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2nd edition

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Ages Play Time Players
9+ 20-40 minutes 2-4

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Product Description

In Kingdoms, players assume the roles of rival kings trying to increase their wealth by establishing castles across the land. By building castles in the richest regions, you stand to reap the most gold. But build carefully! For those regions may be infested with dragons, trolls, or other hazards that rob your kingdom of its riches.

Note: Funagain will have a limited number of free promo tiles to be shipped with orders for this product.

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

  • Manufacturer(s): Asmodee North America, Fantasy Flight Games

  • Artist(s): Eric Lofgren

  • Year: 2003

  • Players: 2 - 4

  • Time: 20 - 40 minutes

  • Ages: 9 and up

  • Weight: 526 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English).


  • game board
  • resource tiles
  • hazard tiles
  • gold mine tile
  • mountain tiles
  • dragon tile
  • castles
  • epoch counter
  • gold counters

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.3 in 12 reviews

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by John T
Face-up Tiles Variant is the best way to play this
January 04, 2004

My friends really didn't like this game until we played with the 'No Luck Variant'. I'd be happy to play it either way, but I admit that the strategy gets a lot more interesting when playing with all of the tiles face-up. Random tiles might be more appropriate when you are looking for light filler at a faster pace.

Either way you play it, though, this is an excellent game. The mechanics are simple to learn, so it makes it easy to introduce to non-gamers.

The best filler I own!
June 04, 2003

It seems like there is a plethora of tile-laying games in the past decade. Some of them, like Carcassonne, have become quite famous. Others, like Tigris and Euphrates, are considered by many to be works of art. Then, there are some that are overlooked, but are still gems to play. Kingdoms (a reprint of Auf Heller und Pfennig) is one of these. Produced by Fantasy Flight Games, and designed by the immortal Reiner Knizia, Kingdoms is a short, tile laying game about castles, resources, and hazards.

Is Kingdoms worth playing? The short answer is that it is my favorite tile laying game, and that it makes a superb filler. A longer answer follows.

First a short description of game play:

Kingdoms is played on a small board with 25 spaces on a 5 by 5 grid. Each player receives Castles, octagonal tiles that have a number of dots on them - showing what rank they are. Each player gets one Rank 4 castle, two Rank 3 castles, three rank 2 castles, and a specific number of Rank 1 castles based on how many players are playing the game. Each player receives 50 gold (points) to start with. The 22 tiles that come with the game are shuffled and spread face-down next to the board. Each player takes one tile, which they keep a secret from the other players.

The game is played in three rounds. Each round, play passes from player to player until every space in the board is filled up. Each turn, a player must do one of two things:

1) Place one of their castles in any space on the board.

2) Place a tile on the board (either a random one from the face down tiles, or the one they have set aside.)

When all 25 spaces are filled, the round ends, and scoring occurs.

There are 5 different kinds of tiles. The most common are the resource tiles. These add 1-6 points to the castles in the same row and column. There are also hazard tiles, which subtract 1-6 points from the castles in the same row and column. Two mountain tiles separate rows and columns for scoring purposes. The Gold Mine Tile doubles all the resource and hazard tiles in its row and column. The Dragon Tile cancels all the resource tiles in its row and column, but does not affect hazard tiles.

During scoring, each player takes the rank of his castle and multiplies it by the total points in the column and row in which that castle resides. So, if you have a 2 Rank Castle in a row with a +6 resource tile, a 3 hazard tile, a +2 resource tile, and the Gold Mine Tile, you would get 20 points {((6-2+2) x2) x2}. Each player takes (or pays) the amount of money equal to the points they earned. Then, every castle Rank 2 or higher that was played during the round is lost. Rank 1 castles are return to their owners.

After 3 rounds, the game is over. Whoever has the most points (gold) is the winner!

Some comments on the game:

1). Components: The box is of nice size, and is small and of good quality. You have to bag all the tiles inside, as there is no tray, but they fit inside the box nicely. The tiles themselves are of very good quality, and I especially like the artwork on the different tiles. The castle tiles are especially riveting, as they are octagons rather than squares. They have a sharp border, letting you know what color player owns them, and are very clear what rank castle they are. Not only are there dots on them to show what rank castle, there is a picture of a castle (the larger the rank, the larger the castle). The board is made of four pieces that fit together like a puzzle. On the back is a nice painting, while the front is basically all green. Which is perfect for this game, as you are placing tiles down onto the green, and it would be confusing otherwise. All in all, the components for this game are excellent, and are language independent.

