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Subject: The spinoff that isn't a spinoff rss

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Matt N

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I’ve played Kingdom builder three times with three people. (I also played it four more times with one rule incorrect, where you could use powers on the turn you got them.) I won two out of three, so this mixed review is not based on me being awful at the game and liking it less as a result.

Any links are to reviews I’ve written. I’ll throw in a lot of Dominion comparisons, even though this game does not have much in common with Dominion, just because it’s a good reference point. No, this particular review will not be in the form of a rap. Sorry?

Rules summary


When they grow up, they’ll learn that building a kingdom is hard work. Also, they’ll learn that horses from a paddock can’t actually jump over mountains or water.

The object of the game is to have the most gold (victory points). Gameplay consists of building various sets of kingdom cards for use in games of Dominion. Each player starts with a 40 settlements, which are placed during the game. The board is made of four randomly assembled map pieces; this step is much faster than the Settlers equivalent, since there are only a few pieces. Each map piece has clumps of various terrain types, along with cities, which score three gold for each player that has at least one settlement adjacent to them, and location tiles, which give adjacent players special optional powers. Three Kingdom Builder cards are selected randomly at the start of the game, and score for various bonuses like having mountain-adjacent tiles or having connected cities/locations. If you miss the full Dominion experience, you may repeatedly shuffle the other seven cards during the game, as they will not be used.

On their turn, a player must use their terrain card, drawn randomly at each turn to place three settlements on the board on that terrain type. If possible, they must connect to their own settlements; if not, they can start anywhere on that terrain type and then must connect to that settlement if possible. Optional powers can be used before or after the terrain card, but the terrain card must still be used during that turn. The game is sequential, so the next clockwise player will then take their turn.

The game ends when one player runs out of settlements; there are equal turns in this game, so if the first player runs out, everyone else gets a turn; if the last player runs out, that’s it. It’s generally terrible to have only one or two settlements to play on the last turn, so someone is usually encouraged to end the game quickly. Once the game is over, each player’s gold is tallied on the scoring track, which is conveniently printed on the back of each map piece so that a spare can be used. The player with the most gold wins; in case of a tie, the winner is the player who can make the most contrived analogy to Dominion.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
There’s actually no tiebreaker.


Ratings:


Theme: 1.5/10 (Dominion (base set) = 1/10, Puerto Rico = 5/10, Agricola = 10/10)

I always loved reading about the Knights of the Settlements Arranged in a Horizontal Line as a kid.

This game is basically abstract and has very little to do with the theme. The cards have titles that are only vaguely justified based on the function, and there’s really no feel of building a kingdom. However, it gets some minor credit for having a board that’s integral to the gameplay with a few thematic cards/powers, and the theme probably isn’t going to turn people away - which is all I ask for in a game, actually. Thus, while Dominion has a relatively disappointing theme, Kingdom Builder will probably do okay in that regard.

Abstract games tend to be terrible on theme by nature, and Kingdom Builder is at least average for an abstract game, so I’m not inclined to harp on this. My scale isn’t designed for abstract games.

Replayability: 3/10 (Settlers = 1/10, Dominion (base set) = 4/10, Agricola = 10/10)

There’s variety in the game, even though it’s probably thousands of times less than Dominion, if you believe combinations are somehow indicative of a game’s replayability. It’s heavily tactical; even if you build towards a city, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the right terrain card to get there. The self-blocking mechanic (arguably a strategic decision) is a neat twist on a piece-placing game, and the variable victory conditions add a fair amount of variety to the game. The powers add thought and little tactical decisions that tend to be different game by game. Expanding to make your particular terrain-based power more flexible or, conversely, moving away from that terrain tile to give yourself another outlet on the board is a neat source of depth.

However, replayability only works if the game remains interesting, and Kingdom Builder really feels like it will get stale after a while. There’s only so many times you can place settlements on the board without it getting to be rather similar, and without several movement powers, you end up rather constrained, so that the cool "place an extra one on a desert" or "place an extra one on the board edge" powers just end up with you trying to fill the same region with very little apparent gain, other than dumping a piece on the board. The board edge power is a particular culprit; it is a very strong combo with one particular power, which I will not name, but otherwise usually leaves you flailing on the edge trying to vaguely work your way toward some objective.

