Expansion Review – Architects of the West Kingdom – Works of Wonder

Architects of the West Kingdom has a well-deserved place in my Top 5 games of all time.

It is an amazing worker placement game with cool mechanics that keeps me coming back for more.

It was published back in 2018 by Garphill Games and Renegade Game Studios.

The first expansion, Age of Artisans, just made the game that much better without adding too much rules overhead. While it did add a couple of things (the Artisan worker and Craft cards), it more enhanced the game than added to it.

Now there’s a second (and final) expansion out, called Works of Wonder. This was published in 2022.

In this expansion, players are doing the normal Architecty things (Editor – “Look, Mom! I made up a word!“), but you also have a few other things to consider.

This is another expansion that adds more interesting stuff to the game and more options to consider.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Let’s take a look and see how it works.

I already explained how Architects of the West Kingdom (why do I always have trouble typing that word?) plays in my review of it, so I won’t go into that here.

What does Works of Wonder add to it, though?

The first thing I’ll mention is the Princess and the Profiteer, who will be wandering around the West Kingdom and affecting things where you place your workers.

There is a small stack of cards that will tell you each round (at the beginning of the game and then after each Black Market Reset) where each figure will be. In the picture above, the Princess is at the Silversmith and the Profiteer is at the Guardhouse.

When you place a worker where the Profiteer is, you gain one Influence (explained later). Also, any time you capture workers where the Profiteer is, you gain one Virtue (if they’re meeting with a Profiteer, they must be up to no good).

If you place a worker where the Princess is, you can make one contribution towards the Wonders (also explained later). If you capture workers from where the Princess is, you lose one Virtue (they are under her benevolent protection).

The card that says where each figure is located also tells you what happens if there is a Black Market Reset. In the picture above, for the Profiteer, everybody who is there gets sent to Prison. For the Princess, whoever has the most workers at that location gets two Virtue.

This can vary depending on the card.

Sometimes it will be good to be where the Profiteer is! Though you still get thrown in Prison.

When you place a worker where the Princess is, you can make a resource contribution toward one of the Wonders that can be built (assuming nobody else has already done so since the last Reset).

Doing so gets you two Influence. Donating a gold gets you a Virtue and marble gets you a Cathedral reward!

Before I mention the Wonders, I’ll talk about the new track to move up, Influence.

Apologies to those of you with OCD

This is essentially influence with the powers that be which you can spend to just get things done in a number of ways.

But don’t use it willy-nilly, because the player with the highest Influence at the end of the game will get 4 gold (why not just 4 points, since gold is worth 1 point each? That’s because it will trigger any end game scoring buildings you might have for gold)

Looking at the track above, you can see that Influence can help you in a number of ways.

First, you can spend two influence instead of losing one Virtue or having to spend 2 silver for anything. Yes, even paying your debts!

You can also spend four Influence to avoid one gold or marble payment. This can help you move up the Cathedral building even faster if you want, to name one example. Or maybe you have a building that requires marble and you want to get it out faster?

What else can you use Influence for?

Building Wonders, which is the third thing that is added in this expansion.

Each resource type (wood, clay, stone, gold and marble) has a Wonder associated with it.

On your turn when you place a worker in the Guild Hall, instead of building a building or in the Cathedral, you can build a Wonder if you have the resources. The cost of each one is in the top left corner, and you can see it’s quite hefty. This cost includes Influence and tax money as well.

For example, the Clay temple costs 15 (!) clay to build, along with 7 Influence and 5 silver as tax.

How can you afford that?

That’s what the contributions are for.

Once the contribution card is full (one of each resource), a Black Market Reset is triggered. In addition to all of the standard Reset actions, each resource is put on its respective Wonder.

When you go to build the Wonder, those resources can be used as part of the cost.

Everybody contributes!

When you build the Wonder, you place it at a space on the board (with some restrictions).

It doesn’t affect anybody else, but when you place a worker there, you can either act as if you had an additional worker there or you can gain one Influence. You also get two Virtue as soon as you build the Wonder.

That’s pretty much it.

The game still ends when the Guild Hall (where you permanently place a worker when you build a building, in the Cathedral, or now build a Wonder) is full.

The new Influence board does add two extra Apprentice spaces, which is nice. More variety in the Apprentices is always handy!

Is Architects of the West Kingdom: Works of Wonder the Great Pyramid of Giza? Or is it the House of Stale Cheese attraction that’s in an obscure outer suburb of Chicago?

I have to start out by saying that I really do like the Works of Wonder expansion. The Wonders are a neat addition but I really enjoy the Influence track. It’s nice to have ways to mitigate some of the costs of doing actions, even at a steep price.

Two Influence isn’t much to pay to avoid losing a Virtue, making it possible to be virtuous and steal from the tax stand. As long as you are chummy enough with the city council that you can make sure nobody ever hears about it.

