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– by Fox Troilo

Kingdomino Duel by Blue Orange Games
Price:
Not yet set
Players:
2
Playtime:
20 minutes
Perfect for:
Duos that enjoy light strategic drafting with a hint of luck

Kingdomino Duel is a lightweight, two-person competitive game that has players carefully constructing their castles to score points. The components consist of 4 dice with various combinations symbols and multiple dots one each of the six sides, 2 pads of paper, and a pair of pencils. On a turn, the first player will roll the dice and choose one—this becomes one half of their “domino.” The second player takes two that appeal to them, and the first player takes the remaining die.

The players then sketch the symbols from the dice they drafted onto the grids pre-printed on their pads, with two basic rules: 1) the symbols must remain adjacent (unless using a special power—more on that in a moment); and 2) at least one of the symbols must border an existing symbol on the pad, or the central castle tile. Play continues like this until players have filled up their grids and are unable to place anymore “dominos.”

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The gameboards are then scored. First, the number of tiles within unbroken area of adjacent symbols are counted. This number is then multiplied by the number of dots within the area. So, if there are 4 tiles with striped shields, and two of those tiles have multiplier dots, then the score for that area is 8. The scores for each area are added together, and person with the highest total at the end wins.

What works in Kingdomino Duel is the fast play and the inventive twists. The actual components are incredibly compact, so the game can be thrown into a small bag and broken out quite easily. The rules are quite simple and intuitive, so most games take about 20 minutes or less, even for new players. Furthermore, special abilities keep each game relatively fresh. These special abilities are obtained by collecting certain symbols that do not have the multiplier on them faster than your opponent. The abilities players can acquire include splitting apart the “domino” to place the two dice anywhere on the board, or changing the value of one dice to whatever the player chooses.

For players who don’t enjoy luck-heavy games, Kingdomino Duel may not be for you. While there is definitely strategy laden with the choices of which dice to draft and where to place them, players are still at the mercy of what is rolled at any particular point. This theoretically means that the symbols that appear could be unbalanced (even though statistically this shouldn’t occur over a long enough time period).

Kingdomino Duel is a very nice, thoughtful roll-and-write game in an era where the mechanic is suddenly all the rage. It takes the heart of the gameplay within the tile-laying version (simply Kingdomino) and adapts it well for this version.

Recommended if you like: Yahtzee, Dominos, Kingdomino

Final Grade: A-

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Fox serves as an entertainment journalist in the Washington, D.C. When not covering cinematic news for LRM, he critiques films as a member of the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. Fox also has a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Strategy from Indiana University Bloomington.