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Star Wars: Imperial Assault board game
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Battlestar Galactica board game

Build your own kingdom in Kingdomino

Kingdomino board game

Build your kingdom with dominos!

When was the last time you played Dominos?

If it’s like us, it’s been a very long time.

I remember bringing home a set of dominos from the Dominican Republic after living there for 2 years because dominos is like a national pastime. We’d often stop and watch people playing dominos on the street corners and join in when we could.

But I haven’t pulled that domino set out to play for years.

And since we’ve started playing Kingdomino from Blue Orange Games, that domino set may sit untouched for many years more.

That’s because Kingdomino hits a sweet spot with its fun and unique tile-matching play.

If you’re familiar with our game reviews, you’ll know our family loves tile-laying games. We love building and watching landscapes grow as we play.

And Kingdomino is no exception. It’s a terrific tile-laying board game for families!

Kingdomino board game

It’s fun building our own little kingdoms.


How to play Kingdomino

In Kingdomino players compete to score the most points from their kingdom. They do so by collecting domino-like tiles and adding them to their kingdom each round.

While they aren’t made of the same material as most dominos, the thick cardboard tiles in Kingdomino are divided in 2 halves and represent 6 different land types. Rather than a tile showing numbers 1 – 6 like in dominos, these tiles/dominos show pastures, wheat fields, lakes, mountains/mines, forests, and swamps.

The game is played over 12 rounds and the player with the most points at the end wins.


Set Up

Each player gets a starting square and castle and places them on the table in front of them.

All of the landscape dominos are shuffled and placed inside the box with the backside showing (the number side).

Kingdomino board game

The box holds the unseen dominos during play.

If there are just 2 or 3 players, some of the dominos are randomly removed from the game. In a 4 player game, all 48 dominos will be used.

Then dominos equal to the number of kings (players) are placed facedown on the table. So in a 4-player game, 4 dominos are placed on the table in ascending order. Then they’re flipped over to their landscape side.

Initial player order is determined by randomly drawing a colored king pawn. That player chooses on which domino to place their king pawn. Then the next player is chosen the same way and they place their king.


Playing the Game

After all kings are set on the initial dominos, the same number of dominos is drawn again and likewise placed in ascending order before being flipped over to the landscape side.

The player in the first position takes the domino under their king to add to their kingdom and chooses which of the new dominos to place his king pawn on.

Players continue this way until the last player has taken their domino and placed their king on a new domino.

Kingdomino board game

Dominos are placed in ascending order then flipped over.

When players take a claimed domino, they must add it to their kingdom following a few rules:

  • They must connect it to at least one domino already in their kingdom.
  • The terrain type of at least one half of the domino must match an existing, adjacent terrain type. (The starting square is wild and any terrain type may connect to it.)
  • The final size of a kingdom may not exceed a 5×5 grid.

If players can’t add a claimed domino to their kingdom following these rules, the domino must be discarded.

Kingdomino board game

At least one square must be placed adjacent to the same terrain type.


End Game and Scoring

The game ends after the final round after each player has claimed and placed (if possible) their 12th domino.

Then each player calculates their score.

Kingdoms are made up of different “properties” – groups of connected squares of the same terrain type.

Each property scores points equal to the number of connected squares multiplied by the number of crowns present in that Property.

Players may have multiple Properties of a given terrain type in their kingdom.

A Property without crowns doesn’t score any points.

Players add up the scores from all of their Properties and the player with the highest score wins!

Kingdomino board game

This kingdom scores 36 points (lake 18, wheat 2, pasture 9, mines 1, swamp 6, forest 0).


Can the whole family enjoy Kingdomino?

Kingdomino is a board game the whole family can enjoy playing together.

It’s simple to learn and easy to play. The game play also goes quickly so it’s easy to play over and over.

Young players will easily understand the basics of matching similar terrain types when placing a new domino to their kingdom.

