Kingdomino is a household name these days when it comes to board gaming. This introduction needs no grand entrance or gimmick. It simply doesn’t need it. Kingdomino has been heralded in the community for a long time as one of the ‘go to’ introductory games for bringing new gamers into the hobby. It won the Spiel Des Jahres which kind of says it all really.
It has spawned several games in the series so far. There is Queendomino which is a slightly more ‘gamery’ version of the game; there is Kingdomino Duel which is a 2 player roll and write game; and there is Dragomino, which is a version of the game for younger gamers. So where does Kingdomino Origins lay compared to the others? And how well does it hold up against the other games in the series? Let’s find out.
Three Is The Magic Number
Unlike the standard version of Kingdomino, Kingdomino Origins comes with 3 different ways to play it: discovery mode, totem mode and tribe mode. The object of each of these game modes remains the same (to simply arrange the dominoes to score the most points) but each mode adds something a little extra to the mix. Discovery mode works just the same as standard Kingdomino but with added volcanos. Totem mode is discovery mode with added tokens for different resources. And lastly tribes mode is discovery mode with added tribes-people you can collect.
The volcanos in this game act very similar to the crowns in King/Queendomino. If you have not played either of those games then don’t worry. The more fire symbols you have in an area you have created, the more points you will earn for that area at the end of the game. In the other games, this symbol is a crown. The volcanos erupt as you place them into your kingdom, allowing you to place more fire tokens around the board. Doing so is safe in this game mode, but in totem or tribes modes then the newly fallen fire will burn any token or tribe member on the spot you choose.
In totem mode, you will be using the incredibly made screen printed tokens. Whenever a tile is placed in your kingdom that has a token symbol, you will place that token on the space. You will earn an extra point at the end of the game for each token you have in your kingdom. Whoever has the majority of each token will also score bonus points at the end. It is a really simple addition to the standard discovery mode for when people are ready to add more to the game.
In tribes mode you will also be using the tokens, but the majority scoring conditions are not used. You will need to collect resources in order to pay for an available tribe member. Each and every tribe member cost 2 tokens but can only be played with 2 different tokens. When you take a tribe member, you place it on a location on your kingdom. Each of them has specific scoring conditions so the placement of these are key.
The Spark Of Origins
I am a big fan of this game series, and Bruno Cathala as a whole. Before I even realised what my preferred games were, I had already amassed more of Bruno Cathala’s games than any others. When I first heard about Kingdomino Origins, I was excited that there was another game coming to the series. Thankfully, there is enough of a difference in this box to justify it being a new experience, and not simply a reskin. Which is what I was fearful of.
The simplest of changes of course have been to the types of land you will be matching together. Whilst Queendomino recycled mostly the same terrain types, Origins gives us fresh biomes to fall in love with. Most of these come associated with the new tokens.
The biggest changes are that of the game modes as outlined above. I really love the inclusions of both the new gaming modes. The tokens work really well as a simple resource management mechanic, and the tribespeople build on the mechanics founded in Queendomino. It makes more sense for the tiles on offer (tribe members) to be able to go on any space. The city tiles in Queendomino need a specific land type in order to utilise, which makes that mechanic not as viable as it is here in Origins.
My favourite addition to this game however is definitely the tokens. Whilst I vastly prefer the tribes mode over the totem mode, I love the tokens. They have been excellently crafted and honestly are easily one of my most favourite produced wooden components. Right up there with the wooden dino-meeples in Draftosaurus.
I also appreciate the fact the game can be played in discovery mode too. One of the biggest appeals of the standard Kingdomino was how easy it was to approach for new gamers. Origins keeps this element, whilst offering a slightly deeper gaming experience for more seasoned gamers. It also allows new gamers to move onto slightly more involved game modes for when they are familiar with the game formula. This in turn will get them familiar with mechanics such as majority scoring, individual scoring or set colletion. These mechanics are used throughout many other games and so Origins provides a great steppingstone into the larger world of gaming.
One thing that all of these games have excelled at is the box inserts. I find that quite often, cheaper games don’t offer much more than a trench to place game components. But all of these games, Origins included, have very well-designed box inserts with space for every component. It is a small touch, but one that I find myself valuing more and more.
Originality Is An Illusion
It is true that there is a lot to praise when it comes to Kingdomino Origins, but there are always things to discuss that could be better. For me, personally, Origins did not offer me anything new as a gamer. I own and love Kingdomino, Queendomino and Kingdomino Duel. On top of this, I am now a lot more of a seasoned gamer than I was when first picking up Kingdomino. Origins did not provide me with anything I had not seen in many other games. This is just me not being the target audience perhaps. I was hoping that the game offered something new or more in depth for those already versed in the Kingdomino gaming formula.
Queendomino did a great job at adding mechanics to the formula that stepped the game up a notch. Kingdomino Duel took the formula and condensed it down into an interesting little roll and write game. Dragomino took the formula and made it more accessible for children. Origins certainly adds things, but nothing that elevates the game quite as much as the others in comparison.
It is also worth nothing that whilst I think Origins can perfectly replace the original Kingdomino game, it has one caveat. Origins can not be mixed with the other games. Kingdomino and Queendomino can be thrown together for one big hunkin’ game mode. Origins is sadly only a standalone experience.
I also can’t stand the box art. It doesn’t match the artwork of the other games at all. But that is just my artistic tastes speaking.
The End Of Origins
I have a lot of appreciation for Kingdomino Origins. I just don’t personally click with it. I find myself in a strange situation where I wish it came out in between the original and Queendomino. As I think that is where it sits in terms of mechanics in the series as a whole. I believe the people who will take the most out of this game are those who have either only played the original, or none of the games.
That being said, Kingdomino Origins offers a fantastic entry into the Kingdomino line of games. It can be a truly outstanding introductory game into the gaming hobby with its iterative game modes progressing in complexity. It is just a shame that the complexity doesn’t extend to a level that anyone familiar with the series can sink their teeth into.
Overall verdict: perfect for those who have limited or no previous experience with the Kingdomino games. Definitely worth checking out if you fall into this category.