Kingdom Builder : A Game Review

Kingdom Builder board game
Kingdom Builder board game review

Kingdom Builder is designed by Donald X. Vaccarino and is an area control game that is geared towards beginner boardgamers It uses relatively simple to learn mechanics to provide a fast, simple game for players.

Appearance: Kingdom Builder is produced by Queen Games, which means that the production value is very good. Lots of little settlement tokens are available; along with multiple modular boards, numerous character cards who help score points and the land cards which players will draw each turn.

Overall, there’s little to complain about with the production quality available here. There are more boards and card than will be required each game ensuring that you will more than sufficient replay value in this game.

Rules/ Ease of Learning: In Kingdom Builder, players set-up the game board using 4 modular board tiles in a rectangular orientation to one another. The terrain cards and the Kingdom builder cards are shuffled, with 3 random Kingdom Builder cards drawn and set-aside for the game and a single terrain card provided to each player. These cards are in-play and will be the major way players will score points during this game.

Each turn, players must build 3 settlements on the terrain indicated in their terrain card. These 3 settlements must be built adjacent to the player’s existing settlement if possible. If not possible; the players may place their settlement in any location that matches their terrain tile.

If a player builds next to a castle, they will score 3 points at the end of the game. If they build next to a location tile hex; they may take a location tile (if available) and use the tile their next turn. Location tiles provide additional actions which allow players to either build additional settlements or move existing settlements to new locations. At the end of their turn, the player discards their used terrain card and draws another terrain card.

At the end of the game; points are scored for settlements adjacent to the castles and for the Kingdom Builder cards.

Gameplay: As you can tell, turns are relatively simple mechanically.  Each turn, players must place 3 buildings on the terrain hexes indicated and then they draw a new terrain card.  As such, this is an easy game to teach new players; with the complications arising from the additional action cards and the scoring from the Kingdom Builder cards.

One of the nicest aspects of the game is the drawing of your next turn’s terrain tile at the end of your turn.  This allows players time to review the game-board during the other player’s turns, thus keeping the game flowing quite smoothly.

At times, due to the restrictive nature of the terrain card draws; players might find that their actions are ‘scripted’ as they are unable to place their houses in a location that they’d prefer.  However, the use of the additional action tiles can significantly decrease this luck factor; allowing players to score their settlements still.

Kingdom Builder mostly seems to be a tactical game – while you can create a general strategy at the start of the game based off the terrains available, the Kingdom cards in-play and the location tiles; your first couple of turn draws on terrain cards can significantly alter your strategy.  As such; players have to be able to adjust their strategies ‘on-the-fly’ to win.

There is a certain lack of interaction on the game however; as players are not able to directly affect other players except by (maybe) blocking their future moves.   However, games take less than an hour to finish and turns move very quickly; especially with more experienced players so the lack of interaction does not seem too big a deterrent in the game itself.

Conclusion: Kingdom Builder is a good gateway game.  The rules are simple enough to teach; while there’s definitely a depth of strategy to the game.  With so many variations on the boards and Kingdom cards available; there is a lot of replay value in the game.  The theme is somewhat lacking however; and is very much more focused on a tactical level which can be a deterrent for some players.

Social Responsibility and Businesses

I rarely discuss the things that we do outside of our main business, but with the Gaming for Diabetes event coming up tomorrow; I thought I’d talk a bit about the various charities and initiatives we help sponsor through Starlit Citadel.

Semi-Marketing Events

There’s quite a few events out there that have partial over-lap with our main business – Gaming for Diabetes, Game Days and Convention sponsorships are the main one`s that come to mind.  Whether it`s a small con like ToonCon or a larger event like VCon; sponsoring the conventions don’t actually provide us a large ROI.  However, in the long run these events grow the entire market and it’s worth it; at least to us to provide sponsorship.  It’s why in many ways, we slot it in the same section as donations.

Full Donations

Of course, there’s also events and charities that we support that have nothing to do with our business that we support.  In general, those are done for personal reasons – whether it’s something we personally enjoyed (Can’t Stop the Serenity); believe should be supported (the Pacific Post-Partum Society) or are part-of (the Vancouver Bach Choir).

In most cases, what we provide are games. It’s more financially viable as we can provide over-stock games and slower-selling (but good) games to these various events than a straight-out donation.  I’m sure there’s some tax basis for providing one or the other; but truthfully we’re still such a small organisation that it probably doesn’t make a great difference.

