When I was growing up my family always played croquet. We had a set that we’d take to the park, or to the lake, or just set it up in our backyard. I took great delight in “sending” my parents: my child-sized foot defiantly perched on top of their ball as I took aim and tried to knock them as far away as I could without also hitting my toe. As I grew older those games became fewer and farther between – there was always something that came up – until eventually they stopped altogether.
Fast forward to earlier in 2020 when I was approached to do a review for a new type of outdoor game called Kingdoms Lawn Game – and imagine my surprise when I was transported back to my youth, only this time the defiant stance came from my own children. And the circle was completed, and we laughed and played as you can only during the warm days of summer.
Kingdoms Lawn Game? Isn’t This a Tabletop Game Website?
Yes – and yes.
I love the gaming table, but I also love the outdoors, and my kids – specifically my three sons who love to throw hard things at other hard things. So when I had the chance to combine these passions I jumped at the chance. And I’m so glad that I did; Kingdoms Lawn Game is a delight. It’s portable, easy to set up (and tear down), and plays in 10 minutes or so (unless you greatly expand the playing area). Plus it’s not all that different from games like Jenga, Crokinole, Sonora, or other dexterity / knocking down sort of games. It differs simply in scale and that you’re also getting vitamin D from being outside. Who knew that playing games could be good for you?!
But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.
So What is Kingdoms Lawn Game?
Kingdoms Lawn Game is a fantasy themed mashup of bowling in which players take turns throwing croquet-sized wooden balls (called Armies) at large wooden blocks (called Towers) from behind the “Battle Line”. Each player has 4 Towers with their symbol on it, and at the beginning of the game players take turns chucking out their Towers into the play area known as “The Realm” (defined ahead of time by using the provided stakes). After all of the Towers have been thrown into the play area, all of them are stood up, with symbols facing the Battle Line and the game begins.
Players again take turns rolling out one of their balls (Armies) in an attempt to knock down the Towers of their opponents while also trying to avoid knocking down their own Tower with a stray shot. As play progresses more and more Towers will be knocked down until the player whose Tower is the last one standing wins the game. If no Tower was knocked down in a round, the Battle Line is moved forward and the round begins again.
While the basic rules are quite simple, the Kingdoms Lawn Games team leaned into the fantasy theme and added a number of different options players can pick and choose from. For example, the version I was given (the Ancient Edition) includes the Lion, Dragon, Sword, and Knight symbols, each of which has a special ability. The Lion may declare “immunity” for one battle phase in a game and for that round any of their Towers which get knocked over are stood back up. The Sword’s leader may throw overhanded, the Knight may rethrow their Towers during the initial setup phase, and the Dragon may take one step over the Battle Line when throwing.
There are 3 different sets – each with 4 symbols and unique abilities. Additionally there are a other variations meant to keep the game fresh. In the Mercenary variation players remain in the game and continue to attack with their Armies after all their Towers have been knocked down. In the Supremacy variation the player who knocked over the last Tower owned by one player then gets all the Armies from the vanquished player (but not the special abilities). The Ghost Castle variant has players chucking out any unused Towers into the play area. Any time you knock over a Ghost Tower you get a permanent addition to your Army. There’s even a dead simple option to play in teams.
There’s lots of other things I could say about Kingdoms Lawn Game, but first let’s take a look at their Kickstarter video for some action sequences.
If you’re looking for a durable, simple game to play outdoors with your friends and family, Kingdoms Lawn Game is a great choice.
The components are solid wood and barely show any wear, even after hundreds of impacts.
Kingdoms is portable and comes with a heavy canvas bag with the logo silkscreened on it. The bag has a drawstring on it with a wooden toggle that keeps the bag cinched during transport. There’s enough room for all of the pieces and still a bit more room for the rulebook and even some rope should you want to more clearly define the playing area.
But more importantly the game is just fun to play. Rounds go so quickly that no one is standing around for too long. If younger children are playing let them step up past the line a bit. Add in the special abilities (or don’t) to spice things up. The rules include the special abilities for all sets, so feel free to mix and match as you will just to spice things up.
Kingdoms Lawn Game will take everything you dish out and happily go back into the bag when you’re done. And because Kingdoms Lawn Game is of heirloom quality you can bring it out time and time again without worrying about something breaking.
Give Kingdoms Lawn Game a try.