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Queendomino

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RRP £29.99
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Queendomino is the successor in line to the Kingdomino’s throne! Kingdomino won the Spiel des Jahres in 2017, and Queendomino followed, hot on its heels. Both share similar gameplay, and both are Bruno Cathala designs, published by Blue Orange Games. Queendomino, though, is the bigger, longer, deeper game of the two. Why? Extras in the form of a new terrain, coins, knights, wooden…
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Dice Tower

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Builds on the mechanisms of Kingdomino nicely.
  • A nice balance between a casual gaming experience and strategy.
  • Can be combined seamlessly with Kingdomino.
  • Decent price point.

Might Not Like

  • Changes may put off families/younger children.
  • Increased game length, this can no longer be considered as a filler game.
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Description

Queendomino is the successor in line to the Kingdomino’s throne! Kingdomino won the Spiel des Jahres in 2017, and Queendomino followed, hot on its heels. Both share similar gameplay, and both are Bruno Cathala designs, published by Blue Orange Games. Queendomino, though, is the bigger, longer, deeper game of the two. Why? Extras in the form of a new terrain, coins, knights, wooden towers, buildings, a dragon, and the queen, herself!

The heart of Queendomino remains familiar to those who’ve played Kingdomino. You’re creating a kingdom of domino tiles. It’s classic tile drafting, and then tile placement, obeying enclosure restrictions. These dominos have varying terrain types on them. There’s wheat fields, forests, lakes, grazing grounds, marshes, and mountains. Players place their previously drafted tile into their kingdom. (At least one edge has to match a terrain type present in your kingdom.) Then they draft their next tile. Those two actions are mandatory, but there’s three extra optional actions you can now perform!

On your turn you can use a Knight to gain tax from the domino you placed. Count up the quantity of contiguous matching terrain and gain one coin per square. The Knight then gets added to that tile.

Some of the dominos feature a new red terrain. You can place the building tiles on top of these in an overlay mechanism. You’ll need to buy those buildings though, paying coins. You earn the goods stated on the tile – these could be more Knights, or Towers, for example. (They’re worth it for their extra end-game scoring bonuses, too.) You get to place Towers onto Buildings straight away. Got the most Towers? Then you gain the Queen, and she lowers your construction costs. Don’t like the buildings on offer? Or don’t want your opponents to get a valuable tile? Bribe the dragon to change up the buildings!

Queendomino is a standalone game; you don’t need Kingdomino to play this. You can combine them both, though! Queendomino alone can cater for 2-4 players, but if you combine it with Kingdomino, it allows a four-player game with 7x7 grids. Or, up to six players can join in the fun, keeping to traditional 5x5 grids!

Player Count: 2-4 Players
Time: 25 minutes
Age: 8+

2016 saw the release of Kingdomino, a critically acclaimed title from Bruno Cathala, published by Blue Orange Games, that went on to be nominated for – and win – the coveted ‘Spiel des Jahres – 2017’.  The game saw players selecting dominoes to place in their ‘kingdom’ in a 5×5/7×7 grid, with the aim to score points based on the size of each territory, multiplied by the number of crowns depicted on them.

Kingdomino is seen as a gateway/filler game, perfect for families and younger children (and those newer to the modern board-gaming hobby), which can be played in as little as 15-20 minutes.  Those of us that tend to stray towards heavier titles may opt to skip this, which could be one of the main driving forces behind the subsequent release of Queendomino.

Queendomino – The Game

From the outset, it is obvious that there is plenty more going on in this version of the game. I say version, as it keeps the general scoring elements from its predecessor, and adds a whole other level of strategy, and dare I say it, complexity. Not to say this is a game that will be difficult for younger folk to grasp, but it certainly ups the ante.

There are a number of fundamental changes to the player actions in Queendomino. Turns/Actions now follow the following order:

  1. Place domino into kingdom/display.
  2. Collect Taxes.
  3. Purchase a building tile.
  4. Bribe the Dragon.
  5. Select next domino.

1. Place Domino – Mandatory

This plays out exactly the same as the original game. Dominoes can be orientated in any way the player wishes, however at least one of the two territory squares on the newly acquired domino must touch & match with whichever tile is being placed next to. The player castle acts as a ‘wild’ square, meaning any territory can touch this, but doesn’t count for end-game scoring.

Dependent on the number of players/modules players choose to adopt, dominoes must also stay within a 5×5/7×7 square (dependent on player count), and can never be placed outside of this.  Should a player be forced to do so, then the domino must be discarded.

2. Collect Taxes – Optional 

Players can then opt to place a Knight that they have in their supply onto one of the sides of the newly placed tile. That player then counts the size of the territory he has placed the knight into (e.g. forest territory that is five squares in size) and collects that amount in coins. Should they so wish, they may then place a second Knight on the second half of the newly placed domino.

