With the last Viscounts of the West Kingdom Kickstarter (way back in…I can’t remember when!), Garphill Games decided that rather than release expansions for this great games in dribs and drabs, as well as then finally releasing a Deluxe box for the entire game, they would release both expansions and the Deluxe box all in one go!
That was one expensive Kickstarter.
But it was fun!
Now that I’ve reviewed Keeper of Keys, let’s go ahead and review the other expansion, and the one that I think is better (even if only slightly), Gates of Gold.
This expansion, along with the base game and other expansion, was designed by Shem Phillips and S J MacDonald with art by Mihajlo Dimitrievski (commonly known as “the Mico”). It was released by Garphill Games and Renegade Games Studios.
And it is sooooooo good!
I guess that might be considered a spoiler, but really.
You know me, right?
Let’s take a look at this one.
As with most expansion reviews, I’m not going to go into how to play the base game because you already know!
If you read my review of it, of course.
Let’s talk about the additions, because the changes are pretty good.
There aren’t that many, so let’s just talk about them in order.
First, there are the Outsiders.
Now that you have built such an attractive city, there are going to be people who want to come to it.
That’s where the Outsiders come in!
Outsiders are tied together with another new aspect of the game, the King’s Order.
The King is actually ordering you to accept these Outsiders coming to the city.
All of the purple Outsiders give you endgame scoring, so you want to pick and choose which ones you want to bring in.
If you’re doing the Castle strategy, trying to get as many of your people in the Castle as possible, you might want to bring in the Mercenary.
Sure, you don’t want too many of your people on the outside ring of the Castle, but for every one who is there, you get an additional point! They are usually one point, but the Mercenary makes them worth two points too.
The Protector makes unflipped debts worth one negative point less than they normally are. They are usually negative 2 points, but the Protector removes one of those penalties.
The Rogue lets you flip a Deed or a Debt before final scoring!
That can be quite valuable.
How do you get these Outsiders?
That’s where the King’s Orders come in.
You start the game with a King’s Order.
When a King’s Order falls off of your player board, you can gain an Outsider from the revealed row for free (and the King’s Order goes back to the pile, so you can only use it once). The Outsider goes into your discard pile like somebody you’ve recruited, they have symbols you can use when you play them to your board, and they have a silver value so you know how many spaces to move your Viscount (or perhaps how much Silver you get if you destroy them from your hand).
However, the King’s Order has one other aspect.
If you ever destroy it from your hand (when you have an ability that lets you destroy a card) you can Refuse an Outsider. (“We don’t want your kind here!”)
When you do that, you get all of the effects on the top right of the Outsider (dismissing the Mercenary gets you three inkwells and a Corruption).
They are out of the game.
Refusing the Protector has the added benefit that you get to welcome another Outsider (and get a Debt).
How do you get more King’s Orders?
Whenever you can hire a Townsfolk card, you can instead buy a King’s Order for 3 silver. Or if you have something that lets you hire for free, you can get a King’s Order instead for free.
Along the same lines, Gates of Gold adds a Manuscript board for each player.
This shows how you start with a King’s Order (and why you can buy a King’s Order instead of hiring a Townsfolk), but it also gives you a head start on the manuscript track.
Each board starts with a different colored manuscript, so they are handed out randomly. This makes it easier to collect at least one set of different manuscript colours.
Once you have one of the other colours of manuscript, you get other abilities. In this picture, a black manuscript will let you spend a resource in place of a silver when you are spending silver. A blue manuscript will let you spend two silver to draw a card. And a yellow manuscript will let you spend three resources to reorder the cards on your player board.
I think this is a side benefit, but it also gives you a nice convenient place to store your manuscripts so you can easily know how many you have for a set or when you have three of a colour (which gives you the bonus card).
Another thing that Gates of Gold adds is the Diversified and Specialized Building cards.
You get the Diversified Building card when you are the first person to build one of each type of building.
You get the Specialized Building card when you are the first person to build all three of any type of building.
There are multiple cards for each one and you only choose one for the game, so that provides some variety over multiple plays.
The Specialized building cards on top of the picture give you a variety of benefits.
Of the two that are in the picture, one lets you gain a silver every time you gain a King’s Order (effectively making them cost 2 silver, though you do have to have 3 silver to purchase them).
The other one lets you draw two cards when you welcome an Outsider.
Meanwhile, the Diversified building cards at the bottom give you other effects.
One of them (on the left) lets you get a free Townsfolk hire if you have an Outsider on your board when anybody has a corruption/virtue collision.
The other one gives you two Merchant icons whenever you have a King’s Order on your board.
That can be handy!
Finally, there is one change from the base game.
In the base game, there is only one card that comes into play when players have the most people in the center of the Castle.
This card gives the holder of it an additional card to their hand size
The Gates of Gold expansion adds multiple cards to this, giving a bit of variability to the game. You only choose one, of course, at the beginning of the game.
Some of them will just give you an additional symbol for the appropriate action.
Another one will give you a resource whenever you shuffle your deck. One will give you a criminal (Wild) icon and a corruption whenever you dismiss a Townsfolk. This means you won’t have to get the extra corruption for having played a Criminal onto your board.
If you’re going Criminal, that can be quite powerful!
That’s pretty much all there is as far as changes/additions to the base game.
Is Gates of Gold a wonderful golden treasure of new stuff? Or is it Fool’s Gold and it’s actually worthless?
I kind of spoiled it above when I said it’s better than the other expansion and I already gave that a positive review.
This expansion is phenomenal and if you only have one to choose from, I would choose this.
The Outsiders add some wonderful endgame scoring that let you add stuff to the strategy you’ve already decided on.
It’s still a tactical game, but if (for example) you’ve gone for the manuscript strategy, the Scholar (if you have a bunch of Black manuscripts) or the Envoy would be great additions to your deck.
The Adventurer rewards you if you’re going for a more diverse strategy as far as symbols go. Of course, going Criminal won’t help you with him, but otherwise it’s pretty good!
The only thing I found hard about the King’s Orders (and thus the Outsiders) in our games were that I kept forgetting that you can buy a King’s Order any time you can buy a Townsfolk. I used my initial King’s Order but I kept forgetting to buy more!
But that’s not the game’s fault. That’s my fault.
I do like how the Outsiders actually have some very cool effects if you manage to refuse them by destroying a King’s Order (or through some other method).
The Adventurer above is a Kickstarter promo so it incorporates effects from both Gates of Gold and Keeper of Keys, so it lets you get two Corruption and bring a Hero into your hand if you refuse him.
But he has three bags, so why wouldn’t you just welcome him?
I also really like the addition of the Diversified and Specialized Building cards. They can give you some pretty good effects, and again since there are multiple cards and you only choose one at the beginning of the game, it adds a bit of diversity to the game.
This really helps the building strategy, especially when you are able to do both (build all three of one building type as well as building one of each).
The building strategy can be lucrative, but it can be difficult to pull off.
This gives you some additional points.
Combine this with Keeper of Keys and the public buildings and you can really get a lot of points.
I also really like the Manuscript head-start provided by the new Manuscript player boards. Not only does it give you one colour automatically, but it also gives you a place to put them and gives you special abilities once you have a Manuscript of the appropriate colour.
That being said, we didn’t really use those abilities in our three games (except the King’s Order one, of course), but it’s nice to know it’s available when needed.
I would say this enhances the Manuscript strategy, giving you a boost at the beginning.
As usual, the expansion adds some interesting new Townsfolk, both some that take advantage of these capabilities as well as just providing new effects as well.
The Townsfolk stack is getting pretty big if you use both expansions, but it’s still a nice selection.
The Brute giving you a Debt and allowing you to welcome an Outsider is quite the ability considering how rare King’s Orders can be unless you start buying a lot of them.
But maybe you have the Peddler on your board, which gives you a free King’s Order whenever somebody has a Corruption/Virtue collision!
Then there are the non-specific abilities, like the Pilgrim letting you move your Viscount an extra space if you want. I love the Goldsmith letting you dismiss a Townsfolk from any sector of the board to use its icon when you’re doing an action.
Talk about versatility!
The new Heroes in this expansion also add some cool stuff.
Two of them are expansion-specific and then two are just kind of cool in other ways.
The expansion-specific ones let you either welcome an Outsider (Louis) or get two King’s Orders (Clotilde). Both of them will really make you emphasize the Outsider strategy!
The basic Heroes still have some cool abilities.
Matilda lets you draw a card, discard a card, and gain one silver when you hire a Townsfolk.
I think the reason this is my favourite of the two expansions is the endgame Outsider scoring as well as the Specialized/Diversified Building cards.
The building strategy did need a bit of a buff and this expansion provides it.
The Outsiders basically allow you to tailor some of your endgame scoring based on what you have in your deck.
Do none of the available Outsiders really fit with what you are doing?
Then find a way to refuse them and just take their benefits that way!
Just remember that you can buy King’s Orders to make sure you get maximum effect.
It is nice that the King’s Orders have a blue bag on them so while they are on your board (before they drop off), they will at least help you in that fashion.
They are kind of useless otherwise until they drop off. Maybe take advantage of a timely “rearrange” effect to put them at the end of your board?
The possibilities are endless!
I think the Outsiders are just so cool.
Viscounts of the West Kingdom is already a great game.
I just love the image of all these people in the Castle.
Both expansions add some great stuff to the game.
Not necessary, but they will enhance your play of the game enough that I think they are well worth purchasing.
If you only want to play (or buy) one of them, I highly recommend Gates of Gold
It is a phenomenal expansion.
But you can’t go wrong with both.
That being said, I have had one friend who plays this game and they were really overwhelmed with all of the choices provided between the base game and both expansions.
Be careful of that.
If you love Viscounts of the West Kingdom though (and since it’s in my Top 10 in 2022, I think I do!), both expansions are well worth the addition.
Check them out today.