FTW Staff Picks - Kingdomino
For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.
Genre: Tile Placement
Designer: Bruno Cathala
Player Size: 2 to 4 Players
Game Length: 20 minutes
For fans of: Carcassonne, Quadropolis, Isle of Skye
The Spiel des Jahres award is often given to the game which exhibits strong, core family values. Most winners have been games which can be picked up and played with very little instruction. Some have criticized the award for being too much on the simplistic end of the spectrum, but the Kennerspiel was then introduced to award longer, in-depth games. Kingdomino is definitely a very family-conscientious game when it comes to its very simple, familiar premise. But the small things it does differently help to separate it from your Carcassonne and Isle of Skye.
In Kingdomino, players acts as Kings looking to expand their kingdoms with new types of land. Each round, domino tiles are randomly drawn and arranged in numerical order. All tiles are revealed and players begin selecting the tiles they which to add to their Kingdom. The rules for tile-placement are: 1) the kingdom may not exceed 5x5 and 2) Excluding the starting tile, each type of land must touch the same type of land when placed. After all tiles for the round have been selected, the next tiles are revealed and the player who took the lowest value tile gets first choice for the next tiles. When there are no more tiles left to choose from, each Kingdom is scored. For each type of land, the number of crowns is multiplied by the number of squares matching that type. After all scores are tallied, the player with the highest score is declared the winner!
As the title suggests, Kingdomino is very similar to playing actual dominoes. As all the tiles come as pairs of land, players will often have to build around less-than-perfect conditions. Instead of building together, each player has their own Kingdom. The interactivity comes from the tile-selection process. Deciding if you want a good tile now, or wait and hopefully get a better one in the next round is the crux of strategy here. Compromise is necessary to build the highest-scoring Kingdom.
Kingdomino is surprisingly fast. The game comes and goes in 20 minutes or less. There's not much decisions to make other than selection and placement. And yet, somehow there is a bit of a charm to how quickly the game plays. It feels like playing a very fast game of Carcassonne, where the number of tiles are halved. The game lends itself very well as an opener of sorts. If you're looking for something with more depth, they have since released Queendomino. But if you just want something you mess around with for a few minutes, Kingdomino scratches that exact itch.