Dragonrealm Simplicity Key to Success
We have been working our way through some of GameWrights newest titles, and been loving each and every experience. We’ve played a fair amount of Shifting Stones and Abandon All Artichokes, and praised both titles for simplistic yet addictive gameplay. While Dragonrealm definitely ratchets up the complexity to another level, it’s still an easy-to-learn experience that can be learned in played within 30 minutes. And it’s fun, so it’s a great recipe for any game night with family and friends!
How to Play
Dragonrealm is all about collecting as much gold as possible, so that at the end of the game, you will have more than your opponents and be considered the best of Dragonrealm. Setting up is fairly easy. You will create a location deck using one dragon card (selected at random), followed by six locations (2 each of Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3). Three of these locations are flipped face-up. Each player is dealt 5 cards from the Adventurer Deck (red back) and 3 cards from the Enhancement Deck (purple back). Players look at their enhancement cards and either choose to keep one Level 2 enhancement or two Level 1 enhancements. Each player than selects a colour and collects the corresponding adventurers. Goblins should be placed near the play area, as well as a pile of coins. The remaing decks will be shuffled and placed face down. Two cards from the Adventurer Deck should be turned face-up.
Players will then begin play – each location will have three different Explore options: search, sneak, and storm. Alternativley, players can opt to not do any exploring, and instead draw two cards from the pile on the table, or from the face-up adventurer cards. There is a 9 Card hand maximum.
When exploring locations, players will pinpoint which location they wish to explore, and what explore method they will choose. Searching requires players to play 1-6 cards that are in a row, regardless of colour. Sneaking requires players to play 1-6 cards that are of the same number, regardless of colour. Storming requires players to play 1-6 cards of the same colour, regardless of number. For each card a player uses, they can roll one of the six included dice. Once all the dice have been rolled, players compare that number and any enhancements they may have with the corresponding number on the location card. If it matches or exceeds the number on the location, they can place one of their adventurers in the corresponding slot (or two if the explore option is surrounded by a gold ring).
Players will compete to explore the most territories. When a card has no more slots left, it is ‘scored.’ Whomever has the most adventurers on the card recieves the first victory point (coin) number in the bottom left corner, and the second place person receives the second. There are rules that impact these values if there are ties (check the rules). Then, whomever was the first place person at that location takes the location card and places it facedown. In the bottom left, below the card point values, are dragon stones icons. The person with the most dragon stone icons at the end of the game receives a 5 coin bonus. Whomever has the most points (coins) at the end of the game is the winner!
I’ve been enjoying GameWright games so much lately because my wife and I can easily sit down and play a game quickly. We can even play while watching shows and more. Dragonrealm is one of the more complicated GameWright games, yet still can be learned and played within 30 minutes. It’s strategic complexity that has us coming back time and time again to Dragonrealm. Deciding when to grab cards, when to risk doing an explore action with minimal cards, or when to use your enhancements can easily decide whether you will win the game or not.
The added bonus of having goblins and rockslides cropping up from time-to-time also adds an extra layer of depth, and will require players to maneuver that aspect of the game. Rockslides will force players to swap cards left or right, while goblins will fill up locations spots, removing the ability for others to go there, and potentially being the dominate group on any said location.
Finally, the added ‘luck’ of the dice roles and cards you will get makes the game much more entertaining. And I think this feature is actually what makes this game scale really well. Whether you’ve played half a dozen games, or it’s your first, anyone has a chance to win through good strategic gameplay, but also sometimes some dumb luck. The thing is, luck often requires a risk, which makes that entire aspect of the game appealing. Luck based games with no risk are not my cup of tea, but this is the opposite. If you want to attempt to take down a 8 Explore option with 3 cards is pretty tough, as the most you can roll with three card is 12. So it’s a big risk, but also big reward as you will use less cards, keeping more in your hands.
GameWright games are an easy recommendation from us. While we like some better than others, Dragonrealm does sit near the top of our list because of it’s extra layer of complexity. If you are looking for an easy to play game to bring to the table at your next board game night, this is an easy recommendation from us.