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Subject: Z10N X Reviews #6 - Queendomino: The Perfect Step Up rss

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Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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This review series is dedicated to reviewing games I’ve received from publishers in exchange for an unbiased review. I play each of these games multiple times before reviewing them. Subscribe to this Geeklist to be notified when I publish a review: Z10N X Reviews. Please Geekmail me if you're interested in having me review your game!

Introduction: My love affair with Bruno Cathala’s games is well documented. Here are links to my reviews of 7 Wonders Duel, Mr. Jack Pocket, Kingdomino, and Dice Stars. Additionally, Five Tribes is in my top ten, but I haven’t played it enough times to review it yet. Blue Orange Games sent me a copy of Queendomino to review, and I’ve almost never been more excited to review a game. Kingdomino is one of my favorite gateway-style games; Queendomino promises similar gameplay with added depth. Does it deliver? Keep reading.

How to Play: Players draft tiles, which are numbered 1-48. These tiles are arranged, in either sets of 3 or 4, from lowest to highest, and whoever drafts the lowest valued tile in one round gets to draft first in the next round. Players place these tiles into their kingdoms according to specific rules, forming a 5x5 grid (or 7x7 in a two-player game). After placing a tile but before selecting a new tile, players can engage in several optional activities such as placing workers to gain coins, purchasing building tiles to gain crucial points, or burning a building tile another player wants. Some tiles have crowns on them, and players try to match terrain types in groups because final points are determined by multiplying the number of crowns in a terrain area by the number of tiles of that terrain that are touching it. For example, if a grouping of 6 desert tiles has three tiles with 1 crown each, that’s 3 crowns in total. 3 crowns times 6 grouped tiles equals 18 points. In addition to gaining points this way, players earn points from the building tiles they bought during the game. Whoever has the most points at the end, of course, wins! Here's an example of a completed board with all building tiles, knights, and castles removed:



What this game does well:
1. It retains Kingdomino’s elegance. Anyone who has played the base game will immediately understand how to play this version. It’s very intuitive. Between placing a domino and selecting a new one, you simply follow a few more steps.
2. It adds depth to the gameplay. This game works best with people who already know how to play Kingdomino, and that’s why these two games work so well together. When a new player is comfortable with Kingdomino, they can simply move on to Queendomino. Do yourself a favor and keep them in the same box. They belong together.
3. You have more meaningful decisions to make. As I mentioned, this is basically Kingdomino with several added mechanisms. Those mechanisms add a ton of depth and strategy to the game. You can place workers to earn coins, use coins to buy buildings, which offer loads of point options, and possibly burn a building tile you don’t want another player to have. Five Tribes is a great scoring comparison: you can focus on a number of different scoring tactics while trying to make sure your opponents don’t run away with a particular strategy.
4. The art style and components are great. I love the unorthodox meeple colors in this version, especially the purple and orange (the color of my alma mater, University of Evansville). The tiles are thick, the design of the dragon and princess are really nice, and the added knights and castles are solid. All these new components, unfortunately, can make the game just a bit fiddly to set up; however, it’s not an important enough consideration to warrant noting in the section below.



Potential issues with this game:
1. It could use a reference card. I love the new elements in this game, but it’s hard to keep the order straight. I wish they’d included simple card-sized references for each player.
2. It can feel like a point salad, especially with two players. Scoring this game (again, especially with two) reminds me of scoring Five Tribes. In one category I might lose by 40+ points, and then I’ll rebound by scoring 50 points in the next category. During the game, I don’t feel like I have an especially accurate understanding of the point differential. This is mostly due to the building powers, since you can easily count terrain type points.



Rating:

The Bottom Line: While Queendomino still probably falls into the gateway game category, it’s an excellent step up from Kingdomino. I think there’s a spot in every collection for both games, since they serve different purposes and fit into one box. I'll still teach Kingdomino to family members and non-gaming friends, while Queendomino will come out with people who are already interested in games. Oddly enough, though I prefer Queendomino, I still see myself playing Kingdomino more often because of its versatility and quick playtime. To summarize, I appreciate how Queendomino is simple on the surface but offers plenty of scoring options, even if this can turn the game into a point salad. My rating (8/10) speaks for itself, but I’ll also note that I’ve placed Queendomino on my 2018 10x10 hardcore challenge list because I anticipate playing it at least ten times this year. Thanks to Blue Orange Games, once again, for sending this review copy for my high school board game club. It has been well received!
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