Theme and What is it?
Act as a Lord and expand your Kingdom by finding and taking control of new lands. Build up a Kingdom which will win you prestige – and beware of other Lords who seek to topple you and take the most coveted lands first.
Each player controls one King, and has their own castle which is placed on a starting domino in front of them. The object of the game is to acquire more land tiles and create a Kingdom consisting of a 5×5 grid. Each domino consists of 2 squares, of varying land types.
To begin, dominoes equalling the number of players are drawn from a supply and placed face-down, in numerical order. These dominoes are then flipped face-up, to show their landscape side. In turn, each player places their king on the domino of their choice. A second column of dominoes is then laid – face down at first, arranged by number, and then flipped face up.
The player whose king is on the top domino removes it, and adds it to their Kingdom. Placement rules are simple – connecting dominoes must match. The starting tile counts as wild, so any land type can be placed adjacent to it. Areas of two or more connected squares of the same land type form properties, and are used for scoring. Once the domino has been placed, players then place their king onto the tile of their choice from the second column. All other players then take the same actions. Once the first column has been cleared, a new one is laid out in the same way as before and play repeats itself, again starting from the player now on the top position and working down the line.
The game ends after 12 rounds (or 6 in a 2-player game). Players calculate their prestige points in each of their properties by multiplying the number of tiles in a property by the number of crowns visible within it. This is carried out for all properties in the Kingdom. Properties with no crowns gain no points. Totals from all properties are added together, and the player with the highest score wins.
Simple rules, attractive design – and anything with Bruno Cathala involved usually has me immediately interested. I also tend to like modern games which put a twist on older game mechanics – Diamonds got a lot of play in our house for a while – so using basic dominoes as a base to build a game on top of was something I thought worked well.
Quality of Components and Insert
All high quality – the dominoes themselves have a nice glossy effect, and the insert allows for quick and neat storage. The manual contains rules in a variety of languages, and the English rules are neatly condensed into a couple of pages. It’s generally clear to understand, although with a few typos and a couple of sentences that have maybe been slightly lost in translation.
The different land types on the dominoes are clearly distinguished, with lovely bright artwork with a very cute style. Some of the landscape tiles do seem as if they could have been a little more detailed, but all in all it is a very attractive game.
It’s easy to be tempted into building up a lovely looking kingdom with larger properties; however the key is finding the balance when choosing your dominoes. By choosing lower number dominoes, you’ll generally find it easier to place them. The higher number dominoes are more likely to contain the crowns you need for prestige points at the end of the game; however if you choose them you take a later turn order when next choosing dominoes. This can be the difference between a winning and losing score.
Difficulty and age range suggestion
There is nothing difficult to understand here, so it’s a good choice for younger children. If players are unable to place a domino either due to not being able to connect it to a matching land type, or not being able to fit it into a 5×5 grid, then the domino is discarded, so it forces players to think ahead and plan carefully what they are going to do.
We really enjoyed Kingdomino as a family game. It plays quickly, and is easy for children to pick up. There may be a little imbalance in terms of choosing dominoes – our eldest child realised she couldn’t win, so chose her dominoes for the remainder of the game in order to give me maximum benefit, to the chagrin of her father! It’s not a game-breaker, as a lot depends on the turn order players end up with when placing their dominoes, but kingmaking is a possibility. However overall, we thought it was a solid filler game, and a worthwhile addition.