The real issue, as I see it, is how frontloaded the game is (much like the Dominion base set). Your first few turns, particularly your second turn (if you get lucky or unlucky with your next card), play a major role in determining how many and which powers you can scoop up. If you fall significantly behind on powers, you are basically dead in the water, but still have to play out the rest of the game. That didn’t happen to me, but it did happen to someone else I played with, and it’s difficult to play badly enough on the board to have someone make a comeback from far behind. Luck does play a major role here. The major counterargument in favor it the game (and it’s a good one) is that Kingdom Builder is short enough that losing early is not the horrible experience it would be in a game like Agricola. Also, there is skill involved that some people will overlook; sometimes good play will mean you have a 1/5 chance of being screwed instead of a 3/5 chance of being screwed... which is a big difference.

So, the game has low replayability for me (lower than the Dominion base set), but it might well be good enough for people who want a simpler sort of game. Much like the other categories, this rating is subjective.

Ease of learning: 10/10 (Agricola = 2/10, Race for the Galaxy 5/10, Dominion (base set) = 10/10)

This game is really easy to explain, even easier than the Dominion base set (which is perhaps a bit tenuous at 10/10). There are four pages of rules without massive errata, the game can be explained in ten minutes or less, and it’s a true "family game" that’s simpler than Settlers to explain. Dominion scares some people off; Kingdom Builder really shouldn’t, and that’s arguably the strongest selling point for the game.

Chance: 5/10 (Agricola 2/10, Dominion (base set) = 5/10, Settlers = 6.5/10)

There’s a lot of room for clever decisions. The initial power rush is a key step, and you can chain moves to get multiple powers starting on the second turn, with some skill and luck. Expanding randomly, after the initial power rush, will leave you stuck on one part of the board, while carefully choosing your adjacent terrain types will maximize your chances to expand to new areas and get more powers/gold.

However, the luck in the first few turns has a massive effect on the rest of the game; I really have to stress this point. In addition, you can block and be blocked from powers/cities purely by accident, simply because there are only a few strong moves for a given terrain type; that’s luck. You can also end up being overloaded with one terrain type; diversity is almost always best, and filling up an eight tile area for multiple turns in a row hurts a lot, unless you already have some special powers to bail you out. There’s strategy in avoiding the giant but limited spaces, but the terrain card luck can be pretty major.

Interaction: 3/10 (Dominion (base set) = 2/10, Race for the Galaxy = 3/10, Settlers = 10/10)

There’s some interaction in the game, but it can be spread rather thin if there are more than two players. The Kingdom Builder cards can be inherently interactive, such as the card that gives you gold for having the most or second-most settlements in a quadrant. Powers have a finite supply, and can run out quickly. More relevantly, a certain terrain tile by each power may fill up quickly, with desert being a particular culprit, so being late in turn order or just unlucky can hurt.

On the other hand, the bulk of your moves are based on solo optimization, and you don’t even get to block people in most of the games to hamper their progress. Sure, filling all of one terrain type adjacent to a tile or city is important at times; it also has a minimal effect on your strategy overall. Cool blocking moves (possible with some victory cards or special powers) are relatively rare. Kingdom builder is not an interactive game. The game feels like it has less interaction than 3/10 overall, but the variance in victory cards mean that some games are relatively interactive, so the rating stands.

"What number of players is best?"

I’ve tried three and four (although four was with an incorrect rule); three seems like a better sweet spot. It’s harder to get completely wrecked and the accidentally devastating moves that people can make are less likely to be a problem. Deliberately devastating moves still exist, but they come at a price; that is how it should be. It’s much more likely for someone to get shut out early in 4p, which is not fun for them.

"How much downtime is there?"

The downtime in Kingdom Builder is low to moderate. Some turns are really fast, but it can drag a little in the early game. Each player can at least try to plan ahead, although guessing what other players do, given the low probability of a specific terrain card, is difficult. Unfortunately, the player in the lead will probably take the longest, because they probably have the most powers.

A point I strongly want to make: This game is probably awful with analysis paralysis people. If it drags out to an hour or more, someone is probably not having very much fun, given the high luck factor. This game is good as a fast game (ideally in the 30 minute range; 45 was common for me), not as a lengthy game.

