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Subject: How a small change can make a big difference rss

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Filip W.
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I have to admit, I never liked Kingsburg. When the game came out I had high hopes: the theme is neat, with a fantasy outpost being overrun by hordes, the graphics are lovely and the production value is pretty high.

On paper the game sounded good. Sort of Yahtzee meets Puerto Rico without all the shipping but with some monster bashing thrown in as compensation. A playing time of 60-90 minutes meant that the game would be fast, furious and fun and the dice would mean that you wouldn't end up in the endless frustration of trying to catch up in Puerto Rico (I don't enjoy that game, BTW, and as I'm not interested enough to be a star player and it can be very unforgiving at times, especially when playing with people who do devote all their time to it). The building aspects didn't hurt either and while soldiers and combat were abstracted away they were still there in the theme.

A guy in our game group was begeistret and bought Kingsburg. And played it, over and over again and thus, so did I.

On my first play I thought I had missed something. The game wasn't about building, it wasn't about defending from the hordes, it wasn't about collecting VP (well, it was but it didn't feel that way). In fact I found Kingsburg to be a game about rolling high. Nothing else mattered.

If you didn't roll high you didn't get enough resources, you couldn't build and you'd get run over by the hordes and passed by your fellow players on the VP track. You'd sit there and look at your meager resources and, since there isn't very much to do beyond deciding where to place your dice after you roll them, you wouldn't have much to do.

At the same time it was too long, with too much analysis paralysis, to do the rolling justice. As you're forced to look at your dice and compare the possibilities with the other players' dice and try to figure out what's safe and if you can come up with more resources by splitting up your dice or going all in on one combination, you end up thinking a lot. Which is OK when you're alone but with four other people deep in thought who you have to wait for it's rather frustrating.

The hordes weren't fun at all. Sure they'd come in and do a tremendous amount of damage but you'd either have to build an absurd amount of troops (thus forsaking gaining resources and building stuff that helped you develop) or try your luck with that King's support die roll that could add a random number of extra troops to you. Thus, after six plays, I had come to the conclusion that I didn't like Kingsburg and was quickly growing to hate it. So I decided to never play it again.

Until now. I came to the gaming group after a long hiatus and the only game open was Kingsburg. Faced with the choice of playing Kingsburg or not playing at all I decided to bite the bullet and sit in.

Everything was just like I remembered it from before, except for the "Kings favor" tiles. With this tiny mod a single die roll per year (five throughout the entire game) was replaced with a choosable tile. The tiles had a number on them, representing the amount of extra troops the king would send to help you defend that particular winter (the game comes with five winter turns when the horde charges into your lands). You'd choose the amount of soldiers instead and the last tile you had left at the end of the game converted directly to VP.

Not much of a change. A lot of difference.

I found that being able to choose the amount of extra troops meant a meaningful choice in a game that had few of them. Suddenly your survival didn't come down to a single, random roll. You could actually plan and the tiles that granted you a peek at the next horde card became a viable choice.

The game went from "Yathze-as-War-with-a-PR-polish" to "PR-with-dice". A nice balance between optimization and randomness. I felt that I had a way to play that didn't devolve to me cursing fate.

Ok, it still isn't a game for me. The AP issue is still there, the randomness of the roll (roll badly in the beginning and you'll be way behind, it's an exponential curve) is ever present and there's no interaction (this is multiplayer solitaire, no matter how much I'd wish otherwise). But at least now I can accept Kingsburg as an emergency solution; the tile mod has pushed it up to a 5 for me - not good but at least playable.
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Ron
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I think the expansion added a lot to the game (apart from the personality cards).

And a note to high/low rolls: I always found that the cleverness of the game board and the placing mechanism balances that out. I admit, you can't win if you always roll low (which is unlikely in a game with that many rolls), but even with a low roll you get 2 or eventually 3 resources - which is usually the amount I aim for in a turn.

