A RockyMountainNavy Royal Wedding – Variant play of #Queendomino (@BlueOrangeGames)

Courtesy BlueOrangeGames.com

OK, I admit it, Queendomino is growing on me over time. My first impression was maybe less than stellar, but I can see how I was expecting something different and not quite accepting (at the time) what I got. Today I admit that Queendomino is a popular game in the RockyMountainNavy household and shows no signs of going away soon. This weekend, we played the Royal Wedding variant and experienced yet another way the game is challenging and fun.

In the Royal Wedding variant, 3-4 players use the entire domino set from both Queendomino and Kingdomino to create 7×7 territories. The variant is very simple using only the tiles but none of the extra rules in Queendomino, making it a ‘larger version” of Kingdomino. Sounds easy, yes? A no-new-rules, simple build-a-grid version of Kingdomino.

Kingdomino 2-player 7×7. Close to what we were doing (BGG.com)

After playing our first Royal Wedding game (3-player) we all found our heads hurting. Hurting because we spent nearly 45 minutes thinking, and thinking very hard! As simple as it sounds, creating a 7×7 grid is a real challenge. Placing your current tile, planning ahead for the next one, and hoping to create a grid that can take whatever the future throws at you sounds easy but can also easily lead to Analysis Paralysis.

But the journey is worth it. The game result is huge territories, large scores and extreme satisfaction. Far from being a royal pain, Queendomino Royal Wedding is royal fun!

#FirstImpressions of #Queendomino (@BlueOrangeGames, 2017)

On of the big gaming hits of last year in the RockyMountainNavy family was the arrival of Kingdomino. The 2017 Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) winner is also a winner in this house as it is a lite, filler game that also serves as an excellent gateway game. Indeed, Mrs. RMN uses Kingdonimo to introduce her students to boardgaming.

Courtesy Blue Orange Games LLC

So popular was Kingdomino that Youngest RMN was just itching to get Queendomino. So, using some of his Christmas Cash he purchased the game. We broke it out immediately after getting home and played.

The first game was a letdown.

Courtesy Blue Orange Games LLC

Sure, the core mechanic (placing the “domino” and selecting a new one for next turn) remains the same as Kingdomino but the addition of Knights and Buildings and Towers and Taxes and the Dragon sorta fell flat. Maybe its because we didn’t fully understand the rules and didn’t utilize the new components as best we could. Maybe it was the very confused scoring round (I mean, you need a custom notepad?). The result was a kinda blah gaming experience.

Maybe we should of not gone into the game with such high expectations. The RMN Boys and I talked about our clash of expectations and reality and decided that Kingdomino and Queendomino, though being similar in name and core mechanic, are actually two very different games. Kingdomino is the “simple” version and as such it rightly meets the gateway game requirement. Queendomino, on the other hand, is more a “gamers game” with more advanced mechanics added in making it a much different game. With this new viewpoint we reassessed our feelings on Queendomino and agreed that it is a good, fun, lite-middleweight game that takes the Kingdomino core mechanic to a new level.

There is an episode of Miami Dice (with Tom Vasel) out there where they talk about Queendomino. Tom, who is not a fan of Kingdomino, likes Queendomino but constantly reminds the viewers that Queendomino is the game that (he believes) Kingdomino should of always been. He even casually dismisses the Spiel des Jahres win. When I first watched this episode I bristled at Tom’s attitude because I think he misses the point that we only really discovered after our first play; these are two games aimed at different segments of gamers. I got a little bit miffed at Tom (and Zee) in this video because they showed me an elitist attitude that I abhor. Not every game is a Heavy Cardboard candidate nor is every game a new Carcassonne. Many games have their niche and in the case of the RockyMountainNavy family Kingdomino filled one nicely. Queendonimo is not a bad game but it is taking a bit for us to warm to it because it is just so different then we expected. Tom and Zee, well-known spokesmen for the gaming hobby, seems to have forgotten that not everyone has their taste – or needs – in games. Their casual dismissal of Kingdomino is laziness at best and negligence towards their gaming audience at worst.

Queendomino will get played by the RMN Family but it will not replace Kingdomino. The two games compliment each other more than Queendomino “expands” Kingdomino. Two games for different gaming needs.

Featured image courtesy Blue Orange Games LLC

#FamilyFriday – King Me! with #Kingdomino from @BlueOrangeGames

Although I am a wargaming grognard at heart, in the course of the Family Game Nights this past year I now recognize that wargames are often a 2-player event.  This year, given that I usually game with two of the RockyMountainNavy Boys, finding a 3-player game has been a bit challenging. In place of wargames, we have turned to tabletop boardgames, like Scythe or Terraforming Mars. These games are a bit on the “heavier” side, sometime taking up to 3 hours to play! In looking for a lighter, maybe “filler” game, for the gaming shelf, I selected Kingdomino from Blue Orange Games

Courtesy Blue Orange Games

At the time of this writing Kingdomino is ranked #21 in Family Games on BoardGameGeek and #198 of all boardgames. It is also the 2017 Spiel des Jahres Winner. With these sorts of references it was sort of a no-brainer to purchase.

When the game arrived, I became a bit worried. Kingdomino is recommended for ages 6+ and the playtime is a very short 15 minutes? I asked myself, “could a game this simple really be that good?” I read the rulebook, watched a how-to video, and then sat down with my usual RockyMountainNavy Boy gaming partners. I started out playing each of them individually to teach them the game before we played a 3-player contest.

….and we played.

….and played.

…and played some more.

Courtesy Blue Orange Games

The first night we I played a total of seven games (five as a group) and we all loved it. Kingdominio is a simple game, but the easy mechanics mask challenging decisions. The challenge of placing your property then selecting your next one is simple and genius. This simple mechanic makes for sometimes agonizing decisions. One could easily play a game of Kingdomino in 10 minutes, but those folks are missing out on the agony that happens when you realize that property you placed three rounds ago is not going to work out and you will not make that 5×5 grid and your castle will not be in the middle. The short play time is not a drawback; if you realize your grid is horrible no worries for the game will end soon and you can quickly try again.

In the past two days I have personally played Kingdomino ten times already making it the most-played game of my year. The RMN Boys “appropriated” the box and have played uncounted-many more times. The RMN Boys and I play the Dynasty variant which is three games in-a-row with the highest cumulative score the winner. We enjoy the game so much that Mrs. RMN “recommended” we buy another copy to take to Korea to give to our niece next summer.

Although my grognard heart really wants to wargame, the family/parent side of me absolutely enjoys playing games with my boys. Wargames don’t always make it to the table, but with games like Kingdomino we all get great pleasure in gaming together and having fun.

And that’s the real goal; having fun. Kingdomino delivers royal fun and I am happy to add it to my gaming collection.