SNAP Review: Kingdomino Duel
Who can create the most powerful kingdom?
Kingdomino Duel is a two-player dice drafting game that leans heavily on the scoring and drafting mechanics from Kingdomino. Unsurprisingly, Kingdomino Duel was designed by Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc, and published by Blue Orange.
We’ll tell you all our thoughts on the game in minutes – or read on below.
How to Play
One player rolls the dice, and chooses one. The second player chooses two of the remaining dice, and the first player gets the last remaining die.
Both players use their dice to create a “domino” to draw in their kingdom, following the normal Kingdomino placement rules (must touch the castle in the center or another domino).
Die faces with an X work like crowns, adding a multiplier to the connected “domain”.
But here’s something new! Die faces without an X gain you “favor” towards spells in the central “spellbook”. The first player to fill in all the spots next to a given spell gets that benefit; the other player cannot use it.
Spells are special abilities, such as splitting your “domino”, choosing two dice first, or rotating a die to any side. The two rarest spells are immediate – adding an extra X anywhere in your kingdom, or picking a type of “domain” that will score 3 points for each separate domain of that type at the end of the game.
There’s an additional ability that everyone can use once: color in the roof of your castle to add an extra X to one part of the domino you just played.
Game End and Scoring
Once no more dominos can be drawn into either player’s kingdom, the game ends.
Scoring works just like Kingdomino: multiply the Xs in a domain by the number of shields in that domain.
At first, we weren’t impressed by Kingdomino Duel. It’s more complex than Kingdomino (with all the spellbook options) and it didn’t seem more interesting. The rulebook didn’t help much: what should be a simple game was explained with new terms. They should have leaned in harder to using Kingdomino terms since most players would be familiar with that.
Kingdomino Duel is far more luck-dependent than the original Kingdomino. Yes, you’re still drafting, but now you’re dependent on dice. Unlucky rolls can make or break your strategy. One of the things we love about Kingdomino is how the weighting works (number on the back for ordering was a good indicator of how valuable the domino is), and that’s missing here.
Your main goal is still to maximize your points with Xs and shields to make high-value domains. But you must also pay attention to your opponent’s kingdom and the spellbook! Sometimes it will make more sense to take a die that’s not as valuable for you, simply to prevent your opponent from getting it.
Compact and Quick
As is common in this type of roll-and-write game, we found ourselves wishing for erasers about once per game. You’ll want to pack one into the box.
Although you could pack this game into a zip-top baggie to easily fit in a purse or pocket, the box does a good job of keeping everything at your fingertips. Anitra really likes the cleverness of using both sides of the paper – one side shows the blank kingdom ready to be filled, and the other side is the spellbook. So even though you have 3 sheets on the table, 1 can be re-used in the next game.
The more we played Kingdomino Duel, the more we appreciate it. It’s filling a different niche than its predecessor: compact, quick, and easy to save state if necessary (just keep track of whose turn it is to roll!). It’s a great game to bring on a date or any time you’ll have 15 minutes to play a game that doesn’t take up much space.
The age recommendation of 8+ is about right. Younger kids can play the original Kingdomino, but they will have trouble splitting their attention between the spellbook, their kingdom, and their opponent in this version.
We rate Kingdomino Duel 4/5 coats of arms. Ask for it at your friendly local game store, or find it on Amazon.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Kingdomino Duel from Blue Orange Games for this review.
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Number of Players: 2
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: 20 minutes