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Subject: Kingsburg - A Detailed Review rss

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This review continues my series of detailed reviews that attempt to be part review, part resource for anyone not totally familiar with the game. For this reason I expect readers to skip to the sections that are of most interest.

Image Courtesy of laiernie


Summary

Game Type - Board Game
Play Time: 60-90 minutes
Number of Players: 2-5
Mechanics - Dice Rolling, Role Selection, Resource Allocation
Difficulty - Moderate
Components - Excellent
Release Date - 2007

Designer(s) -

Andrea Chiarvesio - (Hyperborea, Kingsburg, Kingsburg: To Forge a Realm, Kingsport Festival, Orkensturm, and Signorie)

and

Luca Iennico - (Fairy Land Kingsburg and Kingsburg: To Forge a Realm,)

Overview

Kingsburg offers an interesting but not highly original story and theme. King Titus has selected several new Governors (that's you) to oversee his outlying regions. Your responsibilities include developing your border town, which includes the construction of new buildings and ensuring that your defences are set to repel the attacks of monster hordes that are likely so far from the Kingdom proper. To help you in your endeavor the King has made available to you the many Advisors within his court. Of course any royal court is filled with intrigue and double dealing, so those Advisors may not always be at your disposal. You will have 5 years to develop your province, at which time the King will announce who will be elevated to an Advisor within his court!

Of all the titles to come out of Essen '07, Kingsburg was the first to grab my attention. It had an appealing box front, the board looked amazing and it had a fantasy theme. This was a rare 'buy-on sight with no research' purchase for me but would it be any good?

In another rarity it has taken me 6-8 months to review Kingsburg as I had some unsettling feelings in those early plays. I'll comment on those thoughts throughout the review but I now feel that 8-10 plays later I can write this review with confidence.

Components

d10-1 The Board - Like most board games, the board in Kingsburg is the centerpiece. But it should be noted that this board is truly exceptional. It features illustrations of the 18 members of the court and the layout, style and artwork are wonderful. Each character is portrayed using a cartoony / almost anime style which is in my opinion very refreshing. Each character is denoted with a number and a series of icons are used to represent the benefits that each character will bestow.


Image Courtesy of EndersGame


The remainder of the board is all about functionality as it includes various tracks to record the Seasons (central to the flow of the game), Turn Order, Soldiers Recruited and the current Year. There are also 4 boxes in the top right hand corner to store the various resources.

The board features a 'score-track border' but even this is better than average, featuring nice big numbers and using a wooden grain background that fits in with the fantasy theme.

The colours used on the board are rich and vivid, without being gaudy. Whilst I like boards of the standard seen in Pillars of the Earth and Stone Age, somehow the board in Kingsburg has more character - no pun intended.


Image Courtesy of Dukeof Earl


d10-2 Player Mats - Each player is then given a mat that represents the province that they are in charge of. Each mat consists of 20 buildings that can be built during the game. These are laid out using 5 rows of 4 and each row of buildings are printed on a scroll - as if the King had given you these possible plans for the layout of your province. This is a subtle but lovely feature.

Each building is given a name, cost to build, Victory Point Total that can be gained (by building) and any benefits that are bestowed. The names in particular are classic fantasy fare and as a player of turn based video games like Heroes of Might and Magic these buildings are highly appealing.

The player mats are also rendered in glorious colour and are very engaging for any person walking past your table. They are a little on the thin side however and I recommend laminating them for long term protection.


Image Courtesy of Ratio


d10-3 Resources - Kingsburg offers Stone, Wood and Gold as resources and these are represented using the now standard wooden cubes, which feature a logical colour for each.


Image Courtesy of BaSL


d10-4 Bonus Chits - There are several ways to earn bonus chits during the game. These bestow a +2 bonus that can be added to one or more dice when trying to influence a single member of the court.


Image Courtesy of Harlequinlite


d10-5 Horde Cards - In all there are 25 monster cards, each one representing a different horde that could attack the provinces each Winter. There are 5 cards for each of the 5 years and only 1 card is randomly drawn for each year of the game.

The cards feature a simple but effective design that quickly allows the players to identify the horde type, their strength and the benefits and penalties for winning/losing to them in winter.


Image Courtesy of BaSL


d10-6 The Dice - These are key to the mechanics of Kingsburg and as such there are quite a few of them (but don't fear - read on). Each player receives 3 dice in their player colour and a further set of white dice are provided as these can be gained in certain situations.


