Q.E. and Kingdom Builder

 The box cover excluding 99% of the name

The box cover excluding 99% of the name

This quiz picture is a game that arrived a little while ago but got its first airing yesterday.

 If you like Dungeon Bash or exploring style games this is a must for you

If you like Dungeon Bash or exploring style games this is a must for you

The last quiz picture was of course The Sorcerer's Cave, probably one of the earliest Dungeon Crawl games, I used to enjoy playing this in a school hall where we used stacked tables and chairs as well as the floor to denote the different levels of the dungeon, a proper 3D game.

The games played this week were :-

 Clockwork Wars play area

Clockwork Wars play area

 Potion Explosion mid-game

Potion Explosion mid-game

 Peloponnes

Peloponnes

Kingdom Builder has been around since 2011 and has a few expansions, however it plays quite well as the basic game in about 45 minutes and is for 2-4 players. The idea of the game is to gather as many victory points as possible from the houses (you have 40 of them) that you place on the board, the game ends when a player has placed their last house and the round is completed so each player has the same number of turns then scoring begins. The board is of a modular form and a random four of these are placed together to form a rectangle (there are 8 to choose from in the basic game), each board is a hex-board overlaid with a number of features, the first is that each board has a Citadel, you receive 3 points for each citadel you get at least one of your houses next to, there will also be one or two special towns which give in-game bonuses for placing adjacent to them, there are 5 basic terrain features in the game (Forests, Flowers, Fields, Hills, Plains)  There are also 2 impassable terrains (Rivers and Mountains).

 Terrain such as water blocks. Small village has given yellow a bonus token

Terrain such as water blocks. Small village has given yellow a bonus token

Before the game starts three victory point cards are revealed – these apply to all players and are the goals for the game, the expansion we played with added an extra victory point card from an expansion deck, these cards may say things like 1VP for each house next to a Mountain, or 2VP for each house in a chosen row, the expansion card we had gave 7 points for getting 7 houses in a continuous diagonal line. Each player is dealt a card from the terrain deck which features one of the 5 basic terrains then the game starts.

 Sample of the terrain cards and a points card

Sample of the terrain cards and a points card

On a turn the player whose turn it is reveals their card and must place three houses, one on each hex of the terrain shown, the rule for placement is that you MUST make all placements adjacent to houses that you have already in play, of course your first house can be placed anywhere showing the chosen terrain. It may be that in your turn you have no houses in play adjacent to the chosen terrain in which case you may place anywhere on the board in that terrain. Houses may only be placed in the terrain shown and the hex must be empty.

 Sample of the bonus tokens from the base game

Sample of the bonus tokens from the base game

Normally after placing three houses the turn is over, however if you have placed next to a special town and there is a town chit available, you take the chit (there are 4 of each in the basic game, this is reduced to 2 each in the expansion game) in future turns you may activate the chit once at the beginning or end of your turn. The chits have many abilities but generally permit you to add or move houses, in our game I picked up more of these than anyone else which should have given me greater flexibility, but I only achieved last place in a 4-player game. After your turn is over you draw your card for the next turn.

 Our game towards the end

Our game towards the end

The game trips along at a fair pace as you can usually plan ahead for your turn unless someone blocks what you have planned for, there is some decision-making but after your first placements your options become channelled by the cards you draw, again helping to make this a quick game. This for me falls into the medium-light (family) category of game, the question of luck can be a factor as it is probable at some point that you need a particular terrain card and if you do not draw it you can be stuck similarly drawing the same terrain card as your previous turn can also be frustratingly limiting but everyone is playing with the same probabilities so perhaps recognising the limitations of the board layout is key to doing well. This is a game I would always be happy playing but would rarely be a first choice unless playing with fluffy gamers.

Now I know I said only one game review each posting but I feel a need to also tell you about Q.E. (Quantative Easing) which was delivered last week and despite its “home-produced” appearance I was able to persuade 3 others to join me and give it a try. It is from a small company called Cubiko, they launched this on Kickstarter and got only 43 backers however it was sufficient to get the game published. Cubiko are a British company and their games are all hand made from wood so highly durable and definitely “different” and of very limited print runs.

 The board is square its my camera that gives it the skewed appearance.

The board is square its my camera that gives it the skewed appearance.

Q.E. is a trading game, there are 16 “businesses” which are put up for sale over four rounds – 4 in each round, on a turn the start player for the turn makes an open bid on a dry-wipe surface of a price they are willing to pay for the company, the other players all make secret bids which are only seen by the start player who writes the winning bid on the back of the company and then handing it to the wining player. All players get their bid chits back unseen by the other players, the next player round the table auctions the next company and so on. Now although you bid with money, there is no actual cash in the game and you are effectively bidding with loan chits (the companies in front of you), this continues until all 16 companies have been purchased then scoring takes place.

 Some of the wooden tokens in the game, the two middle are company tiles.

Some of the wooden tokens in the game, the two middle are company tiles.

Companies have 3 pieces of information on them, first between 1 and 4 victory points, second one of 4 industry types and third one of 4 countries indicated by a flag symbol. Players earn the Victory Points on all the tiles they own and they get extra points based on companies they own matching their country flag (secretly dealt at the start of the game), for sets of like Industry symbols and for having 3 or 4 different Industry symbols. Now comes the sting in the tail, everyone reveals the bids they made on all the winning tiles, the player with the highest total automatically loses all their points and the lowest total gains 6 points. The game plays quickly (once the rules are known about 30 minutes), there is a memory element to the game, the fun of the game though is in the bids you make, tactically deciding when to bid high, low or not at all, trying to raise the price on certain companies without getting stuck with something that gives you a small return on points. Overall a lovely game, beautifully (if rustically) produced and worth getting hold of if you can. The rules say it plays 2-4 but I think it will only be at its best as a 4 player game; if you get a chance to give it a try I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised.