17th April 2019
It's 'kebab night' round at my place. What's kebab got to do with gaming?
Well Matt has bought his copy of Kingsburg round to my place for us to play we did!
Kingsburg is a dice/worker placement game where each player has their own board to track personal advances.
It is a fantasy themed game that casts the players as provincial advisors who are seeking to influence the king, battle with invading armies and gain personal power.
Kingsburg is played over 5 'game' years and each year has 4 seasons and 4 'inter-seasonal' phases as well. So a total 40 'phases'. Although in reality players only get to do stuff in 3 seasons a year. So players only get 15 'actions' per game.
What's in the game?
Each player gets their own individual game board called a 'Province Sheet' that tracks their individual developments and advances. These all take the form of buildings that the player can construct. These can provide the player with victory points or other benefits. They give Kingsburg a slight engine-building mechanic, buildings give players little advantages here or there and buildings can also play off other buildings in your province for better advantages.
Each player is also given their own coloured set of 3 six-sided (3d6) dice.
The Game Board
The main game board tracks various elements of the game. Score, military strength, turn order, year and phase and so on.
There are also 18 spaces. Each space represents a different advisor and is numbered from 1 to 18. Is that a normal amount of advisors for the king of a fantastical medieval kingdom? I guess so.
Each space also generally has one or more resource markers on it. Resources include, gold, stone, wood and military strength.
How does it play?
Each year is divided up into 8 phases. I'll describe the even phases and then the season phases - 3 of which basically function identically.
Phases 1, 3, 5 & 7 are events.
Phases 2, 4, 6 & 8 are spring, summer, autumn and winter respectively. Player actions all occur in the first 3 seasons. Something different occurs during winter. During winter... there is war. Which is about the stupidest time to wage war. Maybe the designers are fans of Game of Thrones (Urggh, felt a little dirty mentioning that!)
And that's it for a general overview of the rules. As always I've left some stuff out.
How does it play?
Well... Well it plays... OK.
I'm trying to think of something I liked about Kingsburg and something I hated. I came up with zero for both. It's just... sort of... OK.
So the central mechanic is interesting, but seems quite weird. Being quite luck based, sometimes it could be infuriating. But conversely (and strangely), frequently it would feel like it didn't matter what I rolled, because there would be multiple routes to get what I needed.
I found this strange mix of sometimes needing luck and sometimes luck not mattering not very compelling.
Constructing a building doesn't feel like an accomplishment much of the time, nor does it feel like the bonuses it grants change the game much.
It's fairly straightforward to construct the first and maybe second buildings in a row, but because of the slightly haphazard way in which you gain resources, planning for the buildings further along is much trickier and your well-laid plans can easily be scuppered by a bad dice roll. The later buildings can be much more useful, but by the time you get to building them, the game will 80% over, thwarting their usefulness. You really need to plan to get these buildings, but the game seems to scupper plans. Quite often your forced to choose between trying to save resources for even longer to get a building, or giving up on it and getting something else instead.
Choice is always good as I've said in this blog before. But the choices here tend to be about choosing between the least undesirable option. It feels negative and leaves a little bitter taste in the mouth.
War in the winter season seems not so well thought about. Quite often I would completely ignore/forget about it and the dice roll alone was enough to defeat enemies in the first couple of years. During the 3 other seasons, you would probably get some military strength as a by product of playing. So I never felt the need to invest in military strength.
Overall, I don't think Kingsburg is a bad game by any stretch and if asked if I wanted to play it, I wouldn't immediately say 'no'. But I might ask what else they had to play.
I play, I paint.