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Subject: Reviewing my Daughter's Favorite Games (No. 14) rss

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Gerald Gan
Quezon City
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Kingdom Builder is a two to four player game published in 2011 by Queen Games.  It's designed by Donald X. Vaccarino (yes, the same guy who designed Dominion and all its expansions/incarnations) and plays roughly forty to sixty minutes per game.  The game is suitable for adults and children (not too young) alike.  To those who are interested, there's a new expansion out called Kingdom Builder: Nomads, and there's also a promo item (Kingdom Builder: Capitol) currently being sold thru the BGG Store.

Picture Submitted By: James Fehr || Taken From the BGG Database

Kingdom Builder is a game where the players create or build their own kingdoms by tactically building their settlements, aiming to garner the most gold at the end of the game.

I'll be doing something slightly different in this series of reviews, as instead of writing on how it compares to similar games in its genre, I'll replace that section with my five year-old daughter's thoughts on why she likes a certain game (paraphrased of course).  It'll be written in a short Q & A style. 

The game comes with a rulebook, eight modular board/map pieces (pictured below), a bunch of cardboard counters, wooden tokens in four colors, and a boatload of wooden houses, also in four colors (one for each player).  The wooden components are of your average euro quality (but to be honest, it's a tad hard to improve on the quality of wooden components), while the boards and cardboard tokens are quite thick and hefty and should stand-up to a lot of plays.  The rulebook is concise and easy to read... you should have no problem playing the game after just one reading.

Picture Submitted By: Chaddyboy || Taken From the BGG Database

The game also comes with a deck of terrain cards which dictate where you place your settlements and a deck of kingdom builder cards which determine how scoring will go in the current game.  This ensures freshness and replayability, as the kingdom builder cards provide randomness and various scoring combinations that's sure to test your wits (and sometimes your patience).  For a more complete idea of the components, please see the picture below.

Picture Submitted By: Chaddyboy || Taken From the BGG Database

The cards are a tad too flimsy for my taste, and I advise that they be sleeved for preservation.  The artwork is nice, but nothing that takes your breath away.  Overall, the quality of the components is about what you'd expect from Queen Games, slightly (very slightly) above average.

Setting up the game is quite simple.  You first choose four different kingdom tiles and join them together (2x2) after which you seed them with the corresponding "powers" (2 of each).  You then shuffle the terrain cards, dealing one out to each player and you give each player their starting set of pieces (one color for each player).  Each player places their scoring token on the score track.  Lastly, three role cards are dealt out that determine how the scoring will work for that particular game.

On a player's turn, he/she simply lays down three houses based on the terrain card he/she drew.  At the beginning, the player can start laying his/her houses anywhere, the only restriction being once a house has been laid down, the succeeding houses MUST connect to it IF possible.  If it's not possible to connect to pre-existing houses, the player may then play his/her house anywhere else (limited by the terrain card of course).

The three role cards determine the various ways to score for a particular game.  They range anywhere from being able to score a gold every time you build next to another player's house to scoring a certain number of points for being able to build a line of houses.  The ten role cards keep each game fresh, allowing for tons of possible combinations.

On your turn, you can also play any "powers" you may have acquired.  To acquire a power, you simply lay a house on a hex next to a space that still contains tiles for a certain power.  There are a handful of powers in the game, and I won't go thru each one.

Once a player lays down all of his/her houses, the final round is triggered.  After which scoring occurs based on the role/scoring cards and for being next to castles.  The player who accumulates the most gold (scored the most points) wins.

Q: Why do you like this game Kashieu (pronounced cashew)?
A: I like laying down houses and watching the board grow!

Q: What do you think of the components?
A: They're nice daddy.  I like how colorful everything is.  And I like the cute little houses

Q: Did you find it hard to understand how to play the game?
A: No, it was very easy to understand and after you explain the scoring cards to me at the start of each game, everything else falls into place.

Q: Does the game frustrate you?
A: Sometimes, because I want to lay down my houses in different places but I'm limited by what I can do by the terrain cards and connectivity rule.

Kingdom Builder is an easy to understand game that serves as a great gateway and family game.  It is a good abstract game, and although my daughter still often makes tactical mistakes and sometimes confuses where it's advantageous to place her houses, she enjoys it a lot and has seen improvement each time we've played.

Kashieu gives this game her seal of approval, and I imagine she'll only like it even more as her understanding of how to play and how to win deepens.  For me... it's a good game, I won't hesitate to play it when my daughter asks me to play, and it's something that I might pull out the shelf whenever I have a gaming group over.
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Ben Harris
United States
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I have a seven year old daughter that loves games. I will have to try this one with her.

Thank you for your review!
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