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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • A great drafting experience for two players
  • Really satisfying engine building for people who love efficiency
  • Modules allow you to customise the core experience to your tastes

Might Not Like

  • Very similar to It’s a Wonderful World
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It’s A Wonderful Kingdom Review

It's A Wonderful Kingdom

Back in what I’m sure some would call the ancient times of board games of 2019, a cracking little game called It’s a Wonderful World hit kickstarter. This was a cheeky card-based civilisation builder where you will be spending cubes to build buildings that then make more cubes. It is a brilliant game and has nearly knocked 7 wonders out of my collection. But a couple of years later the publisher, la boite de jeu, announced a 2 player spin off called It’s a Wonderful Kingdom. Have they taken aim at 7 Wonders Duel trying to get me to think about getting rid of that too? Did they succeed?

Drafting For Two

For those unfamiliar, It’s a Wonderful Kingdom is a drafting game. Drafting is a tricky mechanism to get right at 2 players as a lot of the fun is seeing what cards make their way to your hand. In a 2 player game you’ve seen it all by the second round of the draft and for me this takes the shine off of the mechanisms a little. Some games put in a dummy player or two to simulate extra players around the table, this is fine, I guess. But what we have in It’s a Wonderful Kingdom is something altogether more exciting. They have brought in some ‘I split you choose’ to spice things back up again.

The way this works is that one player will be placing the cards into one of two piles but it’s the other player who gets first choice of what to choose. So as the first player you don’t want to put all the good cards in one pile because your opponent will clearly just choose that. No, where the fun comes in is placing cards that your opponent would clearly want with cards they definitely don’t want. Leaving the other pile for yourself. It’s a great mechanism and really patches up the cracks in 2 player drafting. So far so good!

Brick By Brick

The civ building works in exactly the same way as it did for this game’s big brother. Every card you draft can either be discarded for its material bonus, or it can be placed out in your city row to build. Each of these cards will take more or less material to make and once completed they can be added to your city stack where they will go on to produce even more materials which you can use to build even more buildings ad infinitum. Or at least until the end of round 4 when the game ends.

The clever thing here is how these buildings can be built in such a way to produce immediately. You see, there are 5 different types of resources that can be produced by buildings, and they are produced one after another. So, if you can complete a building that produces in the second material phase during the first material production phase, it will produce straight away. And for a game with only 4 rounds this is huge efficiency increase!

You also gain soldiers if you manage to produce more resources than your opponent in any given phase. These soldiers are very important, and this is one of the best ways of getting hold of them. You want to make sure you produce as much as you can as early as you can. Some buildings require a soldier to build but mostly they are used with the modules you’ll find in the box.

Modular Fun Times

Every time you sit down for a game of It’s a Wonderful Kingdom, you’ll choose one of the three modules to slot into the base experience. They each add a little twist to the formula and allow you to sort of mold the game to your preference.

The easiest module to fold in is the advisors module. Advisors are a new type of card that give you access to special abilities. You generally pay a certain number of soldiers and get to use the ability card. I like this one a lot as I’m a bit of a sucker for asymmetry in games so the advisors module really appeals to me a lot. If what you want more interaction with your opponent though, what you need is the menace module.

So, what we have here are a bunch of nasty cards that replace the already quite nasty calamity cards found in the core game. What makes these cards so nasty is the fact that they don’t just affect your end game score, they also do something mean every turn after they turn up in your play area. Each player gets to choose one of the 4 different menace decks to shuffle into the deck. Each one plays a little differently. The rats multiply quickly if you don’t stay on top of them. Shadows syphon off resources to your opponent. All of this is bad stuff. The only way to deal with these cards is to send in the army and vanquish them with soldier tokens.

The last module in the box is probably the simplest to explain, especially if you’ve ever played 7 Wonders. The quest module adds a board with 4 objectives on it. Each of these objectives will give you a bonus if you manage to complete it. These objectives are generally just to pay some resources, so they work a lot like the wonder cards from 7 Wonders. The twist is that you can only win the game if you manage to complete the last step of the quest before the games end. You can skip all of the other stuff if you like but if you don’t finish that last bit, it doesn’t matter how well you’ve done in the rest of the game, you lose. It’s a lot like the excellent game Gugong in that respect.

Building A Kingdom In A Day

In terms of end game scoring, it’s all pretty simple. Some cards are just worth points whereas some cards will earn you points for collecting sets of other cards. The module you’re playing with might mix things up by adding some bonuses but that is pretty much it. The whole thing plays in a spritely 30-45 minutes and it leaves you wanting more. You’ll always be wishing you had that one extra turn to finish some building or vanquish a giant rat or something. And sure, that can feel frustrating that you run out of time, but I think it’s a lot better than the alternative of doing everything you wanted and then having a boring last turn. Always leave them wanting more, and this game hits that perfectly.

But is it pushing 7 Wonders Duel out of my collection? Short answer is no, it’s not. And it’s not that It’s a Wonderful Kingdom is bad game, or even just a worse game than 7 Wonders Duel. It isn’t, it’s a very good game. The thing is, whereas 7 Wonders and It’s a Wonderful World tread very similar paths. Their two player spin offs play very differently from each other. I can quite happily have both on my shelf and not feel that they step on each other’s toes that much. And then when you consider that It’s a Wonderful Kingdom can be customised with the modules in the box you’ve got a very different situation on your hands.

Which one is for you though? Well, I think that if you like the multiple paths to victory through science or military, 7 Wonders Duel is your pick, for sure. But if what you want is a brilliant civilisation engine builder that offers tonnes of variety as well as a bit of set collection you will not be disappointed by It’s a Wonderful Kingdom.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • A great drafting experience for two players
  • Really satisfying engine building for people who love efficiency
  • Modules allow you to customise the core experience to your tastes

Might not like

  • Very similar to Its a Wonderful World

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