Featured Game: Architects of the West Kingdom
In the West Kingdom you have two choices - you either take the path of the virtuous, or you get rich quick in the black market but risk getting arrested and slapped with debt.
Architects of the West Kingdom is a worker placement game for 1-5 players. The first in the popular West Kingdom saga, designed by the amazing Shem Phillips. Architects of the West Kingdom offers a twist on the worker placement genre, as you place more and more workers in each space you’ll be able to do progressively more powerful actions. But don’t get too greedy, as other players can capture your workers, and bunching them all up together just makes them into an easy target.
Your workforce are ready and waiting for your instruction, deploy them wisely and you might just be crowned the best Architect of the West Kingdom.
Why we love it
Architects is a great game for bridging the gap between medium to heavy weight strategy games. Those with some experience of worker placement games (Lords of Waterdeep, Everdell, Fallout Shelter) will find the rules fairly easy to pick up, but will delight in working out the strategies of this particular game. At its best, Architects of the West Kingdom is tense, strategic and wonderfully interactive. You’ll find yourself watching your opponent’s turns closely, as a lot can happen between turns.
In Architects of the West Kingdom, players take turns to send one of their workers - from a starting workforce of twenty - to one of several spaces on the board. The main type of spaces are for gathering resources, send a worker there and you get one of the resource, but if you can send a worker to join them you get two, then a third worker on a later turn gets you three. So sending loads of people to one spot can help you gather a lot of resources at once. Those resources you’ll then spend for construction, you could either contribute to the building of the magnificent cathedral and become more virtuous for your efforts, or pour your resources into more selfish endeavours which might get you the chance to score massive points. There are skilled apprentices to recruit, giving you the chance to further increase your actions, or you could send workers to the king’s storehouse to make some trades.
However, there are two parts of the board where Architects really shines. The first of these is the Town Centre, visit here and you get to capture workers from a spot on the board, or multiple spots depending on how many people are playing and how many workers you have in the town centre. You can use this to bring back your own people, because those 20 workers that seemed like so many at the beginning of the game soon start to deplete, or you could take the workers controlled by a rival. Then you have another choice, do you go on to sell them to prison? Or do you sit there, smugly as your friends begin to run shorter on potential actions?
Then we have the Black Market, which provides the quickest access to resources but there’s a catch, every time you go there you’ll lose virtue which amounts to points at the end of the game. Furthermore, when the Black Market is full - when it’s been visited three times - all the workers there will be scooped up and sent to prison. Any player who has workers in prison following this runs the risk of losing virtue or accumulating debt - worth negative points if not paid off before the end of the game.
All this amounts to a game that is abundant in interesting decisions and strategy. There are several routes to victory in Architects, but which will you choose?
Who’s it best for
Architects plays with 1-5 players, the solo mode is a lot of fun as you fight against an AI character, and I’ve personally enjoyed playing with two and three players. The interactivity and fast turn speed at the game work to keep it engaging even at five players.
Architects is perfect for those of you looking to try your first of our ‘complex’ strategy games. The rules are well written and, although some cards will need to be looked up, the iconography is relatively easy to understand.
Loved it? Now try…
Coloma: Worker placement in the Wild West, where actions are simultaneously chosen and can be blocked by each other.
Bunny Kingdom: Drafting game about controlling spaces on the board, build towers and amass resources.
Paladins: The next in the West Kingdom series, Paladins is a step up in complexity from Architects. Use workers with different specialities to access the available action spots.