Posts tagged ‘eurogame’

Kingsburg – Dice Games Regain Respectability

Author: Lyndon Lampert

Once upon a time, deep in the realm of Eurogames, playing anything with dice afforded you all the social standing of someone with the Black Plague. In those dark days, the Eurogaming Elite viewed even the venerable Settlers of Catan with some suspicion because Klaus Teuber’s creation contained–dare we say it–two dice! Those were dark days indeed, when purists divided gamers into two camps: the enlightened ones who played strategy games that sought to eliminate any trace of “randomness” and the pathetic masses who could only play “dice games.”

Now, however, thanks to some fine work by a couple of Italian revolutionaries, Andrea Chiarvesio and Luca Lennaco, the old paradigm that “no real Eurogame can contain dice as a major element” is being shaken to its roots. In their landmark 2007 game Kingsburg, by Fantasy Flight Games, Chiarvesio and Lennaco have created a game that is eminently playable, cleverly tactical, and just plain fun. But the most remarkable part of their accomplishment is that good old-fashioned six-sided dice comprise the central element of Kingsburg. Move over, Euro-purists, dice are back!

The Theme

Kingsburg is essentially a resource-allocation and building game, set in a medieval fantasy realm. The basic concept is simple and familiar to Eurogamers: players collect wooden cubes that represent either gold, wood or stone, and then “spend” these resources in various combinations to buy buildings that in turn grant further abilities and/or victory points. Victory points are scored throughout the course of the game, so the players’ true positions are visible to all throughout, with no “hidden surprises” at the end.

The Storyline

You’re attempting to gain influence over some of the King’s advisors, who then in turn will grant you the resources (gold, wood or stone) to build your buildings. The theme works well, but the real fun comes in the clever way in which the influence is gained.

Rolling for Influence

Each player (2 to 5 can play) controls three dice of one color. The game is divided into a time span of five years of four seasons each. For the three seasons of spring, summer and fall, all players roll their dice simultaneously. Each player adds up their total, and the player with the lowest total has the first crack at obtaining influence (a great balancing mechanism for a bad roll). Influence is gained over any one of 18 advisors by matching a die or dice to the Advisor’s number. The higher the Advisor’s number, the more resources he/she offers.

So, the player who rolled 1, 4 and 6 could make his first placement with any one of his dice on

· Advisor 1

· Advisor 4

· Advisor 6

· Combinations 1 and 4 to claim Advisor 5

· 1 and 6 to claim Advisor 7

· 4 and 6 to claim Advisor 10

· Use all of his/her dice to claim Advisor 11 (1+4+6)

After the first player places a die (or dice) to influence one Advisor, the next player places his or her die or dice on an Advisor, and so on, until all the dice are allocated.

The rub is that (with one minor exception), once a particular Advisor has been claimed for that turn, no one else can claim the same Advisor until the next roll. Invariably, someone will grab the Advisor you wanted first, forcing some interesting “Plan B” tactical decisions.

Buildings and Battles

After the resources are collected each season, players have the opportunity to claim buildings on their building chart (each player has an identical “province” board of 20 buildings). Each building has a specified resource cost (two gold and one wood, for instance) and the building generally affords immediate victory points and a special ability that will be applicable for the rest of the game.

The Unknown Enemy

One complication is that once a year (the winter season) all players must individually square off against an unknown enemy, too. An enemy card is flipped over and all players must check their soldier points against that of the enemy. If they meet or exceed the enemy’s points, good things happen, if they don’t they’ll lose resources and/or victory points. Soldier points are collected in the same way as resources, by influencing certain advisors and by special buildings.

Is Kingsburg for You?

Kingsburg has some minor additional rules, but that’s the essence of the game. It’s all about how to best allocate your dice to gain resources. Then, you can plan how to spend those resources to construct a series of useful buildings, always keeping in mind those nasty enemy cards.

Kingsburg succeeds in mixing the best of strategic Eurogames with the pure fun of rolling dice. Of similar complexity to Settlers of Catan, it would be a great introductory game to Eurogame newcomers, especially to those who are already comfortable with dice games. Kingsburg’s only downside is the time consumed figuring out the possible dice combinations for each roll. But since all players are doing this simultaneously, the total amount of downtime is relatively minor. If you’re a true Eurogame lover but still secretly long to roll a fistful of dice now and then, Kingsburg could well be the solution that scratches both of your itches at once!

Get your own copy of Kingsburg


December 10, 2008 at 3:55 am 1 comment

Agricola is Out! We have Some Copies!

You may or may not have heard about the game that has everyone buzzing in the game markets.

This game is called Agricola, published by Z-Man Games. This is the same publishing company that has given us two other gems: 1960 – The Making of the President and Pandemic.

For many months now, everyone has been asking “When’s it coming out?” Well, it came out on Friday, last week. We received two of them from our suppliers, so if you want them, you need to jump NOW!

I also noticed on the Z-Man site that Agricola is SOLD OUT! They have no more… The next wave of reprinting will be in late September. This means that if a retailer actually has a few, they may not get more for a little while (about two months). This is similar to what has happened repeatedly with Pandemic.

So, what is this game about and why the strange name?

Agricola is latin for “farmer”, so that should give you a hint as to what the game is about. You develop a farm. Essentially you have to decide if you are going to build a larger home, so you can have a larger family. A larger family allows for more actions per turn. However, larger families also require you to produce more food. To produce food, you plow fields. To raise animals, you need to fence pastures. Each family can also have occupations. You earn points by growing your hut to a clay hut, and then to a stone house. Everything else you do to balance food requirements and increase the comfort of life gets you points, as well…including family growth.

Each game is different because there are about 166 occupation cards and 146 different improvements. And, the best part – the game lasts about 30 minutes (even shorter for the family game).

One of the cool things about this game is that there are seperate rules for solo play, a shorter family game, and a full set of rules. This means that if you are looking for a game that does not require other gamers, this will fit the bill.

You can pick up Agricola from us in two places:
On our Agricola product page

The going rate for this game is around $48 – $55. The price at is $49.99.

This game comes in a standard size box, but it is ALL components, so the box is heavier than you would expect – it weighs in at just about 7.5 pounds. A standard game is around 2.5-4 pounds.

August 14, 2008 at 6:20 pm Leave a comment

I am a Eurogamer!

That’s pretty straightforward. But how did I become a Eurogamer? That is a much more interesting story and a fun walk down memory lane.

I have been a gamer most of my life. As a kid, I played Dungeons and Dragons, arcade games, and video games. I am definately a child of the 80’s. Yes, I had the board game Dungeon, which was an early theme game, similar to those we find today.

I had an Atari, a Colecovision, Nintendo 64, and a Commadore Vic 20 (Nobody would ever need more than 20K of memory and no hard drive…right?). I played the original Mario Brothers, Popeye, Defender, Missile Command, BattleZone, Pitfall, and Adventure (on the Atari). I remember getting up a 4:00 and 5:00 AM so I could sneak in some Atari Pac Man before going to school.

As I got older, D&D faded. My younger brother played the Nintendo – I hung out with friends. My brother liked the sports games. At that time it was Joe Montana’s Football game on the PC that had our attention. I was alright, but it was a little more complicated than I wanted. The Nintendo system introduced the concept of key combinations such – which I lost interest in. I liked games you could get in and out of fairly quickly. This was not a popular style in the late 80’s. I don’t think games came back for me…really until shortly after college.

Enter…Windows 95 and the world’s first third-person shooter – DOOM! I was hooked. I had just gotten my first surround audio system. There was nothing more exciting than turning off the lights cranking the PC through the system and ripping through aliens with a chainsaw – BRILLIANT! Than, as an avid Star Wars fan, I was introduced to games like Tie Fighter and Wing Commander (so much for the simple games you get in and out of). Then, along came Duke Nukem. There was nothing like it. You were a wise-cracking, cigar smoking, stripper watching guy with a big friggin’ gun and a pipe bomb.  In no other game could you toss a bomb and just wait till the right moment and BOOM! A million little pieces. It was fantastic. I can definatly say though that I outside of those two games, no third-person shooter really got my attention – outside of a LAN party (which was a totally unique experience in itself).

In about 1998, I learned of a PC game called Warcraft II. Hmm, looks like D&D, but not really. I can be orcs or humans. They get to battle. It’s not third-person. There is a map…and I can make my own if I want. I’m in. This became a staple game for me and I was introduced to the genre of real-time strategy. This led to games like Starcraft and Diablo and SimCity and Civilization (which was probably a bit more complicated than I wanted) and Age of Empires 2. And then, I met an innocent little game called Roller Coaster Tycoon. What an incredible concept! Build your own theme park and roller coasters – and you can model after famous parks. I own all three versions of this game. But, I was keenly aware that my style was definately real-time strategy and tycoon style games. Not too complex, but they could be very deep if you wanted them to. I also found that they satisfied an itch I had to releave frustrations by simply going in and ripping up a simulated city with a massive army.

So, here we are…not in the too distant past. I have two kids (one was about a 7 year old girl and the other too young to care). I see, in a book store, this huge game called World of Warcraft. Lots of little pieces and cards and pretty art. I was a Warcraft fan and intrigued…big time. Then I looked at the price – $75. Um…nope, too much for my broke butt at the time. But, it was cool…and there were all those little figures (Women, every man loves to play with little men…just get over it). I didn’t buy it, but it was interesting.

The first Euro-style game I was introduced to was Sword & Skull. I was reasearching this to play with my daughter. I thought it would be fun – and it had a few little men and cards. She liked Clue and Monopoly Jr. My daughter, by the way was not intrigued by video games the way I was – but she does like board games. The game style of Sword & Skull was more interesting to me than the actual game. But the reasearch I had done before buying it did me in. I learned about a whole world of gaming I was unaware of.

Then, along came Settlers of Catan, Cacassonne, and Ticket To Ride. These board games fed the exact same gaming bug that got me with the real-time strategy games.

In October of 2007, I started selling board games online – on Ebay. I needed a game to start with. I learned that there was this game that just came out that sold 100% of the time on eBay called…Starcraft the Board Game – OH JOY! My old friend – and I could get it half-off as I was now a retailer. You know I bought three – two to sell and one to play. 1000’s of little pieces and figures, lots of chits, and cards, and…a 45-page rule book. HOLY CRAP! Not a game you are going to get in and out of easily. But it was Starcraft, right? I had to try it. After two multi-hour sessions with my wife trying to figure it out, I got frustrated. We did figure it out and I have played it twice since. Both times to mediocure reviews.

I since learned that the Warcraft game is a 5-hour game event, so I have sold it, but never actually opened the box. I suspect I will at some point, but that is a tough sell (hence, my excitement for World Of Warcraft Adventures coming next month)

Repeatedly, the eurogames come out, get played, and enjoyed.

I was also intrigued by a game called Arkham Horror. This was a cooperative game – like a role-playing game – but as a board game. And, it can be played as a one player – that’s interesting. Again, I open the game and it is huge. Lots of pieces and a rule book of over 30 pages. I was really craving that Ticket to Ride 4-page instruction guide. I tried Arkham Horror once and it has not come out again. A pattern is forming.

Just this week, I attempted a third experiment. As I mentioned in an eariler post, I received several games from Rio Grande to try out. So, I gathered two of them and a big one…War of the Ring – a Risk-like game based on Lord of the Rings (with over 200 little men and lots of pieces). I keep wanting to play these, but they never satisfy the same way. We played Oregon twice, Airships once, and War of the Ring once. We were prepared to play Oregon again, but we did not.

We tried Last Night On Earth – the Zombie Game. This was great fun…as we were a group of B-horror movie fans. My wife played as the zombies and even said “Brains…Must have brains!” a few times. It was a simple game to get into and understand. I think we even played it twice.

So, the pattern I have identified in myself is that I am extremely intrigued by the giant event games, but they don’t seem to satisfy me the same way the typical Eurogame does. My friends are the same way, so that may have something to do with it. If I had people that enjoyed the bigger games, I may have a successful game event with them.

So, if you ask me what kind of board game I like and reccomend, you can expect it will be a Euro-style game.


May 23, 2008 at 10:15 am 1 comment


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