Setup/teardown is fast. There’s very little shuffling or other tedium; you don’t even have to add/remove components to change the number of players.

Final thoughts

Kingdom builder is a "good not great" game for me. I’ve enjoyed it every time I’ve played it, but it doesn’t draw me in like some other games I’ve played three or more times, and it feels like it will be lacking over time. The varying victory conditions and boards add some variety each time, but rehashing victory conditions and remixed boards are not going to be enough to keep me interested over time.

This game could be an excellent game to play with non-gamers (or Monopoly/Scrabble only gamers) however; it’s fairly fast, easy to learn, and still has some interesting decisions to keep you and others interested. I like it much more than the standard Settlers/Carcassone/Ticket to Ride gateway games.

Buy this game if:
-You enjoy plenty of tactical decisions
-You want chance as an equalizer
-You want an easy to learn gateway game
-You enjoy fast games and don’t get too upset by early bad luck

You may not want this game if:
-You can’t stand losing when you’re the superior player
-You want reliable long-term strategies
-You require frequent negative interaction
-You want a heavily thematic game
-You play with analysis paralysis gamers

Kingdom Builder gets a 7/10 from me. It’s great for a certain light, fast niche; I don’t particularly need to fill that niche. Don’t get me wrong; it’s an above-average game. However, I wasn’t as impressed as most of the other reviewers. Enjoying Dominion doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll like this game - but you might just like it anyway.

Edit: Fixed an inaccurate sentence based on a reply. Yes, that sentence was left over from some earlier plays, but we played correctly for the three ones I mentioned.
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P. oeppel
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Thanks, very nice review. I like how you split up the rating categories and give examples what the numbers mean (to you)

Stunna wrote:
I’ve played Kingdom builder three times with three people. (I also played it four more times with one rule incorrect, where you could use powers on the turn you got them.)

Stunna wrote:


Chance: 5.5/10 (Agricola 2/10, Dominion (base set) = 5/10, Settlers = 6.5/10)

There’s a lot of room for clever decisions. The initial power rush is a key step, and you can chain moves to get four powers on the first turn, depending on what’s out.


Assuming that you now play with the correct rules, I cannot see how you can do this. The first turn can give you only one location tile (at most), since you can not use that power directly to move your just placed settlements somewhere else across the board. The only other possibility would be that next to each location is exactly one free space of your terrain type so that you can jump across the board(s) during your turn. Since each terrain next to a location consists of at least 3 spaces (IIRC), this can only happen if the other players before you had all the same terrain and left one space vacant. Even then (not sure if that would even be possible in practice, didn't check the boards), with 3 settlements to place you could still get a max of 3 powers.
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Matt N

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Whoops, that's a typo from the old version. Fixing, and thanks for pointing it out. What I found is that while playing correctly slowed down the initial rush for powers, it still seemed to end up rather streaky, and I actually ended up with all seven power tiles (2 of three types, one of the sea power) in my last game due to some luck (and hopefully good play) for me and bad luck from others. So, while the game is better when played correctly, it is still luck-heavy in my experience.
 
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Kent O.
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Stunna wrote:

I always loved reading about the Knights of the Settlements Arranged in a Horizontal Line as a kid..


That's pretty funny.

It's true that the theme is not great, however, I do prefer a "pasted on" theme rather than just having "blue colors" or "red stripe" territories.

I am more attracted to a game that at least pretends to have knights rather than a game such as "Quirkle". Quirkle's fine, I just generally prefer to have games with pretty medieval pictures even if they are "pasted on."
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I stopped reading here...

Replayability: 3/10 (Settlers = 1/10...




I even managed to get past the part where you said:

"I’ll throw in a lot of Dominion comparisons, even though this game does not have much in common with Dominion, just because it’s a good reference point."

If there is little in common, then I don't see how it makes for a good reference point.



Anyway, to my point, in Settlers the board land tiles, number tiles, water ports, as well as initial placements of players change each time. This lends a game to having higher replayability. Giving it a 1/10 on the replayability scale makes me seriously question your definition of the term. You may think each game feels "similar", but replayability is increased with the randomization of the board elements. Honestly if you can't rate Settlers without taking that into account, then the rest of this review is probably a wash.

Thanks for sharing your opinion, the previous was mine.
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Brad Miller
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What he said.