Image Courtesy of barbate


d10-7 Player Tokens - There are various discs and tokens that each player must receive in their own colour to represent the Knights they hire, their score and their turn order. Players also receive a pool of cardboard Building Tokens. These are placed over the cost of a building when it is built by a player to represent the development within a province.


Image Courtesy of Harlequinlite


d10-8 Game Tokens - Then there are the 3 purple tokens that are used on the board. These keep track of the year, the current season and represent the King's Envoy, which is an in-game bonus.


Image Courtesy of da pyrate


d10-9 Rules - The rules are excellent, featuring step by step instructions on the flow of the play. There are plenty of illustrations and 'Example Boxes' to help clarify key points and the rules even include a summary of the roles within the court, complete with their titles. This is a nice touch and supports the theme further. It's also nice to note that each Advisor's title matches fairly well to the rewards they give. For example the Treasurer offers 2 Gold.

The only warning on the rulebook is that the text is a little smaller than it should have been given the amount amount of text present.

Combine this with the fact that the flow of seasons and game mechanics are intricate and you may be excited to get playing quickly - their is potential to rush in and get a number of rules wrong is fairly high. Consider me guilty as charged.


Image Courtesy of Harlequinlite


d10-1d10-0 Storage Tray - The storage tray is functional. There is certainly space for everything without there being dedicated spots for anything in particular.


Image Courtesy of BaSL


In summary, the components of Kingsburg are a delight to behold. Touches here and there really suggest that the designers took great love and care with the production values of the game and it is certainly appreciated by this reviewer. Hats off to the Kingsburg team.

Set-up

This is taken care of pretty quickly given all the bits I have just run through. Each player takes a player-mat and all components that feature the colour of their choice (dice included). They then place their various track markers on the appropriate tracks on the central board and keep their building tokens in a pool to one side of their mat.

The Horde Cards are then shuffled and 1 of each card from the 5 year periods is selected at random. The Year 5 card is placed on the bottom, then the Year 4 card etc etc with the Year 1 card placed on top.

On a side note the Horde Cards are a nice feature in that only 1/5th of the cards are used in any one play and the possible variables in future plays is big (help statisticians?!). This enhances the re-playability slightly, which is always welcome.

The final set-up requires the board markers (purple) to be placed on the Season and Year Tracks, the resources are placed in their appropriate boxes and the game is ready to go.

The Game Play

Right from the outset it is important to note that whilst Kingsburg is a 'dice-driven' game, it is not in the same vein as a Yahtzee or old-school combat driven Ameritrash game. By that I mean the players are not rolling bucket-loads of dice each turn, but the dice are key.

Kingsburg is very much a Duero (Dice driven Euro) where the rolls are important but the players have the scope to manipulate the results of each roll to best suit their plans (or hamper those of there opponents).

Kingsburg uses the Seasons present in each year to control the flow of the game. In all there are 3 Productive Seasons that require players to roll their dice, allocate them to the court to gain benefits and then build any buildings, which they have the resources for. In between those Productive Seasons are a series of other Phases that bestow benefits to particular players. In all there are 8 phases to each year and at the end of the 8th phase of the 5th year the game will draw to a close with the most Victory Points deciding the winner.

I'll outline each of these phases that make up a single year in turn -

d10-1 Phase 1 (Aid from the King) - In this phase a simple icon denotes that the player with the fewest buildings constructed is awarded a bonus white dice in the following Productive Season (Spring). In the event of a tie, it is the player with the fewest resources that earns the bonus. If two or more players are still tied then they each receive a resource of their choice instead.

This phase is 1 of 2 phases that seeks to aid the player(s) that may be trailing behind. This not only helps to keep the game close by helping to gain on the leaders, it also allows for strategic considerations as a player may deliberately choose to not build in order to gain a bonus such as this.

These catch-up bonuses are also important as generally it is a considerable disadvantage to have fewer buildings as fewer building bonuses are being earned.

d10-2 Phase 2 (Spring) -

Image Courtesy of cnidius
This is the 1st of the 3 Productive Seasons. Each player rolls their 3 coloured dice (plus any bonus white dice) simultaneously and the results are left in plain sight for all to see. Each player's total is determined and these are used to denote the player order for this round. The turn order is determined with the lowest total earning 1st place and the highest total gaining last place, with all other players placed accordingly in between.

Once the turn order is established, the first player decides where they will place 1 or more of their dice. By adding their dice together they can form a total that corresponds to the value of any Advisor. This may be achieved with a single dice or multiple dice.

In this illustration a player has influenced the Master Hunter by adding a 5 + 4 to total her value of 9.

