Age of Giants is an expansion for both Kingdomino and Queendomino, despite having only the prior name on the cover. Published by Blue Orange, coming from famed designer Bruno Cathala, giants, a tile tower and quests are all added into the tile placement, pattern building experience. The expansion also comes with an additional set of king meeples, extending the player count of either royal-domino title to 2 – 5 players. However, Kingdomino flourished due to its simplicity – which is where Queendomino faltered – so is adding more a recipe for success? Let’s find out!
Note: This review details the changes and additions from the expansion to Kingdomino. If you are unaware of the brilliant base game check out its review here first.
Setup isn’t drastically changed from the base game. Shuffling in the 12 new giant featuring tiles, all tiles are added into the tile tower. While this expansion removes the ability to use the additional rules from Kingdomino, it adds quest tiles – which Middle Kingdom and Harmony have become. Randomly selecting two of the 17 quest tiles the game is ready, once everyone has grabbed their meeple(s) and castle tile.
Regardless of the player count each round five tiles are to be pulled from the tower. The giant arrival tiles come with letters on them and these go ahead of numbers, otherwise the tiles are arranged in the same order as before. Depending on the player count either the 3rd (middle) tile, or the 2nd and 4th tiles, are then discarded. Thus, players are left with the same number of tiles to choose from as in the original game. At the higher end of the spectrum having new higher numbers are the giant footprint tiles. This results in the tile process increasing the chances of the 12 giant tiles coming into play.
Choosing tiles is unaffected, though when taking a tile with a giant or giant footprints a new step is triggered. When adding a tile with a giant on it into your kingdom a giant arrives. The player must take one of the giant meeples and place it onto a crown symbol on any of their kingdom tiles. If a player is fortunate enough to not have a crown symbol at this stage the giant’s arrival is ignored.
At the end of the game a crown covered by a giant is not counted. To get rid of a giant players will need to place a tile with giant footprints. This sees them remove a giant from their kingdom, sending it to a kingdom of an opponent. Ridding yourself of the giant is the benefit, with the footprint featuring tiles always last for the next rounds turn order. The opponent gets to choose which crown the giant covers, just like when it initially arrived into your kingdom.
A scorepad is included to help players count up their points. While the giants merely remove crowns – not increasing the complexity of scoring – there are two additional opportunities to score points. The quest tiles can offer up to 40 bonus points. Therefore, players need to take them into account when building their kingdoms. Some will score based upon having the castle tile surrounded by a specific terrain type, with others scoring for zones of 5+ terrain without any crowns.
The expansion is almost two modules and the expansion is improved by treating it as such – objectives and giants. As none of the quest tiles refer to giants specifically they can be used in every game. While I wouldn’t use them in a player’s first game, akin to not using the advanced rules in Kindomino, they will otherwise never not be used. Changing the focus and the balance of what is the strongest terrain makes for interesting choices, which differ from one game to the next. At the same time these are simple objectives to understand, making the experience still very accessible.
The giants add a minor amount of interaction into the experience, on top of purposely claiming dominos that another player could use to score big. Introducing somewhat of a take that element to ridding yourself of a giant could be annoying to those whom like to do their own thing. Thankfully, they don’t massively impact the whole game, with often only a few giants coming into play in a 2 player game. It is also something that can be prepared for. If you have a terrain zone that is 1×1 in size and has a crown a giant there will only lose you one point. There is also an air of hope when you have a giant that a footprint tile comes out. Often this creates a choice between one of these tiles and potentially another that’ll help score big points.
The tile tower should be a wonderful addition but it adds awkwardness to drawing the tiles. It is a two handed job, with tiles not simply sliding out of the bottom with ease. As the game progresses this becomes a problem as there are less tiles in the tower weighing down those still inside. Combine this with having to remove tiles at 2 – 4 player counts and tiny lulls creep into the previously streamlined experience. The logic of discarding a middle tile to boost the impact of the giants works well to guarantee some giants in every game. Alas, there is a small time cost to doing this.
Overall, the additional choices that players will have to make due to Age of Giants is just the right amount. In Kingdomino when specific tiles showed up they’d be instantly chosen, though now they aren’t always the most beneficial. There is a minor slowing to the Kingdomino experience but it is still vastly more streamlined than Queendomino. The tile tower could have been a great addition but, for the awkwardness of filling it and pulling tiles from it, having the tiles just stacked up works better. Nevertheless, the few extra meaningful choices that the Age of Giants expansion brings to the experience earns its space on my gaming shelf!
(Editor’s Note: Kingdomino Age of Giants expansion was provided to us for the review by Coiledspring Games.)