Seek Fire, Build Totems, and Recruit Cavemen in Kingdomino: Origins | Casual Game Revolution

Seek Fire, Build Totems, and Recruit Cavemen in Kingdomino: Origins

Kingdomino: Origins

Dive into a domino stone age in the newest entry into the Kingdomino game line from Blue Orange Games.

Playing in about 25 minutes, and for 2-4 players, Kingdomino: Origins has three game modes: Discovery Mode, Totem Mode, and Tribe Mode. Discovery mode will feel quite familiar if you are a fan of the original Kingdomino, but it still comes with a couple of changes.

Discovery Mode

To play Discovery Mode, you shuffle all the tiles in the game. These are domino-shaped tiles, with both square halves of the tile showing a type of terrain. You draw four tiles and lay them face-up on the table in a column. Each tile has a number on its back, and you will lay them out in ascending order from top to bottom. Each player takes a starting square and places it in front of them to start their personal playing areas. The turn order is chosen randomly. As your turn comes up, you will place your player meeple on one of the four available tiles. Once everyone has placed their meeples, you then draw another four tiles and make a new column, again placing the tiles in numerical order.

Players then take turns based on which tile their meeple is on in the current column, going from top to bottom. When it is your turn, you take the tile your meeple is on and add it to your playing area. When adding a domino tile to your playing area, there are a couple of things you must keep in mind: it must fit inside a grid of 5-by-5 squares, it must be placed adjacent to another tile already there, and at least one terrain type on it must match a terrain type it is adjacent to (your starting square counts as any terrain type). If you can’t make a legal placement, you must discard the tile.

When you place a tile with a volcano on one half of it, you check if that volcano is worth one, two, or three flames. You then draw a token depicting that number of flames and place it on a tile three, two, or one space away from the volcano (it can go diagonally), depending on the number of flames depicted (more flames means you cannot place the token as far away).

Once you have placed your domino, you then choose which domino in the new column to place your meeple on. You cannot place your meeple on a domino another player has already chosen. After everyone has taken their turn in a 3-player game, the fourth, un-chosen, tile from the new column is discarded.

The game ends once the last domino from the draw pile has been placed and/or discarded. You then add up your points. Each set of matching terrain squares is worth points equal to the number of matching squares in that group times the number of fire icons in that collection of squares. Some tiles come with those icons, while the volcano flame tokens also count towards this scoring. The player with the most points wins the game.

Totem Mode

Totem mode plays somewhat similarly. Some tiles' squares will show resource icons: either a mammoth, fish, mushroom, or flint. When you add one of these to your play area, you place a matching wooden token on that square. If you ever place fire from a volcano on a tile that has one of these items, you discard the item. If at any point you have the majority of a specific type of token, you take the totem tile matching it. If another player later exceeds your number, they can take the totem tile from you. These tiles are worth points at the end of the game.

Tribe Mode

In Tribe Mode, you do not play with the totem tiles, but the resources are added to your board in the same way. However, there is a stack of cavemen tiles that you shuffle at the start. You draw four of these tiles to form a display. On your turn, after you choose a domino from the new column, you may spend any two different resources to take any one caveman tile and add him to your play area (a new caveman tile will be drawn to replace it in the display). You may only place a caveman on a square with no fire or resource token. If a fire token would ever be placed on a square with a caveman, you must discard your caveman.

Some cavemen are warriors. Warriors have a set point value, and they score similarly to terrain types (the number of warriors placed in a group is multiplied by their combined point values). Other cavemen score points based on the number of a specific resource found on the tiles adjacent to them.

Kingdomino: Origins Components


There have been a number of Kingdomino games now, but Kingdomino: Origins, with its multiple modes offers a great meeting point between several of these. You can choose how simple or how complex you want the game to be, which in turn makes it something you can adapt to your game group. There are also a couple of additional variants suggested to further add customization to your game.

The core gameplay is itself a lot of fun: building out your game board, matching domino sides, balancing turn order with the specific tiles on offer, trying to lay out everything so that you don’t trap yourself and end up having to discard a tile.

There is no direct player interaction, but you are competing for turn order, and you are also often keeping an eye on each other’s tiles. Sometimes you might have to forgo the tile that would be more advantageous to you to prevent an opponent from claiming one that would give them a massive boost to points.

The volcanoes are an interesting mechanic that allow you to recover from earlier mistakes. Did you create an area that isn’t worth any points? A careful volcano placement can direct fire tokens there to boost its point value.

From the tiles to the resource tokens, the components are all nice quality, really colorful, and quite attractive. The theme is a little different and enjoyable.

If you already own Kingdomino and are only interested in the Discovery Mode or are entirely uninterested in adding any more layers to the gameplay, Origins probably isn’t for you — but it really does feel like it builds off of the original and offers more versatility. All three modes are nicely balanced and designed, and the result is a great addition to the Kingdomino line that earns its place on the shelf.

Pros: Three game modes of varying difficulty, domino gameplay is accessible and easy to teach, fun theme, good component quality

Cons: Origins won’t interest you if you'd prefer not to add more complexity to the original game

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.