Bottom-Line

Bottom line is; if you’re involved in an organisation or event that is gaming related; there’s a 90% chance we’ll provide some form of sponsorship.  If you aren’t; we might still be able to do so – it just depends on how much of our budget has been used up that year; at that point in asking.  Oh, it also helps if you don’t mind getting some not-as-good games.

 

New Board Games: May 18th – 24th

May 18, 2012

Pathfinder Campaign Setting : Giants Revisited
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Curse of the Crimson Throne – Edge of Anarchy
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Curse of the Crimson Throne – Escape from Old Korvosa
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Curse of the Crimson Throne – A History of Ashes
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Curse of the Crimson Throne – Skeletons of Scarwall
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Curse of the Crimson Throne – Crown of Fangs
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Second Darkness – Shadow in the Sky
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Second Darkness – Children of the Void
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Second Darkness – The Armageddon Echo
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Second Darkness – Endless Night
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Second Darkness – A Memory of Darkness
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Second Darkness – Descent into Midnight
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Legacy of Fire – Howl of the Carrion King
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Council of Thieves – The Sixfold Trial
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Council of Thieves – Mother of Flies
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Council of Thieves – The Twice-Damned Prince
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Kingmaker – War of the River Kings
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Serpent’s Skull – Racing to Ruin
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Carrion Crown – The Haunting of Harrowstone
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Carrion Crown – Broken Moon
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Carrion Crown – Wake of the Watcher
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Carrion Crown – Shadows of Gallowspire
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Jade Regent – The Brinewall Legacy
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Jade Regent – Forest of Spirits
Pathfinder Adventure Path : Skulls and Shackles – Raiders of the Fever Sea
Pathfinder Chronicles : Guide to Korvosa
Pathfinder Chronicles : Guide to Darkmoon Vale
Pathfinder Campaign Setting : Rise of the Runelords Map Folio
Pathfinder Campaign Setting : Curse of the Crimson Throne Map Folio
Pathfinder Chronicles : Into the Darklands
Pathfinder Campaign Setting : Second Darkness Map Folio
Pathfinder Chronicles : The Great Beyond – A Guide to the Multiverse
Pathfinder Chronicles : Dungeon Denizens Revisited
Pathfinder Campaign Setting : Legacy of Fire Map Folio
Pathfinder Chronicles : Book of the Damned Vol.1 – Princes of Darkness
Pathfinder Chronicles : Cities of Golarion
Pathfinder Chroncles : City Map Folio
Pathfinder Chronicles : Classic Horrors Revisited
Pathfinder Chronicles : Guide to the River Kingdoms
Pathfinder Chroncles : Council of Thieves Map Folio
Pathfinder Chronicles : Faction Guide
Pathfinder Chronicles : Misfit Monsters Redeemed
Pathfinder Campaign Setting : Lost Cities of Golarion
Pathfinder Chroncles : Serpent’s Skull Poster Map Folio
Pathfinder Campaign Setting : Undead Revisited
Pathfinder Campaign Setting : Dungeons of Golarion
Pathfinder Campaign Setting : Carrion Crown Poster Map Folio
Pathfinder Campaign Setting : Pathfinder Society Field Guide
Pathfinder Campaign Setting : Book of the Damned Vol.3 – Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Pathfinder Chronicles : Harrow Deck
Pathfinder GameMastery Item Cards: Kingmaker Deck
Pathfinder GameMastery Item Cards : Weapons Locker Deck
Pathfinder GameMastery Item Cards : Council of Thieves Deck
Pathfinder GameMastery Item Cards : Legacy of Fire Deck
Pathfinder GameMastery Item Cards : Wondrous Treasure Deck
Pathfinder GameMastery Item Cards : Essentials Deck
Pathfinder GameMastery Face Cards : Enemies Deck
Pathfinder GameMastery Plot Twist Cards
Pathfinder GameMastery Item Cards : Carrion Crown Deck
Pathfinder GameMastery Face Cards : Urban NPCs
Pathfinder GameMastery Item Cards: Rise of the Runelords Deck
Pathfinder GameMastery Item Cards: Curse of the Crimson Throne Deck

May 24, 2012

Munchkin : The Guild
Big Bang Theory Party Game
Sidibaba
Munchkin Cthulhu : Kill-O-Meter
Bits
Pathfinder : Buff Deck
Pathfinder Module : No Response From Deepmar
World of Warcraft Monopoly
World Conquerors
Savage Worlds : Beasts & Barbarians Golden Edition
Fiasco
Fiasco Companion

View Revew : Filler Games (Part 1)

This week we’re doing a special on board game fillers. All of these games are quick, fun and easy to learn and play; so we figured we’d do a single large review rather than multiple small reviews. This week, we are reviewing Zombie Dice, Martian Dice, Cthulhu Dice, Spot It! and We Didn’t Playtest This at All.

New Board Games: May 16th and 17th, 2012

May 16, 2012:

Shadowrun : Damage Control 1 : Boardroom Backstabs
Shadowrun : Twilight Horizon
Banditos
Barons
A Song of Ice and Fire: Game of Thrones Edition
Warpaints Brush : Most Wanted Wargamer Set
Warpaints Hobby Starter Brush Set
Rise or Fall
Spielbox Magazine: Issue #1 (2012)
Spielbox Magazine: Issue #7 (2011)
Mil (1049)
Hero System : The Book of the Empress
Project Pandora
Pathfinder : GameMastery Combat Pad Extra Magnet Pack
Reaper Miniatures : Qualanar Wizard
Maya
Pathfinder : Midgard Bestiary
Marvel HeroClix : Avengers Movie Starter Set
Marvel Heroclix : Avengers Standard Booster
Field Commander Rommel – Deluxe
Hero System : Sixth Edition Advanced Player’s Guide II
Abaddon
Cthulhu Dice – Red / Yellow
Cthulhu Dice – Bone / Red
Texas Zombies
Hero System : Sixth Edition Vol.2 – Combat and Adventuring
Hero System : Sixth Edition Champions Universe
Hero System : Champions Beyond
Big Box Ports : Board Game Art Poster (18″ x 24″)
Cities in Colour : Board Game Art Poster (18″ x 24″)
My Kingdom for a Tile : Board Game Art Poster (18″ x 24″)

May 17, 2012:

Apples to Apples Dice Game
Khet 2.0
Lord of the Rings LCG : The Long Dark Adventure Pack
Talisman : the Blood Moon Expansion
Wings of Glory – WWII Starter Set
Hero System : Champions Powers
We Didn’t Playtest This at All + Chaos Pack
Battletech : Record Sheets 3055 Upgrade

It’s the little things that get you – Stress

Stress.  It’s a quite (or not so quiet) constant in business.

The Early Years

In the first few years, you’re always thinking ‘will we make enough to cover the bills? How long before I run out of money?’.   It’s an intense refrain, one that continues for days and hours till you finally make it.  Then you start wondering if you’ll make enough to pay yourself a salary.  It’s incredibly stressful, and sometimes you wonder why you decided to get into this business at all.

For most, this period lasts 1 to 2 years, 3 at the outside before you ‘breakeven’. And for a moment, there’s euphoria.  Then the stress comes back.

The Growing Years

It’s an equilibrium that is made up of a minimal salary & expenses.  Of course, no one wants to earn a minimal salary and that equilibrium isn’t stable anyway.  If you’re lucky, it moves in the right direction and you get even more business.  Of course, that business just adds more work and suddenly you need to hire.

And a new kind of stress comes – that of people.  It’s one thing when you only had to worry about yourself, about your own salary. It’s another when you realise you have paychecks to meet.  If things were slow one month, I could cut my pay and no one was the wiser.  You can’t do that to employees so you suddenly need a reserve.  One that is significantly larger than your previous one.

Then you realise that you keep running out of stock because business has picked up so much.  Now you need to carry more stock – a larger investment in capital.  More stress, as you scramble to find the money to devote to increasing stock.  You can’t touch your salary reserve, so you have to find it somewhere else.  Maybe a loan or line-of-credit? Maybe you just short-change yourself (again) for a few months.  Either way, stress.

And on it goes.  It never ends.

Coping

As a business owner (and human); the only thing you can do is learn to deal with the stress.  Whether it’s meditation, exercise, talking about it, learning to partition or just going out and enjoying your life – it’s a necessary must.  I think part of the reason most business owners fail is because they burn out; by not learning to cope with the daily stress of running a business.  It’s not easy at all and if you’re prone to ulcers; you might consider avoiding being an entrepreneur.