2-6 players, Competitive/Cooperative, Card Battling Dragon Frenzy
Designer: Harvey Cornell, Carlie Cornell
Artwork: Carlie Cornell, Katy Grierson
Publisher: Dragon Phoenix Games
Release Year: 2018
This is one that I have actually never heard of until one of the designers reached out about it. I’d say these dragons have probably flown under a lot of radars since the games release and I hope to remedy that a bit. In any case, read on to gather up my thoughts and critiques!
Overview of Gameplay
Players will be dealt (or drafted) a deck of 20 dragon/storm cards and their purpose is to gather up the most dragon cards from other players over the course of a single game. The game will end when one player has exhausted their draw deck of 20 cards and can no longer draw. However, there are a few intricacies to note! Firstly, there are varying storm cards mixed in that can be played to manipulate the ongoing battle/game with your topmost storm card being the active one. You can use these to swing things to your favor but be warned! These cards do not gain you points toward victory, only dragon cards can win you the game.
Players will take turns playing a dragon card or storm card to the table while slowly building up power from their dragons which they will keep track off on their player mats. If a player beats the power score of another player, they will gain the challenge coin which gives them a +1 power during battles. This goes around and around until one player decides to challenge! Once this happens each player gets one chance to play a dragon to try and defeat them by scoring higher, if they cannot they must yield all their dragons that have been played to that players victory pile.
At the end of a round each player will draw 2 cards from their deck into their hand. And play continues until one players deck runs out. At this point each player will count up how many dragons they have collected and whomever have the most is the winner!
Components/ Game Board
The components are really well done! The cards are tarot sized (which I love) and have a nice linen finish. The comes with 6 player mats made of that mousepad material and they are setup really nicely. The challenge coin is metal which, again, is nice. AND, the game even has a great plastic insert to hold everything including the player mats. I mean, for a quick to play card game like this, they really spared no expense on the components. Since the game is a card battling game the “boards” are the individual player mats and each mat has dedicated spaces on it for the different piles of cards. Everything is easy to sort and manage.
Visual Appeal /Theme
The artwork is pretty good. There are a number of different kinds of dragons depicted and I think they did a good job overall in representing them. Lots of colors and variations to the art style, which I like. Some of the dragons are super mean and diabolical looking while others have that look of intelligence etc. It’s an interesting theme for sure, I can’t think off the top of my head of any other games I have that deal with dragons exclusively, especially intelligent style dragons like you would find in D&D. That said, I don’t really feel the theme come through to the gameplay very well. It never FELT like I was battling dragons, mostly just adding up the number I see on the cards. Each card has a unique ability but even then it was mostly just modifying certain things or giving bonuses to score.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this rulebook is abysmal. I read it, reread it. Read it again. Watched a playthrough video. Read it AGAIN. And there are aspects I just cannot comprehend on how some of the rules were missed. Speaking frankly, this a PRIME example of a rulebook that should have been given over to people unfamiliar with the project to learn from and then fixes put in before it was published. It’s clear this was written by those that understand and can probably play the game blindfolded. Because there is no way a new player could read this one time through and grasp the gameplay. Between the confusing layout and completely missing bits of important rules (For example, during setup how many cards do players draw?) this is a rulebook that is destined for a redo. And this is a simple game! Once you finally figure it out……
Player Interaction/Fun Factor
Players are interacting quite a bit considering you have to constantly be watching what dragons they play and how strong they are. It’s and interesting game where you don’t want to challenge until players have at least a few dragons out there to snatch, BUT, you don’t want to wait too long or they may become too powerful to defeat. That said, there’s really not much strategy in this one. The only real bit of strategy is when you draft sets of dragon cards at the very beginning, that way you can at least be kind of in control of what you can play. But it all boils down to luck in the end since you are just trying to play the higher numbers. Yes, you can whip out some storms to shake things up and those are the one saving grace I think to pull this game away from the luck precipice.
Optimal Player Count/Replay Value
This is one I think does better with more players. At 2 it’s just a back and forth and it gets super repetitive but with 4 or more it opens up a bit since there are more possible situations that can arise from the cards and the challenge token will be passed around more. I would recommend playing with the Draft option at the beginning though. Playing with just dealing out cards makes the game WAY too lucky. As far as replay value is concerned I will say there are a BUNCH of different dragon cards so this should extend out a few games, especially since you don’t use all the cards each game.
Positive Final Thoughts
The game plays very fast! If you have 4 or more players this is a pretty easy one to whip out and play and the components are very nice!
Negative Final Thoughts
I wouldn’t play with less than MAYBE 3 at the very least. The game is extremely luck based so you want to grab some of the nifty storm cards to toss a few wrenches into some plans. Also, that rulebook is just the worst. Luckily there are a couple play through videos you can watch to get a better idea of how to play.
The Bottom Line
I think it’s a fine 4 player (or more) card game that plays pretty quickly. Although higher on the luck factor than I typically like the storm cards even it out a bit in that regard. I can’t say that it’s one of my favorite games though since you are basically just playing cards to add up the numbers and get the highest total. Perhaps through an expansion to add more depth to the game it will shine. For now, it’s a near miss.