Dragonflame - Preview

Dragonflame – Preview

Wreaking havoc as a fire-breathing dragon has never been more fun…wait, when has that NOT been fun?

Title Publisher Genre
Dragonflame Minion Games Card Game

In The Box

Minion Games delivered a great Kickstarter recently with Battle Merchants, so we were excited to hear they were back for another round of funding. Dragonflame is a totally different type of game, but no less fun for what it has to offer, based on the prototype we played through. The basic game will include 114 cards plus a set of tokens for each one of up to five players. Dragonflame plays just fine with two people, but some of the mechanics are more meaningful with three or more.

The cards are divided into smaller groups of nine villages and 14 castles that provide opportunities for you to gather treasure and score points. The other 91 cards can basically be classified as things you want and other things you don’t want. Of course it’s not that simple… The illustrations are extremely professional and colorful, with tons of eye-candy for players. Beyond the aesthetic there’s a lot of good information design here that makes it clear how cards will score points and be used during the game. It’s small details like this that make a huge impact, right down to markings on cards that help you organize the deck differently for smaller or larger groups of players.

All that remains to jump into a game of Dragonflame is a set of tokens for each player that can be used to mark flame you drop on villages. In the prototype these are small wooden cubes, which worked fine. As components and production quality goes, higher quality cards will make more of a difference in this game, based on the amount of time you spend with cards versus tokens. All the same, here’s hoping the Kickstarter blows away its goals and allows Minion Games to produce some special tokens, if for no other reason than the fun of it.

How It Plays

Back to that idea of cards you want and don’t want, let’s establish the setting. You’re a dragon, intent on stacking your hoard with treasure and destroying any villages you happen to come across while out pillaging the region’s castles. Opposed only by some well-meaning but doomed knights and bad luck, you’ll attempt to rack up more glory than your opponents before all the treasure is depleted. Dragonflame has a great story that is backed up by smooth mechanics, with elements of strategy and bluffing and plenty of luck.

After shuffling the deck of treasures and dealing out cards to each player, the purpose of those castles becomes clear. Players take turns placing cards on available castles until their hands are depleted, forming the piles that can be looted at the end of a round. Castles are plundered in turn order, making it possible to strategically place good cards alongside bad cards that may bait other players. Turn order also affects your ability to play cards face up or down, giving those stuck in third, fourth, or fifth place the advantage of disguising their cards.

Among the treasures are some obviously bad cards like a curse or a knight that drain victory points at the game’s end. More ambiguous treasures like statues or chests can be good or bad depending on how many of them you gather, or in what color combinations. Dragonflame is deceptively simple to learn and play, because there’s a long list of strategic choices that you’ll make. Turn order changes according to what castle you plunder, and even the choice of which villages to flame has a role in determining the final score. Designer Matt Loomis turned in a great effort with Dragonflame and the consistently high quality of Minion Games’ past Kickstarter projects give us lots of confidence in this one.

Dragonflame will be funding soon on Kickstarter from Minion Games. Read more details here about the campaign, including the option to print and play a full version, then consider chipping in to the campaign, expected to launch this November.