Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de

It's a wonderful Kingdom

[It's a wonderful Kingdom]

Frédéric Guérad

La Boite de Jeu / Blackrock Games

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Two years ago, the French publisher LA BOITE DE JEU surprised with a fresh new approach of the card drafting mode. It’s a wonderful World was the name of the game, and I liked it the moment I saw it on a table at SPIEL19. Great illustrations on the cards, fascinating resource cubes and an easy access to the game thanks to very straightforward rules. And all of that combined with a game duration of about 30-45 minutes. The game was designed for 1-5 players, and I played it very often since then with my younger son.

Although the choice phase of that game, in which you draft the 10 cards (7 cards for more than 2 players) for the round, was a little monotonous in a two-player game (that draft mechanism was clearly designed for more players), we liked the game a lot. But now, our prayers were heard: with the new It’s a wonderful Kingdom LA BOITE DE JEU has adjusted the game, especially the drafting phase, for two players.

Before we continue here, maybe you want to have a closer look on my review of It`s a wonderful World, because I will mainly concentrate on the differences to this (base) game in this review.

First difference is the theme of the game. While we were set to The Roaring Twenties in the older title, we now find a much more classical theme for the two-player variant: a fantasy empire in which we are vying for the throne of the kingdom. Of course, a mighty duchy will be good to claim the heir. And so, we are now building hamlets, guildhalls, gather tatis tribes and dragon eggs instead of casino cities and espionage agencies.

130 new cards to explore, but basically the main game concept remains the same. The first big difference in gameplay is the choice phase. Instead of drafting new cards for the round, you are now building up 2 offering areas. After dealing new cards to the players, the first player begins with an offering by placing 2 cards to the offering areas, either both cards to the same area, or one in each. Those cards are played face-up. The second player then chooses one area, collect all the cards from it and adds them to a selection area in front of her. After that she offers two new cards. This continues until no player has any cards left in hand.

[It’s a wonderful Kingdom]

Click on image to enlarge!

But, and this is the second big difference to the original game, the players not only get good cards at the beginning of a round, but they also add one negative card to their hand (a Calmity Card). To hide this card from your opponent you may use trap tokens to place one of the two cards face down to an offering area. That makes it much more difficult for your opponent to decide which offering area she should choose.

Once the cards are distributed among the players, the game continues as we know it from It’s a wonderful World. So, there is a planning phase in which you decide if you want to slate a card from the selection area for construction or if you want to recycle it, collecting the indicated recycling bonus and place the resource onto a card under construction. As usual each card indicates which resources are needed to construct it.

All completed constructions are directly added to your duchy and from that moment they are worth victory points and contribute to the production of new resources that are granted in the next phase, the production phase. Again, the productions of the particular resources are performed one by one. As a result, you can complete a card for example with new materials and the same card can then contribute to the production of gold in the same round (as gold is produced after the materials production step).

[It’s a wonderful Kingdom]

Click on image to enlarge!

The duchy will rapidly grow and the end of the game will soon be in sight. Four rounds that’s again the deadline before we count all victory points together, i.e., gross victory points directly from completed cards, combo victory points that depend on the number of cards of a certain type and negative victory points from the calamities (note that soldiers are worthless in this game).

Veterans of It`s a wonderful World will find easily into the game. As said, mainly the first phase, the choice phase, has changed. But It’s a wonderful Kingdom has also three new modules that further change gameplay. It`s recommended that you always add one of these modules to the basic rules, therefore you will have a lot of varieties.

Let’s get quickly through these new modules. The first one adds menaces to the game. In this variant, instead of taking the normal calamities into the game, you each choose one of the four different Menace decks. Each round you add one of these cards to the cards you get into your hand in the first phase. As a result, you will also offer this Menace to your opponent, maybe this is a good choice to use the trap tokens and play these cards face-down. But of course, you might be forced to take your own Menace, because your opponent chooses the other offering area, who knows? All Menaces are an annoyance and all demand soldiers to get rid of them. But especially at the beginning of the game, you won’t have these soldiers that are assigned to players who produced most resources in a production step as a supremacy bonus.

An advisors module is the next variant, adding 14 unique advisors that are shuffled into the development deck and – once added to the advisors’ area of a player - must be paid to use their bonus.

[It’s a wonderful Kingdom]

Click on image to enlarge!

Last but not least there is the quest module. One quest card is added for a single game with four different quest steps each. Only the last of them is mandatory to win the game, all others are optional. As the advisors, the quest steps must be fulfilled by paying resources or soldiers to use the bonus, but in contrast to the advisors a quest is not personal but is available for both players.

It’s a wonderful Kingdom is a good, further development of It’s a wonderful World. Especially the choice phase is much better for two-players now. I must confess that I was skeptical about those negative cards, especially the Menace cards are a damn nuisance. But you get used to it. I won’t say that I love them now, but I will miss it the next time I’ll play the older title, I am quite sure about that. In the end, if you don’t have any of the two games, you now have a luxury problem. Both games are excellent. So, if you don’t want to buy both games, you should choose if you want to play only with up to two players (both games also have a solo variant) or if you also want to play with more players from time to time. There are worse choices to be made…

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Copyright © 2021 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany