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Queendomino

The kingdom is coming along nicely, but now it’s time to create towns, construct buildings, and win the Queen to your side.

A standalone game and an expansion to Kingdomino, Queendomino introduces new ways to score and more complex mechanics.

Gameplay

Players are attempting to build a kingdom in a five by five grid. At the start of the game, four domino tiles are placed face-up on the table, and players’ meeples are randomly drawn. When your meeple is drawn you get to place it on one of the faceup dominos.

At the beginning of each round, four new dominos are drawn. Each domino has a number, and the dominos are placed face-up on the table from top to bottom in ascending order. Consequently, at the start of each round there are two rows of four dominos each, with the player meeples currently on the row from the previous round. Players take their turns based on the position of their meeples on the domino row, going from top to bottom.

On your turn you take the following five actions, in the following order. First you take the domino that your meeple is on and, if legally possible, add it to your kingdom. Each domino shows two squares of territories (sometimes the same, sometimes different), such as farmland or swamp. In order to add it to your kingdom you must play it so that at least one side of the domino connects to a matching territory in your kingdom or to your starting tile, and it must fit within the five-by-five grid.

Next, you may choose to place a knight meeple on either side of the domino you just placed, and you gain one coin for each matching territory that is in the group it is connected to. Next, you may choose to buy a building if you have at least one empty town square on a domino (town is one of the territory types). There is a building board on the table which features six spaces numbered zero to five (this is the cost of the building tile in those spaces). When you pay the cost for a tile, you add it to your empty town space. Some buildings will reward you with knight meeples to be used on future turns, or towers to place in your kingdom. Next, you may choose to bribe the dragon with one coin in order to have him burn down and discard a building on the building board. Finally, you must place your player meeple on any unoccupied domino in the new lineup of dominos.

Queendomino features a new game piece called the queen. Whenever a player has the majority number of towers in their kingdom (or ties with the player who previously held that title) the queen moves to their kingdom. While you have the queen, all buildings cost you one fewer coin to build.

The dragon can only be bribed once per round, and cannot be bribed by the player who currently has the queen. Once the round is over, all building tiles still on the building board are slid over to the lowest numbered empty spaces, and new building tiles are drawn for any empty spaces on the board.

The game ends once players have gone through all the dominos, and players calculate their points. Some domino tiles feature crowns in the top left corner. Each group of matching connected territories score points based on the number of matching squares multiplied by the number of crowns featured on those squares. If you control the queen at the end of the game you put her in your largest group of matching squares and she counts as an additional crown. Players earn one point for each three coins they have, and also points based on their buildings. Some buildings are worth a set number of points and some based on specific territory types in your kingdom, the number of towers you have, or knights you’ve collected. The player with the most points wins.

Queendomino Components

Review

The buildings of Queendomino are the most significant new element to the game, and they do bring additional strategy and choices on your turn. They don’t only determine the points you earn for your town territories, but some of them will play off your other territories as well. You also find yourself keeping a closer eye on your opponents than in Kingdomino, and tracking what buildings they might go after.

Being the first player also becomes even more important than just first dibs on the dominos, as it gives you first chance at using the dragon as well as first choice on buildings. The queen is also a fun and powerful bonus to vie for and serves as a good addition to the game.

Queendomino has equally high quality components as its predecessor, with slightly more variety in the artwork. Bonus game variants, increased player count, and team games are also available if you own both games, which is a nice edition.  Queendomino does very much feel like it fills its self-description of being both an expansion and a standalone game.

Kingdomino does, however, have a beautiful simplicity, both in teaching and playing, that Queendomino unfortunately lacks. For some gamers, this might be a good thing, but for fans of casual games, it’s more likely to be a disappointment. The game also doesn’t help to smooth over this complexity. The rulebook fails to clarify a couple of points and the game would benefit from player aid cards for turn order and explanation of symbols on the building tiles.

It’s really going to come down to how much complexity or simplicity you want in your games as to whether or not you’ll want to pick up a copy of Queendomino. It brings the mechanics of Kingdomino to a new audience and might be a good meeting point for players of various tastes and gaming preferences.

Pros: Buildings are well implemented and provide new tough choices, high production quality, can be combined with Kingdomino but can also be played as a standalone

Cons: Loses the simplicity of its predecessor, lacks player aid cards

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