Each player begins with a Knight, and further Knights can be gained through the purchasing of building.  Speaking of which…

3. Purchasing a Building – Optional

One of the new territories on the various dominoes are the Construction Sites, these are orangey-brown in colour, and easily distinguishable from the others (farm, lake, forest etc). These in themselves do not score anything until a building is purchased and constructed on top of these.

On their turn, a player may purchase one of the six available buildings from the new Building Board, which cost between zero and five coins. Once purchased, the building tile is flipped and placed on one of that players open Construction sites; either on a tile placed that round, or one from previous. Only one building can be purchased by a player in any given round.

Building tiles provide both initial bonuses, from Knights to Towers (more on those later), and end game scoring bonuses such as points per separate territory of a given type, or number of Knights that player controls. These bonuses can provide big scoring options, and shouldn’t be overlooked.

So what of the towers I previously mentioned? Well, whoever has the majority of towers in their kingdom receives the Queen Meeple. The Queen has two effects: Firstly, she makes all buildings one coin cheaper to purchase, and secondly acts as an extra Crown when scoring your ‘best’ territory at the end of the game. Should anybody on their turn gain towers, that would put them equal to the player that currently has the Queen visiting their Kingdom, then they win her favour.

4. Bribe the Dragon – Optional

One player per round may take advantage of Bribing the Dragon. This action costs one coin and removes one of the five available buildings from the line. This is a good way to prevent opponents from getting their hands-on buildings that may score them a lot of bonus points, or simply to help siphon through the stack.

5. Select next Domino – Mandatory 

As in Kingdomino, the active player will then place their meeple onto the tile that they will use next round, thus potentially altering the player order.

Once all players have taken the above actions on their turn, in the order in-which they had selected dominoes for that particular round, a quick clean-up phase is actioned before the start of the new round. Firstly, the next four dominoes are taken from the stack and placed face-down in ascending number order, then flipped to reveal their territory sides. Then, buildings are moved down to fill any gaps vacated by purchased buildings, thus making them cheaper, and new buildings are drawn to replace the remaining empty spaces.

The game continues until all dominoes have been placed (or discarded). Final scores are counted based on size of contiguous matching territory squares x crowns depicted on them, plus any building bonuses, and for every three coins left in their supply. Final bonus points are also awarded for anyone that has completed their Kingdom with their starting castle tile in the middle, and they are awarded for managing to finish their Kingdom without having to discard any dominoes.

Megadomino

Queendomino is a standalone game. Some may prefer to stick to the original, or purchase this title separately if they are looking for something a little meatier. Where it shines in my opinion is that they can be combined to form a mega-game of sorts. Both domino stacks are shuffled separately, with the first four dominoes being taken from the Queendomino stack.

The next round of four is then taken from the Kingdomino stack, repeating back-and-forth until both stacks are used. This allows players to play up to 7×7 sized Kingdoms (3-4 players). There are also variants for group play.

Closing Thoughts on Queendomino

Should you go out and buy this? If you enjoy tile placement games such as Carcassonne, then I would say yes, you can’t go far wrong with Queendomino. If you have played and enjoyed Kingdomino, you should definitely look to add this to your collection, mainly for the new scoring opportunities this brings – Think of it as ‘Kingdomino-Plus’.

I do get the feeling however that it has strayed a little too far away from being considered ‘family friendly’. I haven’t attempted to play this with younger children, my 11-year-old niece really enjoyed it, but I get the feeling children below the ages of six or seven may struggle a little with the added complexities it brings.

In all, Queendomino is a marvellous game, at a decent price point.

Queendomino is a simple game with great table presence. It takes the simple mechanism of tile placement and presents it in a really easy to digest form. Coupled with the rules of dominos and we have ourselves a neat little game!

In Queendomino you will be building out your kingdom with domino-like tiles over a 5×5 grid (or 7×7 grid in a 2-player game). Grouping land types together over larger areas to net you the most points in a bid to have a kingdom worthy of the queen.

Just a note: any pictures included may include meeples of a colour not in the box. I often play a variation of the game by mixing Kingdomino and Queendomino and sometimes include the Age of Giants expansion. I am pretty sure I got the player colours mixed up at some point.

Set Up

Set up is a simple process. The first step is to shuffle the domino tiles face down (the number should be on top). The rule book suggests using the box to keep the tiles in, but I always just leave them in a stack. Separate all the other components as is usual with most games and place the builders board in reach of all players. This is the small board with the square panels on it. Then shuffle the building tiles (the square ones) face down (with the grey side on top) and place the stack on the first space on the builder’s board. You can then place one tile on each of the other spaces. Keep the tiles face down. This is because the grey side of the tiles will also show you if you get any towers or knights when you purchase them. Place the dragon meeple on the far left of the board in its lair and the queen meeple somewhere in reach too.

