Dragonrealm

Dragonrealm

  Gamewright  |  Game Factory | BGG  |  Buy

Designer: Darren Kisgen Art: Chris Beatrice
Publisher: Gamewright, Game Factory 
2-4 players 20-30 minutes ages 10+
MSRP $25

Time to teach & learn: 5-10 minutes

text-the concept

Pack your lucky socks and get ready for an adventure exploring Dragonrealm! Sneak into the witch’s cabin, search the ogre’s treehouse, or storm the dragon’s lair. Explore the wilds and add adventurers to different locations in the hope of getting the most treasure. But watch out for goblins who might get there first and grab the treasure before you!

text-the components

Dragonrealm comes with lushly illustrated cards, plus custom wooden pawns and dice.

There are 68 adventurer cards, most of which you’ll use to assail the locations in the game. Adventurer cards come in 5 different colors, and are numbered from 1-12.   In addition, a few adventure cards will trigger the arrival of goblins or an untimely rockslide.

There are 16 enhancement cards to aid you in your journey.

There are 21 large format location cards. Locations come in four colors, representing the different obstacles and trials you will face on your quest. There are spaces for adventurers and goblins, plus icons detailing the type and difficulty of challenges at that location.  Each adventure will culminate at a dragon location card, where great challenge and great treasure awaits!

The game is packed with chunky wooden pawns. Each player gets 8 adventurers to represent your team . There are also 6 custom wooden goblins that are sure to be annoying and get in your way as you play.

The 6 custom dice will see constant action as you play. Each die is numbered from 1-4, with two 2s and 3s, and a single 1 and 4.

Last but not least, the one thing both you and the goblins want most, a pile of 50 treasure coins!

To begin, deal 5 Adventurer cards to each player. Each player also gets to choose some enhancements to take along. A Fireball Spell could get you out of a jam.  A Potion of Invisibility might get us past some guards. Or perhaps your Pet Chipmunk could overwhelm a monster with its cuteness! Then, create a deck of 7 location cards, including 2 cards from each color, ending with a dragon location. The road to adventure begins here. You’re ready to explore Dragonrealm!

text-the mechanics

In Dragonrealm, players will collect sets of cards. Playing different sets of cards allows your adventurers to roll dice to explore and take over locations.

The goal of the game is to accumulate more treasure than your fellow adventurers.

On your turn you have two choices: Explore or Rest.

When you Explore, you play from 1-6 cards from your hand to deal with a location in one of three ways: Sneak, Search, or Storm. The method you select will depend on the strength and weakness of your party of adventurers, that is, the cards in your hand.

Sneak lets you play cards in a row, regardless of color ( a 4-5-6, for example).

A thorough Search requires cards all of the same number (three 8s, for example).

Feeling bold? Storm a location with a hand of cards of the same color.

Once you select a method, call out the action and the location.

“I am going to Sneak into the Cave of Bats,” for example.

For each card you play that fits the action you declared, you’ll roll one of the custom dice. Add all the dice together to see how you did.

Each location shows different target numbers required to successfully place an adventurer.

If you Sneak into the Cave of Bats, the action here will require a total of 8 from the dice to reach the target number, a Search needs a total of 6, and a Storm action needs a whopping total of 13. But notice the yellow ring around the 13. That indicates you’ll place two of your adventurers, should you succeed. Risky, but taking a chance may pay off in big ways!

If your Explore works out, you’ll place an adventurer (or two!) and discard the cards you used. Now draw one card, and your turn is over.

Of course, not every die roll will go your way, so failure is an option. Should you fail, you’ll place one of your adventurers on the Adventurers Academy for further training. From there, they may assist your team in future Explore actions. During future Explore turns, each member of your team on the Academy card can add +1 to your die total.

The bulk of your game will be spent exploring, hoping to place adventurers on location cards in order to score points when the card fills. But to do this well, you must have cards to power your team.

Rest allows you to add 2 cards to your hand, either from those face up, or face down from the deck. You’ll be building up your hand to power future exploits. Which cards will propel your team towards victory? If you’re looking to Search, you’ll want to gather cards of the same number. If you want to Sneak, pick up numbered cards that are in sequence. If you’re planning on Storming, look for cards of the same color.

Of course, drawing cards may also allow goblins to seize a spot in a location, or trigger a rockslide.

If a goblin card is revealed, you’ll place a goblin on the indicated location. They will compete with the players to claim their share of treasure. Any gold goblins win is hauled away, never to be seen again.

If you trigger a rockslide you’ll be forced to pass a number of cards from your hand to an opponent. Rest assured, your opponents won’t be passing you anything they think you can use.

As your adventure advances, locations will begin to fill up with player’s pawns and pesky goblins. As soon as a card is filled, its treasures have been completely explored. Now some players will be rewarded with treasure.

If you have the most adventurers on the card, you get the first place award shown on the card. Players with the second most markers on a location collect the lower amount of coins. The top player  also collects the card for its value in dragonstones. At the end of the game, the player with the most dragonstones gets a five coin bonus.

A new card from the location deck is revealed to replace the explored one.. The quest continues, culminating in a final conflict with a dragon, the last card in the location deck. Once the dragon is defeated, the game ends and  any remaining locations are scored as if they were complete. Now everyone adds up the treasure they have collected and includes the value of any enhancements worth coins. The player with the most dragonstones collects five extra coins. The player with the most treasure wins!

text-apart

Dragonrealm drills down to extract the essence of any role playing game—the brave party, tackling dangers together, but each with an eye for individual glory and gain. Sure, we are all working together to defeat the dragon–but still, I’m Looking Out for Number One! I don’t mind if you get some, as long as I get more.

Every turn feels important in Dragonrealm. The clock is ticking as other players send their pieces to a location. Should you dive in too or wait for the right combination of cards? Even watching a player Rest is important. Did they just pull the cards they need to Explore next turn? Should I strike now?

Not that Resting is without its share of perils. Goblins might pop up, spoiling the odds of capturing a location. And an ill-timed rockslide tests your desire to build the perfect hand.

In a more serious game these chaotic elements would feel tiresome. Here, they actually add to the storytelling. “I was this close to having it all my way. And then you triggered a rockslide, spoiling everything! Clumsy oaf.”

Additionally, the game includes an alternate to Adventurer’s Academy: Adventurer’s Alley. Your pawns sent here can’t help directly with your die rolls. Instead, they can be used to purchase more Enhancement cards. Need to power through a difficult Storm? Take the Dwarf Hammer with you. Tied for control of a location? The Wizard’s Hat can put you in charge!

Another bit of brilliance comes out in the way failure is handled. Not only is an adventurer sent to where he can help you later, but unlike in a successful attempt, you keep the cards you used. This little detail serves to encourage players to plunge ahead and take a risk, moving the game along nicely.

text-final

The allure of any quest is in the stories that emerge after: the twists of Fate, the what-might-have-beens, and the triumphs. Dragonrealm presents an easily approachable, compact game which encourages the players to craft their own story with each decision they make.

Dragonrealm creates a space in which older players can plan a strategy while younger players might crash ahead in pursuit of treasure. There’s room for both approaches. In fact, you might find everyone watching and learning from each other.

Hybrid games which combine board and role playing elements have become wildly popular in the past several years. Mostly, these are longer affairs, which delve into great detail over multiple sessions and clearly speak to an older, more experienced group of players. Dragonrealm makes room for all ages, inviting everyone to play together. 

Dragonrealm is a wonderful introduction to hybrid adventure games and we’re glad to see it earn both our awards. In less than an hour, you can walk away with a fun story based on strategic decisions and challenges for players young and old to enjoy.

Just don’t get in my way, because that treasure is mine!

***

Written by: Doug Richardson

Ya Blew It!

Release: 9/19/2018    Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 75 min    Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

There are lots of gems buried in this here mine. It’ll take some dynamite and a bit of luck to get the shiny ones you want without collecting cursed ones that’ll cost you dearly.

In Ya Blew It, you roll your stick of dynamite (a nifty 8-sided die!) trying to scoop up the best claims of gems before the prospector decides to nab them all. Mining is a high risk and reward business, so you have to play your cards just right to know when to press your luck and when to play it safe. The more you can build and protect your glittering collection, the more you’ll cash in for big points.

Tune in to explore the game and learn why we think Ya Blew offers up a heap of simple, addictive Major Fun.

Listen in for a full review and discussion.

Ya Blew It!

BGG  |  Wonder Forge  |  Buy

Designer: uncredited

Publisher: Wonder Forge

3-6 players  15-20 min   ages 8+   MSRP $17

For info on the The Meal and Sorting Table segments featured on the show, check out the show notes at The Spiel!

