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Subject: Is Kingsburg a great introduction to worker placement games for a family? rss

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Will Plante
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I have already posted a topic about which WP game to get to play with my family (my wife and my 2 oldest kids, ages 7 and 10).

I was originally deciding between Stone Age, Fresco and Lords of Waterdeep.
A lot of people have recommended LoW, but there is something about the game that just turns me off. Probably the intrigue cards, seems like a lot of take that in this game.

Fresco is right up my alley, but a few people mentioned it was more complex than the others listed, especially of gaming with my kids. Plus it uses a dummy player for the 2P version.

I really like Stone Age, I love dice but it is out of stock from where I normally buy games.

So...

A few people also recommended Kingsburg as a great family game.


So I figured I would ask the fans of Kingsburg whether or not it fits the following criteria:

1. Will this game be accessible to my whole family?

2. How does Kingsburg work as a 2P game? (This is really important to me.)
I would like to get the WP game that will play best if it is just my wife and I.

3. Do I also need to buy the expansion right away?
Part of the reason I dismissed it was because it seems that everyone recommends the expansion as almost necessary to get extended plays out of the game. If the game meets the first 2 criteria then I would still consider buying this game.

Lastly, another recommendation was Alien Frontiers.
I have played on the iPad and I do not love it. There seems to be a lot of take that in the game, and I did not care for the area control aspect of the game. So I am not considering this game, plus it is currently out of stock.

Thanks for reading this long post, Your thoughts and advice is greatly appreciated!
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Galen Ciscell
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I'll let others address #1.

In response to #2: It plays brilliantly with 2. Very fast and very fun. 99% of my literally hundreds of plays have been with my wife and we both always want to break it out every Saturday morning! For my play preferences, I would argue it actually plays best with 2, as more people equals an exponentially longer (and more vicious) game.

In response to #3: You absolutely do not need to get the expansion "right away." My wife and I played the game over 100 times before the expansion released and we loved it every time. It stands on its own as a great game and the pre-expansion ratings here on the Geek bear that out. That said, when you do eventually tire of the base game (or just feel like it's so good that you must have more!) the expansion is superb and will indeed breathe new life into your play experience.

I think Kingsburg is a much better family game than Alien Frontiers; less "take that" and more forgiving of mistakes. See Gaming Trent Daily #15 - Kingsburg versus Alien Frontiers.

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Rogue Marechal
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This is of course just a matter of opinion, but an important point I want to make is that IMHO any WP game, by definition, have that 'take that' aspect, if they don't then that means the board is not tight enough at the player count.

So with that in mind, and responding to your query about Kingsburg, which is one of my favourite game incidentally, I would have normally advised against playing it with 2p only, because the 'board' is too loose, but perhaps that will be a plus for you.

Still, I think there is a lot of aspects to Kingsburg that are not trivial to grasp on the first few plays in term of juggling the different elements of resource management, building bonuses and warfare. And once you have worked out how it all blends together you will want to be pretty cutthroat and deny others the resources they need (same in Stone Age really). I know I do.

Anyway, I would say, out of all the WP games you mentioned, of which I have played all except Fresco, Alien Frontiers is IMO the least confrontational at the 2-4 player count, there really isn't anything inherent to the game that has the 'take that' aspect - there are plenty of ways to make it so, but that depends on the players, not so much the game play. Unlike other WP there are quite a few ways to protect yourself or ease the board restrictions via alien tech cards.

So for me, it really depends what you are looking for and who you are playing with, but I can guarantee Kingsburg is definitely not the least confrontational. Nor is Stone Age.

Maybe LoW with a custom Intrigue deck?
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Bill Kunes
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I got it for our family and they all like it (girls, now 12 and 13) we've had it for a while.

Most of our games, however, are 2p with just my wife and I. We mostly play with the 2p variant where one player rolls three dice and the other two of a different color and place those first before taking turns in player order and it works find.

We now have the expansion but enjoyed the game for many plays without it so I would say it is not a requirement out of the gate for you and your family or you and your wife.

meeple Keep playing...
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Kathleen Nugent
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RogueM wrote:
I would have normally advised against playing it with 2p only, because the 'board' is too loose, but perhaps that will be a plus for you.

bkunes wrote:
We mostly play with the 2p variant where one player rolls three dice and the other two of a different color and place those first before taking turns in player order and it works find.

