Gameruman: Kingdomino Review

Gameruman: Kingdomino Review

If you think running a kingdom is hard work, building on is even tougher. What makes it worse is when the neighbouring kings and Queens are trying to steal the prime real estate before you do.

Kingdomino is tile laying game from Blue Orange. Designed by Bruno Cathala, the man behind hits like Five Tribes and Cyclades. It’s also got the prestige of winning the SDJ for 2017.

Opening the box

Specs on the box:

  • Players: 2- 4
  • Ages: 8+ (you can make it 5 or 6 if you make the scoring and placement rules a bit easier)
  • Length:  15 min

Kingdomino comes in a rather small box which actually has a useful insert. There is a stack of thick, sturdy tiles, 8 meeples and a punch board. You will need to punch out the pieces with which to make 4 castles but once they are assembled they all fit snugly into the box.

Functional inserts are awesome.

Functional inserts are awesome.

The rulebook, at first glance, seems rather hefty but that’s because it’s got the rules in multiple languages in it. You only need to read about 3 pages. The time from ripping the shrink wrap until you are actually playing will be a few minutes.

Theme

In Kingdomino you are the king of your castle and you’re competing with the other kings to build the best kingdoms. Don’t ask me how you drag foreign lands so that they are adjacent to your castle though; but each player will be building their kingdom around their castle.

I guess like most Euro games the theme does not have to be too prevalent. That being said that’s the only disconnect I could find. The pieces of the game are all really good and representative of what they should be.

 

It's Nessie!

It's Nessie!

The art work is cute and there are little scenarios on the tiles to amuse players.

Gameplay

Setup

Setup is super easy. Each player gets a castle and a starting, square, tile. Then the rectangular tiles are shuffled and depending on the number of players some are returned to the box. If you have 4 players then you will use all of the tiles, with 2 you use ½, easy. The remainder are placed in a face down stack.

Setup is done, just waiting for the family...

Setup is done, just waiting for the family...

Everyone grabs a meeple that matches the colour of their castle and you are good to go. For a 2 player game you will need 2 meeples each as you get to play twice in each turn.

Turn sequence

Turn 1

The first turn is slightly different from the rest.  Take 4 tiles and lay them on the table face down. Then you sort them in numeric order and flip them over. Next each player will select a random meeple (not their own) and place it on one of the tiles.

Tile selection does 2 things. First it determines the next tile to be added to your kingdom. Second it determines player order. The lower numbered tiles are worth fewer points (if any) and the higher numbered tiles are worth more. The lower numbers will pick first in the next turn and the highest number will pick last So you need to decide between points and player order.

Yellow will go first but not before we flip over the new tiles.

Yellow will go first but not before we flip over the new tiles.

Turn 2 onwards

Here is where the real game begins. First draw a new set of 2 tiles. Arrange them in order and flip them over.

Then starting with the first player (the person who has a meeple on the lowest numbered tile form the previous round) each player will do the following:

1) Add the tile under their meeple to their kingdom:

To do this you need to either connect the tile to your castle or connect it to any other tile in your kingdom that has a matching colour (land type) on it. So you can join a Forest to a Forest or a Sea to a Sea but you can’t join a Sea to a Forest. As long as at least 1 half of each of the tiles match it’s good!

There is 1 other restriction your kingdom can, at most, make up a 5 x 5 square. Each of the tiles is split into 2 squares if you count the squares in your kingdom the width and breath of your kingdom is limited to 5 squares.

If you cannot place a tile, either within a 5 x 5 square or next to a valid tile then you must discard it.

The double forest has no forest (or my castle) to connect with so I had to discard it.

The double forest has no forest (or my castle) to connect with so I had to discard it.

2) Place their meeple on a new tile:

Once you have added your new tile to your kingdom you then select a tile from the new batch that you would like in the next turn. It's as easy as putting your meeple on it.

When everyone has had their turn a new set of tiles are drawn.

Perfect 5x5 but not all of my regions have crowns so they don't score.

Perfect 5x5 but not all of my regions have crowns so they don't score.

Once the stack of tiles runs out you move on to scoring. You score points for each group of a land type (colour squares) you have that are connected. Diagonals don’t count. You multiple the number of squares in the group by the number of crowns printed on those squares to score points for them.

Add up the points from all of your groups and the person with the most points is the winner!

Conclusion

Right so, I think I made it sound more complicated than it actually is. Its super simple to play but it’s got a level of depth to it that is easy to overlook when you first see the game. In fact it only gets better as you play. That choice you have to make when you need to select which tile you want is just awesome.

Do you go for points? Do you go for first player so you can hopefully get something even better in the next turn? What about denying other players points?

Despite the small box the footprint is actually quite large. So it's not really that good at a restaurant but once you get to know it you can finish your game before your food arrives.

Despite the small box the footprint is actually quite large. So it's not really that good at a restaurant but once you get to know it you can finish your game before your food arrives.

2 player is superb, there is a variant which allows for each player to build a 7 x 7 grid. This means that you get to use all of the tiles. Once you get to know what tiles are in the game then you can start planning for future turns and it becomes almost chess like as you jockey for the best tiles.

There are a few other extra rules that you can add to the game which increases the challenge however game is easy enough that you can actually start playing with them from the word go. All in all I like it as does the rest of the family. Kingdomino is a great family game and for the more serious gamers it makes for a good starter or filler.

Can I braai with this?

Most of the pictures that I took for this review were at a braai ;) so that’s a yes. However, the game plays relatively quickly and I did leave a steak on the coals for a bit too long so be cautious.

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