The King’s Guild Review

As we continue to deal with the impact of COVID-19, it has been very difficult to sit down and play board games with one another. So, we’ve decided to provide a review of a game that we have played digitally. We won’t be able to comment on some elements of the game (like components), but we can provide insight into the gameplay experience. We hope you enjoy!

It feels really weird to write up a review of a game that I’ve never touched or really even seen in person. But hey, strange times call for… strange reviews? That doesn’t really make sense.

Designed by Matthew Austin and released by Mirror Box Games, The King’s Guild is a game that snuck past me back in 2018 when it hit Kickstarter. My first introduction actually took place on Board Game Arena. I’m usually intrigued by a game I’ve never heard of, so I quickly checked out the rules. What I found was a resource managing, item crafting, tile placing, victory points acquiring menagerie of a game. I thought it was worth giving a try, and now, 16 games later, I’m still playing it as often as I can.

Make Some Stuff

In The King’s Guild, you are a guild leader in the kingdom of Greycastle. This is awfully convenient for you, as some ancient pact has made it to where only a guild can rule the kingdom, and only the guild leader can gain the throne. Also convenient for you is that the king is about to die, and so you need to prove that you’re the most worthy to take over the realm.

So how does this get executed in the game? Well, a few different ways. First, you’ll be collecting resources, like wood and leather, in order to craft items like swords, shields, and armor. These items will be used by adventurers to complete quests, represented by cards in the middle of the table. These adventurers must be very good, because as soon as you have made the item, they immediately succeed and bring back treasure and goods for you.

Build Some Stuff

What will you do with treasure? Why, improve your guild, of course! There are many different rooms that you can buy that will make your guild better. Maybe you purchase workshops that allow you to create (and therefore draft) new ingredients like potions or jewels. Maybe you add a warehouse that enables you to hold more resources. Perhaps you add rooms that will get you more prestige based on the types of goods you’ve created during the game? Not all of these bonus rooms are used every game, which gives you a little bit of variety each time you play.

But there’s more than just building – you can also hire specialists who will help you out. Some of these specialists give you immediate bonuses, like additional treasure cards. Some give you special bonuses for the duration of the game, like a bonus resource each time you draft resources. You never know which specialists are going to show up in a game, so you’ll need to be flexible with your strategy in order to give yourself the best chance of success.

Play continues until all of the quest cards have been completed, at which point a final round takes place and prestige points are added up. Whoever ends the game with the most prestige wins!

Learn Some Stuff

When I first started playing this game on Board Game Arena, I was a little bit overwhelmed. There are several different strategies that you can take as you approach this game, and sometimes they have to be quickly adjusted based on what you’re seeing on the board. There are also special rules at the halfway mark and end of the game, and it’s tough to really understand what they mean until after they have already happened. This is one of those games where you will likely need to play it once before you completely understand it.

But after that first game was over, I immediately wanted to play again. It’s that experience I love in games where I feel like I want to see what would happen if I made this or that little change to my strategy. And each time you play, you’ll probably see another player do something that you want to try out next time. 

All of this strategizing is a result of the well-developed game elements. There are so many things that add little wrinkles to the game. Each player takes on the role of a guild that has a unique starting bonus. There are spaces on the player boards where you can receive bonuses if you build on top of those spaces, and these are uniquely placed on each player board. There’s even a set collection component of the game found in the treasures that gives you another way to get victory points.

But the best part is that these elements are well-balanced. I’ve played over a dozen times, and right now, I don’t see a guaranteed path to victory for every scenario. I believe that any player can win if they properly plan ahead, ensuring that they have the right resources and money at the right times.

Deal With Some Stuff

That being said, I do think that there are a few elements that border on being too powerful. For example, one of the specialists provides a player with the ability to draft three resources of any type on a turn instead of the normal rule of three of the same type or two of any type. While this seems like a small change, I feel like it gives the player too much of an advantage, especially if they get their hands on it early in the game. Some of the rooms that you can build also seem to provide a few too many points, like one in which every coin you have at the end of the game is worth a victory point.

One issue that others have brought up that I have yet to see is the ability to “hold up” the game by blocking out the more rare resources. In the game, the chambers that allow you to draft gems and potions are limited, so not every player can get one. As the game progresses, more and more of the quests require these resources. Thus, if you don’t get your hands on one, you may be out of luck. I could see this being a problem. Personally, I think that all players should be able to get every resource, but maybe it just costs much more if you don’t get the chamber. Maybe you can only grab one resource on a turn or something like that. 

However, these are relatively small complaints, and I feel like you could house rule things a little bit if you’re playing in person. If you’re like me, though, and you’re just playing on Board Game Arena, you’ll probably still have a lot of fun. I know that I have – I mean, this is like 18 hours of this game that I’ve played in the past 3 months. That’s probably a little too much, but it’s just such a good time. If you’ve thought about playing games online but weren’t sure if there was anything new or of “substance” out there, have no fear. The King’s Guild is good, and you should play it.

The King’s Guild is one of many games that you could be playing FOR FREE right now on Board Game Arena! Or you can pick up a regular ol’ copy of the game from Mirror Box’s online store.

Highs

  • so many different little mechanics that work well together
  • A little bit different every time
  • You can play solo online!

Lows

  • Some elements may be a little bit unbalanced
  • There might be a way to “break” the game