Many believe William Shakespeare was the greatest writer in the English language. However, it is a little-known made up fact, that he was terrible at remembering quotes. For example, Richard III actually said “A horse, a horse, anything but my Kingdomino, for a horse”. Then along came the great Bard and ruined one of the most famous royal quotes about board games that had ever been spoken. It’s a tragedy!
If you look at the timeline betwixt Richard III’s reign and Kingdomino being published in 2016 you may start to disbelieve this introduction. I don’t blame you, but henceforth is my honest opinion of Kingdomino by Bruno Cathala. So forgive my introduction, brevity is the soul of wit, and read on…
Set up varies depending on player count. Sometimes you will remove dominoes, sometimes you won’t!
Give each player 1 king, a starting tile and 1 castle in their player colour. Work out how many dominoes you are using. Shuffle these tiles together and form some draw decks. Place the top four tiles down in a column in ascending number order and then flip them. Voila! Set up is complete.
The idea is to build a 5 x5 grid. Your kingdom will be scored by the number of contiguous region types, multiplied by the number of crowns on the tiles in that region. Most total points wins.
On your turn you will place your king on one of the tiles in the column to claim it. This claimed tile will be placed in your Kingdom. It must either touch your starting tile, or at least one matching region type of those you are placing, like in dominoes. You will then pick your next tile from a second column from the tiles available.
Play continues until all tiles have been drafted and players will then be staring at a complete, or nearly complete kingdom. Tally scores as above and declare the winner of Kingdomino. Although not in the rules, this gives the winner the dispensation to call all other players dirty rascals for the rest of the day!
In two player games you place two kings and claim two dominoes per round, you can choose whether to play a 5 x 5 or my preferred 7 x 7 grid too.
What it’s like
Kingdomino is a joy to play for a quick family-friendly puzzle. It works well at all player counts. I like how the rules are tinkered for the different player counts, it works really well. At two players, the 7 x 7 grid alternative is a must for me. The only thing that is worth noting, is that at four players, sometimes you can get stuck taking the dregs each round until turn order changes. This can just be the luck of starting order, so it can be a little frustrating. For me, this is part of the challenge and when playing with kids, having the adult pick last in the first round can level abilities a little more too. Generally the tiles lower in the column will have more crowns on them so turn order will change soon enough.
Play is relatively prompt. Throughout the game you will have moments of anxiety that the tile you desperately need gets snaffled by another player and instants of joy when they don’t! A large part of the strategy of Kingdomino is in allowing yourself flexibility in what you can place, while maximising scoring opportunities. Some regions are more abundant than others. This is balanced nicely, as the scarcer regions tend to have more crowns on them. One region doesn’t always win over another either. Minimising your opponents prospects can be more beneficial, as allowing any one player to garner all the crowns in one region is often fatal.
It depends on your expectations, but there is little that can disappoint in the Kingdomino box. Instagrammers may curse the shiny high-gloss tiles, but others will rejoice in the tiny little details that adorn the delightfully chunky dominoes. The King Meeples and cardboard castles are fun too and can often be pimped with promos at trade shows and expos!
The instructions are clear and because of the popularity of Kingdomino, there are good videos showing you how to play too. The box itself is not too big and everything stores away nicely.
What the kids thought
Max (7): I love it!
George (11): It’s one of my favourites! It’s fabulous!
Harrison (14): I like it but I think I prefer Kingdomino Origins.
Final thoughts on Kingdomino
The Spiel des Jahres winning game, Kingdomino, is a regular recommendation from me to those new to modern board games. It plays well at 2, 3 and 4 players. It has easy to understand rules and good how to play videos for those struggling to digest the printed word.
As a fantastic entry-level board game, it is also one I am still always happy to play with my family. Quite the recommendation as I have played hundreds of other games since my first introduction to Kingdomino years ago. There is plenty to think about too. All this is packaged up with a playtime that won’t see younger players’ minds wander.
I continue to recommend Kingdomino for a reason: it’s a brilliant game!
Number of players: 2 to 4
Board Game Review Recommended Age: 6+
Publisher’s Recommended Age: 8+
Playing Time: 25 minutes
Setting Up and Take Down Time: 2 minutes
Designers: Bruno Cathala
Publisher: Blue Orange Games
Kingdomino is a fantastic entry level or gateway game. Easy to learn, lots to puzzle over and great at two to four players. Unless you are already accustomed to heavier modern board games, there aren’t many reasons why you wouldn’t enjoy a quick game of Kingdomino! It is one of my family favourites!
Artwork and Components
Value for Money
- Fantastic family game for all ages
- Quick to play
- Great game to take on holiday
- As good at two players as it is at four
- Expansions available
- Can get stuck with last place for a few rounds in four player games
- Possibly too light outside the family environment
- Tiles are shiny in photos!
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