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Kingdom Builder» Forums » Variants

Subject: Secret Kingdom Builder cards rss

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Jake Waltier
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Tonight I played with the following variant:
1. Deal one fewer Kingdom Builder card face-up onto the table (two instead of three).
2. Deal one Kingdom Card to each player face-down. Each player can look at her own card but not at anyone else's card.
3. Each of the private cards are scored last (in player order). Players do not earn gold for opponents' private cards - only their own and the two public cards.

All four players enjoyed this variant and said they would rather play this way than with three public objectives (including me). It adds score uncertainty and a feeling of the unknown among the competition.

Alternatively, you could deal two private cards and have each player choose one to keep, returning the other to the box. This would prevent being stuck with a goal that is clearly more difficult due to random setup.
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Russ Williams
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It's worth noting that secret goals add more randomness to a game which many have complained already has more randomness than they want: some goals are more valuable on average than others (e.g. see the thread Theoretical high score) and the worth of a specific goal also depends on the map arrangement and what special actions are available (e.g. Hermits will tend to earn more points if Paddock is in play; Merchants will tend to earn more points if Harbor is in play; etc). So giving each player an individual goal (whether secret or open) will seem unfair / too random to some (including me).

(And your decisions are made with less information, i.e. with fully open goals you can strategize more about how your moves will impact other players' efforts to earn points. But you can only guess about their secret goals.)

But if you want a more random variant with hidden info, this seems like a fine natural way to do it.

PS: There was some discussion of secret goal cards in another thread which might be of interest:
Kingdom Builder - Good Game for the Right People
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Jake Waltier
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Yes, if you aren't comfortable with randomness, this is not the variant for you. However, if you have such an issue I don't know why you would play Kingdom Builder at all - this is a light, fast game where your every turn is impacted by randomness. There are many better games for the luck-phobic. Also note the variant-variant at the end of my post - this can help address the specific concern.
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Russ Williams
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I actually think there's less randomness and more strategy/tactics than some KB-detractors say. But as long as we're open to variants, I have been enjoying my no-randomness variant (simply declare which 1 of the 5 terrains you are building on each turn).
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Jake Waltier
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I like the idea of the choose-one-terrain-type variant, though it does away with the constrained decisions that make the game so approachable.

Another alternative is to give each player a set of all 5 terrain cards, and as they use them they flip them over, making them ineligible for play on future turns. A player can spend her whole turn to flip all her terrain cards face-up again. I could see this providing a level of efficiency vs. tactical placement tension for the Caylus crowd. It would definitely push the game from the gateway category to the "light rules, heavy strategy" category right next to Chicago Express and Hansa Teutonica.
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