The key though is that the active player can only select one member of the court (by placing the appropriate dice on that space) at a time. Then the play moves to the next player in turn order to do the same.

It should also be noted that any bonus white dice rolled can never be allocated as a single dice to claim an Advisor. These dice must always accompany 1 or more of a player's coloured dice.

When the last player has selected a member of the court, the action returns to the start player, who can then place any of their remaining dice. This sequence takes place until all players have placed their dice or can no longer do so.

I say this last part because the key restriction on selecting a court member (which is meant to reflect your influence over them) is that only 1 player can influence a single character per Season!

The dice allocation phase is by far the longest part of the game and it takes place 3 times per year. Thankfully the remainder of the game phases are no more than 20-30 second affairs and this helps keep Kingsburg to the 60-90 minute mark.

Thus, during the allocation of dice period, each player is very carefully weighing up the other player's options to see if they can hurt someone else or ensure that they themselves cannot be locked out of using all their dice. Add to this the consideration of which court members are most useful at the given time and how a player's building benefits could be used to help and Kingsburg reveals itself as a deeply involving experience.

Once all players have finished allocating dice, each player receives the benefits of the Advisors they influenced. This is however, resolved in the order of the court members, starting with number 1 (Jester) and ending with number 18 (King). This is important as several of the benefits can interact with one another, so timing of when resources are gained can be a critical factor.

Once all benefits have been bestowed, each player can choose to construct a building if they have the appropriate resources. Only 1 building can be constructed per season and a building token is placed over the building's cost to reflect its existence.

I will cover each of the benefits bestowed by the Advisors later.

d10-3 Phase 3 (The King's Reward) - In this phase a simple icon denotes that the player with the most buildings constructed is awarded a Victory Point. If multiple players are tied then the player with the most resources earns the VP. If two or more players are still tied then they all receive a VP. This bonus is meant to reflect the King's pleasure with players who lead the construction race and it serves as a carrot to those that charge ahead, thereby forgoing the 'catch-up' benefits of Phases 1 and 5.

d10-4 Phase 4 (Summer) - This is the second Productive Season of the year and it follows the exact same flow as that outlined in Phase 2 (see above). Of course the key difference is that the turn order is likely to be different and the needs of each player will have changed depending on the results of the Spring and any constructed buildings.

Should 2 or more players share a total after adding all their dice, the turn order positions are determined by the order the tying players were in during the last Productive Season, staying in relative turn order.

d10-5 Phase 5 (The King's Envoy) - The King's Envoy is represented by a purple pawn and gaining access to it is valuable indeed. The King's Envoy is awarded to the player with the fewest constructed buildings and again any ties are broken by seeing who has the fewest resources (lowest winning). If two or more players are still tied, nobody receives the King's Envoy.

The King's Envoy can be used once at any time prior to the start of Phase 5 in the following year. One of two powers can be used with the Envoy -

a) Advisor Influence - Allows a player to influence an Advisor that has already been chosen by another player, provided they have the appropriate dice total to do so. The Envoy is placed alongside the player's dice and both players can access that Advisor's benefit.

This power can be super crucial as it means that the other players are less likely to try and block your access to an Advisor as doing so is pointless. Having the knowledge that you cannot miss out on Knights or key resources is key.

b) Building Might - The Envoy can also allow a player to build twice in a single Season, thereby breaking the normal building rule. This option is less commonly used but can be very effective in the right situation. One option it does give a player is the ability to not build in a Season in the hope of gaining the Phase 1 bonus (extra dice). This may result in a stockpile of resources, which can then be used in the Spring by using the Envoy to build twice.

If for some reason a player does not use the King's Envoy before the start of Phase 5 in the following year, it is simply returned to the board and re-assigned to the player with the fewest buildings.

d10-6 Phase 6 (Autumn) - This is the 3rd and final Productive Season of the year and it follows the exact same flow as that outlined in Phase 2 (see above). Of course the key difference is that the turn order is likely to be different and the needs of each player will have changed depending on the results of the Spring, Summer and any constructed buildings.

Should 2 or more players share a total after adding all their dice, the turn order positions are determined by the order the tying players were in during the last Productive Season, staying in relative turn order.

d10-7 Phase 7 (Recruit Soldiers) - This phase allows all players to hire more Soldiers should they feel they are not well protected for the impending Winter and advance of the Hordes. Each soldier costs 2 resources (player’s choice). This is a very hefty price to pay however and should only be considered in the most dire of circumstances.

