Review – Dragon’s Gold by Bruno Faidutti from White Goblin Games

Review – Dragon’s Gold by Bruno Faidutti from White Goblin Games

Designer – Bruno Faidutti

Art – German Nobile and  Emmanuel Roudier

This is a family game for 3 to 6 players, ages 8 and up.

From the publisher- In Dragon’s Gold is each player controls a team of dragon hunters (two knights, a thief, and a wizard). Like all dragon slayers, they only have one goal: Cool magic items and lots of treasure! Actually killing a dragon? It’s a piece of cake. The most difficult part comes after the smoke clears and the dragon is dead: Agreeing how to divide the loot!

Yep, this game (which is a re-boot of an earlier edition) has dragons, loot and treasure. What’s not to like for those who like fantasy settings in their gaming diet? Hmmm…could there be a bit of a squabble amongst the dragon hunters? The players get 1 minute to haggle, argue, or whatever over the spoils or lose them altogether and I was unsure how I would like this mechanism. So let’s see what my experience was…

Unboxing

The components, which have very nice artwork and come in a nice tin box , are –

18 Dragon cards

One Market card

24 Adventurer cards (4 each in 6 colors)

24 Magic Object cards

6 Score cards

6 Treasure Screens & Scoring summaries (I wish these were a half-size bigger)

A cloth bag for holding the 126 wooden Treasure tokens

A sixty seconds sand timer

The artwork, as I said is very nice and compares favourably with the earlier edition as the artwork and components have been upgraded to make for an attractive looking game.

Gameplay

Each player starts with 4 adventurer cards (2 Knights, Thief and Wizard), each of which has an attack value printed on the upper center of the card. Thieves and Wizards also have special powers. The players also have a screen to hide their treasurers behind. The players will always have 4 Dragon cards laid out from the Dragon deck as they fight each one until the deck is depleted.

Defeated Dragons are replaced on the table by new Dragon cards. Each Dragon card provides you with the dragon’s strength, it’s treasure value (randomly chosen from the treasure bag) and it’s “hidden” treasure value which is unknown until the dragon is killed and the players negotiate as to how the total treasure from the slain dragon will be divided up.

Each turn, players will be trying to kill off the vulnerable Dragons by placing their adventures against one of the  Dragons in play. A Dragon is killed when its total strength is equalled or exceeded by the Adventurers’ combined strength. In many cases you will be combining with other players’ Adventurers.

As soon as a Dragon is killed, its treasure is completed by adding tokens equal to the Dragon’s hidden treasure value. If the Dragon was killed solely of one adventurer, that player takes all of its treasure. If several players helped to kill the Dragon, the treasure must be divided between them. An agreement must be found in a limited amount of time. So not only will the players need to negotiate a deal between themselves but they are under a time limit pressure of one minute (hence the timer) or they lose it all.

The Adventurer cards start face up and as they are used to fight a dragon they are then turned face down by the players. So your choice of adventurers available becomes limited as you go on. When you only have face down Adventurer cards available, you can flip them over and use them.

There are special rules for Wizards and their ability to gain red magic tokens. Also, Thieves can be used to steal treasure tokens from other players.

When the seventh Dragon is drawn from the Dragon card draw pile and placed onto the table, the Market card is revealed on top of the Dragon draw pile. Players then have a once only  opportunity (limited to one minute) to trade treasure tokens with each other.

The game ends when the last Dragon is vanquished, and all of the treasure has been divided. Treasure values are totaled with the highest score declared the winner.

There is a deck of optional magic item that layers can use their red magic tokens to purchase and use to spice things up.

Note –

For those of you who have played the original Dragon’s GoldBruno Faidutti has made some changes – “As for the game itself, there are some extra magic item cards, and one minor rules change – the black diamond is now worth 19 points. “

Did it work for me?

With the right group, this can be a fun game. The one main down side can be the runaway leader who constantly shuts down negotiations once he gets ahead which would be just really annoying.

With the right group, the negotiating element of the game will obviously be a strong feature and this will cause some challenges for players. If played in the right spirit where everyone negotiates reasonably, not using the shutting down of negotiations as a tactic, however legitimate, it is generally fun. You need to keep track of how many of each of the different types of treasure tokens are potentially available so there is an important “token counting” element which I didn’t particularly enjoy but I can see that it would suit some players. I just lost track and although I enjoyed the experience, I will always fare poorly against those who are better at “token counting”.

So, I have mixed feelings about Dragon’s Gold. I found it fun but I think that it was largely because I have a fun social gaming group. I can see that I would hate it with the wrong people. I don’t overly enjoy negotiating games or “token counting” games generally and this game has both aspects. I do like the semi-cooperative aspect of teaming up at times against a Dragon and having to think how best to play your Adventurers. I wouldn’t say its a bad game and I think it is a well designed game, but its just really not my kind of game and I suspect won’t suit everyone.

Boardgames in Blighty rating – 5.5 out of 10

Family Friendly?

Some of you may be wondering about how the negotiations will work with children. Well there is a strategic variant which removes the negotiation aspect, allowing for a fair distribution of treasures so I would say that this game definitely seems to cover these concerns.

For more information go to –http://www.whitegoblingames.com/

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