Kingdom Builder is a strategy board game for 2 to 4 players. The goal of the game is to build up a kingdom by placing your settlements on the game board each turn. There are randomly selected builder cards that give players certain goals for building their kingdom, and you earn gold each time you meet the conditions listed on these cards. At the end of the game, the gold is tallied up based on how many win conditions on the cards were satisfied, and the player with the most gold is declared the winner.
Pro Starts simple and then grows more complex over time
At the beginning of the game, you'll be pretty limited to placing your settlements based on the terrain cards you draw. At this stage it's very simple - draw a desert card, place a settlement on a desert tile. However, after a few turns, the coverage of your settlements on the board will allow for more strategic plays. You'll have more options for placing adjacent settlements and expanding towards key points on the map like castles that award bonus gold.
Pro Random win conditions encourage you to adjust your strategy every game
There are builder cards that represent various win conditions, and before each game, three are chosen at random. These cards give you specific goals to work for when building your kingdom, and award gold each time you successfully meet one of their conditions. For example, the fisherman card awards one gold for each settlement you place next to a body of water. The knight card gives you one gold for each settlement you have in a horizontal line at the end of the game. There are ten of these total, and three in play per gaming session, meaning each time you play you will be trying to build your kingdom in new ways.
Pro The game board allows for vast replayability
You can set up a unique board, so the terrain on which you're building your kingdom will be different every time you play. In total, there are eight interlocking game board pieces with varying amounts of mountains, lakes, forests, deserts, etc. At the start of the game, you choose four of these pieces and then place them together in a 2x2 grid layout. Each piece not only has two sides to choose from, but they can also be rotated however you wish.
Pro Easy to understand
The rules are very simple and easy to grasp, allowing you to jump right into the game with very minimal instruction.
Before the game begins, three cards are randomly selected from the builder deck. These builder cards give you goals to work for such as building the most settlements in a forest, next to a body of water, or in a horizontal row. For each one of these conditions met, you earn gold.
Each turn, you place three settlements on the game board. Where you can place your settlements is determined by a randomly drawn terrain card. For example, if you draw the desert card on your turn, your settlements may be placed on a desert tile anywhere on the map. The only rule is all settlements must be placed adjacent to other settlements.
There are also castles on the map that award bonus gold when you are able to build a settlement adjacent to one. These come into play as your kingdom begins to expand and you have more options for placing settlements.
At the end of the game, the gold is tallied up based on win conditions satisfied, and the player with the most gold wins.
Con A little too luck based
Where you can place your settlements each turn relies on which terrain card you draw. For example if you keep getting forest cards, you will have to continually build in forests which is very limiting and makes it hard to expand out to other areas of the map or satisfy the various win conditions.
Con A rough start can be overly punishing
The game usually lasts only about 10 rounds, so if you get some unlucky terrain card draws early in the game, it makes recovering in the endgame almost impossible. For example, you may want to build settlements around a castle for bonus points, but that castle is in a desert and you keep drawing forest cards. There's simply not enough rounds to outplay the luck of the draw.