News for November 2008
Building Up
An Intro To Kingsburg
Kingsburg | Published 19 November 2008

In Kingsburg, two to five players vie for the favor of the King. A two-player game can be expected to last 30–45 minutes, a three-player game 45–60, and a four- or five-player game 60-90. Each player's goal is to score victory points over the course of five years spent governing his territory. Each year, the four seasons are divided into eight phases.

In the Spring, the King first gives his upright and honorable aid to the governor who has built the fewest buildings so far, awarding that player a bonus die.

Then, each player rolls a collection of dice to determine which of the king's advisors he will be able to influence in the Spring. Each player receives three dice of his own color. Bonus dice — from the King's aid and other sources — are also rolled.

Players take turns placing their dice, individually and in combination, to influence the King's advisors. Each of the 18 advisors has a unique score — from 1 to 18 — which may be paid in die results to gain that advisor's influence. Each advisor also has a unique capability he will lend to the governor who influences him. Some offer resources like gold, wood, and stone; others offer military support in the form of soldiers; and some have more unusual capabilities.

For example, a player who rolls 3, 4, and 6 on his three dice could play his 3 result to influence the Architect (who is advisor #3 and who provides one wood resource), his 4 result to influence the Merchant (#4, providing one gold or one wood), or his 6 result to influence the Alchemist (#6, providing the opportunity to turn one existing resource into two other resources). However, options are even more numerous, because players can also combine their dice to bend the ear of even more eminent advisors. So, the player rolling 3, 4, and 6 could combine his 3 and 4 to influence the Astronomer (#7, one resource of any type as well as a "+2 bonus" token), combine his 3 and 6 to influence the Master Hunter (#9, one wood and one gold, or one wood and one stone), combine his 4 and 6 to influence the General (#10, two soldiers and a sneak preview of the invaders Winter will bring), or combine all three of his dice to influence the Champion (#13, three stone).

As the example above illustrates, advisors of increasing rank are increasingly powerful, and each governor is temped to combine his dice to maximum effect. However, each die can only be used once, so players must balance the desire to influence powerful advisors with the capability to influence many advisors. To further complicate matters, each advisor can only be influenced once each season. These are weighty matters, indeed!

Once all dice have been spent, the benefits of each advisor's influence are collected by the governors. Then, governors have the opportunity to spend the resources they've accumulate to build buildings. Ranging from simple Palisades to mighty Cathedrals, each building has unique benefits, from victory points to bonuses in battle. Complicating the building phase are the dependencies between buildings. For example, a governor can't build a Market without first building an Inn. Each building has unique costs and benefits that must be carefully weighed.

Once buildings have been built, the Spring ends and Summer begins.

In the Summer, the King, in his beneficence, awards his best governor — the one with the most buildings — a victory point. Then, the players roll dice, influence advisors, and build buildings again, just as they did in the Spring.

In the Fall, the King sends his Envoy to the player with the least buildings. The King's Envoy can by spent to allow that player to either influence a given advisor for a second time in a given season, or to build two buildings in a given season (normally, the limit is one). Then, as in Spring and Summer, all players roll dice, influence advisors, and build once more.

Finally, in the Winter, the enemies of the realm descend on the unfortunate governors.

Players can first use their remaining resources — those not already spent on buildings — to hire soldiers. Then the top card of the enemies deck is turned faceup and the strength of the invaders revealed. Each governor and his soldiers must face this foe alone, and his success or failure will determine whether he receives spoils, like resources or victory points, or suffers depredations, such as the loss of resources or even entire buildings.

At the end of the year, a new year begins. Five cycles are completed — five years of shrewd maneuvering and difficult decisions — and then each player's victory points totaled and a victor crowned.

Long live the realm! Long live Kingsburg!

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