Designed by Jog Kung, with art by Lauren Hsiu, Kingdom of Middag is a fairly light worker placement game for 2-4 players set in the 17th century amongst aboriginal tribes of what is now Taiwan. Players will be hunting various animals and gathering vegetables for trading into victory points.
The novelty comes from the two-phase structure of player turns: on most turns you will first go hunting to gain resources and then you'll choose a village hut action to spend the resources in some way. These actions include investing in tools to make hunting more profitable, trading resources with the bank, paying in sets of resources for victory points or taking a 'story tile' that grants points if a condition is met at the end of one of the four seasons.
Many of the individual aspects of this game will feel familiar to someone who's played a lot of worker placement games but, nevertheless, the combination here makes for a fresh experience. The artwork and components are attractive and engaging, and the rules are simple enough to call it a 'gateway' game that can be used to introduce players who have yet to discover the joy of modern board games.
Different strategies are possible, and anyone wanting to score all their points at the end by trading in huge piles of resources will find that they need to keep trading throughout the game in order to first increase their trading capacity, which is an interesting dynamic. Also, the end-of-round objectives, which change each round, rewarding players for most/least of different types of resources and for placing their workers in certain areas, adds new decisions to consider as compared with other similar games. As you might expect, player interaction happens more with 3 and 4 players, although the two-player game still works fine.
It's hard to be revolutionary in the worker placement genre but with Kingdom of Middag, publishers TWOPLUS have come up with a decent game that will appeal to many - tho' vegetarians may want to suspend their imagination as to the fate of all the cuddly animals!
(Review by Matt Young)