2). Theme: The theme for this game is definitely added on. It could be space, Wild West, bean planting anything, and you wouldnt know the difference. If the fantasy theme turns you off, dont worry about it! Ive played the game with people who HATE fantasy themes, but they still enjoyed the game. But at the same time, dont come looking for a theme the game is mostly just a fun game mechanism.

3). Strategy vs. Luck: There is a certain amount of luck in drawing the tiles, but other than that, it is all strategy about placing the tiles. Should you place your castles quickly to get a good position? Or should you hold them back so that others cant play hazard tiles in the same row as your Rank 4 castle? Should you play you Rank 3 castles in the first round, or save them to the last round? Should you place your castles in the same rows as opponents, so that you both score similar points, but wont play Hazards on each other? When should you play your hidden tile? I really love the simple, yet crucial decisions you have to make to play this game.

4). Scoring: When the board is scored, it seems like a slightly daunting task, but is actually rather simple. If the players remove one castle at a time, scoring its row and column, it makes the game much quicker. We hand out the gold immediately, which saves time adding up all the points.

5). Rules: The rules are fantastic, printed in seven languages, and only taking 2 pages each. Three small variants are included at the end of the rules, as well as detailed scoring examples. And this is the absolutely best thing about the rulebook. On the back, there is an example of a full board. The rulebook then shows the point totals for each color, giving reasons and examples as to how those points were scored. We once had an argument on how a rule was worded, but by going to the example in the book, and scoring it out, we were able to find out who was right! A very useful thing indeed!

6). Time: Although it might sound as there are many decisions each turn (and there are several), it isnt very hard to size up which one you want to make. Ive never played the game with anyone who moved very slowly. Games usually take from half an hour to forty-five minutes. This game can be classified as a great filler game.

7). Fun Factor: I cant really explain why Kingdoms is so much fun. The theme is very thin, and the scoring, while easy, is mostly math. I suppose its just fun to try to place tiles where they will hurt your opponent, and help yourself. And try and hold back that 4 Rank castle until just the right moment, so you can score a massive amount of points. Kingdoms is very fun, and everyone Ive played it with agrees on this point.

8). Players: Four players is best for this game. Three is still a fantastic game, but two is just not quite there. With two players, go play one of the Cosmos line instead.

So, I highly recommend this game. Its my favorite of the FFG small box line (with the exception of Citadels), and is the best filler I own. Its easy to teach, easy to play, and everyone will have a great time! Get this game.

by Scot
Excellent tile-placing game; strategies abound
December 25, 2002

Reiner does it again. Though I never played the original, this is a great game so I'm glad it's back. Has a feel similar to Samaurai (another Knizia favorite) but without the cities. Here, you are playing for points (but toss the tokens away; just use pencil and paper). There is just enough luck factor in the game; like Mah Jongg, it's what you do with the tiles you draw along the way that counts. And, how you allocate your castles (which cause you to score or lose points) is essential, especially over the course of three rounds. A great game especially for two, not very long.

by Jeff
Reiner is King of the Kingdom
September 05, 2002

Give Reiner Knizia a simple grid and he will turn it into an amazingly elegant game that will provide hours of enriching game play. The rules to Kingdoms are too simple to create a game this good! After reading the rules I feared I'd made a mistake in purchasing this game. But after three plays I realized that this is an ideal short filler game for two people.(I haven't played it with three or four yet.)

Kingdoms requires a lot of cunning because of the rule that allows you to play only one tile or castle at a time. If you play a tile that is too valuable you may be helping your opponent, so timing is important. There is enough subtlety to keep each game different and interesting, but it is a very short game so it has a light feeling.

The components, IMHO, are of good quality because the artwork is fantastic. I also like the theme and feel it is logically worked into the game play. For example, Mountain hexes are used to divide rows/columns, Dragons basically wreck havoc, etc.

My biggest complaint would be the lame money tokens which are totally unnecessary. It was a nice thought to include them but ultimately they are superfluous and we don't use them. You just need pen and paper. They perhaps could have used the cost of making the tokens in creating a sturdier game board or something.

This is a game that I would think non-gamers would like as well. It may not deserve a five star rating along side games like Settlers of Catan, but it does not get enough respect so it deserves more than four stars. It's a can't miss game.

