Wisdom of Solomon: Calling All Wise Builders!
King Solomon was one of Israel’s greatest kings, famous for his wisdom, trade ventures, and incredible wealth. He greatly expanded the borders of the nation, authored several books of the Bible—including 3,000 proverbs—and constructed cities, forts and trade routes. Despite all of his success and accomplishments, Solomon is likely most famous for building the First Temple, a golden center of worship and national identity for over 450 years.
In Wisdom of Solomon, players take on the role of governors in Israel, seeking to gain the favor of the great king as they labor to construct Solomon’s Temple and expand his trade routes throughout the land. Funhill Games has shaped this theme into a worker placement game for 2-5 players. Players must skillfully manage their resources while they create new buildings, carefully construct trade networks, and toil to build the Temple itself. In the end, the governor who secures the most favor with King Solomon is the winner.
Give each player a set of Workers and place their Favor marker on the 10 spot on the Favor track—Favor represents both cash and victory points in this game. Fill the Market with starting Resources. Randomly place Temple tiles face down on the Temple area. Shuffle the Shortage tiles and place some on the map of Israel. Place shuffled Buildings in their designated area. Deal two Fortune cards to each player – they select one to keep. Finally, determine turn order and pick a few Resources from the Market. Let’s get building!
Wisdom of Solomon takes place over a series of years. The year begins with the player holding the Starting Player token (which proceeds clockwise each year). Players take turns placing a Worker on various action spaces, which provide Resources, Favor, or other benefits.
The Merchant: Buy and Sell Resources
The more scarce a Resource in the Market, the more you’ll get when selling it. The more plentiful a Resource, the cheaper it is to purchase. Time it right! You can also play a Fortune card as a final step to this action.
The Trader: Trade Any One Resource to Gain Any Two Resources
If the Market doesn’t have what you need, this is an easy alternative. Like the Merchant, you can also play a Fortune card as a final step to this action.
The Levite: Build the Temple
Trade in sets of Resources to take a Temple tile. Each tile is worth between 6 and 10 points (25 total tiles, 5 of each value). The tiles are prepared face down during setup, so you won’t know what you’re getting when you pick it.
The Foreman: Build a Building
Purchase a building and score some Favor. Next, you’ll get to place a Customs House in the Land of Israel, as well as a road—a necessary play if you want to build a thriving trade network.
The Holy Place: Powerful Bonuses
The Holy Place contains 4 powerful bonus areas. Each one does something a little different—such as draw 3 Fortune cards or gain 5 Resources—so placing a Worker here will depend on your needs (and perhaps how you want to slow others down). Once you place a Worker here, your turn is over. Also, if you have more than one Worker left, you must place them all as your final turn for the year.
The Land of Israel: Gain Resources from Your Network
Place a Worker in the Land, and receive Resources in your network that are not blocked by other Workers, competing Custom Houses, or Shortage tiles. A good network can quickly garner you a stack of Resources, so don’t ignore the economic benefit.
Years of Plenty
The year ends when all Workers have been placed on the board. Start a new year unless the end of the game has been triggered. This happens if a player placed all of their Customs Houses on the map or the last available Temple tile has been acquired, completing Solomon’s Temple. Players then add up their location on the Favor track, and add their Temple tiles to their total. Players also receive 2 Favor for each unplayed Fortune card. The most favored governor is the winner!
The best worker placement games give a player many options and multiple paths to victory, and Wisdom of Solomon does this very well. I’ve found some placement games almost force me into choosing certain actions, and it’s never a good feeling when you think the game is making you do something expected. None of those annoying restrictions exist in this one, only a feeling of opportunity and wanting to do everything at once. Ah, strategic tension, how I love you.
The game is a touch to the heavy side, but I think most family gamers will be able to enjoy this one. It’s certainly not as pick-up-and-play as some family games, so just be aware that you’ll be explaining rules and talking strategy tips for 15-20 minutes before you get into it. The box says it clocks in at 30-75 minutes, but it took my family several hours to get through our first game.
Several unique mechanics jumped out to me. The trade networks were quite fun to create, and a satisfying point of competition between the players. The Holy Place bonuses are really valuable, but will end your turn early—they keep you guessing what the others are thinking. Combined with a good economic engine and many action “freedoms”, Wisdom of Solomon is a well-balanced and strategically satisfying experience.
This is a great game! If you’re the kind of family that loves empire-builders and worker placements, you have a lot to enjoy here. I’m happy to say Wisdom of Solomon is a solid pick in the genre, featuring some great mechanics and wrapped in a theme that’s family-friendly.
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The Family Gamers received a copy of Wisdom of Solomon from Funhill Games for this review.
Wisdom of Solomon
Age Range: 14+ (we say 12+)
Number of Players: 1-5
Playtime: 30-75 minutes