Interviews

Crazy Eights: Lance Hill of Funhill Games on Wisdom of Solomon

Often when games are reprinted, they keep the same figures, artwork, and pieces as the previous addition.  Sometimes the rulebook may get errors corrected or give clearer examples, but usually it stays the same.  Occasionally a new edition will come out so differently that it gets a name change.  That’s the case for Wisdom of Solomon.  I recently talked to Lance Hill who runs Funhill Games to find out more about this game currently funding on Kickstarter.

Phillip duBarry created a game called Kingdom of Solomon several years ago with a different publisher. Are they the same game?

Wisdom of Solomon does originate from the Kingdom of Solomon game released by Minion Games. Philip mentioned at some point that he wanted to do an update to Kingdom of Solomon and modernize it, so I sent him an e-mail and asked if he would do it for Funhill Games. Since then there have been numerous revisions and changes to the game, both in gameplay and appearance.

What are the differences between Kingdom of Solomon and Wisdom of Solomon?

Kingdom of Solomon and Wisdom of Solomon are similar in feel but are quite a bit different. This is not everything that has changed but should give a person a general idea about the changes:

  • Kingdom of Solomon had a flow where everyone placed their workers and then processed that later. Wisdom of Solomon instantly processes worker actions.
  • Each area does things differently than before. For example, Fortune Cards can only be played at the Market or Trader locations. The cost to build at the Temple varies depending on how many people have visited the space, points are different. The Foreman buildings vary in points depending on how long they have been around. And so on.
  • The Buildings have changed greatly and can be oftentimes be visited by workers.
  • Fortune Cards are less generic and have thematic powers.
  • Wisdom of Solomon is playable by up to 5 players.
  • There are Exotic goods that act as wild ‘cards’.
  • New artwork on everything.
  • New and improved components.

It seems like many worker placement games have an issue with the first player having a huge advantage. How does Wisdom of Solomon try to balance this advantage?

Before the first year begins in Wisdom of Solomon, there is an “Initial Market Purchase” phase. Starting with the last player and going around, each player can buy up to three Resources from the Market. By the time the first player gets to go there might be little left, or everything will be expensive. In addition, first player jumps around depending on who claims a “Holy Place Bonus” space first, which are powerful spaces but they end a player’s turn.

How do you try to keep the game experience similar with the different player counts?

Wisdom of Solomon scales up in quite a few different ways. There are additional worker placement spaces that open up based on the number of players. Half of the game board is the land of Israel, when there are fewer players there are more Shortage Tiles in Israel that are drawn at the start of the game. These tiles restrict the number of places where Resources can be harvested. Fewer workers are available at higher player counts. And there are many other smaller ways things change, the Market has more Resources initially in higher player counts, more Resources are available in the Resource supply, more places to build Customs Houses at a higher count, etc.

Is the end of the game triggered after a certain number of rounds or by some other mechanism?

Wisdom of Solomon ends when either the Temple of Solomon is built or someone has placed all of their Customs Houses on the board. This can change the game length a bit depending on the focus of each player. Some players might just try to harvest just enough Resources to keep building the Temple, some might focus on building huge networks of Customs Houses to generate vast sums of Resources, other players might just ignore them both and try to manipulate the Market or use unique Buildings to earn loads of Favor (points). In the end though, each player cannot ignore the focus of the other players since a single player unchecked in their focus has a good chance of running away with the game.

Do you have to feed your people throughout the game?

Food is a Resource in the game but no. King Solomon does that in the background when you aren’t looking.

How have gamers responded to the theme?

They have responded very well to the theme. The theme obviously appeals more to Christian and Jewish gamers, but there is no proselytizing with the theme to others. The Fortune cards have thematic Biblical quotes on that, but otherwise it is similar in feel to any other worker placement game taking in ancient times. Once people get playing they seem to be in gamer mode and working their angles regardless of their backgrounds.

Will gamers be able to try Wisdom of Solomon out at conventions or through some other means?

The designer, Philip duBarry, and I live in separate states, so Wisdom of Solomon was largely worked on through Tabletopia, and that is where it can be played for free right now! The components are very similar to the components that will be used in the final version of the game and is a great way to get an idea of how things fit with each other. Here is the link:

https://tabletopia.com/games/wisdom-of-solomon

It’s great that Funhill Games has allowed people to try out the game.  There’s just under three weeks to go in the Kickstarter campaign, and they’ve already fully funded.  If you are looking for a worker placement game with a unique theme, then be sure to look at Wisdom of Solomon.

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