents.

9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
mbmbmbmbmb
It clicked with me straight away. I played it twice, rated it a 10 and said it was my favourite ever game, five years on it still is.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Yours Truly,
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
flag msg tools
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.
mbmbmbmbmb
agent easy wrote:


One thing I've noticed since board games started coming out on mobile devices is that very few games have the replayability necessary to withstand the amount of play that mobile games can get. Despite owning many, many of these digital games, I have consistently let most fall to the wayside after a number of plays but I keep coming back to this one (and Ra and Tigris and Euphrates, if anyone cares).


Try the Neuroshima Hex!, I've found that one stands up to many plays as well.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Clyde W
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
flag msg tools
Red Team
badge
#YOLO
mbmbmb
JohnnyDollar wrote:
agent easy wrote:


One thing I've noticed since board games started coming out on mobile devices is that very few games have the replayability necessary to withstand the amount of play that mobile games can get. Despite owning many, many of these digital games, I have consistently let most fall to the wayside after a number of plays but I keep coming back to this one (and Ra and Tigris and Euphrates, if anyone cares).


Try the Neuroshima Hex!, I've found that one stands up to many plays as well.
That one has a bit too much theme for me. If it were reskinned into farming I'd be so there.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Yours Truly,
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
flag msg tools
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.
mbmbmbmbmb
clydeiii wrote:
JohnnyDollar wrote:
agent easy wrote:


One thing I've noticed since board games started coming out on mobile devices is that very few games have the replayability necessary to withstand the amount of play that mobile games can get. Despite owning many, many of these digital games, I have consistently let most fall to the wayside after a number of plays but I keep coming back to this one (and Ra and Tigris and Euphrates, if anyone cares).


Try the Neuroshima Hex!, I've found that one stands up to many plays as well.
That one has a bit too much theme for me. If it were reskinned into farming I'd be so there.

Not sure if joking?!
Feels very chess-like to me, but on steroids and in a Mexican-standoff...
I see about as much theme there as a Kingdom Builder or a Carcassonne.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Clyde W
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
flag msg tools
Red Team
badge
#YOLO
mbmbmb
Sadly not joking. It has scary-looking men or mechs or something on the front cover. I prefer games that I can introduce to non-gamers.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Yours Truly,
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
flag msg tools
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.
mbmbmbmbmb
clydeiii wrote:
Sadly not joking. It has scary-looking men or mechs or something on the front cover. I prefer games that I can introduce to non-gamers.


Ah, I see. It really doesn't have much theme. I think rather than "too much theme" it's just that the minimal theme that there is, is the wrong kind of theme for you cool

It's a confrontational, attacking game, but in the abstract - much like Chess.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Clyde W
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
flag msg tools
Red Team
badge
#YOLO
mbmbmb
Indeed! When I say too much theme, I always mean it has a theme I'm embarrassed by because I'm always being told here that Euros or KB-like abstracts have little to no theme.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Yours Truly,
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
flag msg tools
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.
mbmbmbmbmb
I could see re-skinning Neuroshima Hex to a different theme - maybe molecular biology or marine biology, where you have different microbes or planktonic organisms attacking each other...

(Sorry for the tangent guys - on topic, great review on KB and the positive comments I see for the app are pushing it up to the top of my to-buy list...)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Played the game once, didn't play again for a long time but bought the app one day, soon got trounced by the hard AI, and KB quickly became one of my all-time favorites. I realized that complaining about the one-card draw is revealing a lack of understanding of how to play the game. Sure, there are outlier games where card draw is a factor but the hard AI proved to me there is depth here. Plus, the replayability is amazing. However, I can't figure out why there is only one harbor and one oracle when there are two of the other abilities. Seems to factor in more at higher player counts. [Note-the app may have an upper left corner hex bug.]
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ashley Riddell
Norway
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Sadly you are correct about the upper left corner hex bug. I have reported it before. Still, it rarely gets in the way of a game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan Licata
United States
Bel Air
Maryland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
ranash1995 wrote:
Sadly you are correct about the upper left corner hex bug. I have reported it before. Still, it rarely gets in the way of a game.


Yeah the app is fun to play but it's a pretty bad interface. Not unusable but bad all the same.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dave S.
United States
Des Moines
Iowa
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
My wife and I enjoyed KB after our first play. There are a lot of tactical decisions to make, which I do really well in, so this game plays to a lot of my strengths.

I finally picked up Nomads and Crossroads, but haven't tried them yet.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ashley Riddell
Norway
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
As someone who works in development of different media for multiple platforms, I'll give the app makers a thumbs up on this one. It's a big board to squeeze onto a little screen. Turning on the single tap zooming makes a huge difference to the experience.

I am the first to admit, it isn't the most ideal solution, but it looks to be the best of a bad bunch whilst retaining the very specific flavour of the cardboard experience. They can't all be as good as Splendor! (Now, that's an app!)66
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ashley Riddell
Norway
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
paschott wrote:

To be fair, I don't think it was just one reviewer. Tom may have had his issues, but I think other reviewers tended to agree with the "one card" thing. I picked up the game (still have it) and have not had time to dig into it for any nuances. It fell kind of flat in our family play through where nobody wanted to play it again. The OP here has convinced me that I should try picking up the app to give it a try that way.


Do it! This is one of those games where you really need to see how to take advantage of the special token hexes in practice and the AI is excellent (and rather ruthless) at doing this. Imagine learning to play chess with absolutely no knowledge of the game at all, no books or videos on strategy, tips, sneaky tricks, nada. It would not be a pleasant experience...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
FWIW: I, my wife, and various friends have never played the app, and we all enjoyed KB from the start. We have a very casual/newbie gamer friend who became a KB fanatic and wants to play with us every time she visits. So I don't think one needs to play the app to enjoy or appreciate KB!

Coincidentally, I see I currently have 200 plays logged (usually KB + the Nomads expansion), woot!

ranash1995 wrote:
Has there been a game as polarizing as Kingdom Builder in the last five years? Let me know if there has...

Kingdom Builder Legacy would be more polarizing.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.