Less "all-knowing cool guy" snark leads to better reviews...
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Pater Absurdus
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Review format was great but I have seen a pattern of reviewers exaggerating the luck factor in this game. I have found that placement next to the right land types and the best player powers early in the game is almost always possible and tends to diminish luck to nearly nil.
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matt schmaltz
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ejtracer wrote:
I stopped reading here...

Replayability: 3/10 (Settlers = 1/10...




I even managed to get past the part where you said:

"I’ll throw in a lot of Dominion comparisons, even though this game does not have much in common with Dominion, just because it’s a good reference point."

If there is little in common, then I don't see how it makes for a good reference point.



Anyway, to my point, in Settlers the board land tiles, number tiles, water ports, as well as initial placements of players change each time. This lends a game to having higher replayability. Giving it a 1/10 on the replayability scale makes me seriously question your definition of the term. You may think each game feels similar", but replayability is increased with the randomization of the board elements. Honestly if you can't rate Settlers without taking that into account, then the rest of this review is probably a wash.

Thanks for sharing your opinion, the previous was mine.




I don't think he was stating that settlers doesn't provide a lot of variation from the random setup. I think it was a statement that regardless of how the board is setup; the game just isn't that much fun because the game doesn't have that much meat to it, compared to many similar options. Hence the low replayability. I actual agree with him on most points. For many people Settlers is great and has great replayability, but for just as many people the game is nigh unplayable.
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dashmudtz wrote:
ejtracer wrote:
I stopped reading here...

Replayability: 3/10 (Settlers = 1/10...




I even managed to get past the part where you said:

"I’ll throw in a lot of Dominion comparisons, even though this game does not have much in common with Dominion, just because it’s a good reference point."

If there is little in common, then I don't see how it makes for a good reference point.



Anyway, to my point, in Settlers the board land tiles, number tiles, water ports, as well as initial placements of players change each time. This lends a game to having higher replayability. Giving it a 1/10 on the replayability scale makes me seriously question your definition of the term. You may think each game feels similar", but replayability is increased with the randomization of the board elements. Honestly if you can't rate Settlers without taking that into account, then the rest of this review is probably a wash.

Thanks for sharing your opinion, the previous was mine.




I don't think he was stating that settlers doesn't provide a lot of variation from the random setup. I think it was a statement that regardless of how the board is setup; the game just isn't that much fun because the game doesn't have that much meat to it, compared to many similar options. Hence the low replayability. I actual agree with him on most points. For many people Settlers is great and has great replayability, but for just as many people the game is nigh unplayable.


but 1 of 10? Even if you're not a fan, that doesn't seem right.
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monteslu wrote:
but 1 of 10? Even if you're not a fan, that doesn't seem right.


It's probably not worth arguing about his reference numbers - he has Agricola as 10/10 for theme and Settlers as 10/10 for player interaction, neither of which makes any sense at all to me. Just take it as his opinion of those games for a baseline (even if the baseline doesn't make sense to you) - it's probably more useful to argue about the game Matt is reviewing than to argue about the ones he's not reviewing in each of his reviews...
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Daniel Kearns
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Stunna wrote:
Deliberately devastating moves still exist, but they come at a price; that is how it should be. It’s much more likely for someone to get shut out early in 4p, which is not fun for them.


What does a "devastating move" look like in Kingdom Builder?

I've played about a dozen times and I've been inconvenienced and held back by the good play of others at the table but I've never encountered anything I would consider devastating. How does one get shut out? I haven't seen it yet, just curious.

Same with the initial or second card draw. Even if you get two of the same cards in a row, and you happened to build into a huge region of that particular terrain, and you didn't do anything useful with the token you presumably picked up, I still don't see how this "bad luck" creates a hopeless situation.

People have bemoaned not getting the terrain card that would have been ideal for them, but I haven't heard anyone I've played with say they lost because of luck.
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Patrick C.
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Quote:
, but I haven't heard anyone I've played with say they lost because of luck.


. . . which is anecdotal because you're only talking about people you know.

As I stated in another post about this game, in my very first game I was the 4th player AND I continued to draw only two types of terrain. True, my initial placement probably wasn't that great first game and all. That being said, I was still the 4th player. It would have taken a lot of knowledge of the game for me to recover from both being both 4th player and having only two types of terrain.

