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Reiner Knizia’s Kingdoms Review
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Reiner Knizia’s Kingdoms, a strategic tile-laying board game from Skotos Tech, is now available from the app store. As is the hallmark of Dr. Knizia’s games, balanced gameplay and a good stroke of luck is of the highest order en route to victory over your cunning opponents.

Reiner Knizia’s Kingdoms Pros:

  • Classic Dr. Knizia-style strategic gameplay
  • Clean interface
  • Easy-to-learn, hard-to-master
  • Multiple difficulty levels

Reiner Knizia’s Kingdoms Cons:

  • No soundtrack or sound effects
  • No social gaming network integration or multiplayer functionality
  • No undo or option to replace mislaid tiles
  • Value numbers a bit on the small side

Kingdoms presents the player with a 6 x 5 grid upon which to place both castle tiles and value tiles. Each player receives 8 castle tiles and a stack of value tiles. There are two castles with a value of 1, three with a value of 2, two with a value of 3, and a single 4-value castle. These tiles are used to score points. The value tiles contain either positive or negative values, in addition to 3 special tiles that have varying effects on the game board. Each player takes a turn dragging a tile onto an empty grid space. Points are scored each time a row or column is completely filled. Positive and negative value tiles are combined and their sum is multiplied by the total value of all castles contained within the completed row or column for each player. Gameplay continues until the entire board is filled, completing a round. All 1-value castles are returned to each player, while all other played castles are lost. Two additional rounds are played, with the individual having the highest cumulative point total winning the game. Games are played between 2, 3, or 4 players, utilizing 3 levels of AI difficulty.

As mentioned, there are 3 special tile types that come into play and have significant impact on scoring. The dragon tile ignores all positive value tiles in the row and column in which it is contained, only taking into account the negative value tiles, resulting in big point losses for players who have built castles within those spaces. The mine tile doubles the summed point total for the row and column that it crosses, resulting in a big gain or loss for castle owners. The mountain tile acts as a break within its row and column, separating each into two rows and two columns that are scored separately based on its placement. This can be a helpful way of preventing an opponent from piggybacking on your high-scoring placement or distancing yourself from an unfortunate situation in which you may find yourself. It’s not uncommon to set yourself up to score big points, only to have an opponent drop a big negative value or a dragon and ruin your plans. You’ll also notice a lot of “me too” behavior as a high value tile may draw a large number of high-value castles from all players as they all seek to keep up with one another. Bunching your castles can lead to a huge payday as easily as a major fall. We had one situation where we dropped from a positive 22 mid-game score to a negative 44 when an opponent laid a single high-negative-value tile, effectively taking us out of the running for that game. We also had great luck where we were able to leapfrog opponents late in the game to steal the win. Luck plays a major role in the game, but some clever placement can also set you up for success, too.

Graphically, the game has a nice, clean look, with a solid background color and a variety of tile images to enjoy. Each player’s castle tiles has a colored outline to indicate to which player it belongs. Hand values and round indicators are tucked nicely away. Point values on tiles are tucked up in the upper left corner, with negative values adding a thin red outline. Unfortunately, these are quite small and somewhat difficult to read. We’d love to see the number size increased just a bit to make them clearly legible, as this is the most important info contained within the tile. There is no soundtrack, which was a bit disappointing. Any simple backing track would be welcome. The controls are ok, though we had a few instances where we misplaced a tile and could not replace it or undo it. A tap overturns a new value tile from the deck, while placing cards is as easy as dragging from your hand to an empty space or double-tapping on the desired location after tapping to select the tile. Dragging the tiles will highlight the space that it will be dropped on, but if you accidentally release your finger, you cannot undo your move.

Replay value is good, as no two games are alike. Replay value could be greatly improved by adding some sort of multiplayer functionality. There is no social networking integration, either, so you cannot compare high scores against other players or earn achievements for various accomplishments. The focus is strictly on the gameplay, which is pretty good. We did encounter an issue where the game froze on us a couple of times toward the end of matches, though we’re not sure why. Hopefully, the developers will be able to add some music, fix some minor bugs, and add multiplayer to really flesh out this fun game. For $3.99, it’s a bit on the pricey side, especially given its aforementioned shortcomings. As it stands, Reiner Knizia’s Kingdoms is a 4-Dimple pleasure.

Reiner Knizia's Kingdoms Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2010-10-27T23:49:03+00:00 rating 4.0 out of 5

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