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Subject: Kingdoms: The Deluxe Edition rss

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Lance Jones
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You probably know that Beowulf: The Movie Board Game is a re-implementation of Kingdoms. Maybe you already own Kingdoms and you're wondering if Beowulf is a justfiable replacement or addition. Or maybe you don't own either and you're trying to decide on one or the other. This review is for you.

Kingdoms

Kingdoms is played over three rounds on a single board divided into a 6x5 grid of 30 squares. You begin with a number of round castle pieces in your color, with values ranging from 1 to 4. There is also a common pool of square tiles that all players draw from. These tiles show either a value ranging from -6 to +6 or a special icon (see below). Each player begins with 50 gold and 1 tile drawn randomly from the pool.

On your turn, you may 1) place a castle on an empty space, 2) draw a tile and place it on an empty space, or 3) place the tile that you drew randomly to start the game. Play continues until there are no empty spaces, and then there is a scoring round.

Each castle is scored by adding and subtracting all the positive and negative values in both the row and column the castle is in and then multiplying the total by the value of the castle. You gain or lose this amount in gold.

All tiles and castles are removed from the board to begin the second round. Castles of value 2 to 4 are out of the game entirely, while castles of value 1 are returned to you. The third round begins in the same way, and all three rounds play the same way.

Beowulf

(Terms in italics are the Kingdoms equivalent of Beowulf pieces. Differences are highlighted in red.)

Beowulf is played over three Acts (rounds) on three boards, each with a different grid pattern. You begin with a number of plastic figures (castle pieces) in your color, with values ranging from 1 to 4. There is also a common pool of square tiles that all players draw from. These tiles show a value ranging from -6 to +6 and/or a special icon (see below). Each player begins with 50 saga points (gold) and 2 tiles drawn randomly from the pool.

On your turn, you may 1) place a figure on an empty space or 2) draw a tile and place any tile from your hand on an empty space. Play continues until there are no empty spaces, and then there is a scoring round.

Each figure is scored by adding and subtracting all the positive and negative values in both the row and column the figure is in and then multiplying the total by the value of the figure. You gain or lose this amount in saga points.

All tiles and figures are removed from the board to begin the second Act, which is played on the Act II board with a separate set of Act II tiles. Figures of value 2 to 4 are out of the game entirely, while figures of value 1 are returned to you. The third Act begins in the same way and is played on the Act III board with separate set of Act III tiles. All three Acts play the same way.

Special Icons

Kingdoms uses three special icons. A Kingdoms tile with a mountain icon divides its row and column into two parts, each of which is scored separately. The Beowulf equivalent is the Gorge icon. A Kingdoms tile with a dragon icon negates all positive values in its row and column. The Beowulf equivalent is the Treachery icon. A Kingdoms tile with a gold mine icon doubles the total value of its row and column. Beowulf doesn't have an exact equivalent for this, but the Royal Dragon Horn icon is similar; it adds one to the value of any figures in its row and column.

Beowulf also adds a number of unique icons. A tile with a Temptation icon can cause a removal of a tile with a Valor icon and vice versa. A tile with a Treasure icon can be played normally or you can choose to remove it from the game and score the saga points shown. A tile with the Mead icon is an otherwise normal tile that can be potentially replaced by a tile with a Drunkenness icon (which can also be played normally as well). A tile with a Golden Statue icon allows you to swap any two other tiles on the board. Finally, a tile with the Good Counsel icon allows you a limited ability to move one of your figures already on the board. Whew.

Playing Kingdoms with Beowulf

In some ways, Beowulf: The Movie Board Game is to Kingdoms as Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation is to Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation. The LotR Deluxe version contains the original game in a new package and adds some more options. Beowulf does much the same for Kingdoms, but you can't play Kingdoms with it out of the box because the tiles don't match exactly.

Kingdoms comes with 2 each of +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, and +6 tiles and 1 each of their negative counterparts. It also comes with 2 mountain tiles, 1 dragon tile, and 1 gold mine tile.

The Beowulf tiles are divided into Act I, Act II, and Act III. The number of tiles and the distribution of the values vary between Acts, and none of the Acts completely duplicate the Kingdoms tiles. For example, you can try to use the Act I tiles, but you'll be missing one of the +4 tiles, the -3 and -5 tiles, and one of the mountain / Gorge tiles. You can't fill in the blanks from the other Acts because the tile backs have different colors for each Act.

