Players: 2-4 (2-6 if combined with Kingdomino)
Time: ~25 minutes
Times Played: 10+
First and foremost, Queendomino is not an expansion to Kingdomino, the 2017 Spiel des Jahres winner. This is a standalone game that can be combined with Kingdomino to create a larger experience but I’ll touch on that in a bit.
Queendomino plays similar to it’s predecessor but adds several wrinkles to give more meat to the bones. If Kingdomino was the foundation, Queendomino adds the drywall and ventilation. There’s a noticeable difference but the core is still the same.
This independent game offers three main differences: Buildings (and a new Territory terrain), Knights, and the Dragon.
Buildings and Town Territory
A new terrain type is introduced, consisting of orange squares that constitute a town. I’ve also been told these tiles are red but they look orange to me so that’s what we’re going with.
A set of six buildings are placed randomly on the Builders board. The six buildings will align with six spaces on the board and each space will correspond to a different price that the building costs.
After a player places a tile into their kingdom, they have the opportunity to purchase a building from the Builders board. They must have an open town space available to them to place the building however. That town space could have been added just then or previously; all that matters is that it’s vacant.
After paying the cost for the building, the building is placed orange side up on the town space and the purchasing player collects the items listed on the tile. These could be any combination of knights and/or towers. If the item was a tower, that tower is taken and placed on the newly placed building.
The bottom left corner of the building grants a benefit for the player over the course of the remainder of the game whereas the bottom right corner offers final scoring points.
Whoever has the most towers in all the kingdoms introduces the Queen meeple into play. If the Queen is located in your kingdom, buildings can be purchased for a one coin less than the asking price. If the Queen is in your kingdom at the end of the game, she will act as an extra crown for a territory in your kingdom.
The other option, knights, are added to a players personal supply (like coins they do not go on the board/kingdom). I’ll touch on knights more in a moment.
The buildings are probably the biggest change when comparing Queendomino to Kingdomino. They can be incredibly powerful due to benefits provided by the different structures. These buildings do take some planning however as you have to have the area available to place them and that may take a turn or two to come to fruition. Those town squares also don’t have crowns so it’s a calculated move to bypass a known scoring possibility for one that you hope to be there on your next turn.
The Queen herself can provide some serious value. Saving money on buildings can be huge and acting as an additional crown at the end of the game could swing a victory in one direction.
The only drawback here is that once a player starts accumulating towers, it feels like Castles of Burgundy where someone places a bunch of ships all at once. There’s no real reason to challenge them. They’re so far ahead that you won’t be able to catch up and you’ll be wasting turns trying to.
Something else to note is that all the complexity that Queendomino adds is found here. The knights are a mean to getting these tiles and the Dragon interacts with these tiles. If this doesn’t sound appealing to you, you won’t be a fan of this game as this is the major difference added.
Knights play the role of tax collectors in Queendomino and to start the game, every player has one knight in their supply.
Knights can be used after a player places a tile into their kingdom. They then place one or two knights onto the squares of the tile they just placed. If they place two knights, each will occupy one square (so no doubling up).
Once placed, the player will gain one coin per square of the same type that’s connected to the tile that the knight is on. For example, if three wheat fields are connected and a knight is placed on one of those three squares, the player will earn three coins.
Once a knight is placed, they will remain there for the remainder of the game.
Knights have one purpose and that’s to gain coins for the player. The strategical debate comes down to deploying a knight early just to get the building you want or holding onto the knight so you can rack up some coins with a heavier tile combo.
Of note, every set of three coins a player has at the end of the game is worth one point. It’s typically more advantageous to purchase a building but that’s not always an option so at least the money doesn’t go completely to waste. I wouldn’t recommend hoarding the coins though as it rarely if ever impacts the scoring greatly.
To the left of the Builders board lies a cave. In that cave lies the Dragon.
The Dragon can be bribed to burn down a building from the row on the board, thus destroying that building and removing it from the game. The Dragon’s asking price is one coin.
Once the Dragon destroys a building, they park themselves on that spot until the end of the round. The Dragon can only be bribed once per round. At the end of the round, the Dragon returns to their lair.
Just like Kingdomino, Queendomino does not introduce direct player interaction. Instead, it relies on the indirect interaction and the Dragon is an extension of that. Players can destroy buildings that they assume their opponents are gunning for but since they’re not on anyone’s kingdom, they’re “fair game” for destruction.
Queendomino introduces a scoring pad to help players keep track of all that is happening. I applaud this decision and it makes one of the more convoluted aspects of the game, scoring, simple and easy. It’s also great to help new players really learn and appreciate how everything is scored.
The components and artwork are topnotch as expected and help bring the little bit of theme alive. The tiles offer some fun Easter eggs in the artwork and the game itself is engaging enough in its artwork and presentation to draw other players in. The box is bigger than its predecessor but that makes sense as there are more components to hold.
Queendomino can be combined with Kingdomino to make a larger game. For two- to four-players, all the tiles can be combined to create a 7×7 kingdom for an added challenge and if you stick with the 5×5 design, you can play with as many as six players. I appreciate this inclusion but wasn’t a fan of either variant. The increased shuffling and clean-up are a chore and while the 7×7 was a fun novelty the first time, the game is much better when shorter. Six players is a lot and the game drags just a bit. I’d rather just play two games of three-players as opposed to one long game of six.
Queendomino by itself plays up to four and while it’s serviceable at that count, I believe the less players the better. The added mechanics make four players run a little long for how much game is here and being last can really hinder a player due to buildings being purchased ahead of them and dragon attacks. I think two-players is the sweet spot as the game is tighter and runs faster. The only drawback would be if players can’t handle the dragon destroying buildings they want. It’s indirect in the same a passive aggressive comment is.
I think Kingdomino is a brilliant game. It’s not an all-time favorite for me but I can appreciate it and don’t mind playing it. Draw tiles, reveal tiles, choose tiles, place tiles, repeat. It’s simple and elegant and a great way to get people into the newer games that are flooding the market. Kingdomino can be too light for some gamers and I think that’s the niche that Queendomino was looking to appeal to.
I personally don’t know if it does. The game adds several new components and mechanics that work well with one another but it takes a simple game and elongates it without the payoff being any greater. I like Kingdomino because I can play it in ten minutes with minimal explanation and set-up. Queendomino is not the same and I run into the issue that if I’m going to spend half an hour playing a game, is this the one I want to play? Probably not.