One Board Family: Wisdom of Solomon Review
Wisdom of Solomon from Funhill Games places you in the role of a Governor during the time of King Solomon’s reign. This period in history isn’t commonly explored in our hobby because it’s quickly thrown into the “religious game” category. I’ve received my fair share of “games for Christians” and they usually are donated or given away after a single play. In the case of Wisdom of Solomon, this game is actually an update to the original Kingdom of Solomon designed by Philip duBarry that was published in 2012. Can this trip back to the Old Testament earn a place in our family game shelf?
In Wisdom of Solomon, players place worker pawns in various locations to purchase/sell resources, build customs houses, gather resources and even build Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. The goal of the game is to earn the most favor points which are recorded at the top and bottom of the board. The game ends when the Temple is completely built or one Governor builds their last customs house.
Anyone familiar with worker placement games will understand the flow of Wisdom of Solomon. The number of worker spaces are based on the number of players and the number of resources in the game scale in this same way. The basic gameplay loop is quick to teach and understand.
Visiting the market allows players to sell wood, gold, stone, bronze or food and purchase more resources at a lower price. Being the first to the market will give you the best options before the market slots fill up. You’ll use these resources to build customs houses on the map of Israel that makes up the right side of the board. More on this in a minute. Building the temple will allow you to turn in resources and receive favor points that could range from 6 to 9 points. These favor points are kept hidden until end game scoring and can really tip the scales in a close game.
During the game, players can use Fortune cards after visiting the market. These Fortune cards can decrease the price of building, give you additional resources or give you a number of other perks that can put you ahead of your opponents. These Fortune cards can be very helpful and are worth a favor point each at the end of the game if you end up not using them.
Resources and a Little “Take That”
The right side of the game board for Wisdom of Solomon gives you a map of Israel where the customs houses are built. This mechanic is so interesting and something I haven’t seen in other games. When you place a customs house, the player then adds a road that crosses into another area of the map. Using these customs houses and roads, you’re creating a network that allows you to accumulate resources each time you place a worker on the map. Players who build an efficient network can find themselves rolling in resources.
At the top of the board, there are 4 Holy Places that are incredibly powerful, for a price. A player can submit all their remaining workers to claim one of these spaces. Once 2 Holy Places are claimed, this place is no longer an option for the remaining players. Timing and how many workers you have left to place on this location is critical.
During one of the games I found myself struggling to get the resources I needed. After my son spent time piling up resources, I knew it was time to strike. I used my final 3 workers to use the Holy Place that allows you to take ½ of the resources of a player that has over 7 in their possession. He never saw it coming because I still had plenty of workers and he knew it would mean I sacrifice the rest of that round by claiming a Holy Place.
Wisdom of Solomon becomes an extremely competitive game due to the tight number of resources available. Each resource is limited and some hold more value than others. This is compounded by the fact that each game starts by locking out 3 resources on the map using “shortage tiles”. Further limiting resources keeps players on their toes and will force you into tough decisions as you look over to see a single gold resource cube available during your turn.
I enjoy the gameplay of Wisdom of Solomon enough that I’ve been more forgiving of the biggest issue I have with the game. In 2019 (2018 when it was published), it’s becoming harder to excuse games that skimp on good art. Spending money on good art will set you apart from the competition and is the biggest reason that I would pick up a box during a visit to a game store. The art in Wisdom of Solomon is not bad, but it’s average. It hurts because this above average game will be passed over by many people because the art doesn’t stand out.
The art on the favor cards have a different style and ascetic from the game board and building cards. There is a level of polish on the gameplay that the artwork just doesn’t have. However, I do love the attention to detail on the shortage tiles so that they line up perfectly on the map. I like how intuitive the iconography is. It’s clear enough that you won’t be referencing the rulebook every 5 minutes.
Wisdom of Solomon is a solid worker placement game that has a permanent home on our game shelf. The setting is going to really click with some people and it’s fantastic to see a Bible themed game that doesn’t suck. There is a lot to love in this game that I wish had a fancier paint job (because it deserves it).
Funhill Games provided us with a retail copy of Wisdom of Solomon after the Kickstarter fulfilled. This in no way influenced our opinion on this game.
Simple to understand and teach
Networking your customs houses is a great mechanic
Tight resources make the game very competitive
Artwork is not up to par with other games with similar gameplay