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Subject: Lack of tension in the game ? And other questions... rss

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Fred
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Hi everyone,

I had heard about this game a while back, and while it looked interesting, I didn't investigate further.

I have just seen the KS for the expansion and still find the art fascinating. I have read quite a few reviews, with wildly different conclusions.

For instance, one common complaint from some reviews was the lack of "tension" in the endgame because resources were too numerous. I know this is not Agricola, but if that is true, this is a bit of an issue. What do you think ? I guess it also depends on the tableau.

Here are my other questions :

1. IS it good at every player counts ? We primarily play with 3 players but given that this is a lightweight game, I would like to try it with my wife, and maybe solo as well;
2. How lightweight is it ? What other types of game would you compare it to for instance (in terms of luck/skill balance) ? What about star realms ? 7 wonders ? Tiny Epic Galaxies (another game on my shortlist)
3. Is it really multiplayer solitaire ?
4. finally, do the expansions really add something to the game ? (maybe even alleviating some of the aforementioned issues ?)

thanks !
 
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Mike Beiter
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1) It is best at 3 or 4. But 5s doable. 2 is OK.

2)It can most be comparred to Machi Koro.
I have taught it to both gamers and non gamers. So casual players will catch on easily. Yet hardcore gamers still appreciate it.

3) It is not multiplayer solitare. Your dice rolls affect all players. There are citizens and domains you can acquire that allow you to directly target opponents.
Its not huge on take that, and there are many more games with more interaction, but it is certainly not multiplayer solitare.

4) They do add variety and it ramps up the difficulty and solves the resource problem to a degree.
The big complaint is you gain too much resources. So the expansion introduces more expensive monsters that require more resources to kill, for example.

And speaking to the resource gain issue. I feel people are trying to make the game something it's not. It's not about scraping together resources to narrowly make a purchase.
The game says, yes, if you build your tableau well, and the dice favor you, you will gain a lot of resources. BUT, what do you do with them is the key?

The early game is more tense because unless you get very lucky, you will have to make those tough decisions and won't be able to afford everything you want.
Then late game the money comes in and the tension is, can you nab those high yield VP cards before the game ends?

Personally, I love this game.

I hope that insight helped.
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Michael Denman
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1. I really dislike 5 player, but the other player counts are fine.

2. It's lightweight. My 10 yer old daughter can play it just fine. She might not make the best choices, but she can follow the rules and knows what's going on.

3. Yes. That seems to be a negative word to so many, but I love that kind of game. It implies that all of the players are doing their own thing and have absolutely no effect upon one another, but not that's not quite true here just like it's not completely true with other examples (like Race for the Galaxy). It's perfect to play with my wife because she shies away from anything that seems directly malicious, but all of the gamers I play with like it too. It's just a lot of fun to collect all of your resources, try to decide what to buy next, and hope fortune goes your way.

4. No. They add variety if you're tired of seeing the same old cards all of the time, but they don't change gameplay very much. The only issue I've had with the game is the balancing of the dukes. I don't like any of the promos and then there's one other duke who trades in resources at 2 for 1 and I don't like him either. Still leaves me with plenty of dukes to play with.

As mentioned above, yes you will likely be swimming in resources by the end of the game, but so what? The tension is not in whether you CAN buy something. The tension is in trying to accumulate points faster and more efficiently than your opponents before the game ends.
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Fred
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Thanks you all for your replies !

As to this comment :

Trump wrote:


As mentioned above, yes you will likely be swimming in resources by the end of the game, but so what? The tension is not in whether you CAN buy something. The tension is in trying to accumulate points faster and more efficiently than your opponents before the game ends.


could you please elaborate a little bit on that last point ? Because, I play a lot of engine-building/deck-building games and the thing that I really like in this kind of game is to build a nice economic engine early on which then allows me to "overpower" my opponent in the late game.

Hence, I wonder how I would feel if basically any player can make a "great" engine and be flush with resources and do whathever it sees fit.
And, a related question : what use is the harvest phase in the endgame ? Indeed, the way I have understood the rules, the harvest phase and the citizens primarily serve to gather resources. But what if they are too plentiful ?
Is all the tension concentrated in the action phase then and the choice of domain you build and monsters you slay ?
 
