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Dragoonium Review


Quick Look:

Designer: Naomi Bielefeldt-Schenk, Jacob Schenk
Artist: Naomi Bielefeldt-Schenk, Sam Berthiaume, Emma Staudenmaier 
Publisher: Thorny Wench Game Studio
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2-3
Ages: 12+
Playing Time: 30 min

WARNING: This is a preview of Dragoonium. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.

Review:

Rules and Setup:
Setup begins with each player choosing a dragon (colored deck), and counting out the cards numbered 2-15 from it. Each players 2-15 cards, along with some sets of neutral cards (2 sets for 2-4 players 1 for 5-7) are shuffled to create the center deck. Each player keeps their champion and quick reference card for use during the game. Once the center deck has been shuffled and the top card has been flipped to start the abandoned realm (discard pile), each player is dealt seven cards as a starting hand and turns begin with the player to the left of the dealer.

Basic rules are simple: at the beginning of each players turn they must either pick up cards from the abandoned realm, or draw from the the top of the deck. Next, the player should play any sets of cards in their hand into their score pile (in front of them). Finally, the player must discard a card to the abandoned realm to end their turn.

Each game is made up of rounds, which end once the draw pile runs out or any player has no cards left in their hand. To score each round, players calculate the amount of gold (listed on the cards) they have in their score pile and subtract any gold on cards left in their hands. Together these create the player's score for the round. Another round will begin and the pattern will continue until a pre-determined amount of gold is reached (this varies by the number of players).

Theme and Mechanics:
Thematically dragons are very present on the neutral decks and in the title of the game however they are absent in the colored decks. No cards have flavor text, so while the rules allude to some sort of mystical battle being fought the player doesn't experience this in game play.

Mechanics of the game are simple and straightforward set matching.

Game Play:
Game play varies wildly in Dragoonium. There are many elements that make each game (even games played with the same decks) completely different. The element of shuffling and drawing can cause one player to start with more unique dragon cards and another to start with more commons, or one to start with many cards to create matches and the other to have none. This element of luck-of-the-draw is present in all card games, but can be a frustration to players.

Playing times also vary drastically depending on how the deck draws out. One player may rid their hand of all cards and win after only four turns if they drew excellent hands. This can negate the strategy players come up with to best utilize their dragon's special skills. It also led to games in my own play test group where one player would have piles of matches while the rest only ever got to draw and discard.

When the game play is at its best Dragoonium plays similarly to Seven & Seven, with players attempting to create sets and their opponents attempting to win faster or sabotage them. When the game play is at its weakest, players are faced with a mundane draw and discard game. Some revision to the rules to create a more stable play experience would greatly benefit this game.



Components:
The game contains 195 cards broken up into nine unique dragon (colored) decks, and three neutral (silver) decks.

The Good:
Many different types of decks are provided, and there are varying levels of difficulty that can be chosen by the players. This allows a group of more advanced players to have more complex game play than a group who is sitting down to learn for the first time.

The Bad:
While the game is listed as supporting 2-9 players, game play does not support that number. Each difficulty level has three different decks, so having nine players would put the six who don't have the top tier extra abilities at an incredible disadvantage. No one likes an unequal playing field, so the number of players should be listed as 2-3. Also, the varying difficulty levels aren't well defined in the rule book. At the very back there is a chart listing the difficulty level of each color, but it is easy to miss or overlook especially during a first play-through.

Final Thoughts:
This game shows potential to be a unique take on set collection, however issues with unequal deck power and lack of clarity in the directions and focus in objective currently cause issues in game play.

Players Who Like:
Fans of other set matching games like 7 & 7, and classics like go-fish will appreciate Dragoonium's star mechanic.

I am giving Dragoonium 6 out of 10 super meeples.

6  10

Check out Dragoonium on:

        

About the Author:


Sarah Johnson is a freelance writer and board game enthusiast. When she’s not playing games or writing reviews, she enjoys writing articles for food and wine magazines. Sarah lives in rainy Corvallis, Oregon where she studies writing, English, and communications.
Dragoonium Review Dragoonium Review Reviewed by Sarah Johnson on October 20, 2017 Rating: 5

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