At first glance, Mound Builders looks like several other games – more than a dozen put out by Victory Point Games alone – that use a relatively simple playing system that involves rolling a die and moving a marker up or down a chain of boxes until you win or lose.
Some are more complex than others. The simplest can introduce youngsters to playing more complicated games, while the more elaborate ones will teach seasoned players some things about the battle they are fighting, or the history or events involved.
The easiest ones play like a beer and pretzel game, and the very simplest ones can become cookies and milk. You roll, you move the markers. Almost like Candyland. Which is not all bad, if you are looking to kill some time.
They can get more elaborate, giving you choices on where to move the markers, or where to attack. And, you might get a choice of where to set up, stack to change the odds or get some extra attack markers to push back the enemy.
Lots of battles are fair game for this kind of system, even though it keeps you from using terrain properly or advancing where you want to go, or even making that one last, desperate charge.
You can try to get the British out of Normandy or try as the Israelis to keep various Arab armies out of east Jerusalem after declaring statehood.
Victory Points Games, which puts out Mound Builders, calls them State of Siege games. But, if they are a family of games, Mound Builders is more like a second cousin, once removed, when compared to the basic ones.
He’s the smart cousin who went away to college, and came back full of all sorts of information that he’s just waiting to show off. And, he might fool you and bring a six-pack of beer when he comes to visit.