Something that having kids has reminded me, is that when we’re young, our lives revolve around playing. It’s how we learned things and how we interacted with concepts we didn’t fully understand yet. I’ve enjoyed playing games with my kids because, aside from giving us time away from TV, it’s a chance to connect as a family and just have fun.
As an avid gamer, I try to not make the experience about me and my enjoyment and want to focus on theirs. A favorite game for my wife and me is Kingdomino. We’ve played it so many times and have just enjoyed the experience and time together. So I was intrigued when I learned that Blue Orange had come out with Dragomino, a “My First Kingdomino” game. It’s a quick game, playing in about 15 minutes for 2-4 players. It’s aimed at ages 5 and older.
Dragomino is all about exploring lands in search of dragon eggs! Whoever finds the most dragons will be the winner. The game takes some familiar concepts from its big brother, while pairing it down for the younger crowd.
Everyone starts out by taking the same tile and a first player is picked, receiving a Mommy Dragon token. After laying out four tiles, players will go around picking a domino and placing them next to one of the lands they already have. If they can’t make a match, it’s not a big deal. There isn’t the 5×5 spatial constraint as in Kingdomino, freeing up kids to focus more on the matching.
If, however, players can make a match, they’ll receive an egg of that land color. Once it’s flipped over, if it’s a dragon, they’ll score a point; if it’s just an empty egg, they’ll take the Mommy Dragon token from whoever has it. Once a round finishes, whoever has the Mommy Dragon is the new first player and a new round is started. Once all the dominoes have been played, scores are totaled, with a bonus point going to whoever finishes with the Mommy Dragon.
There’s a lot I appreciate about this game. I really like the artwork. It’s familiar enough from Kingdomino, but way more interesting to look at. Honestly, I kind of prefer these lands. Something else I really liked and so did my kids was the dragons. Blue Orange could have been really lazy here and designed one dragon to be printed on the back of the eggs, just recoloring them for each of the different lands. But they actually made cute dragons in different poses and styles that extended beyond one color! They each have their own little personalities, which my kids really liked. Because of course, they did, giving the dragons further personification with their imaginations and fart noises.
There might be some confusion, especially with younger kids with the colors, specifically the greens. There was a choice here to have a lighter and darker green, which are different lands. An adult playing Kingdomino might make this mistake at first too but could be quickly corrected. It’s a little harder to explain this to a kid, especially if those land types aren’t side-by-side. I kind of wish they’d gone a different direction and just picked one green land type, using any other color just to help clear up this confusion for younger children.
As I mentioned before, this feels like a paired down version of Kingdomino, but it also brings new concepts to the game to allow it to stand on its own. It was a good choice to make the focus on matching the tiles. Kids are already familiar with matching or can become more so with games like this. I think it definitely accomplishes its goal of gearing this to a younger crowd by not overly complicating gameplay. It also hums along nice and quick, which is great for those with a shorter attention span.
If this is your kid, I suggest playing one on one and maybe skipping using the Mommy Dragon token (I’ll let you know why in a sec). As kids get older, there is an included variation on the game which ties into the tile artwork, having players look for tiles they’ve connected which have watering holes. This allows them to look at two eggs, keeping one and returning the other. It doesn’t add a lot more strategy, but it’s a variant that might keep an eight or nine-year-old interested and serves as a good segue in terms of strategy to Kingdomino.
The Mommy Dragon is kind of a neat idea for changing up the order between rounds, but it’s not without some flaws. I don’t think it works quite as well in a 2-player game, because it may not change the order as often as in a 3-4 player game. It also kind of complicates keeping track of when a round is over. If the Mommy Dragon has changed hands in a round, the adult is going to have to keep track of this, who still has yet to play and who’s the last player. That could be cumbersome and distract from your enjoyment of playing with your kids. I opted to not use it with my younger ones. I honestly didn’t want to confuse them with changing who’s supposed to go first.
Dragomino is another good children’s game from Blue Orange Games. It offers itself as something familiar but new for those familiar with Kingdomino, and it’s very well geared for younger kids. They will really enjoy the various dragons they’ll get to see on the eggs and their imaginations will engage with the characters. The rules are simple enough and gameplay fast enough that your kids will have an enjoyable time. The Mommy Dragon token in Dragomino may find its place with slightly older kids or with those who don’t need to have player order stay the same, so don’t be afraid to house rule it out with younger ones.
Credit: Dragomino Review