This is just one of those games I’m kind of surprised I didn’t get to before now, being honest. I’m a huge fan of Kingdomino (having talked extensively about it in my own review and in the Punchboard Big List of Games). This isn’t quite a sequel; it’s more of a playable standalone expansion, sort of like Dominion: Intrigue. I’ll likely still cover it like an expansion, though, just for ease of reading quickly. That said, I do want to point out that the boxes fit together and I love it:
In Queendomino, you’re back at it expanding your Kingdom, but this time under the ever-watchful eye of the Queen. She’s got more of a management mindset than the King seemed to, as she’s presented you with more tools and resources to get the job done. Will you be able to build an even grander kingdom? Or will the extra moving parts just bog you down?
So, start by setting the score sheet aside until later:
In order to facilitate playing with both Queendomino and Kingdomino, Queendomino adds another four castles (in completely unique colors):
Have each player choose one. I generally default to purple in the Red / Orange / White / Purple tetrachotomy (assuming that’s a word based on its Greek roots; if not, well, all words are made up, anyways).
Set out the Market Board:
Shuffle up the Building tiles and place them grey-side up on the Market Board:
Place the Queen and the Dragon somewhere nearby:
Also place the Towers near the Market board:
The guards are going to be impossible to see, but give each player 1 to start with and set the rest aside, for now:
Once you’ve done that, shuffle up the tiles and either use the box to deal them out or use one of the handy promo-towers that Blue Orange occasionally sells:
Set out the money, as well, and give every player 7:
The denominations are 1, 3, and 9.
Now, you should be all ready to go! Randomly choose a player order for the first round.
So, as I mentioned previously, the gameplay is pretty similar to Kingdomino; however, there are enough quirks that it might just be worth digging into on its own. The one newest thing you’ll notice (along with all the new pieces) are the Town Tiles; they’re a new territory type that you can place Building tiles on, on your turn:
Anyways, on your turn, you’ll select a new tile out of the four tiles that you can see (in a 2-player game, you’ll select two tiles, placing one of your Ruler tokens on each). When you do that, the ordering of your Ruler tokens on your tiles will determine your player order for the next turn. And so on, and so forth, until the game ends.
Before we do that, I’d like to make one quick distinction. I’m going to refer to a domino, a square, and a territory often during this review, and I’d like to disambiguate these terms, a bit:
- Domino: One specific domino. Contains two squares, which may be the same or different types.
- Square: One half of a domino. Can be of one specific type. Multiple contiguous squares of the same type compose a territory.
- Territory: Multiple contiguous squares of the same type. May include part or all of one or more dominoes. You may have more than one territory of the same type in your Kingdom, provided they do not touch each other.
Now that that’s settled, let’s get started. These actions must be taken in this specific order, as well.
- Place the Domino in your Kingdom.
So, it’s time to place the domino you selected last turn in your Kingdom! Generally, this means that you must place it such that one of the squares on the domino is touching either a square of the same type or the starting square. Either one is considered a legal play. Note a couple things:
- You may not exceed a 5×5 square (3+ players) or a 7×7 square (2 players). This means that you’re bounded by those dimensions.
- If you can add the domino to your Kingdom, you must. Hope you planned ahead.
- If you cannot add the domino to your Kingdom legally, you must discard it from the game. Hope you didn’t specifically need that one for any particular reason.
- (Optional) Add one or two guards to your domino.
You may place up to one guard on each square of your domino. When you do, you immediately collect one coin for each square in that square’s territory. That’s pretty handy! Once a guard is placed, it cannot be removed, and if you choose not to place a guard there, you cannot place a guard on that square later. You may place a guard on the same territory, provided you add to it with a new domino on a subsequent turn.
- (Optional) Construct a building on an available town square.
You may pay the cost on the board (if you have enough money) to add one building from the board to an available town / red square in your kingdom. They offer a variety of effects, such as giving you points for various territories, giving you points per guard or tower, or adding a crown to that territory. Some will straight-up give you guards and / or towers; add towers to that square and guards to your supply. If doing so means you have more towers than any other player, you take the Queen. While you have the Queen, your building costs are reduced by 1 and she’ll count as a crown in your largest territory at the end of the game. Crowns are good, so, get towers. In case it wasn’t clear, you may only build one building per turn. Also, don’t refill the buildings on the board until the end of the round.
