We were absolutely thrilled to find Kingdomino in our Board Games Crate subscription. Kingdomino is great for introducing kids to tile laying games. It’s a reasonably quick game (15-20 Minutes), and simple to learn and play straight away. Most importantly, it’s fun and challenging for the whole family to play together!
How to play:
Kingdomino is a simple tile laying game where the aim is to create patches of land of the same type (grassland, swamps, caves etc) within a 5×5 grid of tiles. Points are awarded for the number of connected tiles in each patch and multiplied for every crown found on those tile pieces. Whereas a game like Carcassonne features an ever expanding playing area, the restricted 5×5 space makes the games shorter and encourages players to plan ahead and speculate on what they may be able to complete before the space runs out.
The game is very much focused on perfecting your own grid, but you can also block other players’ plans by taking tiles they may need. This is because at the start of each round players make a claim for what tile they want in the next round by placing their king piece on it. In the photos we are playing a three player game so there are the 3 tiles we start on and three numbered tiles alongside. At the start of the round the numbered tiles are turned over and players choose which tile they want to claim for the next round. Players then take the last tile they were on and lay it in their grid. Because you can see what types of land other people are collecting, it’s possible to annoy their plans by claiming a high scoring tile they might need.
When playing with N we tend not to do this too much. N has realised the caves score highest and frequently collects them. We don’t usually claim the caves then unless we also happen to be collecting them. However, we adults do play to frustrate each other. And this mixed level of play makes it fun for us to play as a family.
Keeping an eye on the 5×5 grid is quite tricky for our 5 year old so N places his tiles on a drawn out paper grid. He can then slide all his tiles left, right, up or down to help visualise where he can add on tiles and still maintain the integrity of a 5×5 grid.
If you follow the recommended variant, it’s a bit more challenging to play Kingdomino as a two player game with younger kids. This is because there’s a little more strategic thinking and planning ahead required as it plays on a 7×7 grid with each player controlling two kings. There’s nothing stopping you simplifying the rules to the 5×5 version with younger kids but by going head to head the need to be aware of the other player’s goals increases, so claiming tiles that prevent your opponent scoring highly becomes more significant. In a 3+ player game, the simple fact that there is another competitor involved makes targeting certain players or tiles less necessary to winning.
What we love about the game:
Kingdomino is certainly a game to grow into in as much as repeat play will increase familiarity with how best to lay a tile for maximum points. There’s also scope for developing flexible thinking through having to change tactics when others take a tile you need, and eventually calculating what others might need. There’s definitely years of game play to be had from Kingdomino then. But most importantly, N can totally play this game right now. And to be honest, I’ve stopped giving him advice on where might be a good place to lay a tile, because he frequently scores higher than me!
Because the game is focused on building your own grid it doesn’t feel combative even though you are playing against each other. This makes it great for playing with kids who shy away from direct competition and games were they may feel ‘picked on’ when players can directly target each other. This can be a particular problem when kids and adults are playing together because kids can sometimes feel adults have an unfair advantage if they are being targetted by them. Kingdomino removes this problem. Even if you don’t win, there’s a sense of achievement from having created a perfect 5×5 grid (well for me anyway!).
As with many tile laying games, planning ahead and visualising how tiles might be rotated to fill the grid contributes to those developing STEM skills. Calculating scores through the multiplication of crowns has also been good for introducing practical maths beyond the rote learning of times tables.
Overall, Kingdomino is a fantastic family game: it’s great for mixed age play, simple to learn and perfect for when you want to play a game with a bit more thinking involved but don’t want to settle down for an epic family session.