Dale Yu: First Impressions of Kingdomino



  • Designer: Bruno Cathala
  • Publisher: blue orange
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Times played: 2, with review copy provided by blue orange


In Kingdomino, players vie to build the best 5×5 grid of dominoes (each starts with a single square piece and then has the chance to add 12 dominoes to the grid).  There are 48 numbered dominoes that are shuffled and then placed in a draw pile – you can use the box for this purpose.  To start the game, the first four tiles are drawn, and then they are placed in numerical order on the table (with the lowest number tile being at the top of the column) and then flipped over.  In the first round, the player pawns are drawn out in random order, and as each pawn comes out, the owner chooses which domino to place his pawn on.

Once all four dominoes each have a pawn on them, four more tiles are drawn from the box, and again they are placed in a column in numerical order, again with the lowest number at the top of the column.  Now, you look back at the column with the pawns on it.  The player who occupies the topmost tile now places the tile underneath his pawn.  Then, that player choose any available domino in the new column and places his pawn on it.  This continues until all pawns have been moved from the old column to the new one (and each player has had the opportunity to play the domino on which they once stood).


When placing a domino, you must be able to place it so that it either touches your starting square or is orthogonally adjacent to a previously placed domino that landscapes at the connection.  Note that you do not need to match ALL landscapes on the table with the new domino – only one match is needed.  You must also place your dominos so that you don’t exceed a 5×5 grid size.  If you are unable to legally place your chosen domino, you simply discard it and lose your chance to play a domino.

At this point, a new column of dominoes is drawn, again organized in numerical order and then players move their pawns from one to the other.  At the end of 12 such rounds, the game ends and players tally up their points.  You look at each contiguous area of a single landscape color and then multiply the size of the area by the number of crowns in that area.  It is possible to score nothing for an area if you have no crowns in it. You can also have multiple areas of a landscape type in your grid, but you obviously will not score as much as you would for a single larger area.  The player with the most points wins the game.  Tiebreaker goes to the player with the most crowns in his area.


My thoughts on the game

Kingdomino is a nice light filler that gives players a decent amount of decision in a short period of time.  You start with a single tile and build up from that.  There is a nice balance between choosing a low number tile (which generally has no crowns on it but is easier to play) versus a higher numbered tile which gives you the crowns you need to score – but is harder to play and also puts you lower in turn order initiative for choosing the next tile.

Thus far in our games, we have been unable to make a perfect 5×5 grid – it’s apparently a pretty hard thing to do. (It’s actually not that hard – I’ve just chosen to do it because of the tiles that I’ve happened to draw!)  Of course, you’re not just focusing on the colors on the tiles, because you could have a complete 5×5 grid, but if you had no crowns, you would score nothing at all!  So, near the end of the game, there is a combination of trying to find the right tile for your own area as well as a bit of defensive maneuvering – you might feel that it’s in your best interest to take a tile only to prevent your opponent from placing it for a huge score.

So far, this superquick game is looking to become a nice filler. The rules only take 2 or 3 minutes to teach, so you can get a whole game including a rules explanation in about fifteen minutes.  It’s hard to find many other games that play that quick and still feel like a game.


Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale Y, Eric M
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
This entry was posted in Essen 2016, First Impressions. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dale Yu: First Impressions of Kingdomino

  1. Joe Huber says:

    I only had a chance to try this yesterday, but overall I’d put my rating as “Neutral”. It’s quick and pleasant to play, which is a big plus, but unfortunately the restriction of a 5×5 space makes alternatives to fully filling the space and centering your castle so unappealing as to not leave enough viable options in the game play for my preference. As a result, it’s a game I’d have no problem playing if others want to – particularly given how quick it is – but it’s not a game I’m ever going to suggest.

  2. Marian says:

    We love this game, it is easy enough for my wife and my son (9 y.o.) and posseses enough tactical decisions. We don´t neccesarily put the castle in the middle – meaning, we don´t play with the rule, that you obtain points for a centralistic monarchy :) and when playing just the two of us (wifey and me), we always play the 7×7 version with all the tiles, which makes for a longer and better and fuller game.
    (I recommend to use the free print and play version of Kingdomino court – easy to assemble and a great fun to play with the 7×7 version)

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