Wisdom of Solomon – Funhill Games – Review

"This game is now on my top 10 list! It is the most amazing marriage of game mechanisms I have ever seen."

Theme and What is it?

Travel back in time to ancient Israel during the reign of King Solomon and work to gain his favor.  In order to do this, you will need to acquire resources, build buildings, develop customs houses, and create a network of roads.  Ultimately, you are working towards the completion of the Temple. 

King Solomon was known historically to be very wealthy and wise.  He was able to bring in resources from the region to build a grand temple dedicated to Yahweh, the Israelite God.  On top of the wealth and resources, exotic spices, items, and animals were brought to ancient Israel. 

Take the reigns and prove yourself a worthy governor.  Manage resource gathering, build buildings to increase profits and favor, and ultimately, build the temple.  How well you perform is largely up to you. 

Gameplay Mechanics

This game is chock-full of mechanisms.  The 3 most pronounced features are worker placement, engine building, and route building.  Lesser functions in the game include hand and resource management and area control.

Worker placement is the crux of the game.  There are many places within the city of Jerusalem to take actions.  As well, resources can be gathered by visiting regions in the land of Israel. 

The engine building factors in the game when you chose to build a building.  Not only do you choose and pay resources to build something but you also receive favor in varying degrees as well.  These buildings improve different factors throughout the game.  The more you have the more favor and improved success you gain.

Hand management occurs through deciding when to play cards of good fortune.  These can give key advantages or set back other opponents.  The only problem is they can only be paid when visiting the market or the trader.  They can only be gained by visiting the Holy of Holies or building part of the Temple.

Resource management occurs through being wise with food, wood, stone, bronze, and gold.  They are limited resources.  Deciding how they should be spent, traded, invested, or sold is key to winning the game.

Each time you add a new building you also get to place a customs house and road on the map.  This allows you to collect more resources in the region, unless of course, you don’t get blocked by another Governor first.  Herein lies the area control mechanic in the game.

Initial Impressions

Just looking at the box I can’t say I was drawn in.  The art was good but it felt a bit Sunday school-ish to me.  Once I rifled through the box, things changed.

I was first surprised to see how many bits and pieces where included.  I love lots of components in a game.  I was impressed that there were many pieces made of wood.  I think that significantly improves a game for me over cardboard chits.

At first glance the board didn’t impress me.  It also looked fairly busy.  On the other hand, it gave me hopes of a good complex game.

The rule book looked wonderful.  It was one of the neatest and most concise set of game instructions I’d seen in a long time.  That was impressive being that I found the game has a lot going on.

Game Build Quality

Everything in the game is good quality.  I like all the wooden pieces especially.  There is a nice cloth bag for playing solo games.  All the cardboard pieces and the board are sturdy.  The cards are nice as well.

Artistic Direction

I like the art.  I had fears it would be like my memories of Sunday school art as a kid.  It was not at all.  There are different art styles between fortune and building cards but they marry nicely.  The art actually changed my mind about the way people might have looked and dressed in that time period and region.

Fun Factor

This game maxes out my fun meter!  I love all the choices and mechanisms going on.  The theme really works well for all that is going on.

The player count is from 1-5 and is unique in each case.  I am truly amazed a game with so many things going on works so well in solo mode.  Last time I played solo I won by only a few points.

There is a fascinating little twist on the worker placement options.  There are 4 locations in the Holy of Holies that can only be visited if you place all of your remaining workers in that location.  However, the benefits are huge and also includes taking the first player token.

So much is happening in this game and it all fits together perfectly.  It is such a pleasure to play!  Upon introducing this game to someone in my group who has over 400 games he was so impressed he immediately tracked down how to purchase the game online.  It’s just that good!

Age Range & Weight

Wisdom of Solomon is rated for ages 14 and up.  I believe it is possible for a younger kid to play the game if they are experienced in board games.  It isn’t because the game is difficult.  It would really have to do with being able to strategize well.

I would say this is on the lower end of a medium weight game.  The area control and road building rules are about the trickiest aspect of the game.  There is a nice diagram and explanation in the instruction manual.  It is explained clearly and only takes a little bit of thinking to be sure you are doing it correctly.

Conclusions

This game is now on my top 10 list!  It is the most amazing marriage of game mechanisms I have ever seen.  I can’t recommend this game enough.

At the price point for this game it is a no brainer to try out.  I have a lot of more expensive games I don’t enjoy anywhere near as much as Wisdom of Solomon.  Though, it might be fun to upgrade some of the resources and temple blocks.

I’m sure someone is not going to like the theme of building an ancient Jewish temple.  Just know, there really isn’t a religious feel to the game.  There are some King James Version verses at the bottom of Fortune cards but they do not need to be read to play.  King Solomon, after all, was credited with writing some of the most important Hebrew texts.

I wanted to mention one more aspect which lends itself to me getting this game to the table more often.  This is not a time consuming or difficult game to set up or take down.  As well, the game is not too long.  It is played until either the Temple is fully built or one or more players runs out of customs houses to build.

There is variety each time the game is played because different regions will be randomly blocked from producing resources.  Buildings also constantly change and provide different amounts of favor points the longer they are not purchased.  This game will be a little different each time it is played.

The whole package is just perfect in my opinion.  Everything goes together seamlessly.  I’m a worker placement fan and this game hits the sweet spot.