All this reminds me of some of the flaws in Settlers of Catan, a game I bet KB fans would bash as being too "luck dependent." Catan is luck dependent, but it also has strategy. And so does KB. But the KB fans are getting a bit annoying in making this game into something it isn't. Sure, experience counts, strategy counts as well, but stop arguing this game has great amounts of hidden depth that takes it beyond . . . well . . . Settlers of Catan!

I'm not saying I won't play KB. I'm commenting on the hype this game continues to receive from people making arguments they simply can't back up. KB is a gateway game with all the flaws that come from being a gateway.
 
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travvller wrote:
Quote:
, but I haven't heard anyone I've played with say they lost because of luck.


. . . which is anecdotal because you're only talking about people you know.


Correct! Which is why I qualified it.

travvller wrote:
As I stated in another post about this game, in my very first game I was the 4th player AND I continued to draw only two types of terrain. True, my initial placement probably wasn't that great first game and all. That being said, I was still the 4th player. It would have taken a lot of knowledge of the game for me to recover from both being both 4th player and having only two types of terrain.


How did drawing two cards of the same type cause you to lose?

Also, what is the basis for the turn-order advantage you are alluding to? Again, this is something I haven't seen yet and I'm curious about the assertion. Finally, you seem to acknowledge that there may have been a way out of your situation if you were more familiar with the game. This seems like an endorsement.

travvller wrote:
All this reminds me of some of the flaws in Settlers of Catan, a game I bet man KB fans would bash as being too "luck dependent."


I don't think anyone has said this and I don't understand why you would presume they would.

travvller wrote:
But the KB fans are getting a bit annoying in making this game into something it isn't.


What do you think KB fans making the game into?

Most people say it is light, quick, accessible game where you tactically mitigate random restrictions towards a strategic end. That seems accurate to me.

The only misrepresentations I see are the comparisons of KB to Dominion.

travvller wrote:
I'm commenting on the hype this game continues to receive from people making arguments they simply can't back up. KB is a gateway game with all the flaws that come from being a gateway.


All people are saying is that luck is present but not dominant as others claim. That doesn't seem like hype to me.

What do you think are the flaws that inherently come from being a gateway game?

I really enjoy gateway games and I don't see anything wrong with them per se.
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Matt N

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ejtracer wrote:
"I’ll throw in a lot of Dominion comparisons, even though this game does not have much in common with Dominion, just because it’s a good reference point."

If there is little in common, then I don't see how it makes for a good reference point.


If you'd kept reading, you would see that I consider the game to be as easy to learn or easier to learn than Dominion and that it has a higher but similar luck factor. The games are dissimilar in gameplay, but I don't see the downside of using dissimilar reference points; if I say this game is not a hardcore strategy/tactical game like Chess, you probably know what I'm talking about.


ejtracer wrote:
I stopped reading here...

Replayability: 3/10 (Settlers = 1/10...


Anyway, to my point, in Settlers the board land tiles, number tiles, water ports, as well as initial placements of players change each time. This lends a game to having higher replayability. Giving it a 1/10 on the replayability scale makes me seriously question your definition of the term. You may think each game feels "similar", but replayability is increased with the randomization of the board elements. Honestly if you can't rate Settlers without taking that into account, then the rest of this review is probably a wash.

Thanks for sharing your opinion, the previous was mine.


Uh, thanks for replying. First off, the scale is relative; I don't put Tic Tac Toe or Uno at a one because every game I review will be more replayable than those, just like Agricola gets a ten despite not being the most thematic game in the top 100. It's also a combination of inherent randomness and subjective variety in each play for me. dashmudtz hit the nail on the head for why Settlers lacks replay value for me. Honestly, if it's just a matter of combinations, there are a tremendous number of possible starting hands in Uno, but I don't think that an arbitrary number is a good way to look at it.

My reviews are subjective opinions based on both my subjective experiences and objective traits of the game. The numbers are meant to better explain what I think and are not absolute quantitative values for each trait, but I wouldn't say what I think if I didn't think some other people would have the same experience with the game.

Windopaene wrote:
Less "all-knowing cool guy" snark leads to better reviews...