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Music credits include:

Rhino Hero: Super Battle

Rhino Hero: Super Battle   Official Site  |  BGG  

Designer: Scott Frisco, Steven Strumpf
Publisher: HABA
2-4 players  20 min. ages 5+  MSRP $30

text-the concept

The big city can be a dangerous place. It’s a good thing your new high rise apartment building has its own team of superheroes to protect it! Rhino Hero and super friends Giraffe Boy, Big E and Batguin are on patrol as the building goes up, trying to reach the highest floor. Build with a steady hand and roll well in your battles and your hero will fly high!

Rhino Hero: Super Battle is a mega-scale stacking game. Using folded cards, players build a cardstock skyscraper and hope to move their wooden superhero token toward the top of the structure. When two heroes meet on the same level, a dice battle occurs knocking one to a lower floor. The hero at the highest level when the building comes crashing down wins the game.

text-the components

This game has a lot of really fun components! There are 48 wall cards, 24 short and 24 tall ones. These cards are heavy duty cardstock. Each wall folds in half to make an L-shape.

There are 30 floor cards, also heavy duty cardstock. They are slender and rectangular. The front side of each floor has game icons.

There are three square base tiles. You’ll start your building using these.

The four wooden hero tokens are by far the most charming parts of the game.

Four pesky spider monkey tokens will make life difficult for you as you build.

And last but not least, there are 3 dice. Two are used for battles. One used for climbing the building.

The whimsical artwork by Thies Schwartz really helps establish the world of the game. There are animal characters living their wacky lives inside each apartment. The art also has a very nostalgic quality, the style is very reminiscent of art from old Little Golden Books.

To play, lay out the three base tiles together, separate the walls into two stacks and shuffle the floor cards and deal three floors to each player. Then flip three floor cards face up. Each player selects a wooden hero and you’re ready to play!

text-the mechanics

Each turn in the game goes like this: build, climb, battle, draw.

To build, you select one of the floor cards in your hand and play it. Each floor card has icons showing short walls, tall walls and possibly a monkey. Look at the icons on the floor card you play and select those walls from the supply. These are your building supplies for the turn.

Building must go in a specific order: first walls, then the floor, then monkeys. The first few wall cards will be placed on the base tiles. Some part of the wall must touch the yellow circles on the tile. Once you are building on higher floors, you can place your walls wherever you like – just remember you dont want the building to fall on your turn!

Now here’s the tricky part. You must place your floor on top of the walls you just placed. The floor must be flat. No angles or slides allowed! This can be especially tricky if you play a floor card that forces you to place walls of two different sizes. The tall walls are exactly twice the height of the short walls so as the building goes up, you will have opportunities to stack short walls on top of each other to form a level that is even with a tall wall.

If there’s a monkey on your floor, you take a monkey from the supply and hang it from the edge of your floor. There are only 4 monkeys in the game, so as the building goes up, you may have to move a monkey from one floor in the buiilding to a new one.

After building, you climb! Roll the light blue die to see where your hero lands. Based on the roll, move your hero up (or down) that number of floors in the building. Count each distinct level with a floor, then place your hero in the building.

If your hero lands on a level with no other heroes, you draw a replacement floor from the face up floor cards or from the top of the deck.

If your hero lands on a level occupied by another hero, a super battle occurs!

text-apart

These battles give the game an added dimension of strategy, luck and fun.

The crazy building you and your fellow players create will become a sprawling structure which means there may be multiple floors at the same height. Any time you move your hero to a new floor, you want to take a moment to look closely and make sure there are no heros on floors at the same height.

The battle is a simple fast dice-off. The attacker is the new hero just arriving on the level. He or she rolls the red die. The defender rolls the blue die. The high roller stays on the level, the low roller must move down one level. No ties are possible in the game since the dice are not standard. The red die has all even numbers 2-4-6 and the blue die all odds 1-3-5. With those odds, it pays to be the attacker!

The hero that moves down after the battle does another level check. If there’s a hero on this level, you guessed it… another battle occurs! This means a single move by a hero can result in two or three battles as they careen down the building. It also means everyone is invested and involved on every turn, since you never know when you could be called to battle.

When the dust settles one hero will remain higher than any other in the building. That player gets the gold medal. Your outlook on the game changes the minute you get this medal. If another player causes the building to collapse, you win! But beware! If you cause the building to collapse while you have the medal, everyone else wins!

