In our last few articles about Kutná Hora: The City of Silver, we delved into the game’s mining system, asymmetrical guilds, and the use of recycled RE-Wood components. Today, we’re going to shine some light on the two player experience and how it differs slightly from a higher player count game.
At its core, Kutná Hora is a game with high player interaction. It’s a historical city building euro, so there’s no direct conflict, of course. But every choice you make potentially impacts the dynamic supply and demand economy at play. The moment to moment gameplay is constantly shifting, as players take actions that help the city grow and affect the resource systems in motion. You have to keep a close eye on everything and pivot at the right moments to come out ahead. This is a huge part of what makes the game so fun and uniquely different each time you play it.
But what happens if there are less players interacting with the economic systems (and indirectly, each other)?
Once the core of the game became solidified during the development process, we noticed that the two player game felt like something was missing. Much of the excitement comes from how the game’s systems and options are constantly cycling in response to player choices. With only two players, the flow of the game felt slower and more predictable. It lacked some of the thrill and energy we were seeing in games with more players involved.
So we set out to address this to make the game just as enjoyable and dynamic for a tighter two player experience—all without adding a lot of rules or without sacrificing what makes the game so interesting.
Introducing: Event Cards
We found a simple and effective solution in the form of event cards. In five of the six rounds in a two player game, you’ll reveal a random event card at the start of the round. This gives you time to plan for the event’s effect before it triggers at the end of the round. It also adds some interesting decision making into the play space.
The introduction of events really helped us out in the end. Events add almost no new rules, are super easy to manage, and they add a nice thematic flavor on top of all that.
Essentially, the event cards simulate the missing player or players by accelerating the game’s economy, manipulating the buildings offer, contributing to the construction of St. Barbara’s cathedral, increasing taxes, and other actions. What we love about them is that they also do this in a very fluid and natural way without having to resort to using various automa or dummy player options.
The events also became very popular among many playtesters, so we decided to make them optional even for higher player counts. They make the game less predictable with more players, so if you prefer more control and more fairness in your games, it’s safer to play without the events in a three or four player game. But if you like some flavor and a bit of surprise in your games, you will really appreciate the events even with more players.
What the rest of a two player game looks like
Beyond event cards, there are some minor differences in a two player game, as well. With two players, you’ll use the other side of the board, which condenses the buildable city and mining grid. This nudges players into a tighter play space that adds to the tension of key decisions throughout the city’s growth.
Each player also will have 3 unique guilds, without any overlap with another player. This gives you complete control over the commodities pricing for your guilds. With more experienced players, the two player game can feel a lot more chess-like, as there are a lot of opportunities for blocking and counter strategies. The event cards add a nice counterbalancing element to this, too, as they weave more unpredictability into the mix.
Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes articles and don’t forget to subscribe to the Kutná Hora BGG page so you don’t miss any important updates!