January 17, 2012

Board to PC: Kingsburg Java

Graphics are true to the board!
 No, not a specialty blend of coffee from Jamaica!  A Java implementation for your PC of the 2007 dice-allocating, worker placement game by Andrea Chiarvesio and Luca Iennaco and published by Fantasy Flight.  I discovered this free PC version a couple of months ago, so maybe there are some more who are unaware of this little gem's availability.  As for the board game, you can read my review here as to my thoughts on its family friendliness.  In a nutshell, we enjoy this slick and smooth title very much as a light mix of strategy and luck that rewards those who can both plan ahead, as well as react to changing situations.  It is not a terribly deep game, but it does at least run at about the perfect length for its depth, so as to not over-stay its welcome.

Great scans of the building mat and enemy cards.
Thomas Arnold's faithful Java implementation cuts that already attractive length by more than half, making this elegant design too attractive to pass up!  I could get in two games of a lunch hour.  The interface is extremely intuitive.  The windows are all clean and easily manageable with information readily at hand.  Turns are well-scripted and documented to avoid confusion as to what just happened.  And the graphics have got to be literally scanned right from the components out of the box.  It's like playing with the board glued to your monitor without the pieces sliding down!

Scripted windows tell you exactly what is going on.

Game play is true to form, as well.  You can play 2-5 players in any combination of human and computer opponents.  There are three levels of AI, none fantastically brilliant, but certainly adequate for the 15-20 minutes you'll spend in the game.  As an added bonus, Arnold has also included a couple of options from the expansion, To Forge a Realm, namely the soldier tokens for the end-of-year battle and the extra building rows (which helps extend replayability).

Apparently, an iOS application was ported for the iPhone back in 2009 with plans to expand the app to the iPad, as well.  However, the app met with a good deal of criticism for some persistent bugs and its unwieldy interface.  It was never developed for the iPad.  Many thanks and kudos to the original designers for giving permission to develop this version.  While not mobile, Arnold's Java implementation is a superior alternative in function, aesthetics, and cost.  If you like Kingsburg, or have wanted to try it before buying (it is being reprinted), then I highly recommend this PC adaptation.

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