However, always nice to read about some fellow gamer's views - have a thumbsup meeple
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Oliver Paul
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I seem to be in a very small minority of people that didn't like replacing the king's favor die with tiles. There was always something exciting about the roll of the die, whereas using tiles is so dry and anticlimactic (considering it's supposed to depict defending a kingdom against dastardly invaders).

I have to admit though that I didn't like Kingsburg very much with the die or the tiles, but I did prefer the die a little bit.
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David Brown
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You pre King's Favour tile' review, reflect pretty much my view. I've played this game about four times and I thought it's pretty lifeless and had a certain 'rince and repeat' action to it.

I'm not minded to buy an expansion to a game that might make it more workable for me. I intend to sell it and cut my losses
 
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Matt Slowiak
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Kingsburg is a fun game and one I enjoy quite a bit. That being said.... The base game did not have much replayability for me. I'm not saying that I "solved" the game or anything, but there was not enough to continue bringing me back. I also did not feel that the king's die roll was good. Not the mechanic itself, just the swing itself. The ability to send from 1-6 troops was too huge. The king was singlehandedly winning some battles.

Then the expansion game. Tiles instead of the King's Favor was an add that I will personally never play without. Add in new buildings, events, and characters and this game skyrocketed in my view. I will pretty much never turn down a game.

I know some people don't care for the character cards. I would say if they are that much of an issue try the bidding of VPs for them at the start of the game, or just don't use them. That's the great thing about the expansion is that it is actually a bunch of mini expansions.

And for those that think that only the high rolls will win, I disagree. The ability to use multiple dice on the lower track works very well. Now, will someone who rolls all 17's beat someone who rolls all 3's? Yes. But I have seen many people win with moves they have made with lower #'s.

Great game.
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david landes
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From the same expansion, you will probably also love A) the increased size of the player boards, providing for more options and greater strategic choice and B) the optional rows that take the place of the board rows and instill even more variety. The two types of cards (for assuming a personality and annual events) are also good gravy.

I find that while rolling low all game does weaken ones chances, there is more room for maintaining equality than one might think.

Cheers.
 
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Stephen McHale
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murksofus wrote:
I seem to be in a very small minority of people that didn't like replacing the king's favor die with tiles. There was always something exciting about the roll of the die, whereas using tiles is so dry and anticlimactic (considering it's supposed to depict defending a kingdom against dastardly invaders).

I have to admit though that I didn't like Kingsburg very much with the die or the tiles, but I did prefer the die a little bit.


I think there are more of us than you think. We use all the expansion parts except the soldier tokens.

I guess to some people it is too random, to me it is a dice game so it is supposed to be random. To each his/her own.
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Booker Hooker
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Here are my thoughts on the soldiers. The fun part of playing Kingsburg is building and trying to get an engine going. Gaining soldiers is an important part of the game but not a fun part of the game. Every turn I have to spend gaining soldiers is a turn that I don't get to spend working on my engine (the fun part).

Would the game have no tension without the invading monsters? Maybe. Not sure if that would make it worse though.

I've played Kingsburg (and the expansion) several times now. I've more or less enjoyed my plays of it, but I do wish it was a bit more entertaining than it is.

Not sure if I'll keep it or not.
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Matt Slowiak
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Every play through is different, but I don't normally fins myself buying soldiers. Now, do I buy buildings which provide me military strength? Yes I do. And are there some games where I do buy soldiers? Yes, but not very often.

I like the hordes as it gives more of a fantasy feel to me. Building up my area while having to protect it as well. Maybe it's the urgency of building while needing to protect that I enjoy, or maybe I just like beating up bad guys. Either way, good times for me.
 
