Saturday, March 7, 2015

Preview (Games) - Dragoon

Prepared to be as surprised as the poor humans when they see that dragon there.

DISCLAIMER: This is not a paid preview of this Kickstarter Game. However, I have won a contest earlier in the year and have received a 3 day pass to PAX East and am a KS backer. Take that as you will readers.

Name: Dragoon
Publisher: Lay Waste Games LLC.
Publishing Year: 2015 Q3 (Tentative)
Designer:Jake Give, Zach Given, Jonathan Ritter-Roderick
Play Time: 60 minutes
Recommended Age: 10+
Cost: $45 on Kickstarter RIGHT NOW!!

Pros
-Light Game
-Very Thematic
-Super Portable
-Some weather resistance
-Multiple equally viable paths to victory
-IT HAS METAL PIECES. THEY ARE HEAVY ENOUGH TO POKE AN EYE OUT (What Makes Us Happy condone the use of the games pieces for this or other violent activities. This statement was merely a reference for how pointy and hefty the pieces are)

Cons
-The village spawning phase is a bit time consuming.
-The price, though I think it's worth it, might not be for everyone.
-The game can take awhile to kick into high gear. The earlier parts of the game can feel slow.
-The game can definitely be swingy.
-Nerd rage in this game can result in property and/or bodily damage.

Verdict - This is a very fun family "take-that" game. The rules are simple enough for children to handle it but the card element adds a surprisingly good layer of complexity if one wants to take things up a notch. Bonus points for great components and portable design.

Game Summary
Dragoon is a game where players are playing as dragons in a land that is slowly being populated by humans. The goal of the game is to be the first dragon to horde 50 or more pieces of gold. There are many ways to gain gold, but the primary 2 ways are taking over human settlements and forcing them to pay tribute to you or razing those to the ground to prevent other dragons from stealing the settlements from you.

Here's a quick summary of the game flow:
1. Spawn human settlement (roll 2 dice for coordinates like Flash Point).
2. Turn order is determined (First turn via dice roll, every turn after by the person with lowest score).
3. Each player takes their turn in order. Players draws a card from the deck and take up to 3 points worth of action. The actions are as follows:

  • 0 - Play a card from your hand.
  • 1 - Move dragon into an adjacent square (no diagonals, and if you move into another dragon's zone you initiate combat,)
  • 1 - Claim a city if you are in the same square as a city. 
  • 1 - Destroy city for points.
  • 1 - Steal from dragon's den.
  • 1 - Take money from the thief.
  • 1 - Draw a card and then discard one from your hand/
  • 2 - Draw a card.

4. After each player has played their turn, in the same turn order, you roll for tribute. If you roll a 1, you lose a city. If you roll 2-3, nothing happens. 4-5 gives you the standard amount of gold (1 for village and 3 for city) and 6 gives you 2/4 coins. 

First person to have 50 or more coins at the end of a round wins!

Game Components
I give you, the on the scene, unedited by Photoshop.

"I insist that you hold this dragon." And I too, insist that you give it a try. This is what Jonathan, one of the members of Lay Waste LLC said every time he noticed the curious glance of people as they walked by the booth. Lay Waste has really focused on their components that really astounds me. As you can see from the image, their art style is beautiful and it works with their theme very well. But the pieces, the PIECES. You see, the dragon is made of metal and have a big heft to them. I was told the final product was going to be cast out of zinc, which Jonathan promised to be slightly heavier than the dragons I was holding in my hands earlier yesterday. They've also hit stretch goals that replaces the dragon's liar with a metal version and the thief has been replaced by a metal token in the shape of a treasure chest. These heft adds a delightful feel to the game and can be echo'd by many of the con go'ers that I saw there.

Mr. Fangs says hi. Keep in mind, this is not the final version of the game. The look is pretty much the same, but the paint job will be done much better. They just blasted on 2 coats of paint spray for the prototype.

The game is stored in a drawstring sack, which doubles as a score track. This makes the game extremely portable. It has the exact feel of the Carcassonne travel edition. If you wanted to, for those of you with cargo pants, I'm pretty sure you can wedge the whole thing into a pocket. It helps the "board" is made of cloth, so you can squash that into the bag too.
Packing a big punch into a small, portable package.

Tiles are nice, again, I'm going to draw some comparison with Carcassonne (the normal version now), with a similar feel.
The blues are villages and the red are the cities.

And here's a few card samples.


Overall, I am VERY impressed by the quality of the game. $45 is definitely worth the game simply for the metal components. It's wonderfully done and Lay Waste spared no expense at making this. I just wished they had metal, laser etched tiles...

Conclusion
I was very surprised with this game. For my first game, the first few turns were slow and extremely painful for me. The settlements spawned no where near me, and when they did, someone came down to trash it. Soon, I was left in the dust. Then I was told there were no hand limits. Couple that with playing cards are a free action, I started to draw extra cards every turn and manipulated my hand to ensure I had only powerful cards. Then on the very last turn, I shot straight up and was only short 1 point from winning versus a player who just started to capture settlements and protection them early game and I was extremely please I managed to rocket from last place so fast thanks to card combos. The card's combos added a pleasing layer of complexity to what could very much have been a Carcassonne-like game.

However, the game can be swingy, giving the "take-that" nature of the game. The power cards are very strong; they can confer game changing effects as such destroying properties simply by walking into the same square or taking control of all the cities around you. This also serves to hold back runaway leads, especially in higher player counts when more people can throw powers at the leading dragon.

My biggest complaint about this game is probably the spawning. The game board is made of 6x6 squares, each one assigned a coordinate via a six sided dice. In larger 4 player games, spawning 5 different locations can really eat up a lot of time. I wished there was an easier way, but I don't think there's any.

The pricing is also something I want to bring up. While I personally think that the game is worth the $45 price tag on the KS right now, I think a lot of people might be a little taken back, especially if you look at it from far away; it's a small game with a small footprint. However, the components are definitely worth the extra costs, as well as the flexibility of being so travel friendly. I like to compare their components to Stonemaier Game's products. And I've only seen the prototype components. The real ones are going to get a nice paintjob and made with even denser metals.

Final Thoughts
I thought the game was going to be too long for what it is, but I was sucked into it really fast. Player turns are pretty fast and you're always thinking because the flow of the board changes so fast. The game is light that children can play and the cards adds the extra complexity that veteran players would definitely enjoy. And the extra bonus is the portability. I recommend this game for people who likes to travel, or just looking for a light thematic game about dragons for the family.

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