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Rick Teverbaugh
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This is a game pure and simple about 2 choices. What resources do I want to go get (buying citizens the prime example of that) and what do I spend those resources on? This is not an engine building game in the way that Dominion is. The tension actually comes from having a lot of resources because it means there are several things you can afford to do. Which one will lead you to the best chance of winning? It completely eliminates what I don't like about many of the games he OP might like and that is choices that are based on the fact that I can only afford to do 1 or 2 different things. I like choices so I like this game as well as Raiders of the North Sea for that reason.
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LSU LSU
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1. I haven't played it at three, but it works quite well at 4 and 2 IMO.
2. I think Star Realms is a fair comparison, as is Splendor - probably a little easier to grok than 7 Wonders, which has a lot of card types to consider.
3. No, I don't think it's multiplayer solitaire. You get resources on your opponents turn, there are some citizen cards that allow you to steal resources, there is a clear avenue for competition for monsters and domains and some domains let you steal monsters.
4. I only have a small expansion, but I've played someone else's once or twice. My sense is the expansions add more options to the base game but don't fundamentally change it, but that's ok because the base game is good.

This isn't Terraforming Mars where you build your engine and try to have a dominating last turn or two, or Brewcrafters where if you mess up in the 2nd season you might be toast. It's more forgiving than that. And simpler. My 6 year old can play it no problem, though she plays a lot of games. But it's fun- her top game right now (over games Splendor, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, archaeology, Imhotep). We like it enough (Christmas present for us) that we plan to get the expansions in the future.

There is definitely real strategy in the game as you focus on maximizing your Duke's potential, getting monster bonuses, or denying them to your opponent, and choosing because domains that give a one time boost or might provide more long term scoring. You can end up in a sea of resources, but I've found that's more likely for first time players. As you play more you realize you often should redirect earlier to domains, which can give more points, and not take quite as many citizens. That means you don't earn quite as many resources later.

In my view the only real negative for the game is that set up can take a bit too long. But that's really minor.
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Brian Dysart
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Resources are worth points at game end, with each player's conversion rate depending on their duke (easier-to-score dukes need four resources per VP, harder-scoring as low as two), so harvesting matters until the end. I find having the right stuff at the right time more important than just having a lot of stuff. For example, having enough gold to buy a domain with a useful power doesn't help if I haven't hired enough of the right kind of citizens to be able to buy it. The monster stacks can lead to a reverse chicken game, with nobody wanting to defeat a lower one to reveal a more rewarding one for the next player, but eventually someone has to crack. A player who's ahead can try to force game end, making other players scramble to get what they can before then.
 
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Mike Beiter
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No one will be able to "overpower" anyone in this game. Unless a player gets REALLY unlucky and their citizens rarely get rolled.

Late game you can just buy whatever you want for the last couple of turns 90% of the time. But there will be times that you want to vuy 2 domains but cant afford them.
So its not like every single game will have you swimming in resources. Ive had several games where I just barrely could afford what I need at games end.

I feel the game does have the tension that most people seek, but it piques out mid game. So early game you are struggling to save, then.suddenly you get an engine and start getting a few citizens and get more resources.
Then people are playing the symbol game to nab the desired domains, then suddenly the games half over and everyones power builds and then the momentum shifts from struggle to maximization.
Do I buy a domain or kill a monster etc.
Then the last turn us a quick mad grab.

I feel the best part of the game is early to mid. But don't get me wrong, late game doesn't fall flat it just isn't as tense as mid game.
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C B
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Trump wrote:
As mentioned above, yes you will likely be swimming in resources by the end of the game, but so what? The tension is not in whether you CAN buy something. The tension is in trying to accumulate points faster and more efficiently than your opponents before the game ends.

I disagree. When you are learning the game, perhaps you have lots of resources at the end.

But, once you get to know the game, you'll find that you only need so many citizens before you can transition to buying domains and slaying monsters.

With the possible exception of the Dukes who reward resources/2 VP at game end, if you fail to transition to buy/slay actions when your opponent(s) does, then you will likely lose the game. (As opposed to continuing to recruit citizens.)
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Fred
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ampoliros wrote:
Trump wrote:
As mentioned above, yes you will likely be swimming in resources by the end of the game, but so what? The tension is not in whether you CAN buy something. The tension is in trying to accumulate points faster and more efficiently than your opponents before the game ends.

I disagree. When you are learning the game, perhaps you have lots of resources at the end.

But, once you get to know the game, you'll find that you only need so many citizens before you can transition to buying domains and slaying monsters.

With the possible exception of the Dukes who reward resources/2 VP at game end, if you fail to transition to buy/slay actions when your opponent(s) does, then you will likely lose the game. (As opposed to continuing to recruit citizens.)


Ok, interesting ! It means that you have to find the "optimal" point to transition tosards other types of purchases...as in many engine-building games.

thanks everyone, I think you have convinced me ;-)
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LSU LSU
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lillumultipass wrote:
ampoliros wrote:
Trump wrote:
As mentioned above, yes you will likely be swimming in resources by the end of the game, but so what? The tension is not in whether you CAN buy something. The tension is in trying to accumulate points faster and more efficiently than your opponents before the game ends.