Everyone chooses a colour and takes the Queendomino castle tile of that colour and a meeple of that colour. In a 2-player game they take both meeples of their colour. There are also 3D castles you can construct for each player that sits on the castle tile, but they aren’t necessary. Everyone also gets one knight (the small black pieces) and coins of value equalling 7.

Take the top 4 dominos and lay them out in ascending order, lowest number on top, highest on the bottom. Then you can flip them over and reveal them, keeping them in the same order. One player then takes one of everyone’s meeples in their hands, shakes them about and drops one at random. Whoever’s colour drops out will be the starting player. I recommend the player with the biggest hands does this (it is usually me). If there are more than 2 players, keep dropping meeples until everyone knows what order they are in. This is only for the first round.

Playing The Game

The first player will place their meeple on one of the available domino tiles. If it is a 3 or 4-player game then everyone will proceed in order to place their meeple on an available tile. In a 2-player game, the player who goes second will get to put both meeples out on different tiles, essentially choosing two of them. Then the first player will get to place their meeple on the last available tile. In a 2 or 4-player game, all 4 available tiles will be claimed. In a 3-player game the last remaining tile is discarded. Someone will then take the next 4 domino tiles from the stack, place them next to the ones in play, arrange them in ascending order again and flip them. These will be the tiles available in the next round.

Queendomino players will then in order (top to bottom) take their tile and place it. Placement rules will be explained in the next section. They then get to place their meeple on one of the next revealed tiles. This means that whoever places their meeple on the top tile (the one that has the lowest number of the 4) will get first choice of tile for the following round. It also means that whoever is on the bottom tile (in a 2 or 4-player game) will be left with the last available tile.

The reason the tiles are arranged from lowest number to highest number is because the higher numbered tiles tend to be more useful or give you the greatest number of crowns. So, this way of arranging player choice is a way to balance the game out. And make decisions a little more consequential.

Tile Placement

The Queendomino rules for tile placement are actually really simple. If you have played Dominos then they will be second nature to you. I presume. I only played Dominos when I was a kid so don’t ‘at’ me or whatever. Come fight me like a real man instead!

Anyways, when you take a tile it must be connected to a tile of the same type. If it is easier, imagine them as just simple colours instead of land types. Every tile is divided into two halves, and most of them will be different on each side. You need to have at least one of the colours/lands touching a section of a tile of the same colour/type. For example, this means if you place a tile that has a blue water side and a red building side then the blue water side can be next to any other land type as long as the red building side is touching another red building section. Or vice versa. I have included a reference image of how placing tiles can and cannot be done. It should be floating around here somewhere. Zooming may be required, depending on screen size.

The starting castle tile is wild and can be used to place any tile next to it. What you want to do is build up areas of the same land type in order to score bigger points at the end of the game. This is where the crowns come into play. Scoring in Queendomino is calculated by crowns X the number of land sections in the area of matching colour. So, the more land types you manage to clump together, and the more crowns you get in that area, the bigger your score will be at the end of the game. All scoring is done at the end of the game.

The one thing you need to keep in mind whilst you are picking and choosing tiles is the size of the grid you are building. In a 3 or 4 player game then your grid can not be any bigger than 5×5. This is 5 land squares by 5 land squares, NOT 5 whole tiles by 5 whole tiles. This means that you really need to be considerate about the tiles you choose. This is mainly why I prefer playing Queendomino (and Kingdomino, and Kingdomino Origins) at 2-players. In a 2-player game you get twice as many tiles, and so your kingdom is bigger and will be built inside a 7×7 grid instead.

Any tiles that you take that can not be placed legally will be discarded. This is when you take a tile that has no matching land types on it to what you already have in play. A tile is also discarded if the only place you can place the tile would have it protruding out of the grid size. It is important to note that once it is discarded, it is out of the game for good. Even in a 2-player game where you get two tiles per round, you can not keep hold of a tile that could be placed if you place your second tile first. Tiles are placed in order.

You also must place a tile if it can be placed. You can not decide to not play a tile if there is a legal space for it. Also, as a note, the castle tile does not need to remain in the centre. You can build out the tiles however you wish as long as the tiles remain in the grid size for the player count.

What Is With The Rest Of The Game Bits?

You may be wondering by now why I haven’t mentioned the knights, or the towers, or the money, or the buildings. Or the dragon. Or even the queen. Well, I thought I would explain each of them separate from the rest of the game. This is because if you do not know how to play Kingdomino, then (if you have read this guide so far without skipping bits!) you now know how to play Kingdomino. Yay!

