So, let's be honest for a minute (before I resume lying to you (not really (ok, I'm lost now (too many parenthesis!))))... I didn't ask for Kingdom of Solomon - I asked for the Manhattan Project. Minion Games offered my Kingdom of Solomon instead (they were out of Manhattan Project), and I figured I would give it a shot. After reading the rules, I really didn't expect much, but sometimes a game is a quite pleasant surprise, and this was one of those games for me!
In Kingdom of Solomon, the players are each trying to help provide resources to build the temple of Solomon - well, and other buildings in the Ancient Near East (some players might ignore building the temple). Each turn, players will alternate placing their workers onto various spaces on the board. After this, they will each collect all of their resources (or any other bonuses) in turn order. Third, (in reverse turn order) they will alternate turns buying and selling goods from the market, using victory points as currency. Finally, they will each have the opportunity to build one building per turn (in addition to as many sections of the temple as they choose). After one player has built five buildings, the temple is completed, or once all 11 building locations on the map are filled, the game is over, and the person with the highest victory point total wins. Sound like every worker placement game that you've ever played? Yeah, I thought so - but keep reading, and you'll see where this game stands out among the crowd.
|A very powerful road|
The next element that I thought was unique and innovative about Kingdom of Solomon was the "super action" spaces. There are three of these action spaces on the board, and in order to claim that space, you have to play all of the workers you have left for the round. This is a really neat push-your-luck against your opponents element. And, the payoff makes the spots definitely worth acquiring. My concern, though, was that this would make the game really fun with four players, but not as good with two (you only use one of the spots with two players). However, the action that is available in two players allows you to become the first player. Because of the roads and the sheer number of resources that you can gather on a single turn (and this becomes even more prevalent with two players), being the first player can be vital; so this space is definitely crucial.
|Altar is the only two-player "super action" space|
Ok, the very brief, last final pro, is that I'm glad that Kingdom of Solomon was built with a Jewish and/or Christian theme, and yet wasn't lousy. All of the previous "Christian" games I have played are horrible (here's looking at you, Redemption), or were just spin-offs of Trivial Pursuit with Bible questions. I'm glad that Kingdom of Solomon is neither of those.
With all that is right with Kingdom of Solomon, I would say that the biggest con is that the rulebook is not very clear about several things. Every game I have played, and every person that I know of who has read the rules, has had questions that we had to guess about. Here are some of mine: When are roads built? How many are you allowed to build per turn? Do building cards that do not place buildings on the board count towards the 5 building end of game trigger? Is the number in the top center of the building card victory points (there is no diagram)? Is your "super region" able to connect through regions, or does it only use the immediately adjacent regions (the example only connects to adjacent regions)? The rules are very concise, which allows you to start playing the game very quickly - but, unfortunately, they are concise at the cost of clarity.
Overall, I give Kingdom of Solomon an 8.5/10. It was one of my more pleasant gaming surprises of the last year or so, and I would recommend that you give it a try!
If you like worker placement games like Kingdom of Solomon, you might also check out Alien Frontiers, Le Havre, and Stone Age.
I would like to thank Minion Games for providing me with a review copy of Kingdom of Solomon.