Mound Builders

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Quick Overview

A game of culture, trade, and warfare in ancient North America.

Mound Builders

  • Front cover
  • Back cover
  • Map
  • Counters (front)
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Details

Named one of the Top 100 Solitaire Board Games of 2015 by Box of Delights!

Mound Builders, from Wes Erni and Ben Madison, is a solitaire States of SiegeTM game where you represent the two largest pre-Columbian Indian "mound builder" cultures that dominated eastern North America from before the time of Christ until the coming of the European colonists in the 17th century. Your empire represents the earlier Hopewell culture and the later Mississippian culture that derived from it.

Until the arrival of the Spanish late in the game, you will expand your control across the map of North America, extending it over the various chiefdoms encountered and incorporating them into your economic and religious sphere ("empire"). Your domain will grow and shrink, but be aware that rather than a military advance and retreat, this process represents the rise and decline of culture, religious ideology, and an economic way of life, threatened from outside by competing ideologies and lifestyles as much as by hostile armies.

Your goal is to extend Mound Builder culture and amass as many chiefdoms as possible before rival native powers (and the smallpox-ridden Spanish!) rise up to drive you back to your Mississippi River heartland and extinguish your vast capital city at Cahokia, Illinois.

Polybag Game Components:


•   One 32-page, full-color Rules booklet
•   One 11" x 17" cardstock game map
•   49 thick, laser-cut, multi-shaped counter pieces (minor assembly required)
•   50 History cards
•   One player aid

What's In The Box?:


•   One 32-page, full-color Rules booklet
•   One 11" x 17" cardstock game map
•   49 thick, laser-cut, multi-shaped counter pieces (minor assembly required)
•   50 History cards
•   One player aid
•   One six-sided die
•   One 11" x 17" mounted, jigsaw-cut game map
•   One bright red, 9 1/4" x 5 7/8" Standard cardboard VPG game box
•   One beautiful box cover sleeve
•   One "Wipes-A-Lot" napkin
•   One charcoal desiccant packet

Credits:


Game Design: R. Ben Madison and Wes Erni
Development: Alan Emrich
Map Art: Tim Allen
Graphics: Michelle Ball
Playtesting: Nathan Hansen, Hermann Luttmann, Mardi Mattison, Zack VandeKamp
Proofreading: Amy Durnford, Rick Partin, Leigh Toms, Ian Wakeham, Karen Wolterman

Game Data

Number of Players Solitaire
Age 13+
Playing Time Approximately 40 minutes
Difficulty 4
Solitaire Suitability 9
Designer R. Ben Madison and Wes Erni
Developer Alan Emrich

Reviews

Top 100 Solitaire Games of 2015 by Ricky Royal (Box of Delights)
Mound Builders ... lulls you into a false sense of security. You have no aggressors for the first “half” of the game. You can build and expand in preparation for the onslaught you know is coming in the Mississippian and Spanish eras that follow. This is where the strength of your empire will be tested and you’ll be using your economy, built to provide trade, which in turn provides the capacity to react, to fend off the Spanish and ultimately survive to win the game. This means that this first era allows you to experiment a great deal with different strategies, without too much in the way of aggressive conflict restricting what you are able to try to achieve. It’s a real neat twist. Not only that, I like it for the historical value. I knew nothing about the Mound Builder culture before this game. I love history, and history of the Americas is something I know little about in general (me and my British monarchy..tut!), so every word of flavour text is devoured and enjoyed as much as the mechanisms of the game itself. Highly recommended.
Mound Builders by Brian Winters (Board Game Quest)
Mound Builders is a challenging but fun historical civilization solitaire game. The designers did an excellent job giving you information on this time period and, in my opinion, just giving enough to understand the basics but also get your feet wet to make you want to learn more about it....

I will let you on a secret. I’m going to keep playing this game until I win and then I’m going to start using the advanced rules and I’m going to play until I win. Mound Builders has made it to my game shelf and when none of my friends or wife can board game it up. I will likely take this one down and try a new strategy soon. I have also started looking for more solitaire games and as luck would have it, Victory Point Games makes more (such as Zulus on the Ramparts! – The Battle of Rorke’s Drift 2nd Ed). This game has opened up a game type for me that I thought I would not have normally tried and now am a fan of. Give Mound Builders a look, it’s a challenging and fun experience.
Bloody Indians by Morten Monrad Pedersen (The Thematic Solitairist)
For me one of the hallmarks of a good game is that it features many interesting decisions, those agonizing choices where you want to do five things at once, but don’t have enough actions to do them all. Mound Builders succeeds in this regard. You need to decide which tracks to expand on, what trade goods you go for, what chiefdoms to build mounds in, whether to turtle or explore, build defenses or storage, etc. All of these choices are interesting because they affect the result and it wasn’t clear to me which ones are best.

The three act structure works well and creates a narrative through the game; ... there’s a lot of tenseness and a strong sense of achievement. I've never been in a situation where I felt certain to win: Your empire is fragile, and the Spanish are always looming just over the horizon. The fact that you know that they're coming and that they're rubberbanded to your success level means that you're always scared.

I don’t think I’ve been so obsessed with a game since Dawn of the Zeds, and I’d currently place the game in my top 3 solitaires. (9/10)
Hopewell That Ends Well by Mark D. (grognard.com)
You know how people have games, usually computer games, that they play every spare minute they have? Games like Windows Solitaire that folks will play for five minutes here and there, just to take a mental break from work and decompress? Like meditation, almost? Well, Mound Builders has become my "decompression" game. I have it set up on a corner of my game table, and I just can't walk by it without stopping to play a card or two. I'm on the hunt for the perfect strategy...

I highly recommend Mound Builders and would like to congratulate Ben Madison and Wes Erni for creating such an interesting and enjoyably playable design.
The Rise and Fall of YOUR Ancient Empire by Chris Ayala (The Gaming Gang)
I can easily recommend Mound Builders be added to your library, especially if you enjoy solitaire games set in an interesting period and, if you’ve never played a historical solitaire game, this might be a good one in which to start. (8/10)
A First Look at Mound Builders by Dave Nichols (Stranger Things Have Happened)
Gamers identify those elements of a game that establish it in a particular setting or historic era as “chrome,” and Mound Builders has lots of it, particularly on its Event or History cards ... [which are] beautifully illustrated with color images or photographs, displaying the Aztalan palisade, Hopewell pottery, an artist's reconstruction of Cahokia, and the like. Each also contains a paragraph of text describing the archaeological site or culture or development featured on the card, and I think they contain a fair amount of information that would be news even to seasoned American historians. Were I to use MB as a teaching tool, these History cards would be one of the principal reasons.
Mound Builders by Cards, Dice, and Figurines
I found Mound Builders to be a great solo game, and above all -- and most importantly -- a challenge for the player.
Fun With Dirt by Mike Ehr (Gaming Trend)
An innovative single-player boardgame, Mound Builders is a great alternative to turning on the PC or console for another run through of some exhausted first-person shooter. It causes you to think, and you’ll learn something. (80/100)