Genre: board game
Number of players: 2-5
Objective: earn the most victory points by the end of the game

The design of Kingsburg is that of what have labeled as “Euro-games” (obviously short for European games).  What is a Euro-game, you might ask?  Euro-games are games wherein while the objective is still to win out over the other players, the actual means to that goal are not as straight forward.  For example, in Kingsburg, the interaction between players is very limited.  Some Euro-games actually do away with dice altogether.  In other Euro-games, players may have to actually trade or work with one another in order to accomplish victory!   As such, there is a decisive shift in thought from the classical us-vs-them or me-vs-the other players to a more cooperative style of play.  This is not to say that Euro-games lack any competition or drive; just that the players bring those to the game, the game does not impose those aspects.

With that little diatribe out of the way, let’s look at the game.  Rather than simply move about the board doing stuff, you (the player) are land-owners in a medieval world influencing the King’s advisors with your die results.  You can use individual die results to influence individual advisors or you can combine them in order to influence higher result advisors.  The limited interaction among the players mentioned above comes in the form of when an advisor is influenced, no one else can influence that advisor that turn.  Influencing advisors gives players various resources that they can, in turn, use to construct buildings on their lands in order to win the King’s favor (in the form of victory points).  Beyond smoozing advisors every turn, at the end of every year (round), the kingdom is invaded by hostile forces and the players must have troops in order to fend them off.  The King always sends an amount of troops to support the players, but some buildings grant a bonus amount to fighting off the impending hordes; in addition, some advisors bequeath troops.  After fives years, whoever has the most victory points wins.

The game of Kingsburg is designed around medieval royal court.  At the top is the King, with his Queen right beside him.  Below him are all of his courtly advisors, including the Court Jester.  A fantastic detail here is that this is fairly accurate to actual medieval court.  Dismissing the obviously fantastical elements (e.g. hordes of zombies), royal courts did have court Philosophers, Astronomers, and even Wizards; they didn’t always have magical powers, but they were still wizards.  As such, Kingsburg provides plenty of opportunity for historical lessons and explorations.  History aside, Kingsburg delves into resource management and risk management through the use of the dice.  Not only acting as a random element, the dice are being used as a resource for the players to utilize to further their goals.  Players also learn to plan out their moves ahead of time and how to adapt to unfavorable situations (e.g. dice results that mess up the overall or immediate plan).

Next Time: Recommended Readings