Aw. Rules summaries are boring to read and boring to write, so I tend to be less dry than I am in other sections of the review.

arkayn wrote:
Just take it as his opinion of those games for a baseline (even if the baseline doesn't make sense to you) - it's probably more useful to argue about the game Matt is reviewing than to argue about the ones he's not reviewing in each of his reviews...


Exactly... If you strongly disagree with one of the numbers, you'll probably have to go with more of a relative interpretation (slightly more thematic than Dominion (base set), less thematic than Puerto Rico).
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Onto the game-related feedback...

Redward wrote:
Review format was great but I have seen a pattern of reviewers exaggerating the luck factor in this game. I have found that placement next to the right land types and the best player powers early in the game is almost always possible and tends to diminish luck to nearly nil.


Thanks. I think that there's usually a 2/5 chance, sometimes a 1/5 chance, that you'll draw a card that matches a terrain type next to your starting location. There generally aren't that many areas next to powers with five or fewer hexes, so that's generally pretty bad, and then that first power needs to bail you out, which will probably only happen once. I don't think it's unreasonable that a good player will have two powers on turn four due to luck, which can leave you far behind the player with three powers on turn three (often doable).

I don't see the argument that luck is nearly nil, short of the ability to see your next terrain card during your turn.

dkearns wrote:
What does a "devastating move" look like in Kingdom Builder?

I've played about a dozen times and I've been inconvenienced and held back by the good play of others at the table but I've never encountered anything I would consider devastating. How does one get shut out? I haven't seen it yet, just curious.


That's pretty specific to certain cards; the ones I was thinking of would be Knights (the line scoring one) and the one that scores for connecting the special hexes. Blocking someone's line, if they have add one to the line powers, can cost them a lot of points from Knights; starting a new line takes a long time and wastes an otherwise strong combo. Likewise, blocking a connection can cost 4+4+3 points, which can easily be more than the margin of victory, but it tends to leave you a bit vulnerable by leaving you near several regions that aren't useful. These aren't moves that annihilate someone in the early game; they're moves that cost a person a lot of points.

There's also the semi-blocking, where you wall someone off from the power/3 point hex but leave them enough hexes to sulk in a desert/grassland region with their wasted power tile for a couple of turns, but that isn't really devastating.

dkearns wrote:
Same with the initial or second card draw. Even if you get two of the same cards in a row, and you happened to build into a huge region of that particular terrain, and you didn't do anything useful with the token you presumably picked up, I still don't see how this "bad luck" creates a hopeless situation.

People have bemoaned not getting the terrain card that would have been ideal for them, but I haven't heard anyone I've played with say they lost because of luck.


Sure, they could win, but I'd bet on the beginner with three powers on turn three over the expert who is left to rot, and a bad start is even worse with 3p+. Now, there's a good argument that you shouldn't start in a huge region with a power tile that won't guarantee you somewhere useful on turn two, but sometimes that's probably right based on the scoring cards, which may favor quantity or that region a lot.

If I play well and get six powers, and you play well and get three powers, and I win, is that luck or skill? Or will a good player always get 4+ powers before the last few turns?
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Stunna wrote:

That's pretty specific to certain cards; the ones I was thinking of would be Knights (the line scoring one) and the one that scores for connecting the special hexes. Blocking someone's line, if they have add one to the line powers, can cost them a lot of points from Knights; starting a new line takes a long time and wastes an otherwise strong combo. Likewise, blocking a connection can cost 4+4+3 points, which can easily be more than the margin of victory, but it tends to leave you a bit vulnerable by leaving you near several regions that aren't useful. These aren't moves that annihilate someone in the early game; they're moves that cost a person a lot of points.


I see. Knights is a pretty valuable card and has the drawback of being blockable. Blocking a line is a good play, maybe devastating was an overstatement but point taken. And I agree that the margin of victory can/or at least has been in my games pretty tight.

Still, there's usually two other cards you can work on while you also try to limit someone else's line.

Stunna wrote:
If I play well and get six powers, and you play well and get three powers, and I win, is that luck or skill? Or will a good player always get 4+ powers before the last few turns?


Not sure how to respond here. If I feel we both played well and you win then I don't think I would accuse you of just getting lucky.