You can still manage to play Kingdoms using Beowulf. To do so, you'll want to start with the Act III tiles (the most numerous) and reappropriate some of them (e.g., turning the Good Counsel icon into a Treachery icon and the extra tiles of one value into the missing tiles of another). Remove any extra tiles that weren't reappropriated (i.e., you only need two +1 tiles) and ignore unused special icons. You'll also have to play on a cropped (6x5) area of the Act II board, ignoring the pre-printed gorges and unused spaces and whatnot. It may be too confusing and it may be more trouble than it's worth. Still, if you want to play the simpler Kingdoms rules, you do have that option.

Improving Kingdoms

Finally, if you have Kingdoms, I think you can improve it with two changes made in Beowulf. First, play with the Beowulf turn options. If you draw a tile in Kingdoms, you're stuck having to play it. Your only other choice is to play the one tile you drew at the start of the game. Beowulf gives you the option of playing one of the three tiles in your hand. Second, I slightly prefer the way the Royal Dragon Horn icon works in Beowulf (+1 to figures) better than the x2 power of the gold mine icon in Kingdoms.

Kingdoms vs. Beowulf

Kingdoms is nice because it's a simple design that still allows for some strategic play. You can teach it in two minutes. It also comes in a much smaller box than Beowulf. Plus, it's cheaper.

Beowulf updates Kingdoms with a flashier look and a new way to play. The three different boards are a subtle way to force you to play each Act a little differently. This may make the game more replayable than Kingdoms with its unchanging board. The new icons add new strategic possibilities (and some chaos), but you can always choose to ignore them or to take them out entirely. And with some effort you can play the simpler Kingdoms rules.

Personally, I appreciate the added flexibility that comes with Beowulf. But I'm not giving up my copy of Kingdoms either - it will travel with me or find a home with my brother.
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Adrian Wiecheć
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Quote:
You can't fill in the blanks from the other Acts because the tile backs have different colors for each Act.


Just put them in the cloth bag and draw from there. And use the screens (or Scrabble stands) for each player's tiles.
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Adrian Wiecheć
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How to play 'Kingdoms' on 'Beowulf: The Movie' board
For all interested: I've just uploaded the file showing how to play 'Kingdoms' on 'Beowulf: The Movie' board:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/fileinfo/31952

Comments welcome.
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Kevin Duke
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Thanks to the OP for giving such detail in explaining the differences.
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Franklin Turner
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I came to this article because I owned Beowulf and wanted to see whether Kingdoms was different enough to acquire as well. The main thing I came away with was an appreciation for the actual use of theme in the redesign. At first the game seems totally unrelated to the Beowulf tale. But the new mechanics actually replicate story telling very well. Most notable Treachery and Golden Statue are only present in the second act. Most three act tales have their betrayals and counters in the second act as well. The swapping of valor and temptation tiles also work as the heroic act can be good but its celebration may lead the hero into the trap of temptation which can in turn be overcome by a heroic act of denial. I love the game - I rate it 9.25.
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Brad Weage
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Sungrazer wrote:

Kingdoms uses three special icons. A Kingdoms tile with a mountain icon divides its row and column into two parts, each of which is scored separately. The Beowulf equivalent is the Gorge icon. A Kingdoms tile with a dragon icon negates all positive values in its row and column. The Beowulf equivalent is the Treachery icon. A Kingdoms tile with a gold mine icon doubles the total value of its row and column. Beowulf doesn't have an exact equivalent for this, but the Royal Dragon Horn icon is similar; it adds one to the value of any figures in its row and column.


Note that the Beowulf Treachery icon is not an exact equivalent of the Kingdoms dragon icon.

Treachery fits the description above for the Kingdoms dragon tile. It negates all the positive values tiles in the same row or column, allowing them to be flipped over so they don't count at all.

The actual Kingdoms dragon tile only negates the positive values when calculating the row and column with the dragon. A positive tile in the same row as a dragon can still count positively for a different column.


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Mike Fox
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i know i'm commenting much later than the OP, but this review is very clever and very well done. great job, geek gold given
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