When comparing Kingdom Builder vs Captain Sonar, the Slant community recommends Captain Sonar for most people. In the question“What are the best strategy board games?” Captain Sonar is ranked 6th while Kingdom Builder is ranked 10th. The most important reason people chose Captain Sonar is:
All player roles have great synergy with one another, so by performing your role to the best of your abilities, it allows your teammates to work more efficiently. Regardless of which role you choose (captain, first mate, engineer, or radio operator), each and every one is important and vital to the success of your team. For example, each time the submarine is moved, the captain decides the direction, the engineer ensures no systems are overloaded, the radio operator will be determining the position of the enemy sub, and the first mate can start getting the weapons charged and ready to deploy. It's a lot of fun when your team becomes a well oiled machine, communicating and working together to bring down your opponent's submarine as a group effort.
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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 Great for quick gaming sessions
Setup is minimal and the game itself only takes about 45 minutes to play from start to finish.
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.
Pro A great teamwork experience
All player roles have great synergy with one another, so by performing your role to the best of your abilities, it allows your teammates to work more efficiently. Regardless of which role you choose (captain, first mate, engineer, or radio operator), each and every one is important and vital to the success of your team.
For example, each time the submarine is moved, the captain decides the direction, the engineer ensures no systems are overloaded, the radio operator will be determining the position of the enemy sub, and the first mate can start getting the weapons charged and ready to deploy.
It's a lot of fun when your team becomes a well oiled machine, communicating and working together to bring down your opponent's submarine as a group effort.
Pro Pace can be as relaxed or frantic as you want
The game has rules for both real time and turn-based play. With real time, everyone on both teams is able to perform their roles simultaneously which usually results in a bunch of people shouting over each other in excitement and panic. On the other hand, turn based play is much more relaxed. Teams are able to take their time when making decisions and forming strategies.
Pro Versatile thanks to its many different roles
Each team controls their own submarine with four different crew member roles to choose from. For one game you might opt to the be the captain and plot the course of the submarine, and the next you may choose to be the first mate who prepares and deploys weapons. Depending on which role you play, your game experience will be vastly different as each role has very different responsibilities.
Pro Tense gameplay
Communicating with your team and trying to coordinate your submarine's movements, track the enemy sub, and keep all your systems running can be tense in all the right ways. Relying on your teammates to perform their crew member roles effectively while you scramble to perform your own results in an atmosphere where everyone is frantically working towards outplaying the other team. This is all compounded by the fact that a team of real human opponents is doing the same thing to you in a suspenseful game of cat and mouse.
Pro Scales to groups of various sizes
Captain Sonar scales well to groups of anywhere between two and eight players. While ideally, you'd want 4 players on each team to ensure all four roles are filled, it's entirely possible for you to take on multiple roles if needed. This means, even with 2 players, it's fully playable.
Pro Extremely easy to set up and start playing
The game consists of a game board for each player depending on their chosen role, clear plastic sheets, and a black marker. Setting up is as easy as taking the game boards out and placing a clear plastic sheet over each one. There's no tokens, dice, or other pieces to keep track of.
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.
Con One bad player can ruin your team effort
The game is highly dependent on your team working together to track and damage the opposing team's submarine. Since each role is vital to success, if a teammate is playing their chosen role badly, it will negatively impact the entire team.