But I think your point is about the correlation of success and the number of tokens collected. After getting my butt kicked the first few times, I've started to do well and I tend to only shoot for maybe 3 or 4 tokens total. After getting two or three, I switch away from gathering tokens to scoring points. More than 3 tokens seems like overkill to me and getting both points and tokens is often difficult/excluded/not synergistic. I commonly don't use all of my tokens if they aren't directly going to earn me points anyway.

How many tokens is too few? 0 is definitely too few. 1 feels like too few as well. I could see winning with 2 and more. But if you can get 1 on your first turn, I find it very difficult to believe that you couldn't pick up a second somewhere along the way and usually in short order. Once you get 2, you should be able to get a 3rd if you want to. I guess I tend to see token gathering well within your power to control.

6 feels like way too many, but I don't think I've ever gotten 6 tokens and so I maybe I can't comment. I often focus on maximizing points off of all the cards rather than focusing on just one so maybe 6 tokens really pay when you try to maximize a single focused strategy. Still I've found most of the cards reasonably even so such focus seems unecessary, perhaps save the build in all sections one (EDIT: Lords? I meant Farmers).

Thanks for giving specifics. I'll keep thinking about what you've written and try and keep an eye out next time we play.

EDIT: oops forgot to respond to:

Quote:
I'd bet on the beginner with three powers on turn three over the expert who is left to rot


The nice thing about KB to me is that I would still bet on the expert.

Also, it is pretty tough to get 3 tokens in the first three turns especially for a beginner who doesn't know how to manipulate the board.
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travvller wrote:
I'm not saying I won't play KB. I'm commenting on the hype this game continues to receive from people making arguments they simply can't back up. KB is a gateway game with all the flaws that come from being a gateway.


Could you point me to some of this supposed hype? So far I've seen a lot of people complaining that it's *not* a deeper game, and other people sticking up for it as a good gateway, which it clearly is.
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Stunna wrote:
Onto the game-related feedback...

Redward wrote:
Review format was great but I have seen a pattern of reviewers exaggerating the luck factor in this game. I have found that placement next to the right land types and the best player powers early in the game is almost always possible and tends to diminish luck to nearly nil.


Thanks. I think that there's usually a 2/5 chance, sometimes a 1/5 chance, that you'll draw a card that matches a terrain type next to your starting location. There generally aren't that many areas next to powers with five or fewer hexes, so that's generally pretty bad, and then that first power needs to bail you out, which will probably only happen once. I don't think it's unreasonable that a good player will have two powers on turn four due to luck, which can leave you far behind the player with three powers on turn three (often doable).


I almost always have 4-5 powers by turn 4 because I place my first tiles very carefully and make only terrain commitments that I can afford. Luck is a factor but it has rarely cost me a win. This is especially true as my strategy has improved.
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Thanks for the reply.

dkearns wrote:
But I think your point is about the correlation of success and the number of tokens collected. After getting my butt kicked the first few times, I've started to do well and I tend to only shoot for maybe 3 or 4 tokens total. After getting two or three, I switch away from gathering tokens to scoring points. More than 3 tokens seems like overkill to me and getting both points and tokens is often difficult/excluded/not synergistic. I commonly don't use all of my tokens if they aren't directly going to earn me points anyway.

How many tokens is too few? 0 is definitely too few. 1 feels like too few as well. I could see winning with 2 and more. But if you can get 1 on your first turn, I find it very difficult to believe that you couldn't pick up a second somewhere along the way and usually in short order. Once you get 2, you should be able to get a 3rd if you want to. I guess I tend to see token gathering well within your power to control.

6 feels like way too many, but I don't think I've ever gotten 6 tokens and so I maybe I can't comment. I often focus on maximizing points off of all the cards rather than focusing on just one so maybe 6 tokens really pay when you try to maximize a single focused strategy. Still I've found most of the cards reasonably even so such focus seems unecessary, perhaps save the build in all sections one (EDIT: Lords? I meant Farmers).


Actually, Lords, Farmers, or Knights have been present in almost all of my games so far, so the powers that place extra settlements have been very valuable. If there had been more cards out that score for adjacent mountains/water, those would be a good reason to favor quality over quantity I suppose. I usually try to rush the ending under the assumption that with more settlements out, I'll do best - which has been true given the cards that have been out.

Scoring for connected special hexes also favors the powers a lot.

