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A New Family-Friendly Gateway Game, “Dragon Castle,” Is GeekDad Approved

A New Family-Friendly Gateway Game, "Dragon Castle," Is GeekDad Approved
Studying Time: 7 minutes

What Is Dragon Citadel?

Dragon Fort (official hyperlink) is a drafting and tile placement summary technique recreation for households with 2-Four gamers aged eight and up. The CMON recreation performs in about half an hour. Impressed by Mahjong, Dragon Citadel is a recreation that challenges gamers to take tiles from an historic, crumbling fort and create their very own castles to win the favor of the Elder Dragon! Joyful constructing!

Dragon Citadel Elements

Within the field, you’ll discover:

  • 2 Double-sided central boards
  • Four Realm boards
  • Four Participant reference playing cards
  • 10 Spirit playing cards
  • 10 Dragon playing cards
  • 85 Victory level tokens
  • 40 Shrine roofs
  • 7 Countdown tokens
  • 1 First participant token
  • 116 Tiles (72 Faction tiles and 44 Particular tiles)

First off, the tiles are very nice. They’re undersized, in comparison with most Mahjong tiles, with their longest sides being about one inch. They’re strong plastic and really feel good within the hand. The printing on the tile could be very nicely finished and it looks like superb high quality, as the primary element of a recreation that may be discovered at present for about $40. The faction tiles are cut up into three teams—yellow retailers, pink troopers, and inexperienced farmers—every numbered from one to 6. The symbology on all the tiles is totally different, so the tiles ought to be OK for colour blind gamers to play with.

The shrine roofs are additionally fantastic. They’re produced from molded plastic and are constructed to allow them to sit on prime of a stack of Dragon Citadel tiles. Lacking are the gables you see on most Shinto shrines; somewhat they use a shia or pyramidal hipped roof. However, they help the theme properly.

Among the many different bits, the victory level, first participant, and countdown tokens are all good high quality cardboard and the spirit and dragon playing cards are additionally of very good. Nevertheless the central and realm (participant) boards depart one thing to be desired. All of those are printed on cardstock, very very similar to the participant boards in Terraforming Mars. I suppose that printing on cardstock retains the worth of the sport low and the load of the sport down, however, just like the boards in Terraforming Mars, they really feel missing to me. The paintings on them is gorgeous, as it’s on the opposite playing cards as properly. The realm playing cards are double-sided, however one aspect simply has artwork, whereas the enjoying aspect has a grid and a spot to retailer shrines. The central boards present quite a lot of setups, relying on the variety of gamers. Along with being flimsy, relying on the place you’re enjoying, desk or floor imperfections can simply be felt via these “boards.” They work although, and for those who love the sport, I suppose you possibly can all the time make your personal substitutes. (Within the first recreation I ever performed of Dragon Citadel, we used some good, neoprene boards that a gamer had picked up at Essen.)

GeekDad Approved Tabletop Game 2018

Dragon Fort is GeekDad Approved!

Tips on how to Play Dragon Citadel


Establishing Dragon Citadel takes a bit of labor, however with many arms, it goes shortly sufficient. The most important problem is establishing the tiles on the board. In your first few video games, it’s really helpful that you simply use one of many essential central boards that ship with the sport. After that, there are a dozen different configurations (with beneficial participant counts for every) behind the rule guide—or you’ll be able to provide you with your personal challenges.

Tiles are stacked, face-up, on the board with various layers of depth, in accordance with the board format. Some stacks have three tiles, whereas others have only one. Shrines and VP tokens must be set inside attain of everybody and countdown tokens must be positioned on the board, in accordance with how any gamers are within the recreation. Extra gamers means extra countdown tokens. A single Spirit and Dragon card are every positioned by the board. These present a particular energy and goal out there to everybody all through the sport. If it’s your first recreation, you could want to skip these playing cards till you’re accustomed to the opposite mechanics.

Every participant will get a Realm board and a single shrine to place of their shrine pool. Decide a participant to start out and also you’re able to go.

Able to play!


On every flip, a participant should select and full considered one of 4 actions. A participant can take a pair of obtainable tiles, starting with one on the highest flooring of the Dragon Fort on the central board. They need to then take a second and similar out there tile from any flooring. This primary motion requires two essential definitions. First, an obtainable tile is one on an outdoor fringe of the citadel that has an extended edge utterly uncovered. The second, equivalent tile, means simply that. “Really close” or “sort of looks alike” doesn’t minimize it. They have to be precisely alike to be similar.

The second motion a participant can take is to take a single out there tile from the highest flooring after which take a shrine from the overall pool. This shrine ought to be positioned in your shrine pool. The third motion is to select and discard any single obtainable tile from the highest flooring. In trade, the participant receives a 1 VP token. (VP tokens are available three denominations; maintain them stacked so your rivals can’t tally your rating.) Lastly, a participant might summon the dragon. This ominous motion solely takes place on the finish of the sport. This motion doesn’t actually match right here, so I’ll describe it on the finish of this part.

After you might have taken your motion, any tiles you’ve taken have to be positioned in your realm board. Tiles are positioned face-up and could be positioned anyplace in your diamond-shaped realm board. Positioned anyplace, with a few limitations, that’s. Tiles could also be positioned on an empty area or on any stack of face-down tiles. How do tiles flip face-down, you ask? That is the place Dragon Fort will get puzzle-y and enjoyable.

As talked about earlier than, there are six tiles varieties: three factions and three kinds of particular tiles. Each time 4 tiles from a single tile sort are orthogonally adjoining, you will need to consolidate them. Consolidation means flipping the tiles face down after which scoring them. In case you consolidated 4 tiles, it’s value 2 VP. 5 tiles earns three, six will get 5 VP, 7 provides 6, eight grants eight VP, and every tile past that provides another. It’s value noting that, whereas tiles which might be diagonal don’t qualify for consolidation, these on totally different flooring do, so all the time be wanting instantly down in your realm board. To reiterate, they solely need to be from the identical sort of tile, not equivalent faces.

Whenever you consolidate, if in case you have any shrines in your shrine pool, you’ll be able to add them to tiles you could have simply consolidated. (They will by no means be added later.) If the tiles you’ve consolidated are odd factions, you might add a single shrine. Particular season and wind tiles which were consolidated can help you place two shrines when you have them and particular dragon tiles permit two shrines to be positioned along with the award of a 1 VP token. On the finish of the sport, VP are awarded for shrines positioned and factors are given based mostly on which flooring the shrines have been positioned. First flooring will get some extent, second will get two, and something on flooring three and better will get three factors.

As soon as throughout your flip, a participant might activate the spirit card, which grants a robust energy. These differ in power and which a part of the sport is benefited most by the facility. Nevertheless incomes the favor of the spirits comes with a price and anybody activating the spirit card should both discard a face-up tile from their realm board or a shrine from their shrine pool. The dragon card, as talked about, offers one other goal.

Play continues like this till the central fort is deconstructed to the purpose that solely first flooring tiles are left. As talked about earlier than, there’s a fourth motion a participant can tackle their flip—summoning the dragon, which can ultimately set off the top of the sport. When solely first flooring tiles can be found, this motion could also be executed by taking one of many countdown markers. Every token is value two VP and a participant can take multiple by summoning on successive turns. Beneath the tokens are symbols and, when the exclamation level is revealed (all the time second from the final token taken), the elder dragon has been summoned and the ultimate spherical has begun.

Everybody will get one final flip, besides the participant who summoned the elder dragon, and VP are tallied. Most factors wins!


Why You Ought to Play Dragon Fort

Dragon Fort is a ton of enjoyable. It performs fairly shortly and, because of the randomness of setup via each tile distribution and central board setup, no two video games will ever be the identical. It’s fairly straightforward to show and it’s good household enjoyable. We favored that the sport performed rather well with out the Spirit and Dragon playing cards and half the time we select to play with out them and it’s nonetheless an excellent time.

When you can play shortly, ending a recreation in near 30 minutes, it’s additionally pleasant to go a bit extra slowly. Taking a tile after which contemplating what has been revealed as a second tile may be rewarding. You can even decide strategically, to dam the technique of your opponents, though this can be met with some protest. When choosing tiles, it’s necessary to be decisive although. We have now a home rule that, when you take it, you possibly can’t put it again. This was instituted as a result of too typically tiles have been taken, minds have been modified, and nobody might keep in mind the place that they had initially been on the central board.

Moreover, there are a number of methods to think about. In case you solely decide pairs, you’ll by no means have shrines to offer you finish of recreation factors. However shrines don’t award numerous factors, so are they