Dragon's Gold Playtest Review by Mike Petty on 24/07/01
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 3 (Average)
This is a simple, fun game that gamers and non-gamers can enjoy together. Lots of laughs.
Product: Dragon's Gold
Author: Bruno Faidutti
Category: Card Game
Company/Publisher: Euro Games
Line: Blue Games
Page count: n/a
Year published: 2001
Comp copy?: no
Playtest Review by Mike Petty on 24/07/01
Genre tags: Fantasy
According to this game, slaying dragon's isn't that hard. It's dividing up the treasure that takes the real skill.
Four dragon cards are placed out in the center of the table. Each dragon has a Strength and two numbers for treasure tokens. The number on the left indicates how many tokens are placed on the dragon card before it's killed. The number on the right is the number of tokens added after it's killed.
I'll note here that the card art is nice. It's not your typical fantasy artwork. Instead it's sort of a classy cartoon style that fits the humorous feel of the game.
Treasure tokens are always drawn randomly from a bag when placed on the dragon cards. These tokens are small wooden disks, each one of nine different colors. One small negative here. These disks roll around too much while you're trying to put them out on the dragon cards. I wish they'd been little cubes instead.
Ok, on a turn a player simply takes one of his four adventurers and places them next to one of the dragon cards. The adventureres have different strengths, each numbered 1, 2 3 or 4. If a set of adventurers on a dragon card have a total strength equal or higher than the dragon's strength, the dragon is killed. That's where the fun begins.
Any additional treasure tokens are added to the dragon card as noted above. Then all players who have at least one adventurer on that dragon card get one minute to decide how to divide up the treasure. It's a free-for-all negotiation. The only rule is that all players involved must agree to the final decision and all tokens must be taken. A small sand timer counts down the seconds. If it runs out before a deal is made, no one gets any treasure.
A new dragon card is drawn to replace the one just killed and players get their adventurers back (face down until all of their cards are face down).
That's the basic mechanics, but rest assured there are some twists. First, one of the adventurers is a Thief. If a player uses his Thief to kill a dragon, that player may steal one treasure from another player involved in the slaying. Since treasures are kept hidden behind a little screen, it's not a guarantee you'll get something useful. It is fun to try!
Furthermore, if a player uses his Wizard along with his Thief when slaying a dragon, the player gets to look when he steals the treasure from behind another player's screen.
In the advanced rules, players can take a Magic Item card whenever they get a red treasure token after dividing up a treasure. These magic item cards are mostly chaotic, though they can be used at appropriate times to improve one's holdings.
By far the best card, in my opinion, is "Invisible Hand". A player holding this card may secretly steal treasure tokens from the dragon cards. If the player is caught, he has to give up the card and the token he was stealing at the moment. Otherwise, previously acquired tokens are his to keep. This card is a hoot! In one game a female player got the card near the very beginning of the game. No one caught her stealing once, yet she ended up winning by a couple points due to her secret acquisitions during the game. We had a good laugh at the end of the game, completely astounded she managed to rob us blind the entire time.
At the end of the game players get points for their treasures in different ways depending on which version of the game you play (basic or advanced). Most of this depends on having the most stones of a color. In the advanced rules the Black Diamond is cursed. It's owner scores 15 points, but five other colored treasures no longer count toward his score. This makes for some tense moments when stealing those treasures. You usually _don't_ want that Black Diamond.
Reasons you might not like it...
My biggest complaint about the game is that it turns out to be a lot of memorization. It's important to know who is going for which colors and (approximately) how many they already have. Initially the negotiating and fun card effects were enough to keep the game interesting nonetheless. This memory element does prevent me from pulling the game out very often after five or so games though.
It's worth noting that some people have complained that a player can destroy a whole deal by simply refusing to negotiate. The timer runs out and it's over -- no one gets the tokens. In all the games I've played, this has been rare. At certain times, such a move is wise and a player will use it. Most of the time, though, a good deal is made.
For under $20, this is a good gaming value. The fantasy elements will appeal to your gaming friends and the fun of negotiating will very likely keep your non-gaming friends interested. Lots of laughs will be had by all.