It should be noted that the cost to hire Soldiers can be reduced to 1 resource if a player has built a Barracks.

If Soldiers are purchased, the player's Soldier Marker should be moved along the Soldier Track accordingly.

d10-8 Phase 8 (Winter) -

Image Courtesy of Ratio
This is the final phase of the year but it is not productive, so no rolls are made, benefits gained or buildings constructed. This phase only serves to herald the arrival of a new Horde of monsters that have come forth to lay siege to each player's province!

The top card of the Horde Deck is turned over to reveal the nature of the threat. Each Horde is assigned a strength rating and it is this number that must be at least matched by each player if their defences are to repel the beasts.

The start player from Phase 6 (Autumn) is in charge of rolling a white dice (D6 used to represent the King's personal Knights) and the result of this number is added to the number of Knights each player has hired for that year + any defensive building bonuses. In this way each player can calculate their own defence score. If this number matches the strength of the Horde, they have managed to survive with no ill effects. If a player's defence is greater than the Horde, the player defeats the threat and earns the bonus outlined on the Horde Card. Conversely if the Horde's strength is greater than a player's defense, the player is defeated and must pay the penalty. This can be a loss of Victory Points, resources or even a building. Most nasty is the fact that a lost building will be the most expensive building constructed by a player, which represents a major setback.

This phase reinforces very clearly the need to hire enough soldiers throughout the year to combat the threat of the Horde. Thankfully the back of the Horde Cards features a strength range, which denotes the min and max strength of a Horde for that year. This gives the players a 'ballpark' figure to work towards.

The board of course is will designed so that Soldiers can only be earned in 3 of the 18 Advisor locations and doing so will not award any resources.

So there is a very real decision to be made in each season between going after Knights or resources. Like any good game, each player does not have the collateral to do everything well and timing (the potential to be blocked when allocating dice) is crucial.

Once the effects of the Horde have been resolved the current year comes to an end. The Year Track Marker is dropped down a slot to reflect the start of the new year and the Season Marker is reset to Phase 1. Before the action starts all over again, all players must reset their Knight Track Markers to zero! Yes folks, Soldiers are only hired for a single year at a time, meaning they must be gained again in the new year. What makes it all the more depressing is that the strength of the Horde grows stronger with each year! This is diabolically brilliant. devil

So What Is the End Result? (Strengths)

Well I'm happy to report that the end result is that Kingsburg is a very clever and engaging game that keeps most players gripping the edge of their seats for almost all of the 60-90 minute journey. The reasons for this are many -

d10-1 Decisions that Matter - The beauty of Kingsburg for me is that it offers so many interlocking decisions. The Player (Building) Mat reflects your long term goals. It is simply impossible to build everything on the Mat, so key decisions must be made as to your Strategic Direction over the course of the game (each scroll or row of buildings follows a theme - see Building Summary below). Your plans in this area then serve to dictate what Advisors you are dearly after when allocating dice. Other considerations for dice allocation are the need for Soldiers and the potential to 'foul up' the plans of others by taking an Advisor they dearly needed. This sees the inclusion of a real 'take that' element to the game play.

d10-2 Choice, Choice, Choice - At almost every turn the players are offered choice in their decision making. From the selection of buildings to the allocation of dice, to the selection of resources from Advisors that provide multiple options - choice is constantly on offer. This serves to instill a feeling of control and purpose within the players. This is at the heart of why so many of us play games in the first place.

d10-3 Player Interaction - There is almost no player decision in the game that won't affect at least one, if not all the other players. This helps keep everyone on their toes at all times and each player has a keen interest in the actions of others.

d10-4 Great Flow - Whilst the earlier summary of the game play may seem a little daunting at first, the flow of the game is very intuitive. The flow of the 8 phases used for each year become second nature after the first run through or two and they help each player keep track of where the game is up to. The phases in-between each Productive Season are also cleverly implemented to not only offer a short pause between the longer Spring, Summer and Autumn turns, but they also serve to balance the game offering various advantages for risk takers (leaders) and those that are falling behind - thus ensuring close finishes at the end of the game.

d10-5 Dice with Brains - I can still remember some of the early groans my gaming friends emitted when they first saw that Kingsburg was a Euro with dice. Remember this was a time prior to the recently successful Stone Age. I love the fact that the dice allow for a large amount of variability with each roll, but even the worst rolls can still bring about great reward with clever allocation and the right buildings.