They’ll also quickly come to understand the importance of getting dominos with crowns on them. They’ll learn the lesson quickly at the end of their first game when a large area goes un-scored because it doesn’t have a crown. Which in turn means they’ll be excited to try playing again to do better.

Kingdomino board game

Choices can get tougher near the end of the game. Which way should I build next?

It’s also fun for players of all ages to build their own kingdom rather than contributing to one central area.

Older players will also appreciate the strategy and tactical choices of choosing tiles to influence turn order as well as reducing their opponents’ options.

Another fantastic aspect of Kingdomino is that even if you don’t win, it’s fun to see what your little kingdom has become over the course of the game.


Luck vs. Strategy

Since Kingdomino is a light board game, it’s not seeping with strategy. You’ll have to make choices every turn in which dominos to take as well as where to place them. However, the choices are often more tactical than strategic.

Yes, you can try to go after specific terrain types and crowns, but they’ll not always be available as options.

Kingdomino board game

Should green grab a domino with a crown and go last next round or take the top domino and go first next round?

The distribution of terrain squares and crowns is printed on the back of the rulebook. Using that as a guide, you can anticipate the likelihood of certain areas showing up. You still don’t know when they’ll come up, but it helps with planning your layout a bit.

You can also make choices that limit the options your opponents have – especially later in the game when locations to place dominos in a kingdom are reduced.

Kingdomino board game

The rulebook shows the terrain distribution.

On the flipside, there’s a fair amount of luck – which is mostly driven by the dominos that come up each round. You can’t plan for when certain dominos will appear. And since dominos must be placed adjacent to existing dominos, you’ll often have to adjust your plans along the way.

Even when you choose a domino that lets you go first in turn order during the next round, there’s no guarantee the next dominos to appear will be beneficial.

Also, in 2 or 3 player games, a certain number of dominos are randomly removed from the game. So not all dominos will even come up as options during the game.

So even though the game favors luck and tactical choices over strategy, it’s still well balanced for a light tile-laying board game.

Kingdomino board game

The mines are going to score huge for me this time!


Hidden Treasures

The art style of Kingdomino is terrific!

The thick dominos are great to look at and each has cool items on it that bring it to life. You’ll find boats and docks in the water and wagons and windmills in the fields. You’ll also notice quaint houses, animals, and townsfolk milling around. And we really like those that show shadows of dragons and sea monsters.

Kingdomino board game

We love the artwork on the dominos.

But that’s not all.

If you look closely at the trails through the forest areas, you may find some famous characters too.

What a cool touch!

Kingdomino board game

Recognize who’s in our kingdom?


How does Kingdomino score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?

Kingdomino board gameKingdomino scores very high on our “let’s play again” game meter. It has a prominent spot in our game closet because it’s perfect to play when we’re looking for a quick game we can all enjoy together.

It’s also a game that’s easy to play multiple times in a row.

The game box says playtime is 15 minutes, which is pretty accurate. Each of our last few 3-player games have come in at about 10 minutes each. Once everyone knows how to play, turns go really quickly. And before you know it, you’ll have built many beautiful kingdoms.

You can also get a copy of Kingdomino for under $20!

We’d like to thank Blue Orange Games for a review copy of Kingdomino.


6 Games that spell MOTHER

Happy Mother’s Day mom!

Leading up to Mother’s Day this Sunday I’ve been thinking about my mother and the women in my life a bit more this week.

They bring so much richness to life, I can’t imagine being without them.

A fun note many kids write is one where they tell their mom what she means to them by spelling out the word M-O-T-H-E-R.

So I thought it would be fun to do something similar.

Not only are these 6 great board games your mom may love. But they also give a glimpse into what great moms are made of.

Here’s how I spell M-O-T-H-E-R with games.


Mamma Mia!

Let’s help mom make pizza!

M – Mamma Mia!

Ask any child what their mom does for them and the most common first thing they’ll say is cook dinner. I was definitely fed well by my mom. And I’m very happy my wife is a great cook too. In Mamma Mia! everyone gets to help cook. Players toss pizza toppings into mix as they try to complete their pizza orders. It’s a fun, light card game everyone can enjoy playing with mom.

See our review of Mamma Mia!


Mom is the true Master.

O – Onitama

Mom is the master of the home. Is there really any debate? In Onitama, a child may have a chance to capture their opponent’s master pawn or sit on their throne.

But in real life, nobody’s going to take that spot from mom. She’s the master. We may mimic her moves, but Master is a role she rightfully deserves.

See our review of Onitama.


T – Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride board game

Who has given you the most rides?

This was the most difficult letter to choose. Mainly because there are a lot of great games that could fit. Ticket to Ride not only wins out because it’s on of mom’s favorite board games but because that’s what so many mom’s do day in and day out – give rides. Uber has nothing on mothers! It’s impossible to count how many rides moms give. Thanks mom!

Two good runners up: Telepathy Magic Minds and Timeline Challenge. Mothers can read children’s minds like a book. And they keep time-challenged kids on track each and every day!

See our review of Ticket to Ride.


Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle card game

Bed-time story or cooperative game – both are great.

H – Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle

This isn’t on the list because it has “battle” in the title (even though mom may feel that way every day). It’s on the list because it’s a fun cooperative game. And moms spend a lot of time working to get everyone in the family to cooperate. Mothers are also great bed-time story readers. And if your family is like ours, then you most likely have a copy of the Harry Potter books as well.

See our review of Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle.


E – Escape the Curse of the Temple

Escape Curse of the Temple board game

We have to be out this door in 10 minutes!

While the title may sound pretty dire for a fun game for mothers, this game builds on the last theme of cooperation. Not only does mom have to get everyone in the family to cooperate, but she often has to do so in a flash. You know what I’m talking about. Everyone needs to be ready and out the door now!

And that’s exactly what happens in Escape the Curse of the Temple. Players only have 10 minutes to get out the door.

See our review of Escape the Curse of the Temple.



Moms keep everything in order.

R – Rack-O

Rack-O is a classic family game about getting your cards in order. And mothers have this down!

Moms take chaos and create order. They keep families running smoothly around the clock. That’s why kids always turn to mom when they can’t find something (and where husbands turn to know what’s happening or coming up).


Happy Mother’s Day!


Best Board Games 2016 – Nominees are set!

The Dice Tower Awards

So many fantastic board games! The 2016 Best Game nominees are set!

What are the best board games, card games, and dice games from 2016?

We may not be able to say yet because many are still yet to be played. But at least we know where to start.

That’s because the annual Dice Tower Award nominees are set.

With over 4,000 new board game, card games, dice games, and party games published each year there’s absolutely no way anyone could play them all.

But there are hundreds of game reviewers around the world that give it a good shot.

Each year The Dice Tower Awards recognize the best games of the year. A jury of more than 70 Dice Tower staff, prominent bloggers and reviewers go through all the games released in English in 2016 and choose the five best in each category – with ten games nominated for best game of the year.

And we’re happy to be among those who have a voice in nominating and whittling them down.

Without further ado, here’s the list of game nominees for Best Board Games of 2016 (each listed in alphabetical order).
Terraforming Mars board game

Game of the Year 2016

Karuba board game

Best Family Game

Best Co-op Game

Best Party Game

Star Wars: Rebellion board game

Best Two-Player Game

Best Strategy Game

Best Game Expansion

Best Game From a New Designer

Best Small Publisher

Best Board Game Production

Islebound board game

Best Game Artwork

Best Game Theming

Best Game Reprint

Vast the Crystal Caverns board game

Most Innovative Game

What a great list of nominees!

There are a ton of fantastic games from 2016 which made it very hard to whittle down to these nominees.

And now they’re narrowed down, the choices get even tougher.

