Saturday 25 March 2023

Kingmaker the Second


Very excited this week with the arrival of the new edition of the classic game Kingmaker.  Back in 2020 I somehow found myself taking part in some online playtest games of the revised system (it was lockdown and we were all desperate to find something to do!).  The kickstarter by Gibson games was really well run and refreshingly they didn't try adding lots of extras which would slow down production... their aim was to get the game produced and out to backers on time.  Most kickstarters I've backed have usually ended up being at least a year or 2 overdue. Bizarrely I also discovered that Gibson Games are based about a mile from me!

The game itself is very nicely done.  The map and cards have had a refresh and have lost that 1970s look. 

For nostalgia fans though the original map is on the reverse of the board and the original rules are included.

The game comes with the 'new' rules as well as the originals, a solo version and several player aid cards.

Handily each player now gets a full set of noble counters in their own colour scheme which should make it easier to track who belongs to which faction

The cards have had a major upgrade and there are a few changes to make the nobles more accurate and to replace some anomalies (for example the odd Saxon mercenaries have been replaced with Landsknechts)

The rules themselves especially are now explained in a more user friendly style... less of the 1970s lawyer-ese that a lot of boardgames had.  Mostly the mechanics are the same: the 2 biggest changes are around movement and how to actually win.  Games of KM often involved counting endless permutations of the small white squares on the map to work out the best route.  Now counters move within larger regions or to an adjacent region, hopefully speeding this up.

The game has some new rules for set up including making sure that forces are more balanced at the beginning and players can now start with some pre-set faction to ensure no one begins with a duff hand of cards.

The biggest problem with 'old' KM was that games often ended up with someone grabbing a king and hiding out somewhere like Calais or Ireland where they were too powerful to be attacked.  Games tended to stagnate towards the end with powerful factions glowering at each other across the map and not risking a fight.  Now there is an alternative way to win... prestige!  If you hold a King (it's the Wars of the Roses so there can be more than 1) you can win by capturing towns, holding offices and fighting battles and generally raising your profile until you win by default... no more skulking in Ireland!!  I think this is a great change and it really changed the dynamic of the game during the playtests.  It should also mean that games come to a proper conclusion and don't fizzle out.


  1. The new set looks terrific. I recall playing the game in the late seventies and early eighties. Good times . I think you will get loads of fun out of this one.
    Alan Tradgardland

  2. It does look very nice, the original was a classic.

  3. I'm hopeful the changes will improve the gameplay but the original was a great game too