There have been several threads and strategy guides devoted to this very discussion 'Will high rolls result in easy wins?' but gamers more clever than I have appeared to dispel that notion. My experience thus far has seemed to support that line of argument.

d10-6 Investment Vs Reward - I tend to prefer my Euro's to sit in the 40-70 minute range and Kingsburg usually runs closer to the 90 minute mark for 4+ players. But in this case I really don't mind as the game has me totally engrossed in what's going on. The only warning here is to watch the AP players closely during the dice allocation phases as this is when the game can slow down a little.

So Why the Early Concern - Any Weaknesses?

I'll admit that from my very first play I had some strong doubts over various elements of the game and I knew 6 months ago that I wouldn't be able to review Kingsburg for some time if I was going to judge it fairly. So do I still hold any concerns now?

d10-1 The Building Track - My first concern was over the Player Mat (Building Options) and it was two fold. First is the fact that I love choice and upon seeing all of those 20 buildings my heart was racing. So many options I thought, imagine how they will interact with one another.

Of course I soon discovered that each scroll (set of 4 buildings) very much followed a theme rather than directly interact with each other. I then discovered that resource scarcity means that no player will build the majority of buildings in a single game (actually more than half is unlikely) and this is because the scrolls serve another key purpose.

They denote a building order of sorts as the first building in a scroll (row) must be built before the second can be built and the 2nd before the 3rd etc. Therefore to reach some of the powerful buildings towards the end of a scroll, considerable building must occur in that row prior. Combine this with a game that is short on time (a total of 15 Productive Seasons will take place) and a player's apparent choice is diminished considerably!

Of course this is not a flaw in the game at all, in fact it is a deliberate design feature and necessary to making the game work. This is simply the let down of my first impressions not being in line with the reality.

My second concern however was far more serious. I feared that certain scrolls (building themes) were more powerful than others and therefore a 'no-brainer' decision. This would effectively render the game broken.

Initially it was the second scroll that caused concern. The Inn is a must build before the Summer to gain a Bonus Token each year, the Market allows greater freedom of dice allocation and the Farm awards a bonus white dice with every future Productive Season roll. Indeed this strategic path won many an early game until....

A few friends totally crushed our playing group over successive plays following the 5th Scroll path for building. The Crane offers cheaper building construction (-1 gold) and the Town Hall and Embassy allow quick VP's each Productive Season. Couple this with the fact that the 5th Scroll buildings are the cheapest to build and it seemed the new champion until....

We were defeated by the 4th Scroll Strategy and then a combination of other strategies.

Thankfully 6-8 months down the road I am able to sleep easy in the knowledge that Kingsburg's Building Paths are very well balanced indeed. I do wonder though, how many people have not given Kingsburg enough time to prove itself before moving on.

d10-2 The Hordes - Whilst I applaud the inclusion of this feature as it fits the theme well, I am still not convinced of its effectiveness in terms of implementation. Generally speaking it is quite easy to protect your province against the Horde as so many buildings offer defensive bonuses. I recognise that building them means you cannot build other things, so there is an opportunity cost, but I'm still not convinced.

There have been strategy articles written about how it is possible to follow the 'Defensive Building Path' and then monopolise the Advisors that offer Knights as a way to see your opponents get slaughtered by the Hordes, but to me that just feels more like 'meta-gaming' and I don't think too many 'average Joes' care to work that hard in a game.

The result then is that Kingsburg tends to see only 1 or 2 defeats to the Hordes at the most, which seems to under-utilise the feature. Conversely it can also be damn frustrating to build up your defenses and then the D6 Roll made to help fend of the Hordes pops up a 6 and the players with almost no defense survive with ease.

I recognise that players have thrown up some alternatives for the Combat resolution and these have even been endorsed by the designers. Thankfully the designers have announced an impending expansion that will take another look at this area of the game and I'm hopeful that the resolution will be an improvement as it is the only element that leaves me a little flat.

The Final Word

What more can I say? I rate Kingsburg very highly indeed and believe it to be one of the stronger titles to be released in recent years. I have had positive feedback from a diverse range of gamers at our club and I know that it will get played if I pop it in my box.

If the base game wasn't good enough, an expansion is on the way for Essen '08 (fingers crossed) that will see a range of new features that will only broaden the experience and options available to players. Personally I can't wait! laugh

Building Almanac

In this section I wanted to take a quick look at the design of the Building (Player) Mat and the strategic implications.

d10-1 General - In general it is important to note that each scroll follows a theme. Each is generally different from the others although Scrolls 3 and 4 are fairly similar in that they focus on defensive bonuses.

