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.

 

Comments: 4

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I consider this the best game I’ve played from 2016 that my 6 year old can also play and probably my favorite game I’ve played from Blue Orange period.

This game is also teaching my 6 year old how to multiply, which is another plus.

 

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