Kingdom Builder Board Game

by Gary Walts

(Montreal Board Game Meetup)

Click to buy Kingdom Builder Board Game from Amazon!Click to buy this item from Amazon!Kingdom Builder Board Game
Board game manufacturer:
Queen Games
Number of players:

Quick Verdict

Simple to play and with ever-changing board configurations, the award winning Kingdom Builder brings a new level of re-playability to board games.

The game and gameplay

The game plays 2-4 players and comes with top-notch components. 8 game boards, 4 sets of wooden player pieces (4 settlements and a score counter), a Terrain card deck, cardboard tiles, and 10 Kingdom Builder cards.

The game’s re-playability comes in the game setup. 4 of the 8 game boards are used at random, and each of these boards features unique terrain configurations and special locations. As well, 3 out of the 10 Kingdom Builder cards are used, each one providing unique scoring rules that will be used in the game.

Setup is completed by placing two ‘Location tiles’ on the corresponding space on the board (if it exists), and the back of a 5th board is used to keep track of scoring. Pick a start player, shuffle the Terrain deck, deal a single card to each player, and you’re set to go.

On each turn, players must place 3 settlements on the board. There are 2 rules that dictate where the settlements can go:

1: A settlement must be placed on a terrain type that matches the card in your hand.
2: If a settlement can be built next to one you have on the board, you must build adjacent.

If you manage to build next to any castle on the board, you will score points at the end of the game. If you build next to a location with a tile on it, you can take a tile and gain a special ability that you can use for the rest of the game.

These special abilities can allow player to build extra settlements, or even move previously built settlements. These abilities can be used before or after you place your three new settlements.

Once your turn is done, discard your card face up and draw a new face down card.

When a player places their last settlement, that is the last round of the game. Play continues until the player to the right of the start player is the last to play.Click to buy Kingdom Builder Board Game from Amazon!Click to buy this item from Amazon!Scoring is determined by the Kingdom Builder cards in play (ex., most settlements on a horizontal line, building along the waterfront) as well as 3 points for each Castle a player has built next to. Most points wins.

Pros and cons

Simplicity. The rules are easy and the abilities and scoring very well explained.

Variety: The game’s bread and butter is that it’s hard to experience the exact same game twice with the random setups that exist.

Too big for 2. Do not ever play this 2 player. The board is too big and there is no interaction in 2 player games.

Theme-less. It’s a territory grab game, but it doesn’t give us a good reason to grab territory.

Heart of the cards: While the Terrain deck is statistically balanced (5 cards of each terrain), I feel that it’s the cards that play the game, not the player.

The Verdict

This game won the “Game of the Year” award in Germany. While not terrible, I hardly agree with the choice. I can’t get over the fact that you need a random card draw to impact other player’s objectives, or push forward your own plans. Still, I’ve seen other people have fun with Kingdom Builder, and there is fun to have at four players. But if this is really game of the year, it was a bad year for new board game releases. An fun but average game with more accolades then merit. I give it 3 settlements out of 5.

Click to buy Kingdom Builder Board Game from Amazon!
Click to buy this item from Amazon!

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