We now have the expansion but enjoyed the game for many plays without it so I would say it is not a requirement out of the gate for you and your family or you and your wife.


I agree with bkunes about the 2-player variant. I think it's necessary to use it. It takes away at least two of the possible placements of your dice and makes the game as tight with two as it is with more players. I would never play 2-player without the variant.

One positive aspect of Kingsburg for your 7-year old is that it will be a bit mathy for her, not hard, but it will give her practice with number combinations.

gciscell wrote:
You absolutely do not need to get the expansion "right away." My wife and I played the game over 100 times before the expansion released and we loved it every time. It stands on its own as a great game and the pre-expansion ratings here on the Geek bear that out. That said, when you do eventually tire of the base game (or just feel like it's so good that you must have more!) the expansion is superb and will indeed breathe new life into your play experience.

I agree completely.

By the way, in your earlier inquiry you mentioned Pastiche. I read somewhere on the Pastiche games page that art teachers are distressed that the color blending combinations used in the game are not accurate; i.e., Pastiche says that two yellows and one red = crimson (or whatever. I'm sorry; I don't have the game at hand as I type this.) Art teachers know that that blend isn't correct.

On the other hand, I'm not an art teacher, so I love Pastiche just as a game. And I know it's not too hard for your 7-year old.
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Ron
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1. Yes. My family loves it, and I have played it successfully with gamers from 12 to adult.

2. I don't like it with only 2 players. There are many games out there, great with for two lonely hearts, but Kingsburg is not one of them.

3. Not right away, but after three games or so you might want to have the bigger player maps and some other goodies from that expansion.


Just one more thing: my family also likes Alien Frontiers - the two games do share some similarities (as you have already found out meeple), so you might want to try before you buy. There is a java version of Kingsburg anywhere on the net - but I don't know the link and I've heard that it is virus-infested. Probably others know more about this!
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Dan Edelen
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Papa Ninja wrote:
I have already posted a topic about which WP game to get to play with my family (my wife and my 2 oldest kids, ages 7 and 10).

I was originally deciding between Stone Age, Fresco and Lords of Waterdeep.
A lot of people have recommended LoW, but there is something about the game that just turns me off. Probably the intrigue cards, seems like a lot of take that in this game.

Fresco is right up my alley, but a few people mentioned it was more complex than the others listed, especially of gaming with my kids. Plus it uses a dummy player for the 2P version.


Fresco is a great game. I would choose it over Kingsburg every time for two reasons:

1. Deeper playability in Fresco; base Kingsburg gets old fast (explanation follows later)
2. Time. You can play Fresco faster than Kingsburg.

As to Kingsburg:

1. Will this game be accessible to my whole family?


Yes.

2. How does Kingsburg work as a 2P game?

OK. Of all the games you mentioned, I think the one that scales best is Lords of Waterdeep—no contest.

3. Do I also need to buy the expansion right away?


Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Without the expansion, it's a shallower game than the others here. I would not play Kingsburg without the expansion. It's the reason I don't own it. The total cost of the base game and expansion is $$$. Frankly, the base game needed to be released with the expansion already inside—at least the expanded player boards.

The biggest problem I have with Kingsburg: Player analysis paralysis makes this game overstay its welcome. I moved to playing the computer version of it and never looked back. The idea of this game is better than how it executes with real people.

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edelen wrote:
The biggest problem I have with Kingsburg: Player analysis paralysis makes this game overstay its welcome. I moved to playing the computer version of it and never looked back. The idea of this game is better than how it executes with real people.

This is why I vastly prefer Kingsburg 2-player.
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Rogue Marechal
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gciscell wrote:
This is why I vastly prefer Kingsburg 2-player.

And why I don't think it makes for a good family game... again, it depends on what sort of player you are / play with, but if I play with non gamers/family I try to pick games I can still play in such a way I don't feel I'm holding back constantly.

For that reason, I'd pick LoW or AF over Kingsburg in that setting... I might avoid the raider's outpost (or even suggest covering it up) and remove the mandatory quest in LoW, but at least they feel relatively the same to me, even if I come to the table without my competitive cap on.

I think Kingsburg cartoony graphics make it look like a 'friendly game', but I don't see how you can avoid the 'take that' aspect at 4-5 player count, you are bound to get in someone's way by just playing the game, unlike LoW or AF where you could conceivably minimise frictions while still playing the same game.

