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FAQ for Kingdom Builder

Info taken from FAQs in file area and various forum threads, consolidated into a Wiki page so that people can more easily find all the info in one place and update it.

See Kingdom Builder: Nomads FAQ for info about the first major expansion, Nomads.
See Kingdom Builder: Crossroads FAQ for info about the second major expansion, Crossroads.

List of game FAQs

Table of Contents

Downloadable Rules PDF

Downloadable Rules PDF with all FAQ included for all expansions

The Secret History of Kingdom Builder

Bugs in the iPad version

The iPad version reportedly has some bugs.

  • It lets you take a second action token from the same location.
  • It requires you to have a settlement in a quadrant to score points with Lords.
  • It may lock up during scoring knights.
  • Incorrect handling of the barn when you have no settlements adjacent to empty spaces of your card's terrain.


Boards have 2 orientations

Note that you can rotate boards 180 degrees when setting up.

Each location hex gets 2 tiles

Note that the Oracle and Harbor boards each have only 1 location hex; that's why you have only 2 Oracle and Harbor tiles instead of 4 like the other boards which each have 2 location hexes.

Bridges are just flavor art

Bridges are just illustrations. They shouldn't be ignored; they should be appreciated for their aesthetic qualities and mocked for the potential confusion they cause.

Various methods of randomizing the setup

There are various threads with methods of randomizing the setup. E.g.:

Building rules


You place the 3 settlements of your card one after the other, each onto a hex of the terrain type of your card this turn.

When placing each of your 3 card settlements,

  • you do so one after the other (not simultaneously),
  • onto the terrain specified by your card,
  • and if it is possible to put a settlement next to an already-placed settlement, then you must do so.

I.e. each time you place a settlement one of these conditions is true:

  • If there are no empty hexes of your card's terrain type (very unlikely but theoretically possible) then remove your terrain card from the game and draw a new one.
  • Else if there are any empty hexes of your card's terrain type with any of your settlements adjacent, then you must place the new settlement into one of those hexes.
  • Else there are no empty hexes of your card's terrain type with any of your settlements adjacent, and so you may place the new settlement in any hex of that terrain type.

There is no rule that you must necessarily place your 3 settlements in a single contiguous group (though sometimes you must, and sometimes you may choose to). E.g. you might place one settlement in a canyon touching a settlement in the northwest sector, and a second settlement in a canyon touching a settlement in the northeast sector, and a third settlement in a canyon touching a settlement in the southwest sector. Or you might place them all in canyon hexes touching the same single settlement but not touching each other. Or you might place them in a chain of canyon hexes, each touching the previously placed settlement. Etc.

Take a location tile when you build or move a settlement next to a location hex

The rules say "Whenever a player builds a settlement next to a location hex, they seize immediately one of these location tiles" but moving a settlement (via a location tile) to be next to a location hex also counts as "building a settlement" for purposes of taking tiles from locations which you've not already taken from.

donaldx: "If somehow it becomes true that one or more of your settlements are adjacent to a location with a chit that you haven't previously had a settlement adjacent to this game, you take one of those chits. Moving is just as good as building there."

You cannot play a tile the turn you take it, only on later turns

You can play a tile on later turns, but not on the turn you take it.

Tiles can be played before or after, but not during, the 3 mandatory card placements

You can not play an location tile in the middle of doing your 3 mandatory card placements. Tiles are played before or after your 3 mandatory card placements. Note you can play some tiles before and some tiles after your 3 mandatory placements.

You can own 2 tiles of the same type, but not from the same hex

You can not collect 2 tiles from the same hex (even if you discarded the first one), but you can touch both location hexes on a sector to collect 2 tiles, 1 from each hex. ("A player may only have 2 identical location tiles if they have build a settlement next to both identical location hexes of that game board section.", rules page 3)

If you must discard a tile, you can discard one you used this turn

If you have 2 tiles of the same type and must discard one due to no longer being adjacent to one of the locations, you can discard either one of them, including one you already used this turn.

Moving your last piece from a location to a different hex touching that location

Moving a piece such that you remain next to a location does not cause you to lose the ability. (E.g. jumping across a Paddock location.)

"Mandatory" 3 placements are only mandatory if you still have settlements

You can play location tiles before doing your card placements, even if that means you don't have 3 settlements left to place (because it's your last turn). You simply must place as many as you can when you do your card.

At the end of each of your turns, discard your terrain card and take a new one

Regardless of whether you performed any or all of your special actions, you always discard your terrain card and take a new one at the end of your turn.

