DRAGOMINO : Happy Hatching

I GOT A BABY DRAGOOOOOOON!!!

Like a familiar fanatical cry of a football addict, my children have taken to loudly shouting the above phrase every time we play Dragomino from Blue Orange Games. What is this strange game that inspires my children to loudly boast about baby dragons? Let’s find out together!

Marie and Wilfried Fort have a decade of children’s game design under their belt, including 2019’s Kinderspiel des Jahres winner, Valley of the Vikings. The pair partnered with industry veteran Bruno Cathala to create a child-friendly version of the award-winning Kingdomino, using that game’s tile drafting mechanic as the basis for Dragomino. Artwork for the game comes from Christine Deschamps and Maëva da Silva.

According to the publisher, Dragomino plays in approximately 15 minutes, handles from 2 to 4 players, and is recommended for ages 5 and older.

HOW TO PLAY IN A NUTSHELL?

In Dragomino, players will be building their own individual landscapes, using domino-like tiles that feature two colourful terrain types. Each round, four of these tiles are placed in the middle of the table, with one being claimed by each player. When adding the new tile to a landscape, every side that is touching matching terrain will earn that player a dragon egg token. On the other side of this token is either a baby dragon or an empty cracked egg. Each baby dragon is worth 1 point, while a cracked egg draws the Mama Dragon over to that player. Whoever Mama is visiting at the end of the game will score an additional point, but more importantly, each round’s starting player is determined by who has Mama’s attention. The game ends once all tiles have been drafted, and the player with the most points is the winner!

HOW ARE THE COMPONENTS?

Everything inside the box is of high quality, with everything but the wooden Mama Dragon made of thick and durable cardboard. The colours are well contrasted, even the two shades of green used for meadows and forests. We sometimes have mixed up the matching egg tokens of those two terrains, despite there being other decorations (flowers on the meadow eggs, and branches on the forest eggs) to help us identify them. Perhaps a future printing might offer different background colours to better distinguish those two egg types, but I’d call this a very minor gripe. 

LITTLE THUMBS : HOW IS IT FOR KIDS?

At the time of this writing my girls are ages 3 and 5, and both were able to focus and take the basic actions of Dragomino without much direction. They are most competitive about the lava tiles, as the vibrant red pops a bit more than the others – but also, they eventually figured out that lava is the most rare terrain, and mostly likely to win them a baby dragon! Since our first play of the game, each of my girls have asked to pull it out again without prompting, which speaks to how much they’re enjoying it. The scoring is simple for them to count – one point per baby dragon, and one point for the mama meeple. Big Bean can teach this game to others without direction, and so long as all players are in the range of 5+ years old, I’m confident I could walk away from the table and leave the younger players to play unsupervised. 

BIG THUMBS : HOW IS IT FOR ADULTS?

While there are opportunities to build your landscape strategically and collect multiple eggs with a single tile placement, Dragomino is not likely to be a title that hits the table after the young players are asleep. If both Kingdomino and Dragomino are on your shelf, adult players (and possibly older children) will want the extra layers of puzzling that the original offers. However, I do think Dragomino is a game that could find an audience in long term care facilities, as most turns do offer players meaningful decisions to make. In addition to being very colourful, it also has a classic feel that might offer a familiar experience for senior citizens, whether or not children are at the table. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Offering simple yet impactful choices, Dragomino is a great introductory strategy game that will engage young minds and build some new gaming skills. As an added creative bonus, we encourage everyone to tell a story about the Mama Dragon as she travels to visit each player’s landscape! Highly recommended for gaming families with young children.

VERDICT : 👍🏽 TWO LITTLE THUMBS UP 👍🏻

Little Thumbs, Big Thumbs thanks Blue Orange Games for providing a media copy of Dragomino for this review.

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