Dragonwood Review

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Dragonwood is a game by Darren Kisgen, published by Gamewright. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of adventurers traveling through the magical forest of Dragonwood. They will be playing cards and rolling dice to defeat creatures and capture magical items. The player that ends with the most victory points will be declared the winner.

To begin, the turn summary cards should be placed with reach of all players. The 2 decks of cards should be separated. The orange and blue dragons should be removed from the Dragonwood deck and the remaining cards should be shuffled. A random amount of cards are removed from the deck based on the number of players. The 2 dragon cards are then shuffled back into the bottom half of the deck. The top 5 cards from the deck are placed face up in the middle of the table in a row. The remaining deck is placed face down beside this row. The adventurer deck is shuffled and each player is dealt 5 cards each. The remaining cards are placed facedown above the row of Dragonwood cards. The dice should be placed where all players can reach them. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

On a player’s turn they may take 1 of 2 different actions. They may either reload or capture. To reload, the player simply draws an adventurer card. They then must say, “reload”. Players must remember that there is a 9 card hand limit, so any cards drawn in excess of 9 cards must be discarded down to the hand size. If a Lucky Ladybug card is drawn, the player discards it and then draws 2 more cards.

Capturing cards is a little more complicated. First off there are 3 ways to capture a card. Both creature and enhancement cards list the values that they can be beaten or acquired for each. The 3 ways are strike, stomp and scream. A strike is done by playing cards that are numerically in order regardless of color. A stomp is done by playing cards that have the same number. A scream is done by playing cards that are all the same color. To capture a card, the player announces which card they are trying to acquire and places the cards that they are using face up in front of them. They then take 1 die for each card that was played. The player then rolls the dice. The number rolled is compared to the value that matches the capture method that was used plus any enchantments that may help out. If the total is greater or equal to the related number, the player captures the card. However, enhancements may not be used to capture other enhancements. They can only be used on creatures. If the player was unable to beat the creature, they will gain a wound. This is indicated by the player discarding one of their adventurer cards. Their used adventurer cards are then returned to their hand. Once a card is captured, the player draws a card from the Dragonwood deck to replace it with. All adventurer cards that were used to capture the creature are then discarded. If while drawing from the Dragonwood deck an event card is drawn, the card is read and the instructions are followed. The card is then discarded and a new card is drawn. Play then passes to the next player.

All of this continues until one of two things happens, either both dragons have been defeated or two adventure decks have been played through. Players will then add up their victory points from their captured creatures. They then compare the amount of creatures that each player captured with the player that has the most cards gaining a 3 point bonus. The player that has the most victory points wins.

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COMPONENTS
This game has some very great pieces to it, mostly consisting of some beautiful cards. Each one has some truly unique and beautiful art on it. The two decks of cards have a really nice finish to them. I love the many different designs on the creature, enhancement, event and adventurer cards. I really like that each color of adventurer card pertains to a certain adventuring class. For instance, the red cards are a very manly looking warrior, much like Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings while the green cards have an elf with a bow much like Legolas. The artwork is both whimsical and enchanting. The game also comes with some turn summary cards that explain both reloading and capturing. The dice that are included are quite nice as well. The red dice have a real marble look to them and the numbering has an old world feel to it. As I’ve said, each piece is really nice. You can tell that each piece is high quality and really well designed. All in all, I’m very pleased with both the look and feel of the components.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game isn’t very large but it still look really nice. Each page has a couple of pictures on it. There are several examples used to explain the game inserted throughout the text. Each of the different Dragonwood card types are thoroughly explained, as is the capture methods of strike, stomp and scream. The rules also include variants for making shorter or longer games as well as a simple setup variant. There’s even a variant that makes it possible to defeat the two dragons in the game with what is called a Dragon Spell instead of using one of the previously mentioned capture techniques. Everything is really simple to read and understand. With there not being a lot of content, there’s not a lot to comment on. With that said, I can’t really add much more to this section. I’ll simply state that the rules look nice and fit the theme and look of the game.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a very fun and easy game to play. It’s very easy to learn and doesn’t take that long to play. Most sessions last almost 30 minutes. In some ways it has a little bit of a deck builder feel to me. It’s not a deck builder but I get that feeling when I play it. Most likely due to the purchasing of cards from a lineup, although it’s through the dice rolls that cards are acquired. The real mechanics are more in line with hand management and dice rolling. All of which are combined in a very fun way. The game is very light which you can tell from the amusing artwork on the cards. I really like the inclusion of the event cards, however it seems like they don’t come up as much as I’d like. I’m a glutton for punishment. There’s not a lot of strategy involved in this game. Mainly it comes down to what cards you have in your hand and what cards are available for capturing. It’s easy enough that most anyone should be able to play. It’s not overly strategic but is still enjoyable. I personally prefer the simple setup method of play as it’s quicker and more fun in my opinion. All in all, it’s a good game that works well for kids and adults alike.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Dragonwood is a light weight game of playing cards and rolling dice to capture monsters and gain enchantments. It’s a fairly simple and easy game to play. It doesn’t take long to play with most sessions lasting no more than 30 minutes. The artwork used in the game is light, humorous and engaging. I really love the look and feel of the game. The game doesn’t involve a lot of strategy but is still fun enough despite the fact. Fans of games like Ascension and The Lord of the Rings might enjoy playing this game with their kids. They might even enjoy playing it with other adults. I tend to find this more geared toward giving kids and adults an entertaining game that they can both enjoy together. I don’t think it’s a really deep gamer type game but should still be something that can be set up and played with almost anyone. As it is, it’s still an enjoyable game that the kids will like. I would recommend giving it a try.
8 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Gamewright at their site.

http://www.gamewright.com

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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