Then again, IMO as stated, WP, no matter the amount of efforts, can not be made into multi-player solitaire at 3+, if that is the intend of the OP. It certainly would not be my first choice for a casual game evening.
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Andreas Krüger
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The basic mechanic of Kingsburg (place dice, get resources, build something) is quite easy to grasp, but to develop a really good plan on what to build you need to read, understand and plan ahead the building abilities.
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Rogue Marechal
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Btw, I just checked your link on AF vs Kingsburg. It is quite interesting to see that 2 people can have a complete opposite view regarding how 'vicious' and 'unforgiving' a game is...

From my point of view:

- Kingsburg, if you need a resource to advance your strategy then you need it NOW. Too bad, there is no way you can gather it this turn. And other players will either inadvertedly or consciously make sure that happens as often as possible.

- AF, hey I can't get an Ore this turn, no matter let's just advance my pawn at the colonist hub and gather one next turn (and it won't be a disaster if you don't the next either).

So I really don't see how AF can come up as the more unforgiving and vicious out of the 2.

Maybe this is because it is not obvious from the first few plays that you don't actually need a LOT of resources to do 'well' in AF. And if you play in an economy where you don't accumulate resources by the truckload then you are not a massive target for the raider's outpost.

I think AF's reputation is mostly due to the Raider's Outpost, just like LoW is seen as a game with 'bad vibes' due to the mandatory quests and select other Intrigue cards. I can agree with this view for LoW, but not with AF - 3 dice is a lot to waste on a suboptimal raid.
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1- this is a difficult question because it will depend on your 7-year old. It is difficult to find a game that is readily accessible to every 7 year old. Kingsburg is no less and maybe more accessible an many of the other games you mention.

2- excellent with 2 in my experience.

3- expansion is not a must. Wait until you fall in love with the game. What will happen, I suspect.

I have numerous games but Kingsburg was one of the few that I felt I had to have once I played it for the first time. It has been a universal success with everyone I have introduced to it. I recommend it highly.
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Will Plante
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I just wanted to thank everyone for their thoughtful posts, much appreciated!

After reading all of your posts and watching a bunch of videos I am going to postpone my purchase of Kingsburg and go with Fresco.

One of the deciding factors is the playtime. I do not want a 2+ hour game to play with my family at this point.

Plus I love the theme of Fresco, and I know my family will dig it as well.
Hopefully my family will enjoy the WP aspect of Fresco and I will pick up Kingsburg as our next WP game.

Cheers, and happy gaming!

PS - Just to clarify, I do not mind a certain "take that" aspect to a game (you should see my wife and son play Carcassonne) I think it was more a fact of the intrigue cards being able to completely hose you, without warning at the end of the game.
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Cool. Just to clarify, Kingsburg does not run 2+ hours. More like 75 minute range.
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Galen Ciscell
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Ronaldo wrote:
Cool. Just to clarify, Kingsburg does not run 2+ hours. More like 75 minute range.

In my experience it can easily run 2+ with 5 players. But it also only takes about 45 minutes for two players.
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Never went over 90 for us. But ok.
 
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Ronaldo wrote:
Never went over 90 for us. But ok.

I want to play with you all! One AP player can really extend the playtime on Kingsburg, in my experience. I'm guessing you (blessedly) don't have any in your play group.
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Andrea Chiarvesio
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Gaming Trent Daily 15 (it's the top Video link in the kingsburg page right now) addresses your question fully, I believe.



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Will Plante
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Papa Ninja wrote:
I just wanted to thank everyone for their thoughtful posts, much appreciated!

After reading all of your posts and watching a bunch of videos I am going to postpone my purchase of Kingsburg and go with Fresco.

One of the deciding factors is the playtime. I do not want a 2+ hour game to play with my family at this point.

Plus I love the theme of Fresco, and I know my family will dig it as well.
Hopefully my family will enjoy the WP aspect of Fresco and I will pick up Kingsburg as our next WP game.


Cheers, and happy gaming!

PS - Just to clarify, I do not mind a certain "take that" aspect to a game (you should see my wife and son play Carcassonne) I think it was more a fact of the intrigue cards being able to completely hose you, without warning at the end of the game.


Update:
Made the mistake of looking at some old posts from the Fresco forums and the 2P variant sounds iffy to me. Not sure how much my wife will enjoy controlling a dummy player and a few people mentioned that it is not well balanced, that the person who controls the dummy player last has an advantage.

