Recently I was given the opportunity to check out an upcoming new game. I received a prototype copy of the game along with rules for play. This is my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!
Dwarves Inc. is a game by Andrei Burago, published by Assa Games. It is for 3-6 players. In this game, players will take on the role of a party of dwarven miners. They will be working for one of the eight mining companies that are trying to recover the lost treasures of an ancient dwarven city. They will be receiving rewards for their work as well as the ability to invest in the stocks of each company in hopes of collecting a share of the profits. The player that can best manage their miners and the stock market will be declared the winner.
To begin, the board is set up by placing the center tile with all the flags and dwarven camps on it, in the middle of the play area. The remaining tiles are placed around this one randomly. A mining gem that corresponds to the color of the flag on the center tile is place on these spots. Players each receive a player mat. The money and all other tokens and gems are placed where all players can reach them. The cards are shuffled and placed face down on the table. The first player is determined and play now begins.
On a player’s turn, they will follow 3 phases; digging, actions and profit and changing investments. The first phase is the digging phase. In the first turn of the game, the first player takes one gem, the second player takes two of the same color and the remaining players take three gems of the same color. If it’s not the first turn, a player takes three gems of the same color. Those gems must then be placed in an unoccupied space that is adjacent to a gem of the same color that is already on the board. A player can not place a gem on any of the spaces with red borders. The player also can not place a gem on the tunnel entrance unless they have another gem to place on another tunnel entrance. This is where the tunnel comes out at and is chosen by the player placing the gem.
The second phase is the actions and profit phase. In this phase, the player will receive certain rewards for covering a special square with a gem during the previous phase. There are 4 special squares that provide rewards; dwarf, safe deposit box, treasure chest and gold. The dwarf allows a player to add a dwarf token to their player mat. The safe deposit box allows a player to take an investment gem of any color and add it to the investment gems area of their player mat. The treasure chest allows the player to take the top card from the chance deck and follow the instructions on it. The gold gives players money from the treasury according to their investment gems depending on the mining gems color that was used to cover the gold square with. The player that has the most investment gems of that color get 2 coins for each dwarf token they have and the next closest player gets 1 coin for each dwarf token.
The last phase is the changing investments phase. On the player’s first turn, they will take 4 investment gems of different colors and place them on their player mat in the investment gems section. On any other turn, the player is allowed to exchange one investment gem for a different colored investment gem. Once this phase is complete, play passes to the next player. This continues until all the gold spaces on the board have been covered with mining gems. When this happens the game is over. Players count up their money and the person with the most gold is the winner.
For a prototype, this game has some pretty great looking pieces. First off, there’s a whole lot of little plastic gems inside the box. These things are really brightly colored and look quite nice. There are 9 large tiles that make up the board. They have that great feel of being inside a dwarven mine. The art looks really nice and the theme comes through quite well. They are rather thick and quite sturdy. The player mats are like the tiles. They are thick and sturdy as well. The art is pretty nice here as well. There is also a short summary of the rules showing how money is distributed during the game. The different money and overtime tokens are all rather nice looking as well. The chance cards have some really humorous artwork on them. I especially like the Secret Tunnel card. It reminds me of the Hobbit. Each card is really well designed and looks amazing. I’m thrilled with the overall look and feel of everything that’s included and feel like it is well designed.
9 out of 10
The rulebook is really nicely done as well. There are lots of great pictures on every page. Everything from the different tile spaces to the cards are all laid out in great detail. I really like that the different cards are further explained for easy reference. The artwork throughout the book is just as humorous as the game cards. It’s really well done and is very easy to read and understand. I really like the look and feel of it. I think it fits in well with the game and really adds more appeal to the overall look of the game.
9 out of 10
The game is really quite fun. It combines the feel of a worker placement game with the stock holding of an economic game. I really think it does both quite well. There’s even a bit of a route or network building aspect as well. The game can get quite strategic especially near the end of the game when there are fewer places to put your mining gems. Even with all the different elements combined, it’s quite easy to play. I really enjoy it. Planning out your routes and deciding which spaces to cover to get the best reward is the heart of the game, but you can really go quite strategic and also make it about keeping your opponents from having any good moves to make as well. The chance cards are really great and add another level to an already great game. It plays it right at an hour. Overall, this game is a lot of fun and is one that I’ve enjoyed playing.
9 out of 10
Dwarves Inc. is a light game of mining and investing in a fantasy realm. It plays in just at an hour. The artwork is very humorous and fun. The theme is integrated really well in every aspect of the game. There are several different game mechanics that highlight the best of each one. The game can be quite light or it can be more strategic depending on your play style. Either way, it’s loads of fun. Fans of worker placement, economic or even route building games should enjoy this one. Every piece that comes with this game looks really nice and really draw you into this humorous world of dwarven miners. Every game is different as the map tiles are randomly placed each time, lending to different scenarios each time. As I’ve said numerous times in this review, I really enjoyed this game and think it’s quite fun. This game is a true gem, no digging required.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Assa Games at their site.