Kingdomino is one of my favourite 'gateway' or 'entry level' games. It's easy to teach, looks great, and gives you a good level of decision making. Queendomino upped the ante and became more of a 'gamers' game, adding more options yes, but also more complexity.
Fans were split on the newer game, liking the decisions but lamenting the loss of approach-ability. Age of Giants is a expansion for both games, but will it ruin the simplicity of the Kingdomino and does Queendomino need more?
Previously on Kingdomino
Kingdomino is a tile-laying and drafting game of Kingdom building. Each round a number of tiles are placed out in a column and players take turns choosing one. The tiles at the top of the column are generally less useful but the top to bottom order determines the player order for the next round. Once selected your tile is added to your kingdom following domino rules - one of its terrains much be placed next to a matching terrain. You are also constrained by a 5x5 grid in a four player, or up to a 7x7 grid in two player.
The terrains are key to scoring. Each touching square of the same terrain will be multiplied by the amount of crowns within it. So, if you have a line of four grass tiles with two crowns you will score eight points. When the tiles run out you tot up scores and the player with the most points wins!
Age of Giants
Age of Giants adds three more gameplay elements and a domino tower. The domino tower is a thing of beauty, well made with a magnetic close, occasionally dominoes get a little stuck but for the most part it works well. Next we have the components needed to add a fifth player. Adding a fifth player doesn't add any time to the game as you are all pretty much playing at the same time. It also means that with the added tiles from the expansion you can just play using all the tiles whereas with 2-4 players you need to discard at least one tile from each selection.
The next edition is a set of tiles that add opportunities to score extra points. At the back of the Kingdomino rule book you could add some scoring variants and now they have made it official. Tiles let you score for arranging your kingdom in certain ways, like having your castle in the exact middle.
Lastly are the giants of the title. Six wooden giants and tiles with either a picture of a giant or giants footprints on it. When you take a tile with a picture of a giant you must add a wooden giant to your kingdom, covering one of your crowns - this stops it from scoring at the end of the game. However, if you add a tile with a footprint on it to your kingdom you can move one giant from your kingdom to another players kingdom.
Kings and Queens
So how does it play? I have played Giants mainly with Kingdomino and I have found it to be a welcome edition. It adds just enough without being overly complex. I would always use the scoring tiles in games, as these just seem like a no brainer. If I was teaching to beginners it would depend a lot on who I was teaching but in most cases I would throw everything in.
For Queendomino I would also always use the scoring tiles, but I think I would leave the giants out unless playing with a very experienced group. I just don't feel like Queendomino needs the extra mechanic or the faffing with discarding tiles from the draft. But that's totally forget the fact that Age of Giants expands not one game but two!
So while it is perhaps not an 'essential' expansion, it is a very nice one. If you are loving on King and Queendomino then how can you not get this expansion which adds to the box artwork panorama? If you have Kingdomino and want to add more then again this is a good option, as it also will give you a good idea whether you want the added complexity that Queendomino brings.
In fact, the only people who might not really benefit from the giants addition are those who only own Queendomino, but you still get the scoring tiles, fifth player components and domino tower, so you would probably benefit too!
Bottom Line - 'A small but worthy expansion to both previous domino games. If you liked either of those you are guaranteed to get mileage from Age of Giants.