Designer Bruno Cathala puts a twist on the classic game of dominoes placing players into the roles of lords seeking new lands to expand their kingdoms in the latest game from Blue Orange Games, Kingdomino. Kingdomino is a tile-laying game for 2-4 players that plays in 15 minutes.
The object of the game is to build a kingdom in a 5×5 grid consisting of various land types…….wheat fields, pastures, lush forests, mines, lakes, and mountains in order to score prestige points. Some tiles are more valuable than others so players will be competing with each other for the prime lands. This is performed by drafting dominoes from a lineup and adding them one at a time over the course of several rounds.
OVERVIEW OF GAME PLAY
The game comes with 48 dominoes, 4 starting tiles, 4 castles, and 8 kings (2 in each color). At the start of the game each player will choose a color, take that color castle and king(s) and a start tile. The castle is placed on top of the start tile. When playing with only 2 players, both kings will be used by each player, otherwise use 1 king. The dominoes are shuffled face down and depending on the number of players, some dominoes may be removed. The dominoes used in the game are then placed back in the game box to hold them. The unused dominoes are placed off to the side.
Each round 4 dominoes will be placed out to be drafted. The first round the first 4 dominoes are placed next to the box and arranged face down in numerical order.
The dominoes are flipped over so players can start drafting them.
Each domino will have either 1 or two land types on them. Some land types will have crowns on them. The crowns are very important. They are used in final scoring of the game and any property that does not have at least one crown will not be worth anything.
The first round, player order is determined by a random pull of the kings from a player’s hand. As the kings come out, players will select one of the dominoes available and place their king on it. For the rest of the game, turn order will be determined by the order of the kings on the line of dominoes. In the picture below, blue will select the next domino first.
Once the players have selected their desired dominoes, 4 new dominoes are added next to the ones previously selected, again arranging them in numerical order, then flipping the dominoes over to reveal the land types.
In player order, each player will move their king to one of the new dominoes that came out. This will determine the turn order for the following round, thus creating this “moving sidewalk” of dominoes. This process for drafting order will repeat for each round of the game.
The domino that was previously selected is then taken and added to the player’s kingdom. There are restrictions for placing the dominoes to the kingdom. Each domino must either connect to the start tile
or connect it to another domino matching at least one of its land types forming land groups called properties.
When building the kingdom, the dominoes must be able to fit into a 5×5 grid. If a domino does not fit or cannot be placed due to non-matching land types, that domino is discarded. So at times at the end of the game, a player’s kingdom will not completely fill a 5×5 grid.
At the end of the game, players are going to score points for their properties that contain one or more crowns. The way scoring is performed is: 1 point per square of that property, multiplied by the number of crowns in it. There may be multiple properties for each land type. Properties without crowns have no score. Using the picture above, here is the scoring for this player….
- Mountains (tan) – 1 point [1 crown x 1 square]
- Mines (black) – 18 points [3 squares x 6 crowns]
- Lakes (blue) – 2 points [2 tiles x 1 crown]
- Wheat fields (yellow) – 14 points [7 squares x 2 crowns]
- Forests (green) – 5 points [4 squares x 1 crown + 1 square x 1 crown]
The winner is the player with the most points. In case of tie, the player with the most expansive property regardless if it has a crown or not.
The game does include some additional rules than can be used to make the game more strategic. Players can mix and match the variant rules to their tastes.
- Great component quality
- 15 minute playing time
- Nice tile drafting mechanic
- Variant rules to add strategy
- Great price point
- Low level of complexity may limit audience
- Players can have “tunnel-vision”
- No direct player interaction
Blue Orange is know for putting out family style games that develop skills while playing them, and their offering of Kingdomino delivers, developing spatial skills to all who play, restricting players to fitting their dominoes into a 5×5 grid. Each turn, players need to be mindful of the dominoes they are selecting, both to fit into the grid as well as to enable a property to be scored. While speaking about the publisher, the production quality for Kingdomino is awesome. The box size is compact with a functional insert that is used during game play. The domino tiles are very thick and durable with a nice glossy finish on both sides. The artwork from Cyril Bouquet is wonderful for this game making it look nice as it is on the table. The king figures are great and the 3-D castles add a nice element to the game. All this in a game with an MSRP less than $20.
Bruno Cathala continues to show his width and variety in game design ideas. Here, Bruno takes the classic game of dominoes, and adds a twist to create Kingdomino, making it a nice addition to the tile-laying games on the market. Although, building territories using tiles is nothing new, Kingdomino presents itself as a quick-playing territory building game that feels fresh thanks to the interesting tile drafting method in the game. Overall, the higher numbered dominoes have better offerings, and players have to weight the risk vs. the rewards when selecting dominoes because it has an effect on turn order for the following round. Is it worth the gamble to take a less desirable domino in exchange for selecting first the next round? Or do I sacrifice what I will have to choose from the next round in order to select a domino this round that will guarantee me a scoring opportunity at the end of the game? Do I draft a domino that I may not necessarily need, but it will totally mess up my opponents score? These questions are what engages the players in the game and to me broadens the audience that Kingdomino will appeal to.
This game has a 15 minute playing time listed on the box and yes it does play in 15 minutes. This game flows so smoothly and it is quick! And in those 15 minutes the game offers a fun experience.
I see Kingdomino best fitting in with families as well as casual gamers, however, I think the low level of complexity will have some of the more serious gamers passing on this one. I think there is enough game there to keep players engaged because each round you have to think about what you are doing as well as being aware of what other players are doing at the same time. However, this game does not have direct player interaction so it can feel like multiplayer solitaire and players can easily get “tunnel vision,” meaning that they can become focused only on their player area and miss what other players are doing.
I do like the added variant rules that slightly increase the strategy of the game by adding different scoring options. It does scale well and plays nicely at all player counts. I am not sure if Kingdomino has the legs to stand up to a lot of plays or not, but I am enjoying it now.
With an MSRP of $17.99 I do feel you can get enough plays of the game to justify purchasing it. Couple that with a 15 minute play time and to me Kingdomino is a game that I would recommend adding to your game library to scratch that itch for a quick tile-laying game.
*Disclaimer* The copy of Kingdomino used in this review was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review.