04th Apr2018

Game On! Review: Kingdomino (Blue Orange Games)

by Jason Brigger

A little about our family… My wife and I love playing board games, card games and any tabletop game that we can get our hands on in our home. Recently we have been teaching and including my almost 8-year-old son and my 4-year-old daughter in our latest game nights with much success. With so many great games out there, it’s difficult for families to know what is a great game for family game night and what is a waste of money. Every two weeks we will have a new game to review and if any reader has suggestions for us, please let us know in the comments below!

Who We Are:

Jason Brigger, aka the Dad: Co-host of the weekly pop culture centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas (on Nerdly!), along with a weekly review of Black Lightning the television series!

The Boy: My 8-year-old son who enjoys any type of game, from video games to board games to card games, as long as it makes him think.

The Mom: The Female Perspective will be a guest in this column from time to time in order to bring another perspective to the games we review.

kingdomino-box

Officially, What Is It?

Per Blue Orange Games: “Dominos with a kingdom building twist. Each turn the player connects 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 dominos is clever: the order of who picks first depends on which domino was previously chosen. Make sure to secure dominos 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 dominos and crowns.”

What’s Included: Four (4) 3D Castles, 48 Dominos, 8 Wooden King Tokens, Illustrated Rules

Blue Orange Games is a favorite game creator in our household and my family has never been disappointed in one of their games. Kingdomino will break from previous games we have reviewed in this column as this is an “older child” game and requires a little more thought than previously reviewed games.

How Do You Play?

The objective of Kingdomino is to build the best 5×5 grid of dominos using different landscape dominos. Points are earned based on the number of spaces in each landscape times the number of crowns in the landscape. Players can add up to 12 dominos to their own grid/kingdom and you want to connect “like” dominos together to earn more points, i.e. water domino to water domino, desert domino to desert domino.

Let’s break down the gameplay, step by step:

  • Each player starts with a single square/landscape piece where their castle is placed and by picking one domino in each of the 12 rounds, can add to their 5×5 grid/kingdom.
  • The dealer pulls out 12 dominos for each player playing the game and shuffles them.
  • After the dominos are shuffled, they are placed in a stack and four are drawn and placed in order numerically from lowest to highest. The numerical value of each domino is on the back of the domino.
  • Taking turns, each player picks one domino to start by placing their pawn on the domino they would like to pick that round.
  • Once all players have placed their pawn on the domino they wish to choose, players place the chosen domino in their kingdom.  Dominos must have at least one edge that matches the already-placed dominos.  For example, a water domino must have at least one side line-up with another water domino; a desert domino must have one side line-up with a desert domino, etc.
  • After each player places their domino drawn that round in their kingdom, four more dominos are drawn from the deck.  
-To avoid arguments, the person that picked the lowest numbered domino in the previous round gets to pick first in the next round.
  • The game proceeds until all 12 rounds are played.

Tips:

  • The object is to make your most expansive kingdom possible and connect as many similar dominoes as possible
  • If you cannot place a domino, you are allowed to discard it.
  • Players must stick to their 5×5 grid and cannot deviate from it.

kingdomino-1

How Do You Win?

The winner with the highest score at the end of the game. Points are determined by the number of dominos in each area times the number of crowns in that area.  The single domino does not count for these purposes.  Dominos with no crowns receive zero points.

What We Liked About The Game:

Dad: I enjoy the medieval feel of the game and the dominoes are nicely detailed and beautifully colored. This is not my favorite Blue Orange game but it is a fun game to play when you need a “change of pace” game on family game night.

The Boy: I like the puzzle aspect and the different levels of strategy needed to gain extra points and win the game. It’s not enough to pick the dominoes with the right landscape for your kingdom, you also have to pick the dominoes with the most crowns and place them in the right sequence in order to gain the most points. I enjoy the uniqiness of a different “game board” based on where the dominoes are placed each time.

I appreciate the creators thought of adding little things to the game to make it a different each time, i.e. different rules, and they even thought of tie-breakers if players are at a standstill at the end of the game, something not all games provide.

Kingdomino-2

What We Didn’t Like About the Game:

Dad: I still do not fully “get” the game. I understand the basic concept of the game but I still get a little confused about scoring of the points and what constitutes which direction the dominoes can be placed. Trust me, it’s just me as my wife and son have no issue with either of these issues and they don’t understand how I do not “get” the game. I still enjoy the game but at times, I still sometimes do not understand fully what I am doing.

The Boy: No complaints. I really like the game.

The Wife: My wife had only one complaint about the game: I would like a cup (similar to Yahtzee) to be included in order to shuffle the wooden king tokens to determine the order for each player in every new round. By using only your hands to shuffle the tokens, it is easy to cheat (if you were inclined) and I feel the tokens aren’t really shuffled as much as they should when determining the order for each round.
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Replay Value: High. Of the games we have reviewed for this column, this is not on my “high” scale for replay value but the Boy and the Wife really enjoy it and that bumps the replay value up to a “high”.

Recommended Age, Per Developers: Eight (8) years and older.

Our Recommended Age: For the first time in our reviews, we agree with the age appropriate guideline on the game box as children under eight may struggle with this game. If you child has played similar domino games before they may be fine to play Kingdomino but they will need adult assistance if they are new to this genre.
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Final Score:

Dad’s Grade: B-

The Boy’s Grade: A++ (The Boy really wanted to stress his love for the game)

Kingdomino is a fun domino game and both my wife and my son greatly enjoy the game. The uniqueness of the different land designs on the dominos and the physical castles and tokens of the game allow for an imaginative game experience and the result is another fun game from Blue Orange Games.

Have you played this game? If so, let us know what you thought of it below in the comments below!

You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every week at www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcasting apps. You can listen to their latest episode right here. Jason’s latest Black Lightning review is here
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