Looking for a great game or two for the family? Do you enjoy the feeling that comes with games where you build up a town or city from nothing, expand, and build your kingdom? Those sound the type of games that our group loves and if you’re looking for more to add to your collection then it’s only a matter of time until you run into games like Kingdomino and Carcassonne.
Kingdomino and Carcassonne are two board games that feature city building and kingdom expansion. They are both similar because they allow you to expand your kingdom as the game progresses. Which of them should you choose?
Kingdomino is a straightforward board game where the value of the tiles used in a move determines scoring. Most Kingdomino games end in 15-25 minutes. Carcassonne is a slightly more complicated game that takes about 30-45 minutes. Scores come down to the road and cities constructed.
Are you stuck trying to choose between Kingdomino and Carcassonne? This article will cover all the key differences between both board games to help you, the pros and cons of both, and breakdown which game is the better choice based on the style/traits of the game so you can make an educated buying decision.
Let’s get started!
Kingdomino and Carcassonne Facts
Kingdomino and Carcassonne are two European-style board games that share similar gameplay. Players select tiles or dominos and then use a meeple (Carcassonne was actually the game that coined this term for board game pieces) to claim or build features and score points.
Players in Kingdomino have to build individual kingdoms that fit into 5×5 squares (or less depending on the number of players). In Carcassonne, players have to build a complete landscape shared between themselves and others. Both games end when there are no more tiles left.
Kingdomino Quick Facts
- Year created: 2016
- Number of players: 2-4
- Playing time: 15-20 minutes
- Recommended player age: 6+
- Recommended number of players: 2
Carcassonne Quick Facts
- Year created: 2000
- Number of players: 2-5
- Playing time: 30-45 minutes
- Recommended player age: 8+
Differences Between Kingdomino and Carcassonne
Kingdomino and Carcassonne are two great board games regularly pitched against each other due to their similarities. However, while they do have a superficial resemblance to each other, they also have numerous many differences. Let’s look at some of these in further detail:
The differences in the theme are one of the first things you’ll notice about both games as you compare them. Carcassonne is based on the medieval map of the city of Carcassonne and the nearby surroundings.
The game incorporates all the key elements of the city, including fields, towns, monasteries, and roads, to give you a realistic image of a landscape.
On the other hand, Kingdomino features the classic Grimm fairy tale. The terrain (fields, pastures, and forests) is bright, colorful, and playful.
The board looks very similar to a painting when you’re done placing your tiles.
In Carcassonne, all the players have to place their tiles on the same board. In Kingdomino, players have their own kingdom to complete.
This small detail affects how players interact during the game. In Carcassonne, players try to block opponents on the map directly. In Kingdomino, the interaction is indirect. You have to reserve tiles strategically, watch your opponent’s kingdom expansion, etc.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the tiles in both games is the size. Carcassonne tiles are 1×1, while the Kingdomino tiles are based on 2×1 dominoes. The number of features on both tiles also varies. Every Kingdomino tile has just one terrain type (maximum two per domino), and the tile must touch the same terrain during placing.
In Carcassonne, the tiles are a lot more detailed. You can find roads, fields, towns, or a mix of all three on one tile. When placing the tile, you have to ensure each side matches the neighboring one as closely as possible. It sounds difficult, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly as you create a continuous patch of connected terrain that fits perfectly.
Drawing tiles in Carcassonne is straightforward. You just need to draw a tile and place it. In Kingdomino, the process is a bit more interesting.
Players lay out a new row of dominoes for every round, sorted by their value. Players will then mark the dominoes as theirs by placing a king token on them. If you placed your king over a domino in round one, you also get the first pick on the dominoes in round two, and so on.
So, you always have a shot at picking a better domino if you chose the poorer option in the previous round. The strategy aspect of the game comes to the fore here, as you need to make sure you pick the better domino with each round.
In Carcassonne, players build on the same landscape, competing for space. You can build cities and roads and map out certain areas as your farmland. The landscape may include gardens, monasteries, and farmlands. If you’ve got some expansion attachments, the landscape might also include monasteries, cathedrals, and airports.
In Kingdomino, you get your own kingdom within a specified grid. Tiles feature wasteland, forest, and desert, which is how you build your kingdom. Some of the tiles are marked with crowns, denoting higher scoring values. The castle tile is the grid’s dominant feature.
In Carcassonne, you score points by building cities and roads. You can add points to the final calculations via unfinished cities and resources. In Kingdomino, the values of the tiles used will determine your final score. Players calculate points at the end of the game.
The tiles and dominos in both games can fit in different ways, but some combinations aren’t allowed. Also, some building decisions will bring in more points than others. For instance, you’ll get points if you end a road in Carcassonne. However, more savvy players will make the road as long as possible to achieve a higher score.
In Kingdomino, the scoring is more of a game of chance. Even when you choose a good tile, it has to fit in your kingdom, or it must be discarded. Players calculated the points total at the end of the game.
Game Expansions Available
Kingdomino’s Age of Giants is the main expansion of the game. It features new challenges and allows you to add more players to each game. The Court is another lesser-known expansion. It adds royal characters and additional resources to the game. You can attach the resources to the tiles and use them to buy characters.
While some people count Queendomino as a Kingdomino expansion, it’s actually a standalone game that offers an upgrade on some of Kingdomino’s core features. However, you can add it as an expansion as well.
Carcassonne has a larger library of expansions that introduce many interesting new angles to the game. Some expansions feature:
- Magic portals
If you want to get Carcassonne and some expansions, watch out for boxed sets and compilations to keep the price down.