In addition it is important to note that the resource requirements of each scroll are greater the higher up the chart they are (Scroll 1 being the most resource demanding). In addition buildings get more expensive the further right they are in each Scroll. This is an important consideration because if a building is destroyed by a Horde, they will destroy the furthest right and highest up building. This represents your most expensive building in terms of resource cost.

d10-2 Scroll 1 (Monuments)

Total VP's on offer - 3 + 5 + 7 + 9 = 24

Resource Cost - 2 + 4 + 6 + 8 = 20

This row features the Statue, Chapel, Church and Cathedral. These buildings largely serve to earn massive Victory Points but the resource cost is massive also. Perhaps more importantly than the 20 resources to complete this Scroll, Stone is a key resource and this is harder to obtain than Gold and Wood. The building benefits of Scroll 1 can come in handy on occassion but essentially this Scroll is all about the VP's.

Few players build beyond the Chapel.

d10-3 Scroll 2 (Productivity)

Total VP's on offer - 0 + 1 + 2 + 4 = 7

Resource Cost - 2 + 4 + 6 + 6 = 18

This row features the Inn, Market, Farms and Merchant's Guild. The VP's on offer are significantly lower here and the resource cost is almost the same as Scroll 1. The key here though is the building benefits as they are very powerful. The Inn allows a Bonus Token to be gained every Summer, thus allowing greater flexibility of dice allocation. The Market allows a player to influence an Advisor whose value is 1 more or less than the total on the dice used to select that Advisor. This is perhaps the single greatest power in the game.

The Farms allows a player to receive an extra white dice on all future rolls and on the surface it would seem to be the key to victory. However the cost is that -1 must be taken away from a player's defensive strength when fighting the Horde. It is very important to acquire a defensive building or two before purchasing the Farms, otherwise disaster can result and the Farms could even be lost. The Merchants Guild offers 1 gold at the start of each future Productive Season. This bonus can help fund future building projects.

d10-4 Scroll 3 (Might is Right)

Total VP's on offer - 1 + 2 + 4 + 6 = 13

Resource Cost - 2 + 3 + 5 + 7 = 17

This row features the Guard Tower, Blacksmith, Barracks and Wizard's Guild. The resource requirements are fewer than Scroll 2 and the VP's on offer are almost double. The catch is that all of the building bonuses are battle related, being either +1 or +2 in battle. The Barracks allow Soldiers to be hired at the cost of only 1 Resource instead of 2 (during Phase 7) but paying for Soldiers at all is a last resort.

d10-5 Scroll 4 (Veiled Strength)

Total VP's on offer - 0 + 2 + 2 + 4 = 8

Resource Cost - 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 = 14

This row features the Palisade, Stable, Stone Wall and Fortress. The resource requirements are fewer than Scroll 2 and the VP's on offer are almost double, although less than Scroll 3. This row is another defensive strategic option but it serves to combine the benefits of Scrolls 2 and 3 at a lower resource cost. The trade-off is that the defensive benefits are a little specialised (Palisade offering +1 in battle but +2 against Zombies, Stable offering bonus Soldiers but only when dice are allocated to Advisor's that offer Soldiers. The Stone Wall allows a draw against the Hordes to be classed as a victory and the Fortress offers +1 in battle and awards a bonus VP for defeating the Horde.

d10-6 Scroll 5 (Civil Power)

Total VP's on offer - 0 + 1 + 2 + 4 = 7

Resource Cost - 1 + 2 + 4 + 6 = 13

This row features the Barricade, Crane, Town Hall and Embassy. Whilst the VP's are the equal lowest on offer, the resource cost is the outright lowest and the benefits of each building are quite powerful when considered within the greater scheme of things.

The Barricade offers +0 in battle but +1 against Goblins. Given that Goblins feature in 4 of the 5 'Year Decks' (see Set-up) there is a decent chance that this will come in handy.

The Crane subtracts 1 gold from the cost of buildings 3 and 4 in each Scroll, allowing your resources to stretch further. But it is really the Town Hall and Embassy that are key. Both of these allow VP's to be earned in each Productive Season.

The Town Hall awards a VP for the sacrifice of a Bonus Chit and the Embassy awards a VP in each Productive Season. Getting these two buildings as early as possible is critical to maximising their benefits but it may come at the cost of defensive vulnerability.

