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Subject: Complex Strategies for Kingsburg rss

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ruvion .
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wow...what seems to be a rather detailed analysis on what some view as a simple and dicey game!
This game must be strategic game indeed if it can produce such a result.

I say "seems" only because I didn't read it and thus spoil myself.
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Andrea Chiarvesio
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Awesome analisys.

It's a pleasure to design games knowing there are also players like you out there, you made my day a lot better today.

Just one thing:

Quote:
~Winter~
This is the risk management portion of the game. I will go into detail about preparing for battle in a later section but wanted to mention the bonus victory points that can be gained by being the “most” victorious during Winter. A single additional victory point is awarded to the player who both defeated the Winter enemy and had the highest total defense from soldiers, buildings, and the King’s support. If there is a tie, then no one receives the extra point.


Actually, if there is a tie between winning players, all players tying with the best score DO receive the extra point!

This may change a little your consideration about the Winter phase!
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Henri Harju
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I have seen good strategy articles. I have seen great strategy articles. I have even seen awe-inspiring strategy articles. But somehow you manage to top them all. Splendid work.
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Matt Albritton
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Great article and well written.

I've thought about doing something similar for Power Grid, but the work that would be involved is daunting.

Thank you for getting over that hurdle and putting all the necessary time and effort into making this.
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Mike Nichols
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Kudos to you Brad! This is an excellent article and one that I should reference when my friends complain about low die rolls. I love Kingsburg, and anything I can use to get more people to play is great. Thanks again! -MickeyD
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Steve Cates
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A winning strategy for me has been farms then run up to the wizard's guild track and then finish off merchant's guild in there somewhere and at the end race as far up the top track as possible. It's gotten me 52 and 57 points but I'd bet it's risky. You really dog the merchant's but it really seems to help out with resources on the top track where you can usually build all but the cathedral in one turn (in combo with farms of course).

I really enjoyed your article thanks for all the hard work!
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Steve Cates
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WhiteKong wrote:

Yes, the Merchant's Guild helps with resources on the top track. But, if you build to the Merchant's Guild, How far along the top track will yuo reasonably be able to build and still have an adequate defense for the fights in years 4 and 5? No doubt that you CAN win with the Merchant's guild, but it is a high risk strategy and hasn't really paid off as consistently as the others.


That's why I build the Wizard's guild row and sometimes the palisade first. I probably got lucky in the one game where I built the whole Merchant's row, the Wizard's row, the Palisade and then ran down the top row to the church before falling one resource short of the Cathedral, so I settled for 2 points on the stables and used the remaining resources on defense (which is pretty good with barracks). To get a total of 12 buildings in 15 seasons is pretty hard to do, I only took the general once and that was because I had no choice. I hit a couple 5 resource turns and a bunch of 4's as well, I rarely took less than 3 except maybe the General year.

I've always been able to complete two rows though. The Market, Inn, and Farms make it easy but I've done Embassay and Fortress with a Statue at the end too. I would like to hear your thoughts on the possible two row paths. It seems to me finish a VP producing row and then a defensive row is the way to go.
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Chuck Parrott
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This hands down is the best post I've ever seen on BGG. Incredible work Brad. My group just started playing Kingsburg and I hope they don't discover this guide before I have at least one chance to whup on them! ninja
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Christopher Hill
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Quote:
This hands down is the best post I've ever seen on BGG. Incredible work Brad. My group just started playing Kingsburg and I hope they don't discover this guide before I have at least one chance to whup on them!


Too Late, Chuck!! Ha ha ha ha ha! I am now wise to your plans.
 
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Henri Harju
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kinga1965 wrote:
Quote:
This hands down is the best post I've ever seen on BGG. Incredible work Brad. My group just started playing Kingsburg and I hope they don't discover this guide before I have at least one chance to whup on them!


Too Late, Chuck!! Ha ha ha ha ha! I am now wise to your plans.


Continuing off-topic.

I have found that reading strategy articles is generally a waste of time (and I still do it) as the folks I play with are so much better than me at these games anyway.. I merely lose less horribly when I'm "prepared"..
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John Weber
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Brad, interesting article. My only question concerns your advice about avoiding the top (Cathedral) row. If pursuing the Farm strategy, once you have secured enough defensive buildings to help versus the Enemies, why not go for top row buildings such as the Church and the Cathedral? (I have seen this strategy work -- albeit with some luck on the enemies roll -- and yield scores above 45 for the winner.)

Also, curious to know, how many games do you have under your belt?

