Doug's Dungeon - Kingdomino
Listen up kids and other. HobbyMaster recently got in a real stocking stuffer of a game. It’s called Kingdomino, and you should go ask for it now before reading my hype machine about it. I recently took it with me to a 2-headed giant event to kill time between rounds, and it was a hit. I’d challenge our opponents to a 4 player game after mtg-ing them, and they were hooked. The gathering crowd was hooked too. You too will be hooked after I prepare the bait. Take a look:
Kingdomino is all about the dominos you pick to piece together your own adorable little kingdom. Kingdom dominos. Kingdomino. Every domino is a section of land, either 2 squares-worth of one biome, or a pairing of two different ones. The aim is to gobble up points in the form of crowns. The key being that each crown is worth more for every square of land in a given biome. Any section of land with no crowns is worth nothing.
Everyone starts with a cute little king meeple and an adorable assemblable abode of a castle. Tiles are drawn in a line equal to the player count, and each player in a random order places their king on a tile they want. The next set of tiles is drawn, and the players choose which tile they want next. The tile they just moved from is then attached to their kingdom. The starting castle tile is wild, but after that at least one domino half must match a neighboring piece. After everyone has picked again, more tiles are drawn.
The things to note here are that the order of players choosing is determined by their place in the previous tile line, AND every tile has a number on the back that is used to arrange the tiles in a specific order. Furthermore, tiles that have lower numbers are ‘weaker’ with fewer or no crowns, while the opposite is true for the others. This means that if you pick higher up tiles, you are less likely to be earning good points. Buuuuuuut, this means you get to pick earlier in the next round! Greedy players who just grab the most powerful pieces will get punished by tactical opponents.
This gets very relevant by the end-game, as players have a further restriction: your kingdom must fit within a 5x5 square (counting by segments, not dominos). Players will likely find they cannot place some of their final pieces, which can be costly for points. At the end of the day, what you’re trying to do is not just grab ‘the best’ pieces, but to invest into a solid strategy. The green fields for example have few crowns to go around, but the sheer quantity of of it would make any quantity surveyor point at it and go “Boy I know how to survey quantities, and that there sure is a lot of grass!”. If you get the fields crowns early, you can then change your strategy to suit. Rarer and more crown-heavy tiles like swamps and mines should be built to scare everyone else into not letting you have any more of them.
Kingdomino has a fast setup, teach and play-time. There’s definitely some depth to be had in placing new tiles into your kingdom, especially since your starting tile doesn’t have to be smack-dab in the middle. I love the picking mechanic causing every tile you place to be supported by the knowledge of what you will be placing next. Kingdomino teaches simple math first and foremost, but it is also a game of planning. Just slamming tiles down every which way can lead to ugly gaps and lost points.
It’s colourful. It’s clever. Its won a bunch of German awards. You know, the reaaaaaaall board gamers. They gave it a hefty thumbs up, and you will too.
Just keep your stupid little pink despot off my forest crowns or I’ll grow my kingdom in the most passive-aggressive way imaginable.
I'm an avid lover of all things table top. I also have a growing collection of board games which inspire me to create my own. I put my loud and expressive personality to good use as a dungeon master for my friends, having run many campaigns through 4th and 5th edition D&D.
Follow him on Twitter