Character Almanac

In this section I wanted to take a quick look at the design of the King's Advisors and any strategic implications.

d10-1 Jester - Offers 1 VP. Usually only taken when a 1 cannot be added to other dice for greater effect.

d10-2 Squire - Gain 1 Gold.

d10-3 Architect - Gain 1 Wood.

d10-4 Merchant - Take 1 Gold or Wood. Allows greater freedom in the selection of other Advisors.

d10-5 Sergeant - Recruit 1 Soldier. Usually taken by defensively weak players if #10 (General) is already taken. Can also be good if a player has the Stable as it will still give 2 Soldiers.

d10-6 Alchemist - Allows any 1 Resource to be traded for the other 2 types. This Advisor makes the timing of benefit allocation (starting at #1) key, as often a player will look to gain a Wood or Stone from #2 or #3 and trade it here. The Alchemist can also make good value out of the higher Advisors that offer 2, 3 or 4 of the same resource as they can be traded cheaply here.

d10-7 Astronomer - Awards a resource of choice and a Bonus Token. Resource Choice is obviously valuable and the Bonus Token allows greater flexibility in selecting Advisors and can be used with the Town Hall.

d10-8 Treasurer - Gain 2 Gold.

d10-9 Master Hunter - Gain 1 Wood/1 Gold or 1 Wood/Stone.

d10-1d10-0 General - Recruit 2 Soldiers and secretly look at the Horde Card. This allows a player to bolster their defences and identify the seriousness of the threat. This is a regular choice by those not pursuing the defensive build strategies.

d10-1d10-1 Swordsmith - Gain 1 Stone/Wood or 1 Stone/Gold. Given the scarcity of Stone in the lower Court, the Swordsmith is a useful Advisor.

d10-1d10-2 Duchess - Gain 2 Resources of choice and a Bonus Token. The Duchess is widely considered to be one of the best low level Advisors as she can be reached with a total of 10 (plus a Bonus Token) and the options she allows are highly flexible.

d10-1d10-3 Champion - Gain 3 Stone. Fairly unpopular most of the time but can be handy for expensive buildings and for pumping through the Alchemist in future Seasons.

d10-1d10-4 Smuggler - Pay 1 VP to gain 3 Resources of Choice.

d10-1d10-5 Inventor - Gain 1 Stone, Gold and Wood. Given the total required, his benefit is not great and may well be gained using a combination of lower Advisors, with careful planning.

d10-1d10-6 Wizard - Gain 4 Gold. Fairly unpopular most of the time but can be handy for expensive buildings and as an easy trade using the Alchemist in future Seasons.

d10-1d10-7 Queen - Gain 2 Resources of choice, 3 VP's and secretly look at the Horde Card. In my opinion she is one of the best Advisors on offer (supporting the theory that behind every man is a better woman) but some have argued that you can get better value in the lower court with careful placement.

d10-1d10-8 King - Gain 1 Wood, Gold and Stone and Recruit 1 Soldier. The King doesn't really represent great value for the total unless you have a Stable, allowing 2 Soldiers to be recruited.

Links

For a full list of my 500+ reviews in a search-able Geeklist -

My Review Geeklist for Easy Reference

Other Dice Driven Euros

d10-1 Airships - A Detailed Review

d10-2 Alea Iacta Est

d10-3 Kingsburg: To Forge a Realm - A Detailed Review

d10-4 Las Vegas - A Detailed Review

d10-5 Stone Age - A Detailed Review

d10-6 Yspahan - A Detailed Review


EDIT - Added Links Section

EDIT - Updated to more modern visual format
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tim Tim TIm TIM TIMMY!!
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WOW, what a long review, very very informative, I think I may even enjoy this one when I get to play it someday, thanks for sharing!

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Rob White
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How long does it take to create a review like that? Wow. That's commitment baby!

I too am enjoying Kingsburg quite a bit. I would highly suggest anyone who isn't sure about it to play the Java app. that is listed here at BGG. It is a great program.

I would also suggest this game as a good 2-player game for couples. The 2-player variant (using extra dice to simulate 2 other players) is fast, easy, and realistic. More players is better but two players is fun and a much faster game as long as neither player has a lot of AP issues.

My wife likes the game a lot and she says it feels like San Juan but with dice. I agree.
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Mark
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Perhaps the most informative game review that I've read on the Geek. Great job, Neil!
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Lourdes Betanzos
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I have thoroughly enjoyed this game each time I have played it. Excellent review.
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Rob in Richmond wrote:
How long does it take to create a review like that? Wow. That's commitment baby!

It took about 6 hours from start to finish, which was pretty much my Sunday. Thanks for the comments folks.
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Dang. That's longer than the rules!
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Chris
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Neil Thomson wrote:
Rob in Richmond wrote:
How long does it take to create a review like that? Wow. That's commitment baby!

It took about 6 hours from start to finish, which was pretty much my Sunday. Thanks for the comments folks.
Oh yeah, baby!

And thanks for that (I'm in the 'choir' though).
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Stefan
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Very long and good review... Though I don´t like the game because of the luck on dice.... arrrh
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Rob White
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Piazza31 wrote:
Very long and good review... Though I don´t like the game because of the luck on dice.... arrrh

Obviously the dice are lucky. But I don't think that means the lower roll gets screwed. Most of the time I play a 2, 2, 3 roll will get you some good stuff. And with a +2 or the market (I think that's it) you have the flexibility to grab three good things. The only thing a low roll seems to do is eliminate the chance for a really high character (like the most valuable queen). But lots of the high characters still won't give you more than the three items the low roller grabs. At least that's the way it works out when I play......

Rob
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Yeah Rob - I tend to agree.
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Dean Weller
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Nice job on the review.
Look forward to seeing others equally professionally produced A++
This is one of my favourite games.
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Dean Weller
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PS did you recognise the portrait of one of the authors amongst the 'helpers'?
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No I didn't know this fact. I'll guess number 6?
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Luca Iennaco
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A true title: this really is a "detailed" review, Neil. Thanks for the time and effort you put into it.

Neil Thomson wrote:
No I didn't know this fact. I'll guess number 6?
Advisor #6 depicts Andrea, Advisor #7 depicts me.
It was an idea of the graphic guys (a nice surprise for us).
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The Wizard is useful because he is the only character that gives 4 resources, more than any other. The problem is that once you get +s from from the Inn, Market, and 7/12 advisors, its possible to get 4 resources but with more freedom in how such is achieved.

1=1 dice for 0 resources
2=1 dice for 1 resources
3=1 dice for 1 resources
4=1 dice for 1 resources
5=1 dice for 0 resources
6=1 dice for 1 resources
7=1 dice+ for 1+ resources
8=1 dice+ for 2 resources
9=1 dice+ for 2 resources
10=2 dice for 0 resources
11=2 dice for 2 resources
12=2 dice for 2+ resources
13=2 dice+ for 3 resources
14=2 dice+ for 3 resources
15=2 dice+ for 3 resources
16=3 dice for 4 resources
17=3 dice for 2 resources
18=3 dice for 3 resources

Hence, the best total resources you can get out of 3 dice, a +2 marker, and a Market is 8(6+Marker) and 13(6+6+Market), getting you 5 resources.
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T.W. McLain 3
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Kudos on this superb review!
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Chris Schenck
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Outstanding review!

It was long, but quite easy to read because of the structured format and generous use of photos. It covered exatly what a review should cover.
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Chris Schenck
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Neil Thomson wrote:
On a side note the Horde Cards are a nice feature in that only 1/5th of the cards are used in any one play and the possible variables in future plays is big (help statisticians?!).
Drawing a single card from each of the 5 groups of 5 cards would yield 5^5 possiblities: that's 3125 unique sets. It should be noted however that many of these sets will be largely similar to other sets -- such as two sets that only differ by one card. So, much like Dominion, the actual play value of the different sets is more limited than the number suggests. Still, I'm a big fan of variable setup potential in general.



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tikiguy wrote:
Thanks for the great review. You sold me on the mechanics of the game as well as extiguishing fears that it has low replay value. Thanks

My pleasure. And don't forget the upcoming expansion for the 2nd half of 2009. That should really give the replay value a good kick along as well.
 
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Daniel Cedro Gomes
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Great review !
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Marlon de Silva
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Wow, that is the most comprehensive game review, without any unnecessary ramblings.

Honest, balanced, allowing us to make an informed choice.

Thanks!!

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AmigoMarlz wrote:
Wow, that is the most comprehensive game review, without any unnecessary ramblings.

Honest, balanced, allowing us to make an informed choice.

Thanks!!


Thanks for the feedback - much appreciated.
 
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George I.
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Very nice review. A small correction.

Neil Thomson wrote:
d10-7 Phase 7 (Recruit Soldiers) [...] It should be noted that the cost to hire Soldiers can be reduced to 1 resource if a player has built a Stable.
... the Barracks.

Keep it up!
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Picon wrote:
Very nice review. A small correction.

Neil Thomson wrote:
d10-7 Phase 7 (Recruit Soldiers) [...] It should be noted that the cost to hire Soldiers can be reduced to 1 resource if a player has built a Stable.
... the Barracks.

Keep it up!

Thanks for the pick-up...edit made.
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