- (Optional) Bribe the dragon to burninate one building.
You may pay the dragon one coin to discard one of the buildings currently on the board. Now nobody gets it. Again, you don’t refill the board until the end of the round.
- Choose a new domino.
Honestly, I just kind of do this as part of Step 1, but the rules say it should be done this way so I’m presenting them this way. Move your token from the now-empty space to any unoccupied domino. This will be the domino you add to your Kingdom next turn, provided you can do so within the rules of the game. In a three-player game, this means that one domino will be abandoned each round, so you can remove it from the game. Sad.
Play continues as such until you’ve used up all the dominoes in the game. Now, go to scores!
- Each territory is worth the number of tiles in that territory x the number of crowns in that territory. This means that if you have 0 crowns in a territory, it’s worth 0 points. Don’t forget to add the Queen to your largest territory, if you have her in your Kingdom.
- Various buildings are worth the points / multipliers on the building. Check the tile for more details.
- Money is worth 1 point for every 3 coins you have. Guards will occasionally help you make a lot of money.
The player with the most points wins!
There are some variants; the most popular of which is playing with both Kingdomino and Queendomino simultaneously. The rules stay the same as Queendomino, but now you can support 6 players at 5×5; 4 players at 7×7; or, if you’re feeling particularly excitable, 2 players at 10×10 (using all 8 starting spaces as one massive starting space). To do that, simply prepare both games and then start with Queendomino, then Kingdomino, and so on until the game has ended.
Player Count Differences
There isn’t a huge difference between various player counts of this, in my experience, beyond the fact that you’ll have to deal with a 7×7 at lower player counts and players are notoriously bad at figuring out how to do that correctly on their first few games, so expect to lose a piece or two due to that. I’d love to tell you that it gets easier; it doesn’t. At higher player counts, expect more churn on the buildings; it’ll be harder for any one player to get all the buildings that they need since there will be such a diversity of strategies happening. At two, you’ll need to be a bit more mindful to make sure that some player isn’t setting up for a massive money strategy or something by taking all the extra money buildings. Burninate a few, just to make sure, honestly. As with Kingdomino, though, I’ve got no particular preference for any player count.
- You can’t ignore the new stuff. As with many expansions, there’s a real temptation to just stick to the basics and try and avoid dealing with all the newfangled contraptions. As I mentioned in my review of Coldwater Crown: The Sea, however, you cannot expect to have a fighting chance unless you try out the new stuff. Failing to do so just gives your opponent(s) more opportunity to cement their leading using things that you didn’t think were particularly useful or relevant, which isn’t great for you.
- I find going hard for money tends to work pretty well. Using the abilities that give you an extra coin per guard you have when you place a guard + buildings that give you extra guards (and points per guard) is a great way to make, say, 18+ points on money or something ridiculous. Naturally, that won’t win you the game on its own, but it’ll certainly put a dent in the difference between your score and someone else’s.
- Watch for what buildings other players want. If you can burn a building someone else is angling for, well, then it might be worth that 1 coin to prevent them getting a preposterous number of points.
- Acquire towers. You want the Queen to visit your Kingdom for cheaper buildings and that end-game bonus. If you get enough towers early on, other players won’t bother getting them since you’ll be far and away ahead of them. I’d recommend at least three towers more than the next player, to be safe. It can be a decently large points swing against you if you’re not careful.
- Plan ahead. Don’t forget to leave open spots for a variety of building types so that you can definitely place them where they need to go, and don’t forget to make sure you’re keeping track of your kingdom’s size so that you don’t have to discard tiles. Both are critical.
- Getting a very scattered set of territories is more viable than it used to be. There are buildings that give you 2 points for every territory you have of a certain color, which means that if you build a bunch of disjoint territories, you can still get a fair number of points. I can’t recommend that as a winning strategy, but it’s a nice backup in case you can’t get only one massive territory (which is usually pretty hard to do).
