The family-friendly area majority game Animal Kingdoms by Steven Aramini was recently released by the Swiss game publisher Game Factory. The game catches the eye with its beautiful appearance. Whether it's just as good in terms of gameplay, you'll find out in this review.

In Animal Kingdoms, 1-5 players fight for supremacy in the five kingdoms. To do this, we send our animals into the kingdoms over three rounds in order to be able to maintain the majority in them.

Simple Area Majority

In each of the three rounds we take turns playing animal cards with different numerical values ​​and animal species to place a shield of our color on one of the five kingdoms. These are divided into different sizes and contain 4 - 8 fields, one of which is a so-called crown field.

In order to place shields on the fields, we must comply with the respective laws of each kingdom. These specify which cards we have to place and how. For example, we must discard cards from 1 - 8 upwards or may not place a number or animal species twice in order to be able to place our shield.

Animal Kingdoms just looks beautiful. It's also easy to learn and takes less than an hour to complete.

Animal Kingdoms just looks beautiful. It's also easy to learn and takes less than an hour to complete. Image: Sven Karsten

Alternatively, we can decide to discard any number of our four hand cards in order to draw the same number of cards again and receive a victory point. In this way we can influence our drawing luck a little and keep or draw better cards for future turns or for the final battle for the areas.

If the first end of the game places one of his shields on one of the crown spaces, he may take one of three random extra victory point tiles face down. Afterwards, the discard action may no longer be carried out by any of the others and the end of the game himself is eliminated for the rest of the round. As soon as everyone has placed a shield on a crown space, the round is over and the victory points are scored.

Fair distribution of points

At the beginning of the game, each of the five kingdoms was randomly assigned three victory point tiles. These are sorted in ascending order, i.e. from the lowest to the highest value, so that more points can be earned in each round. When evaluating at the end of a round, it is checked who was able to distribute the most shields in a kingdom. The player with the most shields gets full points, the people with the second most shields share half the points, and those with the third most get one victory point. While players can share second or third place, if there is a tie for first place, there will be a battle for victory.

The points are recorded on a separate scoreboard.

The points are recorded on a separate scoreboard. Image: Sven Karsten

The players play a card face down. The aim is to outperform the others in terms of value. Means that the highest number wins. However, there is a small special rule. The highest number in the game - 8 - can be beaten by 1. That is, if three players are playing for victory in an area, and the players play a 7, 8, and a 1, the 1 wins, since the 8 beats the 7 and the 1 beats the 8. The person who emerged victorious from the battle has, receives all victory points. The other players share second place.

At the end of scoring, all shields on the crown spaces are placed on the blue throne spaces above. They remain there for the rest of the game and count as an additional shield in future turns.

Solo & Two Person with Automata

For the game alone or in pairs, Animal Kingdoms comes with a simple automata called Egon (an opponent without a nose). In each turn a card is drawn for Egon. Depending on the number on the card, Egon places a shield on the kingdom that has as many fields as shown on the card. If a 1 – 3 is drawn, Egon places his shield on the smallest kingdom with the fewest shields of his color. If there is a tie in scoring, Egon draws 2-3 cards depending on the number of players, of which the card with the highest number counts.

The game against Egon is consistently exciting. Even in a two-man game, Egon is a good opponent who can keep up with us.

The game against Egon is consistently exciting. Even in a two-man game, Egon is a good opponent who can keep up with us. Image: Sven Karsten

The Automata works surprisingly well and is a good opponent, especially in solo play. Of course, luck plays a big part here, but we always find an automata to be a better choice for solo play than scoring. In addition, the games with Egon were always very close. In any case, we had a lot of fun playing with Egon.

About Animal Kingdoms

Number of players: 1 to 5
Age: from 8 years
Playing time: 45 minutes
Difficulty: easy
Long-term motivation: medium
Mechanics: Area Majority, Hand Management

Author: Steven Armini
Illustrations: Michael Cofer, Danny Devine, Katy Grierson, Jeff Wallace
Publisher: Game Factory, Galactic Raptor Games
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2020
Language: German
RRP: € 29,99


Animal Kingdoms is easy to explain and easy to play. The luck factor through the cards in play simplifies the flow of a game, but you can also control something with the discard action, which is a nice thing. The game is suitable for both occasional and frequent players at the same time. Even after our test games, Animal Kingdoms was always put on our table for a short game in between or at the beginning or end of a game night. With a total of 30 different laws, the game also offers a little variety in every game. The game material also feels good and of high quality. The individual board elements are put together like a jigsaw puzzle, but don't stick together too tightly. This will help keep them from getting damaged when dismantling the game.

For the price of around 20 - 30 euros, depending on the retailer, you can confidently buy it here, because we enjoyed the game a lot.

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