Monday, September 29, 2008


Looks like my board games play-meter is finally on the rise. Hoo-ahh! Over the past six weeks or so, I've played a whole bunch of games (at least for me) including:

  • Kingsburg
  • Cutthroat Caverns
  • Drakon
  • Shadows Over Camelot
  • Cash N Guns
  • Wings of War - Miniatures
  • Pennsylvania Underground Railroad Game
I own all of these games except for the PA Underground Railroad game, which is a self-published game designed by an old friend of mine (Mayer Foner). Many of the commercial games on this list are fairly new acquisitions (by "fairly new" I mean games that I've purchased in the last 6 months or so). So it's great to finally be getting these new games to the table.

I won't bother providing in-depth reviews of these games. You can find scads of excellent, detailed game reviews over at BoardGameGeek, so it's really not worth rehashing what has already been done there by rabid fans of these games.

But... I will at least give you my quick & dirty opinions regarding these games. Perhaps that will help if you're considering buying any of them and adding them to your games collection.

Since I'm a little strapped for time, I'm going to spread these quickie reviews over a few separate blog posts. Today, we'll begin with Kingsburg.

KINGSBURG = I'll be the first to admit that the whole genre of Euro games is very hit or miss with me. While there are lots of euros with slick, engaging game mechanisms, a huge number of them simply fall flat from utterly boring themes and the lack of exciting game play.

But Kingsburg is different. It's a euro with an interesting theme: construct buildings to expand your provincial wealth, while recruiting soldiers to protect those valuable assets from being destroyed by marauding invaders such as goblins and demons.

Like all good euros, Kingsburg features smooth game mechanics and enough interesting decisions to engage the minds of most gamers. It's also got dice and an element of confrontation (things often regarded as anti-euro by many geeks). Those are winning points for me.

The dice are used in an innovative way. You roll 3 dice and then place them on various spots on the board to claim gold/stone/wood needed to construct buildings and to recruit soldiers who are needed to fight off the invaders who arrive during the harsh winter. Suppose you roll 1-4-6 on your dice. You could place one die each on the 1, 4, and 6 spots (provided nobody else has taken those spots), or put something on 4 and 7 (1 + 6), or on 1 and 10 (4 + 6), and so forth. Part of your strategy is to choose which dice combos let you place your dice on choice-spots which will yield the materials needed to build the most valuable buildings. The other part of your strategy is to block those choice-spots from your opponents, so that they can't build what they want or recruit soldiers.

You're also balancing Greed (the need to build and gain wealth / Victory Points) versus Military Might (the need to stay strong enough to defeat invaders at the end of each turn, so your buildings aren't smashed to teeny bits).

All of these factors taken together meld into an excellent game. Once you play 1 turn, it's pretty easy to get the hang of the rules, and the strategies start to become more apparent. I would highly recommend this game to anyone who likes moderate-weight strategy games, choosing between multiple options, and a light amount of confrontation/screwage. The game artwork is also absolutely gorgeous.

On the school grade scale, Kingsburg rates a solid A.

No comments: