Review – Kingdom of Solomon from Minion Games by guest reviewer, the awesome Alan Hatcher
Designer – Philip DuBarry
Art – Ricky Hunter
A copy of this game has been provided by Minion Games
This is a strategy game for 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up. It takes about 90 minutes to play.
Kingdom of Solomon from Minion Games originally took the KickStarter route to publishing, which seems to have gained in popularity over the last few years. My initial thought on first being asked to review this game wasn’t actually that positive; from the outset it seemed to be one of many euro worker placement games and the theme really didn’t appeal. I thought that this was going to be religious game aimed firstly at delivering a particular message rather than a solid game experience. On this occasion however, I am very pleased to be proved wrong, this is a solid game within a biblical setting and that works for me. So let’s get stuck in.
The game board art, cards and box are all nicely done and the art fits the theme very well. The wooden components are a little on the small side for my liking particularly the player buildings. I do like pawns in a game; feels like a proper game, so they worked fine for me.
In the box you will find:
1 board, depicting ancient Israel divided into regions, each region allows you to gain resource and some have building spaces on them which allow you to take ownership of the region. There are several action and bonus spaces. There is also a depiction of the Temple, which players can help build as the game progresses.
Goods cubes; 10 Gold, 12 Copper, 14 Stone and 16 Timber, all of which are gathered from the board as resources.
20 building cards which players can pay for with their recourses and 32 fortune cards which can be gain throughout the game to give extra resource of VPs.
16 white temple blocks and 10 markers.
4 sets of wooden player pieces, 6 pawns, 5 buildings and a turn and player order marker
The game is played over a number of rounds and ends when either a player plays their 5th building; the temple is completed or all eleven of the building sites on the board are built on. The winner is the person with the most VIPs.
Each round is broken down into a number of phases. There is a turn order track on the board which is drawn randomly to start with but can be altered by taking the altar as your final bonus action.
The first phase is Worker Placement and you do this in turn order, you can place on a region on the board or an action space, you can also place on one of your own building cards you have already built. You can only have one pawn in each space, except the bonus spaces and they can only have one person’s pawns in them, and you cannot play on another persons cards or resource space with one of their buildings in. The only exception to this is if you have taken the most temple tokens whilst building the temple and earn the right to be the high priest, in which case you can place on another person’s card or region but only once each round.
The placing of your final pawns is a game of nerves as you can place more than one pawn on one of the three bonus spaces to end your go. The Alter gives you three times your current turn position in VPs, the Ark gives you three Fortune Cards and in a four player game you also can use Tribute to give you one type of each resource. Fortune cards give you VPs, resources or are events; you can play these at any time. Getting resources from the board is very tight and so the cards, buildings and action/bonus spaces are nice balancing mechanisms, I never felt there was nothing I could do to better position, even if someone did later disrupt those plans.
Next you take your resources from the board in the Resolution phase and take the actions from the spaces, you can do these in any order and this can matter greatly. As the game progresses, you start to put buildings on the board and build roads to start to build up a region; this then gives you multiple resources as your pawn gathers from the resource spaces around you connected by roads; again a nice mechanism and one that rewards long term strategy.
The next phase is the Market. Now I think I need to play a few more times to really understand the value of the market and how to play it optimally. You can on your go, in reverse turn order, sell or buy one item to or from the market. The market is limited in spaces and the cost of the good falls as it fills up. You keep going around until you pass and once you pass you can’t get back in, so if you want to pick something up later in the hope someone sells to the market then you have to either sell or buy to keep in it. Clever stuff and well thought out. This together with the limited resource availability can seriously stuff you over.
Then comes the building phase, which as you have guessed allows you, in turn order, to pay the resource to buy a building and place it in front of you, most of these buildings also allow you to put a physical building on the board and claim the resource space. You can also build a piece of the temple as previously discussed or a road, you can only build one building on your turn but as much as you want of roads and temple pieces. When you have built a temple piece you either take a temple token or VPs.
Did it work for me?
Yeah it did, and it’s a game I’d really like to play much more of. The theme still doesn’t appeal much, but that’s just a matter of personal taste. It is a very good game; a tight worker placement with some nice additions. I really like the way in which you can buy buildings and then use them in the future to place your pawns on, the market place works well and I love the tension created by the bonus spaces; how long should I hold out for, what does everyone else need to do. The fact that the resources are limited also means you can really stuff your opponents over by taken them all. There is a good amount of player interactions and you do have to pay attention to what the other players are doing. There are never quite enough actions and that’s a sign of a good Euro Game to me. The rules are simple and easily understood but the rule book needed a few clarifications, these are dealt with on BoardGameGeek.com.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 7 out of 10
Definitely, and a good step up from gateway games. It will also be good for families where the theme appeals.
For more information go to – http://www.miniongames.com/