The seven powers game was a big anomaly, and I didn't even want the seventh one, except that I was scoring a point for each settlement adjacent to a special hex. I ended up next to every city by that point anyway...

I never really have a good feel for when to switch to scoring (the last three turns, sure, but that's too late), so I will keep your points in mind if/when I end up playing again.
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ejtracer wrote:
I stopped reading here...

Replayability: 3/10 (Settlers = 1/10...




I even managed to get past the part where you said:

"I’ll throw in a lot of Dominion comparisons, even though this game does not have much in common with Dominion, just because it’s a good reference point."

If there is little in common, then I don't see how it makes for a good reference point.



Anyway, to my point, in Settlers the board land tiles, number tiles, water ports, as well as initial placements of players change each time. This lends a game to having higher replayability. Giving it a 1/10 on the replayability scale makes me seriously question your definition of the term. You may think each game feels "similar", but replayability is increased with the randomization of the board elements. Honestly if you can't rate Settlers without taking that into account, then the rest of this review is probably a wash.

Thanks for sharing your opinion, the previous was mine.


I thought the same thing. If Settlers has replayability of 1/10, then I don't know how I spent an entire summer playing it a few times a week.
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Stunna wrote:
there are a tremendous number of possible starting hands in Uno, but I don't think that an arbitrary number is a good way to look at it.

I agree (though I have to admit I'm baffled by your Settlers rating). I also agree that the replayability in KB is fairly low, certainly lower than "the numbers" would suggest.

Part of that is that it feels truncated. Ten scoring cards? It's a big game, with a commensurate price tag, so this feels cheap and manipulative, with a very obvious nod toward inevitable (necessary?) expansions.

The special powers also feel a bit samey (there are basically two: add or move, and the other details add little interest). Which leaves the maps, and they more or less work nicely. But the whole feels less than the sum of the parts, at least in terms of variability.
 
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qwertymartin wrote:
travvller wrote:
I'm not saying I won't play KB. I'm commenting on the hype this game continues to receive from people making arguments they simply can't back up. KB is a gateway game with all the flaws that come from being a gateway.


Could you point me to some of this supposed hype? So far I've seen a lot of people complaining that it's *not* a deeper game, and other people sticking up for it as a good gateway, which it clearly is.


It's already ranked 61 in the family category. If that isn't Cult of the New I don't know what is. People blasted 7 Wonders, but this game is so dry and abstract it's crispy. At least 7 Wonders has some social interaction.

I also don't think it is clearly a good gateway. I would never use this as a game to pull someone into gaming. I might play this as an acceptable filler. Never a gateway. I just looked at the top 500 family/light Euro games and easily saw almost 100 games I'd use as a gateway over this one.

The hype on this game is its meteoric rise in the rankings in such a short time. It's a fine filler. It is absolutely NOT the 61st best family/light Euro ever made.
 
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Ah I see, the 'hype' is people liking the game and rating it accordingly. How dare they!

I've played it with my non-gaming family and non-gaming friends and it's worked very well for all of them. I'm not sure how you figure that 7 Wonders has more social interaction, but it hasn't felt that way to me.

I like that you say you found 'almost 100' games you'd use as a gateway over this one but then seem astounded that it's 61st in the family ratings. 61 isn't *that* far off 'almost 100' is it?
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Seriously, it's ranked 416. There's no way there are 415 games better than Kingdom Builder. Imagine if the game had somehow been poised to enter the top 10 in a couple of months. That would be pretty big hype. Of course some games are hyped just because they're good games and people love them. Other games, like Kingdom Builder, are punished for not being what people expected them to be despite being really good games.

Seriously, #416. All hype, indeed... shake

(edited a couple of times - my spelling is atrocious tonight)
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qwertymartin wrote:
Ah I see, the 'hype' is people liking the game and rating it accordingly. How dare they!


Just to play devil's advocate, I feel like the reason people are playing it and finding that they like it, thus increasing its ranking, is largely because of the hype behind "the new game by the guy who made Dominion."

I'm not saying it doesn't deserve the ratings that it's getting, I'm saying that it probably wouldn't have gotten nearly as many ratings (positive or negative) if it weren't for the hype. There are probably hundreds of games equally good as Kingdom Builder that are ranked much lower, simply because fewer people took the plunge to try them out.
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