Everything from this point on will be the stuff that was added to make Queendomino.

Queendomino Stuff

The Knights are your money makers. You send them out and shake your subjects down for tax money. Hey, nobody said you were building a kind kingdom. Whenever you place a new tile, you may place one of your knights onto one of the squares on that tile. You then collect money equal to how many connecting squares of the same land type you placed the knight on. If you have knights to spare then you can place one on both squares of the tile you just placed if you wish to. The rules don’t state whether or not you can do this if you place a tile were both sides are the same land type, so you may need to house rule a decision on that one if it ever comes up during play.

You can spend coins to buy the buildings on offer on the Queendomino builder’s board. The game is also pretty ambiguous about when you can do this, and if you can do it multiple times or not. I use the house rule of ‘you can buy one building after every time you place a tile’. This seemed like the fairest way of doing it. The cost of each building is depicted underneath the tile place. You can never purchase tiles from the stack.

At the end of the round the buildings slide to the right and any empty spaces are refilled from the stack. You can only buy a building if you have an available red building square. This is because the building you purchase will be placed on the red building square. Flip the tile to its red side before placing it.

Some of the buildings you choose to purchase will have knights or towers printed in the top left corner (of the grey side). When you purchase these tiles, you will gain the depicted amount of each. If there are towers on the tile you must place the indicated number of towers on that building. If there are knights then you will get that many knights in your supply.

The queen will move to the player who has the most towers immediately after they are placed. If there is a tie amongst the most towers, she will move to whoever most recently built towers.

If you have the queen in your kingdom then all building costs will be lowered by 1. At the end of the game, she will be placed in your biggest land area. She will be considered as an extra crown in that area for scoring. If there is a tie for biggest area, then you chose which area to place it. This is something else the rule book does not state.

The dragon is used to burn buildings from the available row. You must pay 1 coin to move him from his lair. Remove any building from the row and discard, placing the dragon in the building’s place. The dragon can only be used once per round and will go back to its lair at the end of the round. You can not use the dragon if you have the queen.

The Buildings

There are several different types of symbols on the Queendomino building tiles. Here is a quick guide to the symbols.

The buildings that have a coin with a ‘plus’ next to it followed by a knight/tower will bring you an extra coin per knight/tower when you collect tax. Again, another bit of ambiguity over the rulebook stating this effect gives you “one extra coin for each knight in your possession”. Does this include the ones you have already placed? Again, maybe a house rule is needed here. I say yes, because why not?

When there is a shield symbol and a number inside it, this is straight up extra points for end game scoring.

When there is a shield symbol with a 1 in it next to a tower/knight, this is also end of game points for scoring. Simply giving you an extra point for every tower/knight you have. The knights count both on and off your kingdom.

The other symbol is a shield symbol with a 2 in it next to a cross. The cross is made of a land type in the game. This symbol means that you will score 2 points for every clump of land you have of that land type. Which means if you have a couple of random patches of water for example, you might want to pick up one of these with the water symbol on it to snag some extra points for them.

Do the symbols stack if you have multiple of the same building type? The rule book does not say. But I say sure. Go for it. It would not make sense if they didn’t stack. I do wish the rule book is a littler clearer on some things though (As you can probably tell). But that is why I am here!

End Game & Scoring

The game is played until all tiles have been used. Or subsequently discarded. The game comes with a handy score pad to help you in regard to calculating final scores. There are quite a few things to consider when calculating score.

The first is that you will score 1 point for every 3 coins you have left at the end of a game. Then you will calculate the score for each land type in turn. It is important to note that every area of land of that type is scored, not just the largest of each area. For example, if you had a large water section worth 32 points, and one random square of water somewhere else with a single crown on it; you would score 33 points total for water. Land with no crowns on them are worth 0 points. So, if you had a third area of water that that did not have a crown, your total would still be 33 points. This is why it is important to try and keep land types grouped together for big points.

Then you calculate the bonus points earned from the different building types (described above). Thankfully, the score pad has a row available for every land type, and every building type, so calculating scores is a methodical approach that shouldn’t see you forgetting anything. There is no indication on the pad for the queen however, so don’t forget to add her to your largest land area before scoring!

That is everything you need to know in order to play Queendomino. I hope you find this game as great as I do. Happy gaming!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Builds on the mechanisms of Kingdomino nicely.
  • A nice balance between a casual gaming experience and strategy.
  • Can be combined seamlessly with Kingdomino.
  • Decent price point.

Might not like

  • Changes may put off families/younger children.
  • Increased game length, this can no longer be considered as a filler game.