Kingdom Builder

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Kingdom Builder
Designer(s)Donald X. Vaccarino
Illustrator(s)Oliver Schlemmer
Publisher(s)Queen Games
Publication date2011; 8 years ago (2011)
Players2–4 (5 with expansion)
Playing time45 minutes

Kingdom Builder is a strategic board game designed by Donald X. Vaccarino, published in 2011 by Queen Games with illustrations by Oliver Schlemmer in German, British and international versions (English, French, Dutch, Spanish, German). A Finnish-Swedish version was released in 2012 by

Kingdom Builder is a construction game in which each player creates a kingdom by placing settlers' houses in various locations. The winner of the game is the player with the most gold. However, the gold is only awarded at the end of the game, according to three sets of rules that were randomly revealed at the beginning. The rules are simple but each game is likely to play out differently due to the random selection of board sections (choosing four from eight) and scoring rules (choosing three from ten), the luck of the draw, and competition for resources.

The game received the 2012 Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year),[1] German game prize (Deutscher Spiele Preis) for 2012 listed it at number 7 out of 10 best games for that year.


The game has eight different game board sections composed of 100 terrain hexagons each. Five terrain types are suitable for building: canyon, desert, flower field, forest and grass. Four terrain types are not suitable: castle, "location", mountain and water. At the start of the game four game board sections are selected at random and constructed to form a rectangular game board. Three random Kingdom Builder cards are drawn and displayed, which explain the rules for earning gold in that particular game. For example, one Kingdom Builder card may award gold for settlements next to mountains, while another awards gold for settlements arranged in a horizontal line. Additionally, each player receives three gold for each Castle space adjacent to one or more of their settlements.

Each player's turn consists of:

  • Mandatory Action: The active player displays his previously drawn terrain card and places three settlement tokens on unoccupied hexagons of that terrain type according to the building rules.
  • Extra Action: For each location tile that a player has accumulated in previous rounds, he or she may perform an additional, special action authorized by each tile (namely, place an additional settlement or move an existing settlement) before or after the mandatory action.
  • Collecting location tiles: Whenever a player builds a settlement adjacent to a location hexagon, he or she immediately takes a location tile, if one is still available at that site and he has not already taken one from that particular site. The player must discard that tile if he ever moves his settlements such that none are adjacent to that site.
  • Completion of turn: The player discards his terrain card and draws a replacement card to study for their next turn.

The game ends at the completion of the round in which at least one player places his last settlement. Then each player totals his gold according to the several scoring methods. The player with the most gold wins.


Location tiles and flexibility of movement are the keys. Having to play adjacent to existing settlements is an obstacle to overcome. Therefore, the play of the first settlement should be adjacent to a location that provides a powerful tile. For example, this first placement may require playing on a grassland hex adjacent to a forest hex that later restricts your placements when you draw a forest terrain card. Careful placements, powerful location tiles and luck allow you flexibility to expand to acquire more tiles and to occupy profitable hexes.


Several expansions for Kingdom Builder have been released. They contain new game board sections, new locations and more ways to expand your kingdom and receive gold during and at the end of the game.

  • Nomads (2012): Contains four new game board sections featuring four new location types and the new Nomads spaces, which replace Castles. When a player builds next to a Nomads space, he gets a random Nomad tile which provides a one-time extra action on her next turn. The expansion additionally contains three new kingdom builder cards and game pieces for a fifth player.
  • Crossroads (2013): Contains four new game board sections featuring eight new location types, six task cards, 10 warrior pieces, and five ship, city hall, and wagon pieces. The new pieces are used via the powers granted by the new locations tiles. The randomly drawn task cards provide additional ways for a player to earn gold, such as by surrounding a location or Castle space entirely with her own settlements.
  • Marshlands (2016): Contains four new game board sections featuring four new locations types as well as the new Swamp terrain type, six new kingdom builder cards, and five new swamp terrain cards. This expansion also replaces Castles with Palaces, which provide five gold to the player with the most settlements adjacent to each palace only. The swamp terrain cards show two swamp hexes and three hexes of another terrain type, and the player may choose which to build. Additionally, the location spaces in this game provide stronger "bonus actions" to a player who has built next to both of that location's associated hexes.
  • Harvest (2017): Contains four new game board sections featuring eight new locations, the new Silo spaces, and the new Farmland terrain type, six new kingdom builder cards, ten numbered settlement tiles and two Scout tiles. The numbered settlements and scout tiles are used as part of the new location powers. Players may play a settlement once a turn on any farmland space adjacent to an existing settlement. Additionally, any player adjacent to a silo space may move three previously placed settlements after the game end to a more advantageous position.

Additionally publisher Queen Games has produced three minor expansions, called "Queenies."

  • Queenie 1: Capitol (2011): Expands the game with two "Capitol" game pieces that can modify Castle spaces, allowing players to score gold for settlements adjacent to or nearby the capitols.
  • Queenie 2: Caves (2012): Expands the game with four "Cave" pieces that are randomly placed on mountain spaces. Players may move a settlement adjacent to a cave space to another hex that is also adjacent to a cave.
  • Queenie 3: Island (2014): Contains a smaller, unattached two-sided game board section. Each side has a castle space and a new location tile.

In 2014, Queen Games published a "Big Box" edition of Kingdom Builder containing the base game, the Nomads and Crossroads expansions, and the Capitol and Caves Queenies. In 2017, Queen published a second edition of the Big Box which additionally includes the Marshlands and Harvest expansions and the Island Queenie.


  1. ^ "Kingdom Builder | Spiel des Jahres e.V." Retrieved 2016-07-20.

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