The battles are random, no doubt, but this element gives the game great balance. It’s not just the player who has the steadiest hand who is destined to win like most other stacking games. Your choices of what floor to use and where to build certainly have a big impact on the outcome of the game. But, timing and luck are just as important. You need to work your way to the top before hoping to see the cards come crashing down. And since there are so many battles, almost every game will lead to a sprawling crazy structure as players are forced to build higher and higher.

text-final

HABA’s first title in the series, Super Rhino (inexplicably renamed Rhino Hero in later editions), is simpler. Build a single tower up and up, moving Super Rhino higher and higher, trying to play all your roof cards before the structure falls. It’s an amazing, lovely and much beloved game. I have played it hundreds of times.

When I heard HABA was working on a follow up to Super Rhino, I was excited but also a bit worried.

It’s a risk to mess with that level of success. Make too many changes and you’ll lose the essence of the original. Too few changes, and you’ll wonder why they didn’t just do a reprint of the original.

Rhino Hero Super Battle is more ambitious. The scale is grand. And there are certainly more variables to consider on any given turn. But the essence of the original is alive and well.

Will this house of cards stand or fall?

Rhino Hero: Super Battle gives us a second question to ask:

Will my hero climb higher before the building falls?

At its core the game combines King of the Hill with the simple joy of building a crazy house of cards.

Super Battle’s ambition is rewarded with extra layers of tension and laughter.

Bigger than the original? Yep. You betcha. But not better. This isn’t a contest. Rhino Hero: Super Battle offers us a different flavor of Major Fun.

With any luck, you’ll get a chance to assemble your superfriends for a card climbing extravaganza and see for yourself.

December 2017

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Rollers

Release Date: 11/2016 Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Running Time:    min Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

Rollers is a press-your-luck dice game inspired by darts.

Yes, you heard me correctly… darts! Players try to open and close 5 numbered columns on their number boards. When a number is opened and closed, others will pay you chips each time you roll this number for the rest of the round!

Sound familiar? If you’ve ever played the dart game, Cricket, you’ll see how Rollers is a clever re-imagining of this pub classic, and playable by people of all ages.

Best of all, even if you’ve never thrown a dart in your life, you’ll have no problem understanding why Rollers is Major Fun!

Rollers

USAopoly  |  BGG  |  Target

Designer: unknown  Publisher: USAopoly

2-5 players  15-30 min.  ages 8+  MSRP $19.95

Music credits include:

Roller   by April Wine   |   the song

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Deep Sea Adventure

Release Date: 6/14/2016 Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Running Time:   37 min Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

Deep Sea Adventure is a wonderfully simple press your luck dice game from Japan with a devilishly fun twist: when you press your luck, you press EVERYONE’S luck!

Glittering treasure entices your team of divers to swim down into the depths. Each roll brings you closer to greater riches. The problem is, everyone shares the same oxygen supply! If too many divers get greedy, no one may make it back to the boat!

The higher scoring treasures are on tokens deeper below the boat. The more treasure you take, the more oxygen you use from everyone’s supply, making it more difficult for each player to make it back to the surface with their loot. Playing it safe may insure your survival but one good haul from the depths could net you the victory.

Tune in to learn more about this hidden gem and discover why we think it’s Major Fun!

Deep Sea Adventure

Oink Games  |  BGG  | Amazon

Designer: Jun Sasaki  Publisher: Oink Games  

2-6 players  30 min.  ages 8+  MSRP $22

Music credits include:

Deep Sea Diving Suit by The Lucksmiths  |  the song

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Favor of the Pharaoh

Release Date: 5/2/2016 Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Running Time:   48 min Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

Roll like an Egyptian!

Favor of the Pharaoh is a recipe filling roll-and-keep dice game based on an earlier title: To Court the King. Starting as a lowly peasant, you rise through the ranks of ancient Egyptian society by rolling increasingly difficult combinations to gain abilities, bonuses, and special dice. When the final round begins, the player who rolls the most dice with the highest matching number will gain the Favor of the Pharaoh!

This is the first game to merit BOTH the Major Fun and Spiel of Approval awards! The basic game is easy to learn and adaptable for younger or less experienced players. Double sided level bars allow for more strategic and thoughtful play. Put simply, you can tailor the game to fit almost any group at your table. Familiar yet fresh, Favor of the Pharaoh is a worthy recipient of both honors and, perhaps, a spot on your game shelf, too.

Favor of the Pharaoh

Official Site  |  BGG  |  Amazon 

Designer: Tom Lehmann  Publisher: Bezier Games

2-4 players  45 min.  ages 12+  MSRP $59.99 

Special edition also available with 64 additional dice: $79.95

Music credits include:

Walk Like an Egyptian  by The Cleverlys  |  the song

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Other Links:

Capital Gaming Expo

The Loft

Snakes & Lattes on College

Ottawa Redblacks

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