Kingsburg is a 2-5 player worker placement game that uses dice as its workers. This mechanic allows for plentiful options without overloading the players.
In a worker placement game, each player has a set number of workers that they can assign to different tasks. This number is finite, so you won’t be able to do everything every turn. Frequently in worker placement games, when one player uses a worker on a specific action, no other player may use a worker on that same action that turn. This makes it important to decide what actions to take when, since someone can take it before you.
Some popular worker placement games include Agricola, Caverna, Lords of Waterdeep, Manhattan Project, Ninjato, and Stone Age.
The goal of the game is to build buildings, score points, and fend off yearly attacks.
The game is divided into five years. Each year has three Productive Seasons where players roll dice, influence advisors, and build a building (the meat of the game). These are separated by minor, kingly interventions, and at the end of the year, there is an attack that can potentially lose players points.
How to Play
Each year is divided into 8 phases:
- Aid from the King
- Spring Productive Season
- The King’s Reward
- Summer Productive Season
- The King’s Envoy
- Autumn Productive Season
- Recruit Soldiers
- Winter – The Battle
The bulk of the game takes place in the three Productive Seasons (Spring, Summer, and Autumn). In these Productive Seasons, players roll their dice, influence advisors, and optionally build a building.
Roll the Dice
All players roll their three dice. The player with the highest combined total will be last to influence an advisor in this season. To represent this, place that player’s colored disk at the bottom of the Turn Order Chart. The player with the next highest combined total is placed second to last. Repeat until everyone’s disk has been placed.
The advisors range from 1 to 18. Players use their dice to select (influence) these advisors. Each advisor grants the selecting player resources. The higher the number of the advisor, the more resources it grants.
The first player on the Turn Order Chart selects first. They can use one, two, or all three of their dice to select an advisor with a matching number.
For example, if they rolled a 3, 5, and 6. They could use all of their dice to select the 14-advisor. They could use two dice to select the 8, 9, or 11-advisor. Or, they could use one die to select the 3, 5, or 6-advisor.
Once the first player selects an advisor, the second player selects an advisor, etc. until all players, in order, select an advisor. After everyone has selected an advisor, players can potentially select a second advisor, in turn order. Any dice that weren’t used on the first selection, can be used for this second selection. For anyone with a die remaining after the second selection, there is a third/final selection. So, a player could either get one high numbered advisor or multiple low numbered advisors. The only caveat is that no advisor can be selected more than once in a season.
Say Anne (red) rolls a 2, 5, and 6 for a combined total of 13.
Bob (blue) rolls a 2, 3, and 6 for a combined total of 11.
Carol (black) rolls three 6’s for a combined total of 18.
In this Productive Season, Bob will place first followed by Anne and then Carol.
Bob chooses to put his 6-die on the 6-advisor space.
Anne then chooses to put her 2-die on the 2-advisor space.
Carol places last and puts all of her dice on the 18-advisor space.
Since Bob still has dice left, he decides to place his 3-die on the 3-advisor space.
Anne places her two remaining dice on the 11-advisor space.
Since Bob still has a die left, he gets a third chance to place. Unfortunately, he only has a 2-die left and the 2-advisor is already selected. So, he does not place that die this season.
Then, all players collect their resources in order of the advisors:
Anne gets the gold from the 2-advisor.
Bob gets the wood from the 3-advisor.
Bob trades in his wood for a gold and stone with the 6-advisor.
Anne chooses to take the stone and wood from the 11-advisor.
Carol gets a gold, wood, stone, and soldier from the 18-advisor space.
After influencing advisors to gain resources, each player may use those resources to build a building.
To build a building, you must turn in resources matching the cost in the circle on your Province Sheet. To show that you built a building, place one of your Building Tokens over the cost. You then immediately gain the victory points to the right of the flag (advance your token on the Scoring Track around the board). In addition, you gain the effect in the text for the rest of the game.
For example, if you spend two gold to build the Statue, you immediately gain three victory points, and for the rest of the game, anytime you roll the same number on all of your Productive Season dice, you may reroll one of those dice.
At the start of the game, you may only build a building in the leftmost I column. In order to build a building in the II, III, or IV column you must build each building in that row in the preceding columns first. For example, if you want to build the Embassy, you would first have to build the Barricade, then the Crane, then the Town Hall. Once those are built, you may build the Embassy.
The Rest of the Year
Everything else that happens in the year revolves around the Productive Seasons.
1) Aid from the King
The player with the least built buildings gains a white die for the next Spring Productive Season. This die is rolled in the Spring Productive Season with the rest of your dice. You can use that white die with at least one of your other dice to select an advisor. (The bonus white die does count for determining turn order in the Productive Season.)
If two or more players are tied for the least amount of buildings, the tied player with the least goods (gold, wood, or stone) gains the white die. If still tied, all tied players gain one good of the their choice.
In the first year of the game, since all players will be tied in buildings and goods, all players gain one good.
2) Spring Productive Season
**See Productive Season above**
3) The King’s Reward
The player with the most built buildings gains a victory point. If there is a tie, all tied players gain a victory point.
4) Summer Productive Season
**See Productive Season above**
5) The King’s Envoy
The player with the least built buildings gains the King’s Envoy. In case of a tie, the tied player with the least goods gains the King’s Envoy. If still tied, no one gains the King’s Envoy.
The King’s Envoy can be used in a Productive Season to either:
A) Select an advisor a second time in a Productive Season
B) Build a second building in a Productive Season
For selecting an advisor a second time, the advisor can either be already selected by a different player or by yourself. Place the King’s Envoy marker next to your dice to show that you are using it.
For building a second building, you must follow the column rule (build from left to right) and have the resources to build both buildings.
When you use the King’s Envoy, return it to its starting spot. If the King’s Envoy is not used by phase 5 of the next turn, the King’s Envoy is reassigned.
6) Autumn Productive Season
**See Productive Season above**
7) Recruit Soldiers
Phase 7 directly relates to phase 8. I recommend reading phase 8 first.
In turn order defined by the Autumn Productive Season, players may recruit soldiers by turning in two goods (gold, wood, stone) per soldier. Players may recruit as many soldiers as they can afford. The goods could be the same or different.
Soldiers do reset to zero at the end of each year.
8) Winter – The Battle
Before the end of each year, one of five random enemies attacks. Each player is attacked by the same enemy.
Each player has a combat value and each enemy has a strength. If a player’s combat value exceeds the enemy’s strength, that player gets a reward. If a player’s combat value is less than the enemy’s strength, that player is penalized. If a player’s combat value ties the enemy’s strength, nothing happens.
A player’s combat value is determined by their soldiers, buildings, and the king’s reinforcements. Each soldier you have on the Soldier Chart adds 1 combat value. Buildings like Guard Tower, Fortress, and Farms add or subtract combat value. For the king’s reinforcement, one player rolls a die and every player adds that number to their combat value.
For example, Blue has two soldiers on the Soldier Chart for +2.
Blue has Guard Tower (+1), Blacksmith (+1), Palisade (+1), and Farms (-1) for a net +2.
For king’s reinforcements, a 3 is rolled for +3.
In this situation, Blue has a combat value of 7.
In addition, the player that beats the enemy by the most, gets a bonus victory point. In case of tie, all tied players get the victory point. If no player beats the enemy, no one gets the victory point.
End of Year
At the end of the year, advance the Year Track by one and place the season token back at Aid from the King. At the end of year 5, the game is over.
Winning the Game
The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. In case of a tie, the tied player with the most goods remaining wins. If still tied, the tied player with the most built buildings wins.
I enjoy Kingsburg because it provides me with a lot of strategic choice while still being fun for the family. I like being able to plan out exactly which buildings I am going to get in which order. Then, based on that, I like figuring out the best way to optimize my dice rolls in the Productive Seasons, taking into account what resources I need and what advisors my opponents might go after. Watching my strategy unfold as planned can be incredibly satisfying.
I have also played Kingsburg with minimal planning. In these games, I just start off with a general idea, and I leave myself open to potentially disrupt my opponents in the Productive Seasons. Whether or not I do disrupt my opponents, building buildings on a whim can be quite satisfying as well.
With regard to the dice as workers mechanic, I am a fan. This mechanic randomizes which of the 18 advisors you can potentially choose from each Productive Season; this keeps the game interesting because you have to decide the best potential combination of these random elements. I much prefer dice randomizing my options than determining success or failure. While consistently getting high rolls can be beneficial, a player won’t straight out lose for not rolling the highest consistently.
The thing I dislike the most about this game is that certain enemies can destroy your best building. If you don’t defeat specific enemies, generally the lower strength enemies of the year, you can lose your rightmost building. I really dislike this in theory because it allows for massive feast or famine strategies. You can completely ignore combat value bonuses, and if the King’s reinforcements are consistently high, you are in a better position than the person that defended themselves. If the King’s reinforcements are not high, you fall dramatically behind your opponents that prepared their defenses. In addition, no one likes losing things. Thankfully, this has not actually been much of an issue in the games I have played. The odds of losing a building are very low, but we basically all protect ourselves form them anyway. So even though this idea worries me, I still enjoy and recommend the game.
If you do like the game, I highly recommend checking out the first expansion, To Forge a Realm. The expansion adds more buildings and randomizes which ones you might start with each game. This alone significantly increased my enjoyment of a game I already liked. There is also a reworked combat variant that replaces king’s reinforcements that I look forward to trying. The added player specific powers also seem like they could add a lot.
Overall, I enjoy the game, recommend trying it, and if you like it, I highly recommend the expansion.