Greeting ladies and gents, this is the first report from the 2019 May Getaway to Dewey Beach. Each year 15 buddies and I rent a beach house in the off-season and spend three days and four nights playing games, focusing on the big games. For today’s installment I’ll review the first of three games I got in on day one, with a brief review of how it played out in our particular session.
Three games in an entire day you say? Yes, my game count isn’t remarkably high, but there’s good reason for that. The May Getaway is about enjoyment, not sprinting, and time was spent digging into bigger, more deluxe games that we can’t generally knock out in our evening sessions. And given the positively glorious weather time was spent sitting on the porch of the beach house, enjoying the very short Spring that the Mid-Atlantic offers. But enough of that. Let’s get down to our first title.
Kingsburg is a fine euro with more than its share of luck involved, a throwback to when games were German-born and built to be played in a family setting. Though there’s certainly opportunities to exert influence on your fate the luck of more than a few die rolls is going to play its part, and you need to approach the game with an appropriate amount of jest. But – I have unshakable proof that strategy and cunning are key to success in it. More on that in a moment.
Kingsburg is a game where you roll three dice and then assign them either together as a group of three, separately as singletons, or as one group of two and one on its own to numbered spaces on the board. There are options for every number from one through eighteen, and each provides more reward as the numbers climb. Most spaces provide material to build things with, and as you build more you get new options for where you can place your dice and options to increase your score or otherwise excel at the game. The entire package is wrapped in a generic medieval theme, and the art and workmanship carry it well. This isn’t a brain-burner, more of a game that gets you talking and snacking and generally discussing the gripping issues of the day. The game is engaging and entertaining, but it doesn’t overwhelm the group dynamic and it’s social in its nature. I recommend it.
Kingsburg was unavailable for purchase for years, and the copy I played on today was homemade. Indeed it was a scanned and printed copy of the first edition, with more than a bit of liberties taken with the overall look and feel of the package. The edge of the board was sealed with black duct tape (tastefully done of course) and the blocks representing stone had a dot in the center of each, an artifact of a prior life in another game. My buddy Wayne is colorblind so it’s not uncommon for him to take a sharpie to various game components to help him discern the pieces more easily. But in spite of its origins the homebrew version played every bit as well as any other, and Wayne had wanted the game during the time it was unavailable. He wasn’t going to pay $120 for it, so he printed and taped and painted, and put his own package together for a fraction of that. It had zero impact on our enjoyment of the title, a game I very much like to visit with every six months or so.
Which is odd, because I am truly awful at this game. I mentioned above that I had proof that there’s legit strategies to Kingsburg’s play and it’s simply this – I don’t know what those strategies are, and clearly my buddies do. I generally come in DFL and am happy if my score token is within earshot of the eventual winner. That didn’t happen today and hasn’t happened much of ever, so clearly a bad patch of luck is not my problem. I have yet to finish first with 10 plays under my belt. There are ways to win this game in spite of the dreaded die rolls, a refreshing title that combines luck and skill into a great overall package. There’s an expansion, but it detracts. The base game is a fine addition to your play rotation, one in the historic German Tradition.