One variant I would recommend is to always have two hexes in your hand to make placement more strategic. We also use this variant in Carcassonne

Classic Knizia. Too many choices; too few resources!
December 03, 1999

Auf Heller und Pfennig is a Reiner Knizia tile laying game which precedes his later and more renowned titles; Euphrat & Tigris, Samurai and Durch die Wuste. Although Auf Heller und Pfennig has not received the accolades of these other game titles, it is in every way their equal!

The random drawing of the tiles makes every game different; and excitement runs high with each player turn as you never know which tile will be played next or where. Each turn presents an opportunity to advance your own position at the expense of your opponents. The choices of when to play a tile or a market stall can be agonizing! This is a very tactical game. The placement of each tile, whether negative or positive, can have far reaching effects. Often the game lead will change from round to round as players counter one another and try to drag down the game leader. Final scores are often very close.

The game components are of very high quality although some items seem unnecessary. The coins are superfluous and not really needed for play. It would have been better to include a structured score sheet to aid in the slightly complicated scoring procedure. Play time also seems to take longer than advertised; 60-90 minutes as opposed to the 45 minutes stated on the box cover. However, the game does include several play variants which enhance an already excellent game. Auf Heller und Pfennig fully lived up to all my expectations. I can't recommend this game highly enough!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
February 04, 2003

Kingdoms is the first boardgame I bought (other than those traditional games like Monopoly, Pictionary, Cluedo, etc). Bought it off the shelf after having a game with a group of friends. Rules are simple enough for my 7 years' old nephew. He loved the game a lot, and always harass me to have a game with him. The reason why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is that it doesn't have the additive element as compared to games like EVO & Puerto Rico. Kingdoms is a good introduction to new-age boardgames. It's also a fun way for kids to learn mathematics ;)

Kingdoms Claims Filler Throne
June 12, 2002

Knizia is best at short, filler games. With Kingdoms he has done an outstanding job of remaking Auf Heller und Pfennig. The matrix type play means that every tile played affects both a row and a column so the choices of tile placement are not as obvious as with Carcassone and there is never a feeling of group solitaire.

The game plays in about 20 minutes so it is ideal for playing during lunch at work. Fantasy Flight has done an excellent job on the components with superior artwork.

The game is not as deep as Knizia's other tile laying games (Through the Desert, Samuri and Tigris and Euphrates) but has the advantage of playing much quicker than any of these. The game should appeal to anyone who enjoys his tile laying games, Battle Line or Schotten Totten.

If you enjoy Carcassone but want a little more 'meat' or like El Cabellero but the complexity frightens people then Kingdoms is the answer.

Lite, but fun!
May 12, 2002

This re-theming of Reiner Knizia's Auf Heller und Pfennig is great lite strategy, and an excellent 'filler' game for gaming groups.

The rules are as easy to grasp as his Lost Cities, but there are more options and greater player interaction. Among Knizia's designs, it fits in with games like Formula Motor Racing and Ivanhoe, but with more strategy.

It's fun, it's fast, and I know it's going to get many replayings with our group.

by M Petty
Abstract, but fun.
May 08, 2002

I had never played the original edition of this game (Auf Heller und Pfennig), so when Fantasy Flight released this version, I grabbed one up as quickly as I could. I've only played the two-player version so far, but I have enjoyed it.

The theme could be just about anything. Supposedly you're building your castles in different regions, trying to take advantage of the good resources and avoid the trolls.

In practice you lay out a randomly drawn tile that has a positive or negative value, or you lay out one of your castles. Your score at the end of the round will be the sum of the tiles in the row times the sum of the values of your castles in the row (1-4). Each column is also figured the same way. There are some special tiles with different effects and you do get one tile at the start of the round that only you know it's value/effect.

It reminds me of Quandary (also by Knizia). The luck factor definitely affects the outcome at times, but once you know the tile distribution you can minimize it. Also, there is a variant where all tiles are laid face up at the start of the round. I haven't tried that one yet.

So far I'm very happy with the purchase!

Tough Decisions in the Market Place
October 21, 1999

In Auf Heller und Pfennig, players try to maximize their scores by bringing customers to their market stalls. Players do this by playing market stall and customer tile pieces on a 6x6 board. As in most of Knizia's games, the player is faced with many tough decisions about how to play the next move. The game easily plays out in 60 minutes making it a favorite at our gaming group meetings.

Players are given market stalls represented by small, colored wooden disks with roman numerals ranging from I to IIII. Naturally, the players receive more of the lesser-valued pieces and only one IIII piece. The number of lesser-valued stall pieces (I pieces) given to players changes depending on the number of players in the game.

