TL;DR

What is it? A simple game of dominoes…and kingdom building.
How many people? 2-4
How long does it take? 15 minutes
Who is it for? Great for families as it’s easy to learn and quick to play.
Buy it: Available on Amazon

The Gist

Why we recommend it

We love a simple game. Distilling an idea down to its most basic form, making it incredibly approachable but giving it an intense flavour.

Sometimes though these games can look too simple. At first glance there isn’t much to Kingdomino. You are building a kingdom, made of dominoes. The dominoes have different terrains on them like forest, sea or sand which (much like dominoes) you put together when they match. Then at the end of the game you score points based on the size of each area, multiplied by the amount of crowns on the dominoes.

Really simple right? You know most of the game now and if you’re anything like me you are thinking “So what?” “That’s it?” “It seems a bit…basic”.

Well it didn’t win the Speil deh Jahres for nothing, because just like all great games, the joy really emerges from playing and as you gradually start to understand why these simple choices you have to make can be so devilish to decide.

Each round you flip over 4 new dominoes and you all lick your lips in delight as you see the perfect one for you. “A double forest with a pair of crowns, perfect.” You might not be able to have it though. You take it in turns to select the domino you want and that means you’re always balancing several things.

What is best for you right now,? What might score you a lot in the future? Should you block what someone else needs even if it’s not that useful to you? And, maybe most importantly, how do you set yourself up for the next go? The dominoes are ordered by numbers and whoever takes the lowest value one gets first pick next time, meaning sometimes it’s beneficial to take a not so great domino to make sure you get first dibs on the next go.

I found myself totally caught between building my huge sea of dreams and realising I was going to have to block my wife’s sprawling forest, which was certainly going to out-score me.

There is another simple requirement in the rules,: your grid can never be bigger than 5×5. Your starting point can be anywhere in that grid and you don’t need to decide right away, but you can’t ever expand beyond that size. At first you might not think much of this, just placing your dominoes wherever you’re going to get the most points. Quickly though you might find you’ve built yourself into a dead end. Suddenly you realise you’ve left odd gaps, meaning they can never be filled (oh the lost points!), or you’ve forced yourself to be stuck with only a couple of terrains.

That means Kingdomino is all about planning for the now and the future, but also keeping an eye on everyone else. You see, simplicity means you can focus on these decisions over trying to keep up with the rules and that’s why I love Kingdomino. Even if my kingdom is just a gross land of swamp and sea…it’s mine.

Once you’ve mastered Kingdomino and squeezed all the fun out of it, you can play with some of the additional scoring rules. Oh, and you can look forward to the slightly more advanced coming-soon Queendomino, you clever thing you.

Support Best Play and pick up this funny game of kingdoms and dominoes (OH NOW I GET IT!) on Amazon here.