I have talked previously about the new wave of dice games that aren't really dice games, a genre that I really enjoy. Last night we played Kingsburg, another fresh take on this mechanic. It's a great example of a dice game with lots of strategy and some really tough decisions.
Each round, you roll 3 dice and use the numbers on the dice to influence the king's advisors. Each advisor brings you something a resource, a soldier, possibly some victory points, etc. Once someone has influenced an advisor (ie put their dice there) no one else can use that advisor for that round. You then use the resources you gained to build buildings that will give you advantages. This continues for 3 seasons and then a monster attacks to end the year (they are on a very strict schedule, those monsters…) 5 years make up the game, and most victory points wins.
I love the influencing mechanic. It has a lot of nuance. For instance, the lowest roll goes first, so they might steal an advisor that you really wanted. You might be really in need of a gold, but not able to get an advisor that gives you one, so you have to change your whole plan. There's also a surprising amount of math in the game, as you look at the various permutations your 3 dice offer. Do I take the 6-6-5 that I rolled and place them on the Queen at 17? Or do I spread it around a little and play 11 & 6, or 12 & 5? What have the other players rolled, and how might that affect my choices?
The monsters deserve special note. They get progressively meaner each year, and you don't know which monster you might be facing at any time (although, certain advisors do let you look at the monster card.) Every game I have played has had at least one case of someone being crunched by not having enough strength to beat the monster and losing precious victory points because of it.
Kingsburg has enough randomness that it is a different game every time, but enough structure that there are definite strategies and paths you can follow. It plays a little long (almost 2 hours in my experience) but is a lot of fun, with very little downtime for each player. I heartily recommend this game!
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