Customer tiles are shuffled and placed face down on the table. There are two of each 'good' customers with values ranging from 1-6 in black and count as positive values (e.g. The 6 represents the King or Queen). There is also one of each 'bad' customer tiles with values ranging from 1-6 in red that count as negative values. In addition, there are several special tiles explained later.

Players start each phase (there are three phases total) by taking a face-down tile, looking at it and placing it face-down in front of them. Each turn players have three options: 1) Play a market stall; 2) Play their face-down tile; or 3) Choose a random face-down tile and play that. The phase ends, and scoring takes place, as soon as the 36 spaces on the board are filled. The game ends after the final scoring of the third phase.

Special tiles like the Evil Eye, scare off all 'good' customers, but keep all the 'bad' (this treats all positive valued tiles as zero). The Fire tiles (two of them) split the row/columns in half, based on where the tiles are placed. The Double tile doubles the values of the summed row/column tile values - whether they are negative or positive.

To score, players sum the values of their stalls in a given row and multiply that by the sum of the customer tile values in the row. The process is repeated for the columns. Interestingly, all I-valued market stalls are returned to the players, and the rest are permanently removed from the game.

The game presents an interesting trade-off between play of market stalls and tiles. Is it more beneficial to play more market stalls and make more money, or will it open you up to more risk with the 'bad' customer or even the Evil Eye tiles? Should you place the 'good' customer tile on a row with your market stall if someone else will benefit more by the placement?

Essentially, Auf Heller und Pfennig is an abstract game set to a market place theme. The game works well and finds most players scratching their heads trying to determine what to do on their turn. For me, it plays a lot like Knizia's Lost Cities - only with more levels of complexity in the strategy. There have also been many great variants mentioned on the Web that add new dimensions of playability to the game.

My greatest concern is game cost. While the pieces are beautiful, the board is thin and the gold coins are also difficult to handle. If the game were half the cost I would give this game a five-star rating.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Worth every Pfennig
August 02, 1999

Auf Heller und Pfennig is something of a typical Reiner Knizia game. You are trying to gain the highest totals in both row and column of a token you place on the board. This is all very well, except for the negative score tiles which can hurt your score, especially if you are multiplying the score by four. Even worse, the Evil Eye tile will erase all the positive scores in its row and column, making for very negative scores indeed if you are stuck with it.

The pieces and board are of the usual high German-game quality, and while the marketplace theme is a little thin, it doesn't matter because the game itself it so much fun. Close results are quite easy to achieve in Auf Heller und Pfennig; in short, this is another winner of a Reiner Knizia design.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Theme - Does it really matter?
August 12, 2002

Dr. Knizia has created many, MANY games, and the majority of them are considered modern classics. One complaint often levelled at the good doctor is that his games lack theme. While they exhibity wonderful play mechanics, they somehow miss the mark on creating a rich mental picture of what is going on, and any thematic elements seem tacked on after the fact.

This is untrue in some cases. While Tigris & Euphrates is abstract, I still get the feeling that there is a grand sweep of history going on. With Merchants of Amsterdam, there is an actual Dutch auction going on as an integral part of play. Lord of the Rings is highly evocative of Tolkein's works.

In the case of 'Kingdoms,' however, I feel that the complaint is justified. The game was originally released with the theme of setting up market stalls in a medieval bazaar. Here, with no changes to the game system, the same game is released with the theme of establishing castles in a fantasy landscape. Do either of these themes really tie into the play of the game? Not really, and in this game's case, it really doesn't matter.

The theme is a mere veneer for what is essentially an exercise in mathematics and mini-maxing. Players try to maximize their own personal gains in an ever-changing environment, or at the least, minimizing their opponents' gains. In this respect it is a good game, short on playtime, and relatively long on strategy.

The reason that this only receives three stars is twofold. First, the abstraction does detract a bit from the game, and it does not hold up as well as Knizia's other tile-laying games. Secondly, the components are not nearly up to German game standards. The pieces are all die-cut cardboard of medium weight. Even the gameboard is a puzzlecut board of 4 diecut pieces. This is a game that should have cost no more than 12 or 15 dollars with its current level of componentry.

This is a more than adequate filler. It isn't a game that you are going to use for the main course of an evening's gaming, but it is nice to have as an opener and closer. A good game, just not a great game.

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