Oh yeah, one other point-- haven't seen too many players win with the Embassy strategy in our group. What has happened -- and this is based on a fairly limited sample of around 15 games, maybe tried only 3-5 times, and mostly 5-player, is that the Embassy player doesn't get a Market and is often blocked from efficient Advisor allocations and either (a) doesn't collect enough cubes to continue building and/or (b) is vulnerable to losing to stronger enemies in years 4 and 5.

For what it's worth, my kind of initial impression after these 15 or so games of Kingsburg (which I sincerely hope holds up after repeated play) is that there is no clear-cut sure-fire winning strategy, and that the order in which you get to play (meaning you wind up taking what the game gives you) translates into a game where the best players have to remain flexible in their strategies, willing to change course, a la Puerto Rico and other similar great games.
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Amy David
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This is a great article, kudos.

One thing I didn't see you touch on was dice placement to block others. It is important to check out what other people have and see if you can block them from placing, especially in the early rounds before people get markets and +2 tokens.

For example, say I roll 6, 6, 1 in the first round, and my opponents roll 3, 4, 4 and 2, 5, 1 and 6, 2, 5. I know that nobody else can grab the 12 without a market, so I may place my 1 first to block the person with 2, 5, 1 and wait to grab the 12.

This is key...force your opponents to have dice left over.
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Chris Linneman
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It seems to me that the Super Defense strategy works the best. You get a lot of buildings for relatively low cost, meaning you will likely benefit from the King's Reward 4 out of 5 times. You will have the highest battle score every year for another 5 VPs, you will never have to worry about losing buildings to monsters or waste dice on the General or Sergeant advisors, and you get one of the best buildings in the game for VPs, the Wizard's Guild.

Barring a successful early Farms strategy that somehow lucks out in the monster fights at the end of the year and consistently gets the Queen, I can't think of a better way to win Kingsburg.
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Steve Cates
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I had a three player game with two newbies to the game and one person had played once before.

I was defenitely the low one on the totem pole when it came to dice rolls I rolled a 4, a 5, two 6's and a 7 and no Chapel to help me out. I was above 11 only one time which I scored the Queen with a 15 +2. Yet I still managed to win the game with the Embassy strategy and hitting the Jester a few times and the Queen. I turned in for points on the Town Hall about 8 times as well. My total score was 46.

So, I definitely think that low rolls won't lose you the game.
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Matthew Morgal
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Nice guide! I tried a close version of the embassy rush strategy and ended up winning by a fairly decent margin (it was mine and another persons second game, and a third persons first). I did unfortunately get too many doubles which screwed me up a bit (since I accidentally thought the market was something else for a few production phases) but otherwise it went fairly well.

However I don't think the alchemist is quite that terrible...provided you use it in strict moderation. I found it to be a handy way of getting some needed stone early on when I find myself faced with really really low rolls (totaling in the single digits or very close to it, which happened to me a few times). That jester eases the pain a lot though.
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Chris Linneman
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Yes I agree, with a roll of 6, 4, 1 for example you can take the merchant, transform his good into stone + gold or wood with the alchemist and get a victory point to boot! This is usually better than either the swordsmith (stone + one other good) or the duchess--assuming you have the market--(2 goods + +2 token). Congrats on your Embassy win, I just scored my personal best using an Embassy strategy (with market)...58 VPs in a 2-player match.
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Thies Kolln
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Great strategy article. Thanks for this contribution.

I just have a few thoughts to add:

I think the Alchemist can be quite useful in the right circumstances. Unless I desparately need a specific resources, I'll always stock up on quantity when I can. In particular if I get the Wizard (but even if I get the Treasurer) I'll likely have extra gold at some point. In the next round, one of those extra golds can become wood + stone with the alchemist.

I agree that it is hard to feel good about spending 2 dice on the astronomer. But it is great for either a 6 with the market or a 5 with a +2. If you don't wan't/need the troops for the 5, you get a good of your choice and your +2 back for future use. Same goes for taking the duchess on for 6,4,+2 or 5,5,+2.

Now that the excellent downloadable Java version is available, I've played a few quick games there in addition to my face-to-face games, mostly just to try out a couple of things. And I have actually been able to get a Cathedral strategy to succeed. I first built to the Wizard's Guild and added in the Palisade or the Barricade, then went to work on the top row. Because I fell behind in building while working on the expensive buildings, I'd consistently get the envoy and the extra die in Spring in the later years. It is tight, and I wasn't always able to get the Cathedral up. You really need to get the Wizard or the Champion/Smuggler (for stone) at least once, and preferably both at least some point in years 3-5, although the Queen or Duchess and the Treasurer can help too. But it did work 2 out of 3 tries, and I scored in the mid- to high- 40's. Extra resources at the end usually went to soldiers and not to the Cathedral bonus. So this is possible as a winning strategy in my experience.
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Nicholas
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Very nice work! This article greatly increased my interest in Kingsburg.

A few minor disagreements though:

Quote:

Alchemist (6) – I don’t like taking the Alchemist at all. Mostly because he requires that I give up a resource to get two different ones. If I need to do that, it usually means I planned poorly in the earlier rounds and got a resource I didn’t intend to take. I only take the Alchemist as an absolute last resort.

I like the Alchemist because he is the cheapest and easiest spot to get a stone. Plus giving up a resource you don't need for two you do is nice - you might ocassionally have a resource you don't need from poor planning, but far more frequently you have it because you were forced into a less than ideal spot on the board the previous round.

Quote:
Champion (13) – This is the worst spot on the board. You get three stone, but what the heck are you going to do with them? If you’re building the Cathedral, you’ll need them, but then again, if you’re building the Cathedral, you’re probably not going to win anyway – so who cares what you take? If you’re stuck and have to take the Champion, you are probably taking a long look at the Alchemist (6) in the next productive season so that you have someplace to dump that stone.

The Champion isn't great, but I don't think he is the worst spot on the board by any means. He is the cheapest with three resources and it's the rarest resource. I think maybe you aren't factoring in that you can ocassionally get him for a two dice bargin. The Treasurer, Champion and Wizard are the the three main spots where you can get more than 1 resource per die and get four resources total during the phase. You are frequently going to need at least two of the stone (for your current building and the next) and there are plenty of things to do with the extra - buy a VP, a soldier, Alchemist, etc. So I would stil put him in the bottom third, but rate him higher than many of the one-for-one spots.
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Chris Linneman
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The Champion is a great spot if you are building to a Fortress. He supplies almost all your stone needs in one go.
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Yoki Erdtman
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Hey Brad, this is one of the best strategy articles I've read on BGG. Not only must I upgrade my rating and impression of the game after my first few plays, but I will buy the game as well. Thanks to this article I finally won my first game.

It was pretty much the "The Embassy Rush Strategy," but it nearly backfired as I lost the battle the 2nd year and the Town Hall. However, I did make a strong comeback, and with some defensive buildings and the first two on the Cathedral row, I won a five player game with 41 points over the closest at 35. I never bought anything above the Duchess all game.

Thanks.
 
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Mark C
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Great guide --lotta detail. I think a couple things you might want to add though. The farms are most powerful in a 3 player game, and hardest in a 5 player. Embassy/Defense work better in higher player games as there will be fewer resources handed out. Also, getting the envoy is more powerful in a 5 player, and probably worth missing a build as it denies it from another player, but gives you the option to build just as many buildings anyway. It also puts you in position for the extra die. This is particularly good when using the farm strategy since it chews up a lot of resources and leaves you with fewer buildings naturally.

Our games seem to only be won with Farms or Embassy, and usually finish somewhere around 50.
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Alex Rockwell
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Great article!!

I had thought that the Town Hall was terrible, and useful only in getting to the (obviously awesome) Embassy, and for late game points with excess resources. But if point > resource is really accurate much of the time, then I'll have to shift my opinion of it. It certainly seems best to use the '2 die' chips on it (we call them cookies).

I hadnt thought of the jester as being all that good, he seemed like a booby prize. (Is the #12 space then the boobie prize?)
But you talking about using a market to move a 2 down to a 1 makes me think about it more. If a point is that good, then the Jester is really a reward for rolling low, to compensate for the lower roll? I could see this as begin true in the later parts of the game, but in the first year or two the resource definitely seems better. It certainly seems better to use a 1 on a jester, than to improve some other die by 1, however.

Most buildings tend to be something like: X+2 resources for X points + ability. Some even give more points than resources. So its hard to see a point as being better than a resource, with the exception of things you have too much of, or at the ver yend.


I dont see how the merchant guild is at all terrible. 6 resources (5 with Crane) for 1 resource a turn and 4 pts. If you have 2 years left, it pays for itself while giving 4 pts. Granted, its all gold, which is kindof a pain, but its useful in either trading with the #6 for better resources, using the town hall for points, or affording the statue/chapel/church at the end of the game, which are point-efficient. (I know the church kindof sucks, but it is at least point-efficient, I think they are reasonable year 5 buildings). Cathedral would also be reasonable, but getting to it requires starting the top line too early (like end of year 3), when you should still be buying other stuff that gives useful powers.

I can see saying the merchant guild is worse than other end of row buildings, it is a little worse than them. However the farm is great, so if you do a farm strategy, it seems reasonable to get it if its early enough. Is the reason you think its bad just that you cant do that and still get enough defense to survive?


The queen is definitely the best space. (And thus I always say "Seventeen!!" when I roll). Though really you just need a 14 with a market and 2 chip. I think that the 17 and 18 should be flipped, it would be more accurate to their power. But it seems they are in their places for thematic reasons. Also the 18 is definitely good with a stable, though still not necessarily better than the queen.

The entire 13/14/15/16 row seems only ok to me, relative to what you could give with the same amount in lower people. Its certainly a balance mechanism, rolling high and taking a big guy frees you from the competition for the first two rolls of people, but in exchange doesnt exactly get you more. 13 seems decent if you only spend 2 dice on it. 14 seems much worse than 12. 16 gives what is probably too much gold. (Hello #6 guy, please take my gold).
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Alex Rockwell
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My thoughts on the spaces (3 games so far):

#1: A good use of a 1 die. Much better than combining that 1 with another number probably.

#2, 3, 4: Very efficient ways to get resources. They are likely the top priority picks if you rolled fairly low, assuming you can take it and know that you cant be locked out for your other dice.

#5: Terrible without stables, great with stables.

#6: Inefficient use of a 6 (and bad with two dice), but its a decent use of a 6 when you have too much of one resource and need the others.

#7: A good use of 5 + 2die chip, and great for 6+market.

#8: Efficient use of 6+ 2 die, or two dice for 2 resoures.

#9: Gives good groups of resources, an efficient use of 2 dice.

#10: Terrible without stables, decent with stables. Not a good space overall.

#11: Quite expensive for what you get. #2 + #6 is better for example. This is clearly worse than #12, and is a much more expensive version of #9.

#12: Awesome, especially for 2 dice. If you have 10 on two dice, using a +2 to get this and getting the chip back, and two choice resources, is way better than the #10 guy in most cases.

#13: Good if it costs only 2 dice and you need stone, bad for 3 dice.

#14: The 12 is sooooo much better. ONly good when you need 3 resources in a tricky combination.

#15: If your dice are 15 and queen is available, youd better be using a 2 chip. 12 is a much more efficient space than this, as are things like 9 + 2/3/4, 7+8, etc. Only decent if those 3 are what you need.

#16: Only good if you need a lot of gold and couldnt have gotten the 17 with this roll.

#17: Best space, take it if there is a way to get it, almost no matter what. Its about the only big # space where you are getting more for your money than you couldve with a combination of littler munbers, most of the other big #s you get the same or less.

#18: Not as good as 17 unless you have stables, then you might consider it. If you have stables and need military its good but maybe not as good as queen.


Efficient spaces (for their cost, imo):
1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 12, 16?, 17.
5 with stables.
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Dennison Milenkaya
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I really don't understand why everyone seems to trounce the 6 spot. For a single die, you like 2, 3, and 4 as they get one resource for one die. 6 gets you one resource for one die, as well [-1+2=1]. Honestly, I think you are too caught up on having to give something up to get something, but in reality the payoff is as good as any of the other single-die resource spaces.

With 6 and either 2, 3, or 4, you can get Stone and either Gold or Wood (your choice!) without combining dice, using a +2 token, or modifying a roll with the Market. This is the cheapest way of getting Stone. Otherwise, you are looking at a 7 (requiring more than a simple, single die) or 9 (if you also want Wood and taking more than a single die) or 11+ which tends to require high rolls or using tokens, etc. Now the 6 is not only as efficient as 2, 3, and 4, but also provides the rarest of resource. And it is flexible enough that you can even use it to unload one of the Stones you got (say, from the 13) that you don't need.

Better yet, that 16 space which nets four Golds is a good way to get more than one resource per die, but it is a lot of the same thing. A wonderful follow-up is to diversify. If nothing else, it is a rather unique spot on the board and I'm glad to see something more interesting than "place here, get this".

Either way, it is two resources (pretty much of choice) for two dice and that works fine on the 8 spot which is just Gold and more Gold. Sure 12 is better, since it yields a token and can give two same items, but that does require that both dice be 6s, combine three dice, or modify with other resources.

This technique even allows you to block more low Advisors. And tactically, that's just good playing.

One die for one resource is either good or bad. Please excersize some consistency. If the entire arguement against 6 is that the die should be combined with something else, then you are really arguing the high rolls are better, and I think that's quite contrary to the bulk of this strategy article. Otherwise, it is a great article and I pretty much agree with anything else in it but this 6-spot-is-bad opinion. Meanwhile, with a 6-1-1, 6-4-4 (no Market) or 6-6-6 (no Market) that Alchemist is probably the most attractive spot.
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David desJardins
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FlatOnHisFace wrote:
If the entire arguement against 6 is that the die should be combined with something else, then you are really arguing the high rolls are better


Of course the high rolls are better.
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