Kingdomino, a French board game, was recently awarded the 2017 Spiel des Jahres, Germany’s “Game of the Year” award. This prize is more or less the Oscars of the board game world and should certainly boost sales of the fun French game. The fun, simple strategy title’s win should also irritate Geman board game makers, whose complicated, rule-heavy games often dominate the competition.
Kingdomino is a family strategy tile-laying game in the vein of Settles of Catan. Players earn points by building kingdoms and landscapes while racing against their opponents. It’s smart, briskly paced, and a lot of fun. The Spiel des Jahres jury praised the game, saying, “the planning of the extensive landscapes around the castle and the clever mechanism in the tiles selection are harmoniously interlinked and masterfully reduced to their essentials.”
The game was designed by Bruno Cartha, a leading figure in the “French School” of board game design. In an interview with Opinionated Gamers, Bruno discusses his style of game design and the general “French approach” to gaming, which favors themes and entertainment over the strict, rule-heavy stylings of German board games. “I always try to keep the rules the simplest as possible,” Bruno said. “Or more precisely to find the good balance between richness and simplicity. (In my opinion, simplicity is a good thing, except if it leads to a flat game).”
Historically, the Germans have dominated board game innovation, but, as of late, the French have begun to challenge their neighbor’s long-held supremacy. Over the last 10 years, six of the Spiel des Jahres have been awarded to French or German game designers, splitting evenly at three for both countries. Regardless of the battle, you should pick up Kingdomino for your next family board game night if your kids are 8 or older. If not, you can always play Monopoly with your toddler and consider it a success when the hotels don’t go un-licked.