Hold onto your crowns—the giants are coming! These big, bumbling oafs have showed up in your humble Kingdomino and they never watch where they’re sitting. You’ll have to chase them out of your kingdom if you want to keep your crowns safe.
What Is Kingdomino: Age of Giants?
Kingdomino: Age of Giants is an expansion for Kingdomino or Queendomino for 2 to 5 players, ages 8 and up, and takes about 20 minutes to play. Age of Giants will release at Gen Con this year with a retail price of $19.99, and you should start seeing it in stores in early August. You will need a copy of either Kingdomino or Queendomino to use Age of Giants.
Kingdomino: Age of Giants Components
Here’s what’s in the box:
- Domino Tower
- 12 Domino tiles
- 17 Challenge tiles
- 6 Giant meeples
- Brown Castle
- Brown Starting tile
- 2 Brown meeples
The brown components add a 5th player to either Kingdomino or Queendomino (which typically only go up to 4 players), and the small castle and king meeples are the same type as before. It did seem a little strange to me to use brown as the color, simply because it’s not usually anyone’s favorite, but at least it stands out. The starting tile has the mosaic look from Queendomino instead of the plain courtyard from Kingdomino, though since the castle is sitting on it, it doesn’t matter that much.
The giant meeples are tall wooden meeples, printed on the front and back with an illustration. All of them are identical, which is fine, though I kind of wish the meeples were as varied as the illustrations on the cover or the tiles.
The new domino tiles are labeled A through F, and 49 through 54. The A–F tiles have two landscapes as usual, but also depict a giant on the tile. 49–54 have landscapes (usually with some number of crowns) and also some giant footprints walking across them.
The challenge tiles are the same size as the dominoes, though they’re marked differently on the backs so you won’t get them mixed up. Each one provides a special scoring bonus for meeting certain conditions. For the most part, the iconography on these is intuitive, though there are a few that may need a little more explanation the first time you use them.
The domino tower is a fun accessory: it has a magnetic lid, and you open it up and put all the dominoes inside, face-down. The front of the tower has a small, domino-sized slit at the bottom so that you can slide dominoes out, one at a time. The only downside I’ve seen with it is that as you have fewer and fewer tiles left inside, it’s easy to lift the whole stack of dominoes inside the tower because there’s not enough weight to keep them at the bottom. So it gets a little tricky to pull tiles out near the end of the game—one solution is to thrown the unused challenge tiles on top of the stack.
How to Play Kingdomino: Age of Giants
The goal of the game, as in Kingdomino and Queendomino, is to build the most valuable kingdom using the dominoes.
Mix up all of the Age of Giants dominoes with either the Kingdomino or Queendomino tiles and place them all into the domino tower, face down. Mix up the challenge tiles and choose two at random to reveal, placing the rest back in the box.
Each player gets a meeple, a starting tile, and a castle. (In a 2-player game, each player gets 2 meeples). For the first round, randomize the turn order.
Each round, you will draw 5 dominoes from the tower and arrange them in numerical order. The letters are considered lower than 1. Depending on the number of players, you’ll discard some of the tiles (the center tile in a 4-player game, and the 2nd and 4th tiles in a 3-player game). This will leave exactly enough for each player to claim one, which is done in the usual manner.
If you place a domino into your kingdom that has a giant on it (tiles A-F), then you must take a giant meeple and place it on an available crown in your kingdom. You may choose which crown it covers, but once placed it may not be changed. If you have no available crowns, the giant meeple is discarded.
If you place a domino into your kingdom that shows giant footprints on it (tiles 49-54), then you may immediately send one of your giants to another player’s kingdom, where they must choose a crown to place it on. If you have no giants, then nothing happens.
If a giant is covering a crown when the game ends, that crown doesn’t count toward your score—just ignore it when calculating your score.
After tallying up your score as usual, you also check the two challenge tiles. Anyone who fulfills the conditions shown on the two tiles scores bonus points. For instance, you may score extra points for each water tile that is surrounding your castle, or for each field that’s in a corner of your kingdom. The two variant scoring rules in Kingdomino, for having your castle in the center of your kingdom and having no gaps in your kingdom, are both represented on challenge tiles as well.
Why You Should Play Kingdomino: Age of Giants
Age of Giants isn’t a huge overhaul of Kingdomino the way that Queendomino was—it just adds a few small tweaks to the game. Well, I suppose one of them is a giant tweak: the giants themselves. That’s certainly the focus in this expansion, and although it only adds 12 new tiles to the game, those can have a big impact. Losing a crown on a big territory can be devastating, but getting rid of those giants can be tricky. There are six tiles for giants to show up, and only six tiles that make giants leave. Unfortunately, if you’ve got a giant infestation, you’re still competing with other players for those giant-repellent tiles, because they tend to have a lot of crowns on them.
One of the most clever things about Kingdomino is the way that the turn order is determined by the value of the tiles, so if you take a high value tile, then you’ll go later in the next round. Turn order becomes even more important in Age of Giants: when you’re trying to get rid of giants, you’ll probably need to go early in order to have a chance at a tile that removes them, but of course there’s no guarantee that it will appear. And every time you take one of the giant-removal tiles, you’ll probably go last in the next round and risk getting yet another giant… but then you’ll get first pick the following round.
The challenge tiles are a fun addition. My daughter always liked playing with the variant rules about keeping the castle in the center and having no holes, so I like the fact that now there’s a variety of bonus rules that you can throw into the mix (including her two favorites). In theory, it gives everyone another potential source of points, and they can decide whether to attempt them or not. In practice … I have to admit that I feel like they’re often a distraction that has nudged me toward poor decisions. For instance, if a challenge tile gives bonus points for having fields in the four corners of your kingdom, I may focus too much of my energy trying to make that happen, only to create a kingdom that scores very poorly in every other aspect. But I like the challenge tiles for that very reason: it’s not always an easy way to score more points; often it’s a tug of war between scoring for a challenge and building a good kingdom. What’s fun is that you can even throw the challenge tiles into a game of Kingdomino or Queendomino just to mix things up a little, if you didn’t want to deal with giants.
The fifth player is possible because Age of Giants adds 12 tiles—exactly enough to build another kingdom—so you can’t just pull the brown pieces out and use them in Kingdomino without the giants.
One thing that was curious to me is that the rules don’t explain how to combine Age of Giants with both Kingdomino and Queendomino together, in case you’ve been combining the sets to play with more players. Does it allow you to play up to 7 players instead? It’s not clear, though perhaps they just don’t recommend mixing everything together like that—in which case it would have been nice to have that explicitly stated.
I liked the big changes in Queendomino a lot, and felt that they made Kingdomino a bit meatier, for when I wanted to play something a bit longer and more complicated, but I know there are people who felt it was just a bit too much. Age of Giants splits the difference—it doesn’t add too many new rules, so gameplay feels fairly similar and you don’t have so many new things to keep track of. Of course, if you prefer Queendomino, you can mix in Age of Giants and you’ll have even more complexity to play with. Either way, you’ll quickly grow to fear these troublesome giants as they crush your crowns.
Watch for Kingdomino: Age of Giants in stores and online in early August!
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.