A delightful twist on a classic game
Blue Orange Games
Note: Coiled Spring Games sent us a copy of Kingdomino so that we could write this unbiased review
We all played Dominoes as a kid, right? When it comes to learning Kingdomino that’s half the rules- except instead of joining tiles with the same number of dots on, you’re joining forests, fields, mines and seas up to build your Kingdom and score the most points! It’s a wonderful quick game for 2-4 players and is my most played game ever!
How the game works
Each player is attempting to build their own Kingdom from domino-like tiles which score points at the end of the game. The bigger the areas made of the same terrain and the more crowns on those tiles, the more points you score! You begin from your castle and are aiming to create a perfect 5×5 Kingdom.
The game is played over a series of rounds. Each round four random tiles are arranged from least profitable to most profitable, and the first player selects one to place into their Kingdom and so on. The benefit of picking the worst of the four tiles is that you’ll get the first pick next time, and if you pick the best tile you’ll pick last.
When you’re placing your tiles you have to have at least one side matching with your Kingdom (much like with normal Dominoes), so if you want to place a tile that is 2 x sea spaces, you need to place it against at least one other sea space. Your Castle space is wild, so can go next to anything, bear this in mind as your Kingdom fills up and it gets harder to place tiles. Some of the tiles have crowns on them, others do not. These crowns are super important for scoring highly so tend to put you further down the turn order.
Once all the tiles have been used up you score points for each land type. For each area, you score points for the number of spaces multipled by the number of crowns in those spaces. For example, if you had 10 forest spaces joined up and 3 crowns across them, you’d score 30 points. If you managed to complete your 5×5 grid (i.e at no stage were you unable to place a tile) you score a bonus 5 points, and if your castle is bang in the middle of your 5×5 grid, you get a bonus 10 points.
I’ve played Kingdomino almost a hundred times (mostly online), I never get bored of it. It’s that perfect game that takes 20 minutes to play during a lunch break at work, or at the start/end of a game night. It’s so simple, colourful and tactile that it is the perfect game to teach non-gamers and everyone I’ve introduced to it has loved it too. You can teach it in 5 minutes, set up takes no time at all and the scoring is so basic that it needs very little explanation.
Sometimes new players take a little while to get used to playing in the 5×5 grid, because you can’t physically lay a tile that would cause your Kingdom to be either 6 wide or 6 tall, it can be confusing at first and they end up blocking themselves in future turns. When you play online the available spaces are highlighted which does help a lot!
The variable player order really makes this game. They key is to weigh up the benefit of taking the best tile this round against the annoyance of picking last in the next. Sometimes you can keep taking the worst tiles and hog the first player marker until a tile you really want comes along. Even taking the 2nd worst or 2nd best will at least give you a choice on the next round. The mine terrain is the rarest but contains loads of crowns, so letting your opponent get all of them is a recipe for disaster. Likewise there are loads and loads of forest/wheat spaces, so creating a large area of these along with all the crowns will get you a big score!
The parts are very well made, the cardboard tiles are thick with lovely artwork and the little castles and meeples are cute.
My instinct would be to say the game doesn’t have huge replayability due to there only really being 1 variant (you can play 7×7 grid when playing with 2 players), but at latest count I’m at 93 plays clearly there’s more to it than that. It’s just a fun way to spend 20 minutes and if that’s the sort of game you’re after then look no further than Kingdomino!
If you do end up loving it, you can buy the Age of Giants expansion, Kingdomino Duel (which is a 2 player roll-and-write), or the standalone game Queendomino and although we haven’t played any of them (crazy I know!), friends of mine who have all say they’re great fun too.
Get this game
Check this game out on Board Game Geek