There are two expansions for Architects of the West Kingdom. I am reviewing both today. There is no time to waste with a witty opening.
Age of Artisans (2020) – the 1st expansion adds the following:
- Components for a 6th player
- 6 Artisan meeples, one for each player
- 24 craft cards
- 12 apprentice cards
- 12 building cards
- Revised Guildhall overlay
- Score Pad
Works of Wonder (2022) – the 2nd expansion adds the following:
- 1 Princess and 1 Profiteer meeple, Influence Board, 6 Influence Trackers (one per player) and 7 contribution/consequence cards
- 5 Wonder building tokens and their applicable cards
- 12 apprentice cards
- 12 building cards
- 12 reward cards
- Solo variant including:
- 3 double sided AI player boards
- 24 scheme cards
Game Experience with the Expansions:
Age of Artisans
The Artisan is my favorite new element of this expansion. It adds an additional layer to the worker placement decision. It counts as TWO workers when placed, as well as avoiding one virtue loss, if applicable. Yes, that means you can get a Gold on your first turn! The flipside is that it is an obvious target for capture. Do you spend a turn capturing your Artisan back or leave it on the board knowing your opponent may do the same? Do you worry about capturing your opponent’s Artisan, forgoing generating resources? The cat and mouse this single meeple adds to the game greatly increased my enjoyment of Architects of the West Kingdom.
The new craft cards have the second biggest impact to the game. Each card can be used either as an adornment (add more points and an immediate one-time benefit to a building) or a tool (add a power to an apprentice and an end game scoring bonus based on the number of tools crafted). Tools can add some interesting abilities to power up your apprentice, such as allowing an apprentice to count as having all three skills needed to construct a building. Sounds great? Well, to craft both new options, you need to stack a worker on top of a worker that is already in the guildhall, as well as pay 5 Silver for the adornment. This can remove several workers from your worker pool if you lean heavily into crafting. Is it worth it? It can be, depending on your strategy and what cards are available during the game.
The last two additions I liked were less impactful but still appreciated. The new Guildhall overlay includes the icons for crafting but, more importantly, has added an icon that discards the two far-left apprentices on the Main Board. This increases the turnover in the apprentice pool, opening up options. The other addition is purely a quality-of-life improvement—a scorepad! It should be mandatory for publishers to include score pads in games with multitudes of scoring opportunities and no scoring track. While missing from the base game, I am glad it was added in this expansion.
Finally, this expansion included new building and apprentice cards, both of which can simply be combined with the base game’s cards. It also included components for a 6th player. It is nice to have another color option (orange), but I do not play this game with more than four players.
Works of Wonder
The biggest (and most complex) addition to the game is the Princess and the Profiteer. These two meeples are placed at a location, determined by the succinct names Contribution/Consequence card, at the start of the game. These two meeples create three new types of bonuses/penalties:
- Placing workers at their location provides an immediate bonus (influence at the Profiteer or a one-time contribution opportunity at the Princess—more on both of these in a bit)
- Capturing at their location results in influence (Profiteer) or a loss of a virtue (Princess)
- At a Black Market Reset, every player with a worker at the Profiteer’s location receives a penalty based the Contribution/Consequence card and all their workers are moved to the Prison, while the player with the most workers at the Princess’s location gets a bonus. Finally, after these penalties/bonuses are awarded, both meeples are moved to a new location
The new Influence board is included in the expansion. This board tracks influence, holds the Contribution/Consequence cards, has the iconography for the above bonuses and penalties, as well as space for two more apprentices (10 are now available for hire during the game). Two Influence can be spent to prevent one virtue loss or reduce a cost by two Silver, while four Influence can reduce a cost by one gold or marble. Why not spend all your Influence before the end of the game? Well, when going from 4-5 and 8-9 on the track, you get a free building card, so you may want to hover around those parts on the track to repeatedly earn that bonus. Oh, and you get 4 gold for having the most Influence at the end of the game. So, there is that.
Trying to determine the best place for your workers as well as when to capture workers is now more complicated. Do you want to go to the Profiteer to pocket the quick Influence, and then capture them back before the Black Market Reset to earn MORE Influence? Do you want to capture your workers back from the Princess’s space, even though you will lose one Virtue? Or do you leave them there to hopefully have the most workers and earn her bonus?
Another addition are 5 Wonder buildings that can be built. Each Wonder can be built by spending Influence, Silver, and one of the five resources associated with the Wonder (clay, wood, stone, gold, and marble) you are building. Remember I mentioned Contributions earlier? When you first place a worker with the Princess, you can contribute one resource in exchange for an Influence reward and more if you contribute gold or marble. Once every resource has been contributed, or a Black Market Rest occurs, all resources on the card are placed on the appropriate Wonder, reducing its cost. Building Wonders becomes a game of chicken. Do you wait for the contribution card to add its resource, or do you play the higher price now to insure you build it?
Once built, besides rewarding two Virtue and significant points, a Wonder is placed on the board at one of the allowed locations. When the owner places a worker at the Wonder’s location, that worker either counts as two workers or they gain one Influence, the owner’s choice. As you can see, Wonders can be enticing, but expensive, to build. They add another layer of strategy to Architects of the West Kingdom.
I really liked both expansions. If you can, I would recommend picking up both, especially if you already like Architects of the West Kingdom. They both make a great game even better.
That being said, if you only want one expansion, I recommend Age of Artisans. It adds great additional choices to the game while being extremely easy to integrate. Works of Wonder adds additional layers of complexity that may turn people off. I enjoyed the additional options provided by the Influence track; however, it changes how worker placement locations can be utilized due to the Profiteer and Princess. It simply is not as elegant an addition to the game when compared to Age of Artisans.
Age of Artisans
• Artisan adds a great twist on workers
• Crafting adds additional options for buildings and apprentices
• Easy to integrate
• Not sure a 6th player was needed
Works of Wonder
• New Profiteer and Princess/Influence mechanisms open up new options
• Wonders provide high scoring building opportunities
• Not as easy to integrate
• Solo content is extraneous if you do not play solo