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Patrick
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I only played this game with 2 players and by the of the years we always know what we are facing since it's easier to access the Paladin (and when lucky the queen). Therefore, we didn't like how predictable the combat became with the expansion's token and we also taught that the 6D was too strong in some fights. So we now use a 4D. It keeps the gambling of not fully defending the village but it's not as strong as the 6D. Hoping for a 2, 3 or 4, while allowing us to build an extra building resource wise is sometime a fun risk to take.
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Martin Plourde
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Thanks Patrick for the D4 suggestion. I will try this for my next game
 
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Bill Gallagher
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Remember that one can somewhat counteract bad rolls by getting certain buildings! The one that allows you to adjust one die by ±1 is especially valuable (I'd get that before the first two on the top row, which allow for re-rolls, as it can be used every round).

Take advantage of going first! Watch what dice the others have left on your second placement! Yeah, it won't be enough to counteract the player lucky enough to roll 15+ almost every turn...

Also, consider the building that gives a boost to acquiring knights - it allows for relatively cheap defense against those pesky orcs or goblins!
 
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Andrew Miller
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StephenM wrote:
murksofus wrote:
I seem to be in a very small minority of people that didn't like replacing the king's favor die with tiles. There was always something exciting about the roll of the die, whereas using tiles is so dry and anticlimactic (considering it's supposed to depict defending a kingdom against dastardly invaders).

I have to admit though that I didn't like Kingsburg very much with the die or the tiles, but I did prefer the die a little bit.


I think there are more of us than you think. We use all the expansion parts except the soldier tokens.

I guess to some people it is too random, to me it is a dice game so it is supposed to be random. To each his/her own.


Same here. The high-risk-high-reward gambling mechanic of that one white die each winter is thrilling to me, especially going into the winter of Year 5, knowing what numbers I have to roll to either win gloriously or crumble completely. Given my propensity for rolling ones on those rolls, I've lost myself PLENTY of games like that, and I love it each time.

There are other games where I'm sure such a mechanic would drive me crazy and cause me to write a scathing review, but Kingsburg is not one of them.

--ElSoy
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Chris Talmadge
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filwi wrote:
Sort of Yahtzee meets Puerto Rico


It sounds like you haven't played much Yahtzee? The only part of it that is similar to Kingsburg, is Yahtzee's Chance category, where you total all dice. Alien Frontiers is closer to Yahtzee with the various combos you need to roll.

thumbsdown Bad comparison.

 
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Steve Duff
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Another die lover here, I refuse to use the tokens in the expansion.

The die provides a push your luck element, do you play it safe and build defensive buildings, or do you build other ones for points and abilities. With the tokens that's completely gone, each player just plays the exact token they need. Boring.
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Manuel Pasi
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Quote:

I think there are more of us than you think. We use all the expansion parts except the soldier tokens.

I guess to some people it is too random, to me it is a dice game so it is supposed to be random. To each his/her own.


+1

But we also have our little houserule on how to do it. Each player rolls two dice and the difference between the two numbers are the additional troops. This to me changes it for the better for two reasons:
- not everyone gets the same number which always found to be a bit dull
- chances of rolling a high number of troops is very little and you can end up with 0; this makes the preparation much more meaningful.

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Randall Bart
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I find the standup die roll for the winter battle the most important feature of the original game. Breaking that feature with the tokens ruins the game.
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Christian Busch

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StephenM wrote:


I think there are more of us than you think. We use all the expansion parts except the soldier tokens.

I guess to some people it is too random, to me it is a dice game so it is supposed to be random. To each his/her own.


Definitely more of us. When I first heard about the Soldier Token, I thought it would be great. It was fun for a few times but then I realized that it really favors the high defense builds and makes some of the other builds pretty weak. After that, it started to feel like the game was "solved" so we ditched that aspect of the expansion and never looked back.

I still run into players that insist on playing with that variant and that is fine because at the end of the day, I'd rather see people playing this than chucking it in the trash. My group, however, won't use them. We like all the other variants except maybe the yearly events. I see that variant as adding a bit too much variety and can really swing the game in favor of certain builds.
 
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Matt Slowiak
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space monkey mafia wrote:
[q="StephenM"]
It was fun for a few times but then I realized that it really favors the high defense builds and makes some of the other builds pretty weak.