The discard pile is face up and not searchable

The rules are silent on this issue; donaldx's preference is: "I like a discard pile to be face up, so that you can tell it's not the draw pile. I don't like to be able to look through it; it slows things down."

Your turn doesn't end just because you placed your last settlement

You can still use tile abilities on your turn (specifically to move settlements) after using up your last settlement and having no more settlements to place.

What if there are no hexes left of the terrain type for your mandatory build?

Donaldx said his original rule was that in that case, you could play your remaining mandatory placements that turn on any of the 5 ordinary terrain types. The publisher changed it to be that you permanently remove the card from the game and draw a new one. Presumably you still place a total of 3 mandatory houses in your turn, possibly on more than one terrain type in this rare situation (which doesn't happen in practice anyway).


Castle scoring is per castle, not per settlement

You get 3 points for each castle which you have one (or more) settlements next to.

Scoring only happens at the end of the game

In original Kingdom Builder, scoring only happens at the end of the game. (But note that the expansion Kingdom Builder: Nomads introduces some new goals with scoring during play, not only at the end of the game.)

Fishermen: no points for settlements on water hexes

The card doesn't say it, but the rules say that settlements on water hexes do not score (regardless of whether they are also adjacent to a water hex). (Note this is an exception: being on water does not prevent a settlement from scoring in any of the many other possible ways.)

Fishermen/Miners/Workers are per settlement, not per water/mountain/location

Note that the points earned for Fishermen/Miners/Workers are per settlement, not per water/mountain/location. So (e.g.) 2 settlements next to water give 2 points. 1 settlement next to 2 waters gives 1 point.

In the best case you would have all your workers next to the relevant type of hex and earn 40 points.

Merchants score per location linked to at least one other, even if not all mutually linked

There is no requirement that all the locations you score be connected into a single big group. Simply look to see which locations you have linked by a chain of your settlements to any other location. All such locations are worth 4 points. E.g.
2 separate "groups": A---B C---D
a single big "group": A---B---C---D
are both worth 16 points because there are 4 locations (A, B, C, D) which you have linked to some other location.

In the best case you connect all 12 locations (each of 4 sectors has 3 locations) to at least one other location and earn 48 points.

Discoverers need not be connected

Simply gain 1 point for each horizontal (east-west) line which has at least one of your settlements.

In the best case you occupy each horizontal and gain 20 points.

Knights need not be connected

Knights scoring depends on the number of your settlements in a horizontal line, regardless of their connectivity.

In the best case you have 20 settlements filling a horizontal line and earn 40 points.

Hermits score single isolated settlements as if they were a group of one

For each separate group of 1 or more continuous settlements, score 1 point. The card unnecessarily separates the case of a single settlement and a group of settlements probably because many people don't grok that a single element can be a group.

In the best case you have all settlements separated and earn 40 points. It is rather doubtful that this is possible to achieve. :)

Lords: in case of a tie, all players involved get the points

The rules explain ties for number of settlements: all tying players get the points for that position. E.g. if Alfred and Bob are both first place with 10 settlements and Charles and David are both second place with 8 settlements, then Alfred and Bob both earn 12 points and Charles and David both earn 6 points.

Lords: only number of settlements matters, not connectivity

Lords scoring depends on the number of your settlements in a sector. It does not matter if the settlements are connected in a single group or not.

Lords: zero settlements can score if it is somehow the most or second most number in a sector

If you have no settlements in a sector, you could still earn 6 or even 12 points for second most or most settlements in the sector.

In the best case you have the most settlements in each sector and earn 48 points.

Citizens: the shape of your group does not matter, only the number of linked settlements

The shape of your largest group (straight line, ring, compact clump, etc) has no meaning. Only the number of settlements in it matters.

In the best case you have all 40 settlements connected in one group and earn 20 points.

Farmers: having zero settlements in a sector counts as your least, so you score zero

Naturally if you have zero settlements in one (or more) of the sectors then you receive 0 Farmer points.

In the best case, you have 10 settlements in each sector and earn 30 points.

Tile actions

All settlements placed/moved by tile actions must go adjacent to existing settlements if possible

The only exception in the original game is Paddock.

In the Kingdom Builder: Nomads expansion, Caravans are another exception.

No compensation for being unable to use an action tile because terrain is not available

In the unlikely case that there are no remaining empty hexes of the card's terrain type, then you cannot use Oracle or Barn that turn. You do not draw a new terrain card as you would if there were no remaining empty hexes during your mandatory 3 card placements.
Similarly if there are no more empty desert hexes, you can't use the Oasis tile, etc.

Oracle: icon may be confusing

Arguably the Oracle's language-independent icon is inconsistent.
The action simply lets you place an additional settlement on the terrain type of your card. As usual, it must touch an existing settlement if possible.

Tower: place on any hex on the edge adjacent if possible; no need to "declare terrain choice"

You place an additional settlement on any hex on the edge of the map. As usual, if it is possible to place adjacent to one of your existing settlements, you must.

Tavern: must be straight line

The 3 settlements in a "string" must be a straight line (not a bent string), with an empty hex at the end in the same direction.

The settlement may be placed onto a type of terrain that does not match that on the card that you played.

Tavern: can be more than 3 houses in a line

The 3 settlements in a line could have a 4th house at one end. If you have a line of more than 3 houses, then you have the necessary line of 3 houses.
E.g. given 5 blue houses in a line: .BBBBB. you could use tavern to build one at either end: .BBBBBB

Harbor and Barn: Adjacency is checked when placing the piece

Check for eligible hexes adjacent to any of your settlements on the map after you pick up the settlement to move. E.g. if you place 3 settlements together on 3 canyon hexes and now have no settlements adjacent to any canyon hexes, and then you pick up one of those settlements with the Barn, then you have to put the settlement right back on the hex it came from, since that is an empty canyon hex next to one of your settlements.

Paddock is exceptional: placement need not be adjacent

This is the only special action which does not require the settlement to go adjacent to an existing settlement if possible.

Paddock lets you jump to any empty hex of the 5 terrain types

You don't have to jump to the terrain type of your card this turn. The only restriction is that you cannot jump onto an occupied hex or a location or water or mountain.

Paddock tile can be lost by jumping away from Paddock

If you use the Paddock tile to jump your only settlement touching a Paddock away from the Paddock, then this is legal but you must discard the tile. I.e. even though you lose the jump ability during the action, the jump is performed successfully.

Remember that you can not later collect a second tile from that location hex. ("A player may seize only one location tile from a given location.", rules page 3)

Unofficial variants to address concerns about luck

Donaldx has said in his Secret History of Kingdom Builder that he is content with the level of luck in the game.

Nonetheless there are many forum threads where many people have described variants to reduce the element of luck. The most common proposals are some version of Drafting, Hands, or No Randomness. Donaldx tried some of these but prefers the rules as they are published.


Several visible cards; draw one of them or take an unknown random card from the deck.

Hand of cards

Instead of 1 card, you have several cards in your hand.

No randomness

Simply choose which of the 5 terrain types you want each turn.

Sceadeau variant

Players draw two cards on the first turn. They play one and for the second card, either keep it and play it on the second turn or discard it and draw a new card for the second turn. Afterwards, it's the usual one card per turn. Formerly described at

Nomads Expansion

(Also see Kingdom Builder: Nomads FAQ.)

Number of physical Stone pieces limits ability to take Quarry actions

When the Stone Wall pieces run out, no more walls can be built; existing ones can't be removed or moved.

Nomad tiles are not lost by moving away from the Nomad space

Nomad tiles are always lost the turn after they are taken. However, moving away from the nomad in the same or following turn does not cause the tile to be lost, as it does with other locations.

Moving to a location does not trigger Red card bonuses that refer to building

Red card bonuses which award Gold immediately when settlements are built do not award Gold when a settlement is moved to a qualifying location. (Build and move are used as synonyms elsewhere in the rulebook, and this does not change.)

Red card Gold bonuses can be claimed multiple times from a single location

If a Settlement is moved away from a location where it previously scored a bonus from a Red card, the Gold is not lost, and a player (possibly the same one) who replaces a Settlement in the location scores the Red card's bonus again.

Edges of the board and Stone Walls are considered Obstacles for Caravan purposes

Swording an opponent's last settlement next to a Location loses them their Action Tile

If a Sword action removes an opponent's last settlement next to a Location tile, the Action Tile is lost just as it would be if the player moved away from the location. The tile is removed from the game and the affected player cannot take another tile from that location.

Once someone has run out of Settlements, returning one via Sword does not prevent the game ending

Once a player places their last Settlement, the game is permanently destined to end at the end of that round. Using a Sword to remove one of the player's Settlements does not remove this destiny, and thus does not hold off the end of the game.

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