Ronaldo wrote:
Cool. Just to clarify, Kingsburg does not run 2+ hours. More like 75 minute range.


Hmmm. A lot of the posts I was reading said the game tended to be pretty long with 4+ players.
Since I would sometimes be playing with my wife and kids I thought the game might drag too much. I would like a game that wraps up in 90 minutes, give or take.

Arggh, I get severe AP when buying a game.
Back to thinking Kingsburg may be the game for my family.
The choice really comes down to Kingsburg or Stone Age I think.

Again thanks for all the thoughtful advice.
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Papa Ninja wrote:
Ronaldo wrote:
Cool. Just to clarify, Kingsburg does not run 2+ hours. More like 75 minute range.


Hmmm. A lot of the posts I was reading said the game tended to be pretty long with 4+ players.
Since I would sometimes be playing with my wife and kids I thought the game might drag too much. I would like a game that wraps up in 90 minutes, give or take.

I will say that Kingsburg certainly does not NEED to take a long time. The extended play times are almost exclusively because of AP. If your family is more interested in keeping things moving along than agonizing over the best dice placement or building purchase, then 75 minutes is perfectly reasonable for 4.
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Steve Duff
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I love Kingsburg, one of my all time favourites, but I do think it runs long. There are a ton of calculations and permutations that you run through each turn. "I rolled 2,5,6. I can place on the 13. Or 2 and 11. Or 7 and 6. Or 8 and 5. Or, 2, 5, and 6." So you look at all those, and see what all those combos would give you. Then you throw in the building rows into the mix. "Hmm, with the 2 and 11 I'd have 3 gold and 2 stone, so I could build X. But with the 7,6 I'd have this and this, and I could build building Y instead."

And then you look around the table, and try and calculate what everyone else would do based on what their dice or showing. "Well, if I place on the 11, Bob would probably take the 9 spot, and Nancy the 5, so I should be able to place my 2. But if I place on the 6, then Bob will grab the 11, so now Nancy might grab my 2 knowing the 5 is safe for her second placement..."

As I said, I love it, all this thinking is what makes it a great game for me. But it's never short for us, even with 2 players.

I also really like Fresco a lot, and I think it's the better family game of the 2. It's also a good fit because you can tweak it to the complexity level you want, play it plain jane, or toss in 1, 2, or all 3 of the included mini-expansions.

The 2 player variant works fine, it's just players alternating removing paint and tiles that their opponent wants, and leaving the ones that you want. I have no idea what that person meant who said "the person who controls the dummy player last has an advantage", as there's no difference between first and second. On one turn you control him and remove stuff that benefits me, the next turn I control him and remove stuff that benefits you. It makes no difference if the game goes me,you,me,you, or you,me,you,me.
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Rogue Marechal
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Again, Kingsbug is my favourite game so certainly not trying to put you off... But as some have stated there is a lot to consider and that is what makes it good. So not complex to learn but I think it shines when you get deep into it.

So I'd say you should wait for Stone Age to be back in stock if you have your eyes on it.

Incidentally, although quite a few months away, Queen Games has announced a Fresco Big Box which is likely to run very much cheaper than Fresco plus comtemplating the extensions in the future.
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I stayed out of posting here because everyone else was providing such great information, but since you are back on the fence I will throw my two cents in.

As a family of 3, sometimes 4, Kingsburg is our go to game. We have even made a team variant that might work for you once you know the game well. I posted it a few months ago in the variant section. We can finish a game with 4 in less than 90 minutes easily, but as others said it all depends on the players. I can't say for sure that you and your family will love Kingsburg but I can tell you that my family does.

We also replaced the cubes with stone/wood/gold pieces we purchased for Agricola, does not change game play but for some reason we enjoy it more that way.

No matter what game you go with the important thing is spending time with your family. Best to all of you.
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Ryan
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I traded Kingsburg because I didn't like the 2 player game. It was too loose. Not enough tension for my wife or I.

Never had the chance to play with more than two players. But I think that is where the sweet spot would have to lie.

It seemed to otherwise be a quality product.
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Ryanmobile wrote:
I traded Kingsburg because I didn't like the 2 player game. It was too loose. Not enough tension for my wife or I.

Never had the chance to play with more than two players. But I think that is where the sweet spot would have to lie.

It seemed to otherwise be a quality product.


When my wife and I play two player we you the other dice for blocking spots, 3 of one color, two of one color and one of one color. Makes the game a lot tighter.
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