I love Kingdomino. The concepts are so simple that I’ve been able to play it with a three-year-old (although Dragomino may be a better choice). It’s why Kingdomino won the Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) award in 2017. But because of that simplicity, it can feel a little flat after a while. Is there a game that offers something more?
Designer Bruno Cathala has once again teamed up with artist Cyril Bouquet to create Kingdomino Origins, a stand-alone sequel to Kingdomino. Instead of a medieval kingdom, you’re mapping out a land area for a group of hunter-gatherers in prehistoric times.
Kingdomino Origins adds new layers of strategy, but still claims to be for ages 8+, playable in 45 minutes or less.
How to Play
There are three entirely separate game modes in Kingdomino Origins. The rulebook suggests that you try them in order of increasing complexity. All three modes use the same domino-placing and drafting mechanics that we’ve come to know and love in Kingdomino, which I won’t re-hash here.
Discovery mode is the introduction to Kingdomino Origins, and it feels very familiar. Instead of “crowns”, you’re gaining “comfort points”, represented by small campfires.
The twist is that not every campfire is printed on the dominoes! If you place a volcano within your territory, it erupts and sends out a fire token to place on a nearby land type.
Most volcanoes are “single” type, which means you get a one-fire token, which you can place up to three spaces away. But there are some “double” volcanoes (two-fire token, two spaces away), and there is one powerful “triple” volcano which sends a three-fire token to a space immediately adjacent.
Once you place a fire token it cannot be moved. It will add to your “comfort points” at the end of the game. Comfort points are calculated exactly as you’d expect: it’s the number of fires present in a land area, multiplied by that area’s connected squares.
The second mode of play adds resources to collect. When flipping over dominos for a new round, look for resource symbols on each square and add a small wooden resource token to each. There are no resources on plains (yellow), volcanoes, or anywhere a fire is burning.
When a player has more of a particular resource than anyone else, they get the Totem tile for that resource type. The Totem always goes to the player who has the most of its resource type. But watch out! Fires launched from the volcanoes destroy resources where they land.
At the end of the game, calculate your comfort points for each territory. Then add one point for each resource token in your territories, and bonus points from any Totems you own.
The most complex mode gets rid of the Totems and lets you actually use those resource tokens to do something.
In Tribe mode, you add a small secondary board with Caveman tiles. After placing a domino in your territory, you can also recruit a Caveman.
You need two resources of different types to take one of the four face-up Caveman tiles. Spend four different resources (one of each of type) to look through the face-down tiles and choose any one you like.
After recruiting a Caveman, you need to place them. They must go on an empty square – no other Caveman, campfire, fire token, or wooden resource.
Most caveman tiles are Hunter-Gatherers. These earn points based on resources surrounding their square, although the Fire Lady likes to be surrounded by fire and the Shaman wants to be next to other cavemen. The other type of cavemen is the Warrior – these earn points in a connected group, based on their combined power and how large the group is (hm… sounds familiar).
Once again, calculate your comfort points by region, then add the points you get from each person on your territory.
If you enjoy Kingdomino and have been looking for something more, Kingdomino Origins might be the right fit for your family.
Discovery mode can replace the original Kingdomino for most families. It’s a tiny bit more complex because of the volcanoes, but that makes it more flexible. New options open up when you can choose where to place fires. Suddenly, a big area of “worthless” land can earn a lot of points!
The other two modes are more complicated, but also a lot more fiddly. After trying Totem mode once, I never want to play it again. There are so many little wooden tokens, and you have to keep them in place on the tiles even as you build your map. But the only time you remove one is if fire lands on it.
Tribe mode is where Kingdomino Origins really differentiates itself. You’ll want a few cavemen on your map to maximize your score, but you need multiple resources to recruit cavemen. It becomes a balancing act to get the resources you need, while still grabbing fires and desirable land types. And when you recruit a caveman, you want to surround them with the thing they like best – so try to spend the resources from a spot where they aren’t helpful for bonus points!
There’s a lot more to keep track of here, but the core decisions are still the same – which domino to choose, and where to put it.
The box for Kingdomino Origins says 8+. I think this is true for Discovery mode. in fact, Discovery mode is so similar to the original Kingdomino that I think it will replace the original game for our family. You can even just ignore the volcanoes as dead spots for the simplest experience.
Even though I didn’t like it, Totem mode is a good stepping stone for kids before trying Tribe mode for the first time. My favorite way to play will be Tribe mode, though is best for players who are ready to add another layer of strategy.
It’s clear the designer took elements of Queendomino (the first Kingdomino sequel) and folded them into Origins to make a game that hits the sweet spot for family gaming. We often talk on the podcast about the value of a game that can flex difficulty, and Kingdomino Origins gets it right. I can play Discovery mode with my littlest gamers and give them the freedom to decide when to bring it up a notch.
Kingdomino Origins does cost about $10 more than Kingdomino, but you get more than double the game in the box, so I think it’s worth it. Find it on Amazon or your friendly local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Kingdomino Origins from Blue Orange for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Age Range: 8+ (we say 10+ for Tribe mode)
Number of Players: 2-4
Playtime: 25 minutes