While we haven’t played all the game nominees, we have played many of them and definitely have our favorites. From a few of our recent reviews, you may be able to guess how we’ll cast our votes in some of these categories. At least we know which games to set out to play over the next couple months.

As you can see, there are a number of games that show up in multiple categories. One that stands out among those is Scythe. Not only does it show up in 4 categories, but there’s also a Scythe expansion in the best board game expansion category!

Of course, Star Wars Rebellion and Terraforming Mars also show up in 4 categories!

The winners will be announced this summer at The Dice Tower Convention in Orlando, Florida.

In the meantime, you can check out the winning games from previous years.

The Dice Tower Awards: Best Board Games from years past:

2015 – Best Game of the Year Winner: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
2014 – Best Game of the Year Winner: Dead of Winter
2013 – Best Game of the Year Winner: Caverna: The Cave Farmer
2012 – Best Game of the Year Winner: Star Wars: X-wing Miniatures Game
2011 – Best Game of the Year Winner: Eclipse
2010 – Best Game of the Year Winner: 7 Wonders
2009 – Best Game of the Year Winner: Smallworld
2008 – Best Game of the Year Winner: Dominion
2007 – Best Game of the Year Winner: Race for the Galaxy

Which games do you think will win for Best Games of 2016?


Star Wars Rebellion – May the 4th be with you!

Star Wars: Rebellion board game

A massive box for an epic game!

Every once in a while a game comes along that totally captures my attention.

Star Wars Rebellion is such a game!

It was released last year by Fantasy Flight Games and once again, the completely knocked it out of the park!

Read more »


Ubongo, Tokaido, Onirim, oh my!

Normally I’d wait a while longer between reviews of digital board games. However, time is of the essence if you want to take advantage of a Free board game app.

Just last month we reviewed the very cool digital implementations of Mysterium and Potion Explosion.

Today we’ve got 3 more for you to check out!

Read more »


Immersed in Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

Adventure into the madness!

The line between physical board games and digital board games is blurring more and more every day. A ton of physical board games have gone digital over the last few years to great success. Players can choose whether to play the physical version or the digital version depending on where they are or who they’re with.

Well, Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition has shattered this divide!

It’s no longer “either/or” – now it’s completely both. That’s because the digital Mansions of Madness app is the only way to play the physical game. You can’t play one without the other.

And it’s wonderful!

In Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition, players interact with both the physical game components as well as the digital app. Players use boards, cards, tokens, miniatures, and dice while the app unfolds the story before them.

It’s truly an immersive experience that pulls us in and keeps us wanting more.

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition is an amazing blend of physical and digital game play.

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Santorini rocks as a 2-player board game!

Santorini board game

Santorini is a terrific family board game!

Many years ago I was lucky enough to have my wife come along with me on a business trip to Greece. It was the first time either of us had been to Greece and we looked forward to seeing many sites over a few extra days after the business event ended.

One of the things we really wanted to do was to visit one of the Greek Isles. At the top of my list was Santorini

Unfortunately, with the limited time we had, we could only make it to one island — Mykonos. Don’t get me wrong, we loved visiting Mykonos. I just wish we could have seen more. And ever since then I’ve longed for a visit to Santorini.

Well, playing the Santorini board game by Roxley Game Laboratory has only whetted my appetite to visit the popular Greek Isle even more!

I’ll tell you straight out that the game is fantastic!

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Control card game review

Control card game

Can you take Control of your time machine to escape the rupture?

You’re a time traveler caught in a rupture in spacetime and displaced outside time. And to add to your worries, your time machine has been drained of fuel. So you must refuel your time machine using Fuel Cells to escape the rupture.

Yet only one time traveler will be able to do so.

So if you don’t want to be lost outside time, you better be the one to close the rupture and escape.

That’s the premise in a new card game by Keymaster Games called Control.

Doesn’t that sound like a great theme for a game?

We think so too.

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