I like that it’s a resource you have to spend, though. It’s not just a track to move up and down and the levels mean something. Instead, you are actually spending what you earn.

The fact that whoever has the most at the end of the game gets 4 gold means that you’re not going to spend it just to spend it, though.

In my version of the West Kingdom, Apprentices are ordered to stand on their heads to be more attractive to those who are hiring them

Personally, I think it’s the best part of the expansion.

The Princess & Profiteer, while interesting, do add a bunch of upkeep that I’m not sure adds an equal amount of pleasure to the game.

I do really like that they add another way to trigger a Black Market Reset (the Princess does anyway) and it gives you some interesting choices for when a Reset is coming. Do I try and recapture my workers from the Profiteer’s space when I see that it may be only a turn or two away? Or do I risk it?

If my strategy has apprentices that trigger when I don’t have anybody in Prison, that’s not a good gamble to make.

The problem is that they add a bunch of upkeep to the Reset that can become annoying after a while.

It’s become so complicated that you have to make sure you follow the step by step process to the letter. No shortcuts!

There are two Apprentices that have to be resolved before any of the other stuff in the Reset happens (Step 3). All other Apprentices with Reset abilities go off in Step 9. Sure, those two Apprentices have abilities that are kind of obvious once you get used to them, but still.

It’s not too bad overall, and if you play the game a lot it will eventually become second nature, but not like the previous process.

The Wonders themselves are fine and have some nice little effects, but they’re not that exciting. You do have to make sure that the same person doesn’t build all of them, of course. But even then, that means they aren’t building anything else (though sometimes they are and that’s when you get totally creamed on the score pad).

The wooden pieces that you place on the board in the space you have chosen do kind of get in the way at times, and they’re not that beautiful to look at. But they’re fine.

In addition to all of the brand new stuff, Works of Wonder has some neat new additions to the standard stuff.

First, there are three new AI schemes for solo play. I haven’t used them (this isn’t a game I play solo, at least not right now), so I can’t comment on them.

There are six new characters you can be and each one has a cool ability.

Zesiro gives you an Influence whenever you build either a building or in the Cathedral. He can also go to the Black Market no matter what his Virtue is.

Charles gives you a silver every time you place a worker where the Profiteer is. Is that enough to offset everything else? Who knows? But it can be a source of silver anyway.

Louis can spend two silver instead of an Influence (which can come in handy for Wonders since you have to spend Influence for those). He can also build in the Cathedral regardless of his Virtue.

Isabette gets a marble each time she gains an Apprentice (including in the opening draft!).

Clotilde gains a clay every time she loses a Virtue (and she starts with 13 Virtue, so she can afford it!).

Finally, Arnulf counts the Princess as one of his workers whenever he places a worker there (now that’s Influence!).

These characters are all very cool and make good use of the expansion mechanics introduced, though Isabette is the only one who could be used if you’re not playing with the expansion.

There are new buildings as well, and those are always neat to look at.

Some of the buildings have a new mechanic of allowing you a free extra worker placement on your turn.

The Mill lets you immediately place a worker at the Workshop and do whatever you can do there. It essentially makes building the Mill a free action.

The Baths also show another thing added for this expansion: more Reward cards. Now, instead of having a set number of Reward cards in play for building in the Cathedral, you use all of the cards because there are other ways to get them (like contributing marble to the Wonder or building something like the Baths).

These new Reward cards still always give you a Virtue, but the other effects are even cooler. One lets you get a Craft or Apprentice card, for example!

Finally, there are new Apprentices that will use these new mechanics.

Some just add new stuff and don’t use the mechanics at all (like the Journeyman above, which gives you a Capture action when you building a building, which is actually kind of cool).

The Street Urchin (one of the two Apprentices who is resolved early in a Black Market Reset) gives you a gold if you have one or more workers where the Profiteer is. Of course he will then go to Prison, but you’ve got the gold at least!

More stuff is always a good thing, when everything is so great anyway.

But I don’t know.

Usually with expansions to games I love, the new stuff really makes me enthusiastic as well. I desperately need to play it.

Works of Wonder?

It just…doesn’t really.

Don’t get me wrong. I do really like it. I gave it an 8 on Boardgame Geek.

But I gave the base game a 9 and the Age of Artisans expansion a 9.25.

I will probably always play with both expansions, but if somebody doesn’t want to play with Works of Wonder, or if they’re brand new and not that experienced of a gamer, I will not miss it.

It’s a good expansion.

It’s just not essential, and may be a bit too much for some people.

More isn’t always better.

I do recommend checking it out, but this could be a “try before you buy” thing.

Now it’s time to spend some Influence and get myself a beachfront condo on the Atlantic Ocean.

2 Comments on “Expansion Review – Architects of the West Kingdom – Works of Wonder

    • LOL I was trying to think of something really outrageous. I almost used the massive Ball of Twine in Pennsylvania, but some people might like that one so I didn’t want to use anything real. 🙂

      Like

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