I disagree. When you are learning the game, perhaps you have lots of resources at the end.

But, once you get to know the game, you'll find that you only need so many citizens before you can transition to buying domains and slaying monsters.

With the possible exception of the Dukes who reward resources/2 VP at game end, if you fail to transition to buy/slay actions when your opponent(s) does, then you will likely lose the game. (As opposed to continuing to recruit citizens.)


Ok, interesting ! It means that you have to find the "optimal" point to transition tosards other types of purchases...as in many engine-building games.

thanks everyone, I think you have convinced me ;-)


Yes, ampoliros said it better than I did, but I was trying to get at the same thing. There is definitely a point where it is better to go for points, as it were (a la Dominion). However, when you first play the game you have no idea when that is, so you can end up swimming in resources. The game can end really fast once people go for domains though, as each pile only has 3 domains in it. Once you realize that, it becomes beneficial to try to grab some domains earlier.
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Will Plante
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Just a couple of quick thoughts since there's already been such thoughtful responses.

I play with two almost exclusively and love it. Second I think the expansion is a must and the mini expansion that introduces a new lieutenant monster for each faction. The new monsters add a lot to the game because of the significant increase in cost to slay them.

I think it's a great system and far superior to MachiKoro.

Cheers!
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Fred
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LSUtigers wrote:


It's more forgiving than that. And simpler. My 6 year old can play it no problem, though she plays a lot of games. But it's fun- her top game right now (over games Splendor, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, archaeology, Imhotep). We like it enough (Christmas present for us) that we plan to get the expansions in the future.


Wow, I had missed that. You are able to play with your 6-year old ? And she plays Splendor as well? I am impressed. I have a 3-year old girl and I would like to play games with her for now we are limited to toddler games. But you give me hope ;-)
At what age did you start pmaying with her ?

thanks !
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LSU LSU
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lillumultipass wrote:
LSUtigers wrote:


It's more forgiving than that. And simpler. My 6 year old can play it no problem, though she plays a lot of games. But it's fun- her top game right now (over games Splendor, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, archaeology, Imhotep). We like it enough (Christmas present for us) that we plan to get the expansions in the future.


Wow, I had missed that. You are able to play with your 6-year old ? And she plays Splendor as well? I am impressed. I have a 3-year old girl and I would like to play games with her for now we are limited to toddler games. But you give me hope ;-)
At what age did you start pmaying with her ?

thanks !


Hah. I really wanted to teach my kiddos to not just play games, but love them. Playing games has become a fairly central part of our family time. I gave her Go Away Monster when she was about 18 months (for Christmas) and she loved it. It's barely a game, but it teaches taking turns and is fun for kids. Since then I've gotten a new game every Birthday and Christmas for my two oldest, and regifted some of their games for their younger brother.

For quite a while that meant we played things like animal on animal and monza, both of which should be approachable for a three year old.

At 4 I got my oldest Castle Panic. We play with open hands and it's cooperative so it works quite well. All she asked for Christmas that year was the expansion (which she definitely got).

Since then I have introduced a variety of adult games from Splendor, Valeria, Small World, Ticket-to-ride, X-Wing, to Castles of Mad King Ludwig, etc. If it is fairly complicated in rules or options (X-wing, Small world) I will sometimes introduce things in stages. So for example, the first time we played Small World we just used races without special powers, and we only played for 4 or 5 rounds. The first time we played X wing we only used 1 ship each with no special powers and no range bonuses.

For me the key is that it has to be fun for your child. Otherwise there's no point. For me, that meant teaching them to enjoy games by playing a LOT of toddler games that weren't necessarily fun to me in and of themselves. But they were fun because I got to spend time with my kids. After that, it's important to teach them to be good winners and losers. Then you can kind of do anything they are interested in.

It's also important to roll with it if a game or two busts. I got a kids dexterity game for my middle child that was a total bust. They just weren't able to physically play the game. Since it was a birthday present, I replaced it with something more age appropriate a few weeks later.
 
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Martyn
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My 8 year old plays VKC and often wins! He’s been playing for a good year or more and really likes the game, as do we all. I often play 2-3 players. Four is fine but 5 is a little different as one player misses a resource collection a round.
If you have played Machi Koro and like it this game is similar but blows MK out the water. It’s easy to learn, fun to play and a great game that’s not heavy or too light. Just buy it!
 
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Rob Barrett
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My 7 year old plays too, and he's been getting better. But he hasn't won yet due to his story-based desire to put as many monsters in his "zoo" as possible before game end. (He was very adamant that we're not killing the monsters but capturing them.)
 
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