No. of Players:
2 - 5



Two years ago the Italian publisher STRATELIBRI had introduced his brand-new strategic dice game Kingsburg here at Essen, and although I considered the introductory price of 40 to 50 Euro to be rather steep I nonetheless considered Kingsburg to be one of the best games released at the SPIEL 07. The game offers a well-implemented unification of dice-rolling and building with some clever ways to keep luck at bay in order to give strategic elements their chance, and after two years and dozens of rounds all that Kingsburg players would wish for is just a bit of variety in gameplay because the game looses a bit of its impetus once the different building possibilities and the year's end enemies have been explored.

Bearing in mind the medieval-fantasy topic in which the game is set, the authors now have come back to Essen with the long-awaited expansion Kingsburg - Die Erweiterung des Königreiches, and this flat box gives the players five different mini-expansions which can be used in any combination to enrich the main game. Starting with the buildings available to the players, the authors had discovered that the five available classes of buildings still offered much room for new ideas, and so each player may receive a new building sheet which contains two additional building rows. The two new rows lure the players to invest more broadly into all seven building classes, but in order to stand a chance to win the game it becomes even more important to focus on specialization. Only the higher ranking buildings of each class grant a good quota of victory points, and thus a broad investment scheme by dispersing resources to invest all classes is deemed to fail.

Even more variety concerning the buildings is introduced by the additional building stripes, since for each of the seven building classes now exists a cardboard strips showing alternative buildings. Determined either on a random basis or by player's choice two of these building stripes are distributed to each player before the game starts, and the players place the strips on their building sheets to cover the existing rows of buildings. Thus, each player now has his own unique choice of available buildings, leading to different strategies and a renewed challenge every time the game is played.

However, another building-related factor which could be found in the basic game was the fact that the choice of a building strategy often was made on a matter of taste and determination right at the beginning of the game. In a way, the basic game made the players first pick their targets and then see how far they could come, and once again this led to a continuing rise of repetition the more often the game was played. Here the expansion puts things right as well, introducing a set of nicely illustrated character cards of which each player receives one at the beginning of the game. Each of these characters possesses a small special attribute which will last him for the duration of the game, and these attributed range from free resources, to higher military values or special ways to collect victory points or to invest dice results. These characters do not change the fact that a player needs to decide in advance in which classes of buildings he should invest, but the characters now give the players an additional strategic challenge because their special abilities should be used to augment a player's general strategy.

Talking about strategy, a small but effective variant has been introduced concerning the year's end battle. Normally the players rolled a dice to see how many reinforcements the king did send, but now each player possesses a set of shields with values from "0" to "4". A player may use one of his shields at the end of each year to determine the strength of his reinforcements, and once used each shield may not be re-used. Thus, the outcome of the battle is more deterministic, and at the same time the players have to speculate at what time it would be better to use the more valuable shields.

Finally, a good fantasy game also needs some story elements, and here the included deck of random event cards comes in quite handy. These event cards are shuffled, and one card is revealed at the beginning of each year, setting certain conditions which will apply to all players for the duration of the year. The effects of these events range from detrimental to beneficial, and once again the players need to take these changing conditions into consideration in order to ensure a maximum yield of victory points.

Overall, these five small but rather effective expansions give Kingsburg a great boost, and to my taste the playing fun considerably increases especially if several of the expansions are used together. Forememost, the characters and the random events offer a quite interesting new challenge, since the players now are forced to adapt their well-tested strategies before the game starts, and the events bring a bit of uncertainty which sets some impulse to react during the course of a year.

However, my overall enjoyment of this expansion was spoiled to a good degree by the fact the expansion is rather overpriced considering the contents of the box. The box contains a stack of cards, thin cardboard sheets and strips and one punchboard, and with this relatively small assortment of components it is difficult to justify an average price of 25 Euro for which the expansion is sold. Okay, for me the expansion was a must-buy due to the fact that I simply like the introduction of the characters since they give the players some more personality, but nonetheless these cards certainly could have been included in the basic game.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2010 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany