Review: Kingdomino

Overview

Board Game Geek

In Kingdomino, you are a Lord seeking new lands in which to expand your kingdom. You must explore all the lands, wheat fields, lakes, and mountains in order to spot the best plots. But be careful as some other Lords also covet these lands…

Dominoes with a kingdom building twist. Each turn, connect a new domino to your existing kingdom, making sure at least one of its sides connects to a matching terrain type already in play. The game mechanics for obtaining the tiles is clever: the order of who picks first depends on which tile was previously chosen. Make sure to secure tiles with crowns- these royal treasures help to multiply the worth of your kingdom at the end of the game! The game ends when each player has completed a 5×5 grid, and then points are counted based on number of connecting tiles and crowns.

Core Gameplay

The latest winner of the Spiel des Jahres, Kingdomino is a simple yet tactical domino/tile laying game. The aim of the game is to get the most points in your kingdom and outscore your rivals. Scoring is achieved by adding up all the multiples of crowns in a terrain type by the number of aligned terrain tiles. 

In the above example, the player scores 2×10 for the forests, 1×1 for the water (bottom left), 1×2 for the grass, 1×5 for the desert and 5×3 for the mines for a total of 43 points.

The game plays very simply. You shuffle all the tiles and then lay out tiles equal to the number of players. The players will be randomly assigned tiles for the first set. However for all future tiles, the player highest on the tile list will get to choose their tile first in the next round. Then the second player, and so on until the last player can only choose the remaining tile. What is great about this system is that, on the back of the tiles are numbers. The tiles that come out to be chosen next must be arranged numerically (from lowest to highest). The lower numbers will generally have weaker tiles (no crown on them), but is balanced by the fact the players with weaker tiles will get to choose first in the next round. It is a great bidding system and can lead to a simple yet strategical choice. Do you prevent an opponent from getting their tile, or go for the one that gives you the most points? Do you pick a weaker tile this turn to get a better one in a following turn? It seems very simple at first, but can have a hidden depth.

The game keeps going by players drafting on the next tile and then placing the current tile into their kingdom. Tiles have to (when possible) match at least one current terrain type. The game ends when players run out of tiles for the number of players (12 per player). Players are also limited to a 5×5 grid area (which adds to the challenge of placement). However, there are also rules online where you can play 7×7 with 2 players, or more if you buy 2 copies of the game.

The game is very fast and usually played within 15 minutes. It is simple to learn and teach and great for gateway or seasoned gamers.

Replayability

Kingdomino is fun and quick and a great filler/gateway game. In saying that, I think there is only so many times you can play it in a row. I will happily bring it out and play it regularly, but to me I can only play a few games together as the gameplay is the same each time.

Aesthetics and Components

Kingdomino is a small game and comes in a decent size box. The tiles are really nice, thick and feel solid and are easy to pick up and place. The little kingdoms you build are not necessary to the game, but are a nice little feature. The meeples are shaped as kings and are pretty cool. Generally, nothing amazing about the aesthetics and components, but they are all well made to play the game. Aesthetically

Design Takeaways

  1. Drafting – The drafting of the tiles with numbers are probably the biggest design takeaway of the game. It is a great design in that the strongest tiles are numbered higher, which means that you will get to choose the next tile later in the following turn. This adds a fair amount of strategy and a little forward planning.
  2. Tile placement – The placement of the tiles is sometimes quite difficult to plan. Each terrain type is different; There are only a few mines, but have lots of crowns, whereas forests have lots of tiles but with less crowns. Trying to figure out the best tile to bid and also where to place is a great design feature. I really like the restriction of the 5×5 area, and makes it quite strategical.

Overall

Kingdomino, is a great filler and gateway game that you can bring out for anyone. It has simple mechanics with a good amount of strategy involved. The drafting mechanic is well designed and I will never be disappointed if someone brings it out to the table. 

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