Kingdom Builder: Nomads expansion review

KingdomBuilderNomads

Is Kingdom Builder Nomads a good expansion?

Kingdom Builder is a fantastic family board game!
It’s easy to learn and play, has great components, and has a nice balance of luck and strategy. But one of the things we like the most is that every game has different win conditions. As such, every game warrants a different approach to keep things interesting.

In a way, it’s kind of like a puzzle. Figuring out how to use the variable powers and layout of the board to your advantage to gain the most victory points is a lot of fun.

We weren’t surprised at all when Kingdom Builder won the Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) for 2011. It’s simply a great family board game.

So when Queen Games published an expansion to Kingdom Builder that provides more boards, more abilities, and more objectives, we were anxious to give it a try.

Kingdom Builder Nomads board game expansion

What’s in the game box?

What’s the draw of Kingdom Builder Nomads?

The main draw of this game expansion is what we just mentioned – more boards, more abilities, more objectives. But that in and of itself isn’t all that make the expansion a great addition to the game.

The power of those abilities and the variety of the objectives are what help the Nomads expansion add even more fun variety to the game.

 

The new Objectives

Kingdom Builder Nomads only comes with 3 new objective cards – which was a real disappointment. The original game comes with 10 objective cards. At the start of each game, players randomly select 3 objectives (the 3 ways to score victory points) that determine the win conditions for that game. I’m not a math wizard, so I can’t tell you how many possible combinations that makes.

Kingdom Builder Nomads board game expansion

3 New Objective Cards

Bringing the total objective cards to 13 will no doubt increase the possible combinations of win conditions that keep the game interesting and challenging. But we were still hoping for more than 3.

Nevertheless, the 3 new objectives are pretty cool mainly because they mix up the way to score points. All 3 of the new objectives are ways to score points DURING the game play!

In the original game, all points from the objective cards are scored at the end of the game. So many people questioned why score tracks were included in the game. Now we know.

Now players need to keep an eye on scoring points while they plays as well as how they’ll score points at the end of the game. This adds a great new strategic twist to the game: short-term versus long-term decisions.

We wish we could tell you which is more advantageous – playing for the long-term results or gaining points in the short-term. But we can’t because it really depends on which mix of 3 objectives are in play for THAT particular game. Sweet!

The 3 new objectives are:

  • Families – points for building your 3 settlements in a straight line.
  • Shepherds – points for building next to non-empty terrain spaces.
  • Ambassadors – points for building next to other players’ settlements.
Kingdom Builder Nomads board game expansion

4 New Location Powers

The new Location Abilities

The 4 new board segments are also a welcome addition because of the new powers of their location spaces. Build next to these location spaces and you’ll get to use the ability on each of your future turns.

The new locations are:

Garden – let’s you build an additional settlement on a Garden hex. This is very similar to the Farm and the Oasis of the original game that let players build additional settlements on Grass and Desert hexes respectively. Not a big addition over the base game, but it let’s you get an extra settlement on the board each turn which usually proves advantageous.

Village – let’s you build an additional settlement that’s next to at least 3 of your settlements. Again, not a big game changer, but like we mentioned before, we do like getting extra pieces on the board and it’s a great way to increase your settlement groupings.

Caravan – let’s you take one of your settlements on the board and move it in a straight line until it’s blocked by another obstacle (water, mountain, location, or other player settlement). Moving existing settlements around the board is a very helpful way to open up your options for future turns. Find you’re limited in which terrain spaces you’re able to play on? Grab a Caravan location tile and you’ll be a lot more versatile.

Kingdom Builder Nomads board game expansion

Caleb loves the Quarry ability.

Quarry – This is Caleb’s favorite new ability. The Quarry let’s you block spaces on the board by turning them to stone. Players can place 1 or 2 stone walls on empty terrain spaces of the same type as their played terrain card. Caleb loves the Quarry not only because he can block out other players, but also when he wants to move to new areas.

For example if he has a desert card to play and has settlements already next to desert hexes, but he’d rather build in a different desert section of the game board, he’ll first build stone walls on the desert hexes next to his existing settlements. Then he’ll place his 3 settlements in a different desert section of the board where he’d rather be.

Solid location abilities to utilize for maneuvering your pieces on the board to your advantage. Sweet!

 

Kingdom Builder Nomads board game expansion

15 Nomad Tiles

Here come the Nomads

The next addition to the game is the introduction of the Nomad spaces. The 4 new board segments included in the Kingdom Builder Nomads expansion include Nomad location hexes. Similar to the other location spaces, the Nomad spaces have a tile placed on them at the start of the game.

However, the big difference is that only 1 Nomad tile is place on each nomad hex, and that tile/ability can only be used on the player’s NEXT turn. Then it’s out of the game.

So the first player to build next to nomad space will claim the nomad tile and the special ability it provides. While the downside to each nomad ability is that it can only be used once, the upside is that they’re pretty cool abilities.

There are 15 Nomad tiles in the expansion. They are mixed up and only 1 nomad tile is drawn and placed for each nomad space on the game board. So if at the start of the game, you’ll only randomly selected one board segment that’s from the expansion, then you’ll only have 1 or 2 nomad space in that game.

As such, the nomad abilities can be very rare and much contested.

Kingdom Builder Nomads board game expansion

Starting to grow our nomadic settlements.

The special Nomad abilities:

  • Donation – build 3 additional settlements.
  • Resettlement – move 1-4 settlements up to 4 spaces in total.
  • Outpost – disregard the “adjacency” requirement when building your settlements.
  • Sword – remove one settlement of each other player and return it to their supply.
  • Treasure – immediately gain 3 victory points.

As you can see, these abilities are pretty powerful and can make big differences in the game. Definitely worth going after.

 

Kingdom Builder Nomads board game expansion

5 Players create a bit more tension.

Adding a 5th player

The last thing the Kingdom Builder Nomads expansion provides is the addition of a 5th player – Red. If you thought the board could be tight with 4 players, see what a 5th player will do.

We like Kingdom Builder best when there’s a bit of tension in the game. Playing with 2 players is a lot like solitaire play – not much drama in what places to play on or what abilities to capture. (What we imagine solitaire play would be like because we’ve actually never played that way – what would be the point?)

But with more players in the mix, Kingdom Builder is fantastic because decisions you make will definitely impact other players. Likewise, you’ll have to pay attention to what might be coming your way. So it keeps everyone very engaged in the game. Great stuff.

When we reviewed the original Kingdom Builder we noted how we didn’t like the inclusion of dull brown playing pieces. So we’d paint our brown pieces another color and we had thought of painting them red. We’re happy that a commenter told us not to go with Red because that was the new color in the expansion. Great catch! So we painted them purple instead.

And now we have red playing pieces to chose from.

 

Kingdom Builder Nomads board game expansion

Base game and expansion boxes.

How to store the Nomad expansion components

We like the original Kingdom Builder game box and how it was easy to store all the playing pieces and boards. But when we got the expansion, it made it hard to add in all the new components. With limited game shelf space, we’d much rather consolidate our game boxes when possible. So what to do?

The Kingdom Builder Nomads expansion game box is thinner than the original box, so we though of just removing the insert in the expansion and placing all the components loosely in the expansion box. But we really like the insert for a way to store the pieces below the board segments – keeps them nice and protected. So we didn’t want to remove the insert.

Kingdom Builder Nomads board game expansion

The new insert helps everything fit nicely in the base box.

But with the inserts in the boxes, there isn’t enough space to pack all 12 board segments on top of the insert and have the box close well.

That’s when we realized we could simply grab the insert from the expansion and place it in the original game box. Since the expansion box wasn’t as deep, that meant that the insert was more shallow as well. Place the new, shallow insert in the original game box and BOOM – everything fits!

 

Final thoughts

Overall we give Kingdom Builder Nomads high marks. Yes, we still wish it included more than 3 new objective cards. But it adds enough great elements that will give us a good variety of Kingdom Builder game play for years to come.

Kingdom Builder is very highly recommended in our book and the Nomads expansion is a great addition.

 

Summary of Additional Components:

  • 3 Objective cards
  • 4 Game board sections
  • 4 Summary cards for new locations
  • 14 Location tiles
  • 15 Nomad tiles
  • 25 Stone walls
  • 40 Red settlement pieces
  • 1 Red point marker


The Board Game Family Game Ratings
Caleb: 4.5 Meeples Caleb
Has not played Brooke
Jaden: 4.0 Meeples Jaden
Trevor: 4.0 Meeples Trevor
Mom: 4.0 Meeples Mom
Dad: 4.5 Meeples Dad
AVerage: 4.2 Meeples Average
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Comments: 1

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The amout of combnations with the three new objective cards actually adds a lot more than you would think:
Original=10*9*8= 720
With Nomads=13*12*11=1716
That’s nearly a thousand more combinations!

 

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