Kingsburg is one of your classic German resource-management strategy board games. Dylan introduced me to it; I bought it recently while browsing for other stuff at a game store, because I remembered I enjoyed it. Like many games of its ilk, it takes an hour or two to play, it involves a lot of fiddly resource pieces, and you build up and acquire victory points. Unlike other games, it has a sweet core mechanic that I am very impressed with: dice roll drafting (explained below). Although the game is kind of annoying to teach (there’s a lot of information to take in on your personal stuff-to-build card), it’s got pretty good pacing and a lot of fun moments.
The dice roll draft works as follows: all players roll three six-sided dice of their own color. Then there are spaces on the board, 1-18, which have resource icons on them (they are advisors you are trying to influence, so like a Merchant, a Wizard, a Duchess, etc.). You “draft” a space (take it and nobody else can) by putting any number of dice on it that add up to exactly the number shown. So with my 6-5-4 roll, I could take the 9 space with the 4-5, or the 15 space with all the dice, or the 6 space with just the 6, etc. You keep going around the table until everyone’s out of dice (or can’t place anywhere). There are neat mechanics in game – extra dice, bump the number up/down one, get a one-time +2 chit – that influence the roll in interesting, strategic and fun ways.
The downside is that this super fun core mechanic is accompanied by a sheet of stuff to spend resources on, that isn’t particularly compelling in my opinion. Ostensibly, the structures make you (a) better at dice-drafting, (b) better at doing the regular-interval combat mechanic, or (c) get points, but they kind of feel haphazard and they are very hard to keep track of in-game. I would prefer a different system for spending resources that integrates better with the dice-drafting part of the game – maybe everything makes you better at drafting, there are more spaces, and the primary way to get points is via the draft?
Regardless, the game has many compelling parts (there’s even fun in griefing your opponents by picking a spot they want right in front of them!) and if you are into strategy board games, I recommend picking it up!
Core Mechanic (Dice-Drafting): A
Gold Icon That Looks Like a Lemon So Everyone Calls It Lemons: A++ (thanks Dylan!)