“ Brand: Kingdom Builder „
Kingdom Builder is one of a new breed of board games for grown ups, characterized by a small amount of luck, but lots of strategy and tactical thinking. This particular game is excellent, and won the prestigious 'Spieles Des Jahres' Board Game of the Year award (this is the board gaming equivalent of the Booker Prize).
So what's this game about? The basic idea is that on your turn you pick a card that will have one of five different terrain types on - grass, forest, canyons, desert and flower beds (bizzare I know, but it does add a nice splash of colour to the game). You then can to place 3 of your settlement pieces (little wooden houses) onto hex shaped spaces of that terrain type on the board, but you must play adjacent to one of your settlements already on the board if possible to earn victory points.
So how do you get victory points? Well for starters, you get 3 victory points for each of the castle hexes on the board which has at least one of your settlements next to it. Most of your victory points though will come from the three randomly selected objective cards. These might say things like '1 victory point for each of your settlements next to water', or '12 victory points for the player with the largest settlement area', or '4 victory points for each castle or location hex connected by a chain of your settlements'. As the victory point objective cards are randomly selected each game, this adds a lot of variety.
Your ultimate objective is to maximise your victory points at the end of the game, but particularly early on, you'll want to try and collect some bonus tiles, which gives you extra turns each round, special actions you can take etc.
As well as randomly selected objective cards, each game includes a different board - there are 8 board sections in total, each with different bonus tile hexes, and each game you will play with 4 randomly chosen board sections.
Lots of grown up games have similar 'game mechanics' i.e. how the game works. This game though is quite unique. To do well at the game, you have to tactically choose as you go along where to play your tiles, and try avoid getting 'stuck' placing settlements in one area of the board each game. This is why I think it is quite 'puzzely'.
The game is for between 2 and 4 players and games last 30-90 minutes. The rules are very easy to learn, but even for experienced players the game has lots of tricky decisions to make and tactics to decide upon. It plays slightly better with 3 or 4 players. It is still very good with two - my wife and I really enjoy the game - but with 2 players there is plenty of space on the board so you may spend much of the time playing your own game almost independent of each other, 'multiplayer solitaire'. This is no bad thing particularly if you don't like confrontational games however.