Kingdomino Pros and Cons
- It’s easy to learn.
- The board and pieces are well-constructed.
- The package is compact.
- The tile claiming system is innovative.
- The theme is playful, colorful, and attractive.
- Player interaction is limited.
- It may be too simple for long-term board game enthusiasts.
Carcassonne Pros and Cons
- It’s simple to learn.
- Each game session is less than an hour long.
- The picturesque medieval landscape is very appealing.
- It requires a good blend of luck and strategy.
- The scoring system allows the use of various strategies.
- It’s not very demanding and may become boring after a while.
- There are different iterations of the game rules.
- Little player interaction.
How To Choose Between Kingdomino and Carcassonne
You’ve seen the differences between Kingdomino and Carcassonne as well as the pros and cons of each. How do you decide the best one to go for? Ideally, you should buy both of them as they are both unique games with interesting takes on strategy tile games. They are both under $50 for the base games. However, if you have to choose between the two, here are some points to consider.
As mentioned above, both of these games are good for young players as the learning curve on both is similar. However, younger children and people new to tile games may find Kingdomino rules easier to grasp. The pictures on the dominos are clearer, and they come with more detail making them easier to understand. It’s also easier to learn the scoring system.
On the other hand, Carcassonne is a lot more challenging to grasp. New players need multiple sessions to understand the tiles, the symbols on the board, and the scoring system. Most newbies keep the game manual on hand to understand every aspect of the game. Therefore, children may find it too tedious to pick up.
Playing Time and Board Size
If you want to play a quick game with your friends on a coffee table, Kingdomino is the game to go with. It doesn’t take up too much space, and even if you exhaust the dominos, you can expect to complete the game in less than an hour. Most games end in around 25 minutes.
If you have space as big as a billiards table for your games and want a game to which you can devote your Saturday afternoon, Carcassonne is the game for you. You can make the sessions even more competitive if you add an expansion or three. Expansions mean more tiles, however, so you’ll also need to make sure you’ve got the player numbers. If you use expansion sets without additional players, the game can go on for longer than the average 45-60 minutes.
If you’re looking for a cheap tile game to go with, the base Kingdomino game should be your preference. It’s cheaper than Carcassonne, and there are fewer expansions to choose from. Carcassonne costs a lot more, and with a ton of expansion choices to consider, it’s easy to spend more than $100 on the game.
You Can Try Both Games on Board Game Arena
We’re huge fans of Board Game Arena, and this was honestly crucial in helping to keep the group together when the pandemic hit. We’ve done a detailed Board Game Arena Review that you can read through that link, and honestly we can’t recommend BGA enough.
There is a good news/bad news. The bad news is that both Carcassonne an Kingdomino are premium games, meaning you need a premium membership to access them. The good news is it’s $5 for one month or $30 for an entire year.
So the deal is still a steal when it comes to value versus money spent, and it gives you the ability to learn both games, watch how they play, or play themselves yourself in order to see which one you like better, if both have a place in your collection, or if neither of them quite hit that right spot for you.
What’s the Recommended Number for Players for Kingdomino and Carcassonne?
The recommended number of players for Kingdomino and Carcassonne is two. However, both games can support up to 4 players. More players mean the games will end faster, and they will also be less intensive overall. Therefore, playing against one opponent is the best way to get the full experience.
How Is a Tile Different From a Domino?
A tile is typically square-shaped and features a uniform pattern on one side, while a domino is a rectangular tile with two different features on the same side. One side of the domino is often blank, but some pieces may feature a number or design.
In Kingdomino, the dominoes are numbered as a part of the gameplay.
Is Queendomino the Same as Kingdomino?
Queendomino is not the same as Kingdomino. The former is a completely different game also made by Blue Orange (the creators of Kingdomino). However, you can play Queendomino as an expansion of Kingdomino. It’s also possible to combine both games into one.
How Many Sets of Official Rules Exist for Carcassonne?
There are two distinct sets of official rules for Carcassonne. Some players use the American rules, while others use the German rules. You have to decide on the rules to go with at the start of the game to avoid scoring disputes. You may also choose to make your own rules if your opponents agree.
Is It Possible To Play Competitive Kingdomino or Carcassonne?
You can play competitive Kingdomino or Carcassonne. There are many communities devoted to both games available online, and most of them hold dedicated tournaments each year.
Board Game Arena hosted one such Kingdomino tournament in 2020 and a competitive Carcassonne game in 2021. You can also watch out for competitions hosted on social media. Currently, there are no international bodies organizing both games on a grander the way there are for games like chess or Scrabble.
How Quickly Can I Learn Kingdomino and Carcassonne?
You can learn Kingdomino in less than five minutes. By the end of the first game, you should have a good grasp of the basics. Carcassonne takes a bit longer as it’s more complicated.
If you’re an experienced board gamer, you can also learn Carcassonne in one session. However, most complete newbies will need multiple sessions to learn the rules and a few more to learn strategies.
At the end of this Kingdomino vs. Carcassonne comparison, it’s clear that there’s no clear winner between both games. However, you should have a clearer idea of which side you’re leaning. Both games share quite a bit but their mechanics and features set them apart. It’s a good idea to try them both if possible.
If you’re after simplicity and a no-frills game you’re sure to love, Kingdomino is the better choice for you.
If you’re looking for a slightly more complex game with tons of expansion options to choose from, Carcassonne should be your preferred option.
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Resources of Interest:
- King of Carcassone Board Game Arena’s Championship
- Kingdomino Board Game Arena’s 2020 Championship Results
- The Fandomentals Review of Kingdomino
Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.