I don't see that if favors it, but I do think what it does is allow high defense builds to score a few more points(through victories and the end token) whereas it also allows a non high def build use the tokens it needs while scoring higher point value buildings which allow for different strats.

The d4 idea is quite interesting I have to admit. My biggest problem 2ith the d6 is the huge swing it gave. The die roll itself could defeat the first couple/few(don't have the game in front of me) years.
 
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Andrew Miller
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The heavy influence of the die roll in the first couple of years is a blessing. Kingsburg would be terrible if you had to fight as hard in the first couple of years to get enough battle points to survive as you do in the last few years.

--ElSoy
 
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Tomas Hejna
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The army tokens favours the defense builds, as those other strategies cannot count on "gamble" that much and are left without the 4VPs bonus. With the army tokens, strong defense build is winning the game in about 80% or more...

Best variant so far is to simulate throws of King's reinforcements by cards of values 1,2,3,3,4,5 (or 1,1,2,3,4,5 if you prefer) and then to reveal one of them at random to all players as the reinforcement's value for the current year - instead of token or die use.
One of those card won't be used in the end, of course (on the last year you have quite accurate expectation as it is 1:1).
 
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Matt Slowiak
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XehutL wrote:
The army tokens favours the defense builds, as those other strategies cannot count on "gamble" that much and are left without the 4VPs bonus.


My reply to this is that they wouldn't need the 4VP bonus as the buildings they built are worth more VPs than the defensive ones the other built.

The so called gamble is actually worse with the dice, because that result is applied to everyone. So, someone going with a defensive build will get an even better benefit because a low roll might still succeed for him/her where as the gambler will suffer.

The early game combats are low in value and it is quite easy to either purchase the buildings/soldiers needed. I don't feel you have to fight that hard for them.

With everything being said, I love the game. And I love that there is the option to play it either way. What I prefer isn't always what others prefer(although they should). And if I ever run into one of you who prefer the die roll at a Con I would still gladly play with you.
 
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Tomas Hejna
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The reinforcement die has a wider range, yes - but on average it gives better defense, although without the control (of course). And furthermore, it does not award the overall better defensive strategies with the 4 additional VPs. The gamble strategies ARE more viable with it (it is called a gamble after all for a good reason - you presume that king will send more reinforcements to your aid, so you can concentrate on another builds/strategies which awards you with slightly more VPs).

If you have bad luck, well it happens. But if you wish to play "safe" strategy, it shouldn't be called "gamble" IMO.
 
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Josh
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XehutL wrote:
The army tokens favours the defense builds


This is absolutely false. The tokens can help a "farms" or "embassy" player rush those respective rows w/o worrying about early battles and leave the guy who played it safe, w/ a defense strategy, in the dust. Luca did mention back when the tokens were released that they help the defense strategy a little. What are your typical scores?
 
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Tomas Hejna
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Sorry man, but after a dozen of plays I can confirm that there is only one best built for reinforcement tokens which overcomes all others:
- all blue buildings (D)
- all red buildings (F)
- green at least up to Stone Wall (E) OR the Palisade only AND
- the rest from brown (B) up to what you can reach

The above means that you will not have to worry much about winter and thus you may spare 4VPs up to the end. Also, you will either receive aditional VPs from Embassy (if you can manage to build it fast) or from winning in combats (you will probably have the biggest army all the time - this will even gets stronger if you are able to build the Fortress faster than the Embassy). In about 80% this strategy with reinforcement tokens option will grant you the victory - unless you are cursed with low rolls, competing in the same strategy with your opponents or otherwise you are doing poor job in receiving the needed advisors.

Also the role General, Sculptor, Carpenter or Politician helps this strategy greatly.

Btw: If there won't be awarded those "bonus" 4VPs in the end, it would made viable some other strategies too - as this build is usually ahead of 4 to 10 VPs at the end of game.
 
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