Use code FREE-PS5 with any order and get entered into our PS5 Giveaway!

Menu

A mystery box filled with miniatures to enhance your RPG campaigns. All official miniatures and for a bargain price!

Buy Miniatures Box »

Not sure what game to buy next? Buy a premium mystery box for two to four great games to add to your collection!

Buy Premium Box »
Subscribe Now »

If you’re only interested in receiving the newest games this is the box for you; guaranteeing only the latest games!

Buy New Releases Box »
Subscribe Now »

Looking for the best bang for your buck? Purchase a mega box to receive at least 4 great games. You won’t find value like this anywhere else!

Buy Mega Box »
Subscribe Now »

Buy 3, get 3% off - use code ZATU3·Buy 5, get 5% off - use code ZATU5

Buy The Game

Awards

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • SO. MANY. OPTIONS. The replay value goes through the roof with a game like this and that represents a great value for money
  • This game is an improvement on the original but has the benefit of standing alone. If you can play Kingdom Builder, it’s not a hard step to play Winter Kingdom. The wonderful twists and economy cards make the game unique every time you play.
  • The artwork is as good as the first one, the detailing on the cards is delightful, and the cute houses are detailed to be much nicer than Kingdom Builder.

Might Not Like

  • I really hate to put a dislike on this game but the one big gripe is when you can’t earn coins because of bad luck. Of course, sometimes this is because you were forced into it by a previous placement but it doesn’t help the frustration when you’re really stumped.
Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here

Winter Kingdom Review

WINTER KINGDOM

When I heard that Kingdom Builder was getting a sequel, I dived onto Kickstarter and threw my credit card at it. The wonderful replayability, the simplicity of the gameplay, the fact it was my girlfriend’s favourite game, all of these things made me think I was onto a winner. I’d missed the Kickstarter deadline but luckily, I was able to order the game and get the exclusives that came with it. This is something to bear in mind if this is a game you’re interested in. But after 1404 backers leapt at the chance, Winter Kingdom hit my doorstep around April this year.

Winter Kingdom’s game play is pretty much identical to its older brother - you draw a terrain card and place three of your houses on that terrain type somewhere on the board. You must play adjacent to one of your other houses if possible, but otherwise, you’re free to play anywhere. You score points based on how well your settlement placement fits with the goals chosen at the start of the game. With a new generation, however, comes new variations.

Where Kingdom Builder had 8 boards which could be arranged in a lumpy rectangle of four, Winter Kingdom has seven double sided boards which are all used and arranged in a strange flower pattern. The terrains are different to the older version too. The options this time are Fell fields, Tundra,

Flower field, Grassland, Snowscape and Forest. Mountains, Ice, Tunnels, Villages and Castles also litter the board, though only Ice can support a house. Players also have the option to play a Fort instead of one of their houses, counting this as two houses for the purposes of scoring.

The next key factor is the abilities. In Kingdom Builder, it was based on who got the chance to place next to an ability hex. This time, each player gets dealt five unique Ability cards which can be bought and upgraded throughout the game, as well as a free bonus action called Tunnel. The Tunnel action lets you move a house next to a tunnel to a hex adjacent to a different tunnel. Bought, you say? Yes, bought, but more on that in a minute.

A nice touch in the game is the introduction of ability tokens. These are used to help keep track of your abilities and available actions by playing them on the respective cards and turning them over once used. These extra actions can be taken before or after your mandatory “build 3” action and generally allow you to move existing houses or play extra ones. Allowing you to let you use your hard-earned coins to let you maximise your placements is a great feature to this game.

Alright, alright, time to appease the coin hungry players out there. You can earn coins for your placement, determined from one of eight Economy cards chosen during set up. These coins come in handy for purchasing and upgrading your abilities and giving you the edge. After you have used all your actions, be they placement or movement, you can spend your coins to either upgrade an ability you have in play or buy a new one in your hand. Some examples of the economy cards are the Exports and Salvage cards. Exports gives you coins for building along the outside boarder of the game board, one per house. Salvage lets you remove as many houses as you want from the board and return them to the box in exchange for a coin per house. This is a really good option for those pesky houses which are sat on their own doing nothing useful because you picked up a flowerfield that happened to be next to the forest you had but you really wanted to go to the other side of the board to expand your big settlement to get next to the mountains so you can please the miners. I’m not bitter, I promise.

Speaking of the miners, they are one of the 18 Winter Kingdom cards, of which you pick three at random at the start of the game. Ignore these at your peril, for these are one of just two ways to score points in Winter Kingdom. Some are contradictory – get the loners and the socialites in a party together and there is a conflict of strategy like you can’t believe. Combining these with your abilities will set your strategy for the game and lead you to victory (hopefully).

Finally, there are eight Twist cards. When you feel like you’ve mastered the regular strategy, these cards change up the rules. Each of these cards must be obeyed throughout the game and cannot be avoided, which is why only one is recommended per game. (Though if you try playing with more than one, let me know how it goes!) The Wolves card punishes when you build more than 3 houses in a turn, making you return one to the box. The Archipelago cards completely tears up the board, separating every tile which means you cannot build between them. This makes some of the big settlement cards much harder to accomplish. So use the Twists with care or they’ll twist you up in knots.

Final Thoughts

Artwork: This game is so pretty and does not disappoint from its predecessor. The random little details in the hexes are a great addition and add to moments of enjoyment when scouring the board for key scoring opportunities.

Complexity: On the face of it, not at all complicated. The gameplay is simple and your turns don’t change much, but there is a luck element that comes into play and can ruin your strategy. Integrating the Kingdom, Ability, Economy and Twist cards are key to winning the game, but if your terrain cards disagree, you’re in for a tricky game.

Replayability: The random factors of the order of Terrain cards during the game, combined with the Ability cards, Kingdom cards and Twist card you draw at the start of the game create a game with almost limitless replayability. The interactions of these cards mean that the same game can never really be played twice. Add to that the double-sided boards, the potential to order them however you want and a unique rotation option for the game set up, and you’d be hard pressed to find two games of Winter Kingdom that are identical.

Component Quality: This being the Kickstarter edition, there is a bonus to the components. The wooden houses are shaped slightly differently for each player, which is a benefit for those who are colour blind, but just gives that nice feel of uniqueness for a player. The board is solid, and the cards and coins are what we’d expect from previous games. The only thing I’d like is metal coins but that’s just a personal preference.

I’ve played many hours of Kingdom Builder, and sure, there are times when the cards aren’t in my favour and I’ve gotten frustrated by that, but it hasn’t every worn away my excitement at picking it down from the shelf to play. Winter Kingdom has much the same potential, but with an added layer of strategy and uniqueness that makes it stand alone as it so rightly deserves. Queen Games, I tip my hat to you. Then I put it back on, it’s far too chilly in this Winter Kingdom.

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • SO. MANY. OPTIONS. The replay value goes through the roof with a game like this and that represents a great value for money
  • This game is an improvement on the original but has the benefit of standing alone. If you can play Kingdom Builder, its not a hard step to play Winter Kingdom. The wonderful twists and economy cards make the game unique every time you play.
  • The artwork is as good as the first one, the detailing on the cards is delightful, and the cute houses are detailed to be much nicer than Kingdom Builder.

Might not like

  • I really hate to put a dislike on this game but the one big gripe is when you cant earn coins because of bad luck. Of course, sometimes this is because you were forced into it by a previous placement but it doesnt help the frustration when youre really stumped.

Zatu Blog

Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here

Join us today to receive exclusive discounts, get your hands on all the new releases and much more!