Dwar7s Winter Review

Dwar7s Winter is a game by Luís Brüeh , published by Vesuvius Media. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of the leader of a clan of dwarves tasked with keeping their castle safe from rampaging monsters and horrible disasters. Of course, they’ll have to work together and send their heroes to battle these monsters and overcome the worst that winter has to offer if they hope to survive the bitter cold. In the end, if they are able to survive the long winter, the player with the most victory points will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area. The Monster cards are shuffled together and placed face down near the left side of the boad. The Hero cards are also shuffled and placed face up near the top of the board. The top 3 cards of the deck and drawn and placed in a row beside the deck to form the Hero pool. The Disaster cards are shuffled and placed face down near the right side of the board along with the Disaster tokens. A number of cards are placed face up next to the board, depending on the number of players. Each player takes a player board, set of player markers and a music token. The player will also chooses a color and then take the corresponding set of 7 dwarf miniatures in their chosen color and place them on their player board on the spaces provided. The player markers are placed on the player board with the coin token on the 2 space of the gold track and the 3 crate markers placed on the 2 space of the food, stone and wood tracks. The scroll markers are placed on the 5 spot of the action track and the 7 spot of the hand size track. The music token is placed near the player board. Each player will now take the 7 starting hero cards in their chosen color to form their starting Action deck. The winter token is placed on the 1 spot of the winter track on the board. Starting with the first player and moving clockwise in turn order, each player will place a dwarf on one of the zones on the game board. The first and second player will only place one dwarf each, however the third and fourth players will each place two dwarves instead of only one. The first player is chosen and is given the first player token. Play now begins.

The game is played over 7 rounds or “weeks”. Each week is divided into 4 phases; enemy Invasion, Preparation, Actions and Resolution. The first phase is the Enemy Invasion phase. This phase is divided into 4 steps. The first step is to refresh the tracks. This means that each player will reset their hand size and action tracks back to their starting positions of 7 and 5 respectively by moving their scroll markers on their player boards. Players will also retrieve their music token from the Music Hall. All of this is unnecessary in the first round. For the next step, the monsters attack. Of course once more, for the first round, this is unnecessary. In later rounds, the first player will decide in which order the monsters will move. They will choose a monster on the board and move it 1 zone closer to the castle. Once moved, it’s ability is activated. Once the ability has been resolved and all effects applied, a different monster is chosen until each monster on the board has been moved and it’s ability resolved. Each monster has a special ability that can cause players to lose resources, actions or hand size. They can also spawn an extra disaster, move another monster or cause a dwarf to be returned to the player board. One other thing of note is that in zones that a monster occupies, players are unable to produce resources of any kind. Also, if a player is forced to pay a resource that they don’t have, they lose that much gold instead. For the next step, the monsters gain reinforcements, if there aren’t enough already on the board, by spawning new monsters onto the board. This is based on the number of players. When completing this step, the 1st player draws the top card of the Monster deck and places it face up in a free spot next to the board. The Monster’s miniature is placed on the corresponding location on the board as noted on the card. If a monster has a spawn ability, it is activated once the miniature is placed on the board. The final step is to reveal a Disaster. Once again, the 1st player draws the top card of the Disaster deck and places it in a free spot next to the board. A Disaster token is then placed on the board as noted by the spawning point on the card. Once a Disaster token is placed on the board, resources will no longer be produced in that zone until the Disaster has been overcome. It should be noted that if there are 4 or more Disasters active by the end of the week, the players immediately lose the game.

The second phase is the Preparation phase. In this phase players will choose a number of cards from their Action deck, equal to their hand size number as shown on their player board. The remaining cards are placed face down beside their player board. For the current week, the player will only be able to play the cards in their hand and not the face down ones.

The next phase is the Actions phase. In this phase, players will be able to take a number of actions, as indicated on their player boards. There are 4 actions that may be taken, as well as 2 free actions. Free actions require the player to have the required number of dwarves and resources in a particular zone. The 4 actions are place a dwarf, move a dwarf, acquire a hero and play a musical instrument. To place a dwarf, the player spends an action and may then place 1 of their dwarves from their player board onto any zone. It should be noted that a player may never place 2 dwarves in the same zone during the same turn. This action may be performed multiple times, as long as the player has the actions to pay for it. To move a dwarf, the player spends an action and may then move 1 of their dwarves on the board to any adjacent zone. This action may also be performed multiple times, as long as the player has the actions to pay for it. To acquire a hero, the player spends an action and must then pay the corresponding cost for the card in gold. The newly acquired hero is placed face down in the player’s Action deck. The remaining hero cards are slid to the right to fill the empty space. A new hero card is then flipped face up. This action may only be taken once per turn. To play music, the player spends an action and may then place their music token on top of their chosen musical instrument on the music hall space on the board, as long as there is not already a music token on the space. The player may then resolve cards from their hand that match the chosen instrument, performing any special abilities noted on the hero card. Once the player has played any or all of their matching cards, each player in turn order may then choose to play any number of cards from their hand that match the chosen instrument as well, performing the special abilities of their hero cards as well. This action may only be taken once per turn.

On top of the regular actions, players may also take free actions if they have the required dwarves and resources. They can defeat a monster or overcome a disaster. To defeat a monster, the player must occupy the same zone as a monster and have the required number of dwarves and resources to defeat it. Once defeated, the monster’s miniature is removed from the board and the monster’s card is placed face down beside the player’s player board. Any dwarves used are returned to the player board and the resource tracks adjusted accordingly. To overcome a disaster, the player must occupy the same zone as the the disaster and have the required number of dwarves and resources to overcome it. Once overcome, the disaster token is removed from the board and the disaster card is placed face down near the player’s player board. Any dwarves used are returned to the player board and the resource tracks are adjusted accordingly. The player then gains the gold reward as shown on the disaster card.

The final phase is the Resolution phase. In this phase, player check to see if there are 4 active disasters or if there is a monster inside the Castle. If either of these is true, then the players lose the game. If not, then a new week starts. The Winter token is moved 1 spot to the right on the track and the first player token is passed to the next player in turn order. If it is the end of the 7th week and the player managed to not become overwhelmed by disasters or allowed a monster inside the Castle, then the game ends and scoring occurs. Players add up their victory points from defeated monsters, overcome disasters, acquired heroes and reaching the 7 spot on any of the resource tracks, as well as having all of their dwarves on their player board. The player with the most victory points is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This is truly an amazing looking game. The board is beautiful and depicts a frozen kingdom covered in snow and surrounded by thick wall. Each zone is separated and numbered with an icon that relates to the type of zone it is. There are spaces along the top and both sides for the different card types, as well as a winter track at the bottom. The bottom left corner has the music hall with 4 different instruments. The board is great quality and is well designed. The same is true of the player boards, which aren’t quite as thick as the game board. There are several tracks on these and a section around the campfire for the player’s dwarf miniatures. I like that the extra touch of detail was added for what could have simply been an empty box to place your dwarves in. The game also comes with several tokens, from player markers and music tokens to disaster tokens. There is also a winter token and a first player token. Each of these is a good thickness and has great artwork that fits in with the theme and the boards. The game has a fairly good sized stack of square cards. These are much the same size and quality as the ones in Dwar7s Fall. There are 3 different types; heroes, disasters and monsters. Heroes have both starting hero cards as well as regular heroes. Each of these has a very great looking design on both the front and the back that carries the same feel as the cards from Dwar7s Fall. I really like the fun looking art and think it fits in perfectly with both this game and the previous one. The iconography on these cards is fairly simple to learn and understand. After a couple of plays, you’ll get the hang of it. The final components are the miniatures. Believe me, there are quite a few of these included in the game. There are miniatures for the monsters which are all winter blue and 4 different colored sets of dwarves; 1 for each player, up to 4. The sculpts on these are amazing. They fit the same look and feel as the artwork on the cards. It’s the same cute and fun style that is present there. I absolutely love these. They really bring the game to life, moving around on the board. Needless to say, I am very impressed with the look and feel of this game. My copy of the game also came with the Legendary expansion which includes 12 more disasters, 8 monsters (cards and miniatures), 4 starting heroes and 12 legendary dwarves (3 for each player color). These cards and miniatures bring a bit more of an epic look and feel to the game. Overall, this is one great looking game. I feel that you’d be hard pressed to find many others that look this good. It’s definitely one of my top games for 2018, as far as components go.
10 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is on par with the components. The quality is absolutely top notch. Everything is well written and designed. Each step of the game, from setting it up to scoring, is laid out in an easy to read and understand way. The book is full of pictures and examples. Each part and piece is explained in great detail, from the player boards and action decks to boards and cards. There are special sections that explain each monster ability and hero ability, decoding the different iconography of each design. The book is a great reference and finding what you’re looking for is very easy. Also included in the text is a solitaire variant, as well as a nightmare and bloodlust variant for more of a challenge. The solitaire variant gives you a score chart to compare your final score against to see where you rank. Of course that’s if you survive all 7 weeks. The nightmare variant adds more disasters, while the bloodlust variant gives a player more points for each different type of monster they defeat. As I mentioned earlier, my copy of the game also came with the Legendary expansion, which includes the rules on the back of the rulebook. The abilities for the legendary monsters, as well as the legendary dwarves are included on the same page. Overall I can’t think of a thing that has been left out. I’m thrilled with the overall look and feel of this rulebook. Like the components, it’s definitely one of my tops for 2018.
10 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
If you’ve ever played one of those castle defense style games, like Castle Panic, then you’ll probably be able to relate to this game. However, this game takes the idea of castle defense and really improves on it in several new ways. Instead of the monster just plodding along as if memorized towards a central location, this game throws special abilities out each time a monster hits the board. On top of that, the monsters don’t just start at the edge of the board and move toward the center, they can show up in any zone, depending on the type of monster. If that weren’t bad enough, you’ll also have disasters that show up all around the board that must also be taken care of. If you end up with 4 or more by the end of a week, you’re toast. So not only do you have to protect the castle, you also have to control the disasters too. I was a fan of Castle Panic before, but this game has definitely taken it’s place in my collection. I like the variety of monsters and heroes, each having it’s own special ability. I like how that each time you play the game, it feels new. The variety of cards makes the game highly replayable, as you never know what’s going to come against you next. The inclusion of the Legendary expansion just adds more variety and replayability to an already great game. The extra variants that are included in the rulebook give a bit more of a challenge for when things start getting a bit too easy. Needless to say, I really enjoy the multiplayer aspect of the game. As far as the solo variant for the game, I quite like it. I’m not usually a big fan of comparing my score against a chart to see how I did. I usually prefer a strict win or lose aspect. This game takes both and mashes them together. You still have to survive the monsters and disasters to win the game. It’s only after you’ve won that you can see just how well you won. That’s kind of the best of both worlds in my opinion. I can honestly say that I really enjoy this one. I love how it looks and how it feels. I love the challenges that this game presents and I love overcoming the obstacles that the game throws at me. My kids enjoy this one too. They love the fun cartoon like aspect of the cards and miniatures. It’s challenging enough that it scratches my strategy itch while not being too overly complicated that my 8 year old can enjoy it as well. Of course she loves the Snow White card, and makes me promise not to buy it if it comes up in the hero pool. That’s my daughter for you. All in all this is a great game that is fun for the whole family. It’s family friendly and is one that even the kids can play with little trouble. Fans of castle defense games like Castle Panic should enjoy this one immensely. Players that enjoyed Dwar7s Fall should find this one even more fun and challenging. This is a game that I would highly recommend. It’s definitely fun to look at as well as play.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Dwar7s Winter is a castle defense style game set in a fantasy world of dwarves and monsters. The game doesn’t take too long. Most game sessions last around 45 minutes or so. The components are truly awesome! The miniatures are a lot of fun to look at and play with. The cartoon like style makes it family friendly and fun for everyone. The rulebook is well designed and looks great. It also includes several game variants that make the game harder, as well as introducing a solo variant. The game itself takes castle defense to a whole new level with a bit of resource management mixed in. It’s a truly fun game that is a thrill to play. The multiplayer and solo versions of the game are both enjoyable. Fans of games like Castle Panic should really enjoy this one. The solo game is a lot of fun, even though it includes a beat your own score ending. The player still has to survive the 7 weeks of winter or immediately lose. The tension in this game is really great and takes the castle defense mechanic into new levels of fun. It’s highly replayable and is one that I think most players will enjoy. This is a game that I would highly recommend. It’s definitely one of my top games for this year. Winter just got HOT!
9 out of 10

 

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

http://www.vesuviusmedia.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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