- Like Kingdomino, if you need to make sure another player doesn’t get the tile they need, just … force the next player to be responsible. As with all hate drafting / forcing your opponent to take a bad move, you’d best hope that they’re aware of their need to do so, otherwise they might not and you’ve just given your other opponent a ton of points. This happens a surprisingly often amount of the time. Either way, don’t let your opponents get too much of one territory type. Block them if you have to, but forcing someone else to block them means every player gets to get in on the fun.
- Remember; if you (or your opponent) can place a tile, you must place a tile. This means that if you get lucky and your opponent gets unlucky, you can force them to take a tile that’s woefully unhelpful for them (it might have no crowns or block off a territory that they were trying to connect or expand. It’s rude and mildly hateful, but, I mean, you’re not here to make friends.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- For people who want that sort of thing, it’s a meatier Kingdomino. There’s a lot of discussion around this and the general feeling is that this game came first and then it was distilled into Kingdomino, rather than Kingdomino having a bunch of additional features added onto it. If you like Kingdomino but wish it were more complex, this will be for you.
- The art manages to be even more whimsical than the base game. I already really appreciated the art, and I appreciate it even more now that I am looking for some of it. It’s fun and bright and colorful and whimsical.
- The insert is pretty solid. Holds everything pretty well, which I appreciate.
- It feels like it’s added more pathways to victory than the basic Kingdomino. Since there’s more complexity, there are more ways to score points and strategies you can utilize to be successful. If you’re already familiar with Kingdomino, this might be a nice way to expand your horizons (gently) into slightly heavier games and keep moving upwards from there. It’s nice that it adds that strategic upgrade rather than every addition to the game just trying to push it up a weight class.
- I kind of wish we had a score sheet for the base game, as well. You can use one of these for the base game; just ignore everything about red tiles and money and you should be fine.
- I like that the art on both boxes syncs up. I know that that’s hard to do well, but it’s a super nice touch (again, just like Coldwater Crown: The Sea). I appreciate the artist being able to do that.
- I don’t think we explicitly needed two green territory types. We could have had a like, super-rad snow terrain or something, but we got Forest and Plains. It’s confusing because the yellow terrain is like… Fields, not Desert, so my mental model for this entire game is off.
- I’ve gotten the denomination of the 9-money coins wrong in literally every game. I think it’s because 7 Wonders has 6-money coins and it keeps throwing me off. It’s not really the game’s fault (it’s pretty clearly labelled), but man is it frustrating for me.
- For people who do not want that sort of thing, it’s a meatier Kingdomino. It’s always nice when you can use something as a pro and a con, and I think that it cuts both ways in this instance. For players who are looking for a simple and solid gateway game, this is maybe a step above that, but not necessarily in a way that’s always particularly useful. It can feel (to some) as though some things were just added for the sake of adding complexity (or some element of take-that, via the Dragon). Whether or not that’s a problem is up to you, but I know where I fall as far as this is concerned.
- It loses the quickness that was one of the things I liked best about Kingdomino. Now there are so many more avenues to analyze and, in doing so, so many more holes for people to get trapped in while trying to figure out what they want to do next on their turn. It’s not the explicitly worst thing in the world, but everything takes so much longer now that you need to decide if you want to add guards or buy buildings or pay the Dragon. For some, that’s going to be seen as a significant regression.
Overall: 7.25 / 10
Overall, Queendomino is pretty good! I think I’d be generally much happier with it if Kingdomino didn’t already exist, personally, as I think Kingdomino is a bullseye on the level of complexity and playtime I’m looking for in a game of that style. As a result, Queendomino is kind of a Waluigi; definitely appealing to some, but can really only exist in sort of a conversational opponency to its more well-known counterpart. Some people are going to love it because it’s quirky and weird, but others are going to question if it ever really needed to get made. I still enjoy Queendomino a fair bit, but if I’m choosing between one or the other (especially given how often I play with new players), I’m almost always going to bring Kingdomino to the table. I suppose that’s why it got nominated for Game of the Year, right? Anyways, it’s important to understand why Queendomino exists, though, and that’s, in my opinion, to appeal to people who feel like Kingdomino is too light or too fast or too simple. If you fall into one of those camps but are only looking for something slightly heavier, I’d recommend giving Queendomino a whirl; it might be for you!