Druid City Games
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Board Game Spotlight

 

Kingdomino: Domineering in a Far Away Land

Publisher: Blue Orange Games
Players: 2 - 4
Time: 15 - 20 min
 

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Bottom Line Up Front 

A lighthearted take on the classic game of Dominoes!

What do you get when you cross dominoes and a far away Kingdom? The winner of the Spiel de Jahres! (Too soon? Maybe, but I’m very confident.) Kingdomino is one Bruno Cathala’s recent additions in a long line of brilliant games. Its lighthearted theme, exceptionally easy rules and mechanics will keep many players returning to build the best kingdom in all the land.

In the Box

There isn't much as far as components are concerned. Inside the box, you’ll find a rulebook, translated to many languages, 48 beautifully illustrated dominos, 4 starting castle tiles, 4 3D castles (some assembly required) and 8 wooden Kingples (Get it? King + Meeple. Yeah…). The game is incredibly portable in its box, but with some creativity, can become even more portable if carried in a cloth bag, which can also double as a nice draw bag. Let’s talk about the real treat of the game – the dominos. They are hot. Made of thick, durable cardboard, the illustrations are vibrant and beautiful. The dominos also have a nice gloss finish that makes the colors look more “alive.”

Basic Gameplay

Kingdomino, at its core, is simple. Choose a tile, add it to your Kingdom and attempt to build a perfect 5x5 grid square (or 7x7 in 2 player!).  Before you begin the game, each player will choose a color. If you are playing a 2 player game, you will use 2 of your Kingples (alright, fine, that was the last time) and with 3 or 4 players, each player uses 1 of their Kings. The King Meeple (I hope you’re happy now…) is used to determine turn order and track which domino a player will lay into their kingdom.  It’s important to note that a player must follow the connection rules in order to successfully play a domino into their kingdom. That is, a domino must either connect to their castle (which counts as a wild) or connect it to another domino by matching at least 1 landscape of the chosen dominoe to another landscape already in the player’s kingdom.

On a player’s turn, they will add the domino their King is currently on to their kingdom and choose a new dominoe from the next available line. Once each player has finished these two steps, a new line of 4 random tiles are placed face down, lowest to highest, and then revealed face up. These dominos will be available for players to choose from in the next round. Play continues for 6 rounds in a 2 player game and 12 rounds in a 3-4 player game.  

Players will calculate their points based on the number of like connected landscapes MULTIPLIED by the number of crowns in those connected landscapes.

4th Wall Break: To show you how scoring works, this is a picture of a game won by my wife. She scored - 6 Forest Crowns x 15 connected forests + 2 Water Crowns x 2 connect water = 94. I'd be lying if I said it was close. Beware, the sneaky one always wins.

Initial Thoughts

I don’t mind purchasing light, “filler” games and when a game is designed by Bruno Cathala, well, let’s just say that gains my attention. The price point on this game is perfect, which you can find here at at Funagain Games I will be honest though, I wasn’t expecting a lot from the game. I mean, it’s just dominos, right? Wow; I was wrong. This has become one of my favorite, “filler” games to date. It’s already seen 25+ plays in just a couple weeks and I don’t see myself slowing down anytime soon. The simplicity of the game is a huge draw for me, as I can teach it to both non-gamers and gamers alike and because of its simplicity I would highly recommend this for families and classrooms. While the game is not “deep” strategy, it absolutely requires abstract thinking and a creative brain. The tile selection mechanic is fantastic and adds a nice layer of critical thinking to the game.  Choosing an early tile means you will progress your kingdom’s landscape, but will “usually” not reward you with crowns. Alternatively, choosing the last tile will add crowns to your kingdom but will position you last in the next round of tiles. It’s a very clever mechanic for such a light-hearted game. Keep in mind, it’s easy to neglect your opponents, as there is very little player interaction aside from “hate drafting” a tile you know your opponent wants for their kingdom. This strategy, in my opinion, is flimsy as it’s generally better for you to maximize your own kingdom rather than hurt your opponents. Balancing your kingdom is essential for success.  

4th Wall Break: If you can hate draft crowns from your opponent, sometimes that’s crucial as points are open information. So grab that calculator and see how badly your opponent needs that ONE tile. (I’m kidding, don’t be that player. Play nice.)  

Positives and Negatives

Positives:

  • Vibrant illustrations and quality dominos
  • Tile selection and random tile draws offer high replayability
  • A quick and easy gateway game for players of all ages
  • 2 player Mighty Duel is incredibly fun!
  • Simplicity lends itself to an addictive experience. You won’t play ONLY ONE game of Kingdomino but you’ll often repeat, “Just one more, I swear.”

Negatives:

  • Castle Minis because why not?
  • Best with 2 or 4 players. 3 is a bit too random for me because you don't see all the tiles but it's more push your luck! 

Final Thoughts

At first glance, you might think Kingdomino is just another game of dominos. However, once you understand the tile selection mechanic and scoring, you will see the brilliance it has to offer. This is a rare game that has only gotten better with every game I’ve played. You owe it to yourself and your family to play this game. I really can’t praise this game enough. 

I give Kingdomino 9 Crowns out of 10.