As you all know by now my family loves board games, and I love to find unique board games that are not random chance. I’ve been looking for a good Biblical game, but most of them are trash. They are either bad knock-offs of currently existing games (I’ve seen knock-offs of Magic the Gathering, Monopoly, and Trivial Pursuit) or they’re over the top preachy, or just poorly made. I’ve finally found a Biblical game that’s fun AND gets in a bit of Bible history at the same time
(Disclosure I received a free copy of the game and was compensated for my time, but all opinions are my own and I’m buying a copy of this game for some gamer friends, so yeah it’s awesome)
Back to my comments, Funhill games has come up with an awesome game that my ENTIRE family (yes even Princess who hates games likes this one) loves to play. We even took it cross country so we could play it with our friends who moved.
Kings of Israel premise
In Kings of Israel Board Game (affiliate link) you are God’s prophets working together to rescue Israel from their sin before God punishes Israel by allowing her to be invaded. For the gamers in my reading audience Kings of Israel is a cooperative resource management game.
Cooperative Game– all of the players are working against a game mechanic, usually a doom clock governed by a certain number of rounds. An example I’ve talked about so far is Castle Panic where you are all working together to beat the monsters.
Resource management– You have to manage your resources to build the items you need, or destroy items you don’t want. Most of these games are more complex, so my kids are just now learning to play these. The only one I’ve reviewed so far is Settlers of Catan.
How to play Kings of Israel
Just as a side note, I have to say Kings of Israel has one of the best instruction manuals I’ve seen in a game, seriously it’s well laid out (follow the link to see a PDF of the manual if you want).
Each person is playing a prophet of God who has a special ability, some can move faster, others can hold more, some have special trading abilities, all of them can be useful, but none of them are so earth-shatteringly important that you’ll lose if one of your people doesn’t have that ability. Your goal is to get rid of the sin in Israel and build altars to God. You win the game once you have a certain number of altars (the number increases as you have more players).
The game works in a cycle. At the start of each round the first player adds sin for two locations, and draws either a blessing or a curse card depending on which king you are on. Blessings are incredibly powerful. Insanely powerful at times. Curses can be “oh that’s not that bad,” to “Oh no the game is going to end next turn if we don’t fix this,” and the always popular “We have 4 turns to stop that from happening.”
Once all the start of round stuff is done, each player takes their turn.
On your turn you have 4 actions to perform you can:
- Preach to Israel and get rid of sin. This is one of the places resource management comes into play, if you don’t get rid of sin it can build up and cause you to lose, but if you spend all your time destroying sin you will lose the game because you haven’t built altars. Resource management……
- Travel to different cities- you travel to get rid of sin, build altars, so on and so forth.
- Build an altar- you need stone, gold, and wood to do this (again Resource management to aquire it all and be in the right spot to build one).
- Gather a resource- draw a card, but you can only hold six resources unless that’s your special ability.
- Give a resource- you can give resources to another player, this IS NOT A TRADE (we played wrong the first time). You can talk about what you have and what they need, and you can give up to two resources at a time. You have to be in the same city (unless that is your special ability)
- Make a sacrifice- You can “spend” a cattle and a grain card to make a sacrifice that will get rid of all the sin at a location and 1 sin cube at each adjoining location (this is why placement of altars is important, if you place an altar at a location connected to several locations making a sacrifice can remove at least 5 sins in one action, it’s all about the resource management folks)
- Destroy an idol- Idols are heap big bad news. They spread sin like no one’s business, so you want to get rid of them, but it takes TWO actions to do so.
Here’s an example turn order for Kings of Israel:
Good King: Draw a blessing card, wow that is helpful I can’t wait to use it at a crucial point in the game.
Bad King: Draw a curse card, how will we fix this problem? This really helps your child think strategically and not just what is the immediate problem? I love that aspect of this game.
Sin increases. You draw a location equal to the number of players plus ONE. So we are usually drawing 5 or 6 (yes we cheated and made the false prophet token a fifth player so the entire family can play, it doesn’t break the game dynamics) locations. You put 1 sin token at each location. If it is a nation you put one sin cube at each location that trades with that nation (EEK so much sin). If there is 3 sin cubes an idol is created and each time sin is placed at the idol it is also placed at the surrounding towns. YIKES, where is all this sin coming from, why won’t they listen to the prophets?
Blue prophet moves up to Dor from Hepher and preaches to Israel twice removing sin. Then draws a resource card.
Red prophet stays there because we have a foretold prophecy about that location if it is free of sin then it will be okay, otherwise it will be destroyed. She preaches to Israel and removes the sin, and draws 3 resource cards.
Yellow prophet stays where they are and collects resources. While sin is relatively low it’s a good time to gather resources.
Green prophet moves up to the yellow prophet to give them materials to build an altar.
At the end of the round the first player token moves to the next player in line, the king marker moves to the next king and it all starts over again.
Our take on Kings of Israel
We’ve played this game several times now and it’s a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to trying the difficult variation sometime when we’re just playing with adults. My kids aren’t quite ready for that. We played our first time with the easy version and that was a lot of fun. All the rest of the time we played with the standard rules. I’m really curious to try the Bible study version they talk about in the rule book, it sounds very intriguing.
Tips and tricks for Kings of Israel
You see that guy there. That is an idol. Destroy them early and often. Don’t let them sit there, they will multiply like nobodies business.
I’d highly recommend for your first time playing using the easy version.
Our house rules for using 5 players was to increase the amount of sin at the start, and that seemed to more or less balance it out right.
We’ve also found Kings of Israel to be incredibly helpful for our family Bible study. I’ve pulled the game out to show the kids the map and trace where things are. You might have noticed it in my post on the Samaritan woman. I’m sure if we were still studying the Old Testament I’d be pulling it out every week (I’m secretly hoping they come up with a game for Acts, imagine “You’re a new Christian trying to spread news of God’s Kingdom to the world, but can you spread that news before Rome shuts you down and throws you to the lions?” Or something less silly sounding).
Editted to add:
1. I was over at the Kings of Israel Facebook page, and found a cool podcast (so totally check out their FB page, they’ve got some cool stuff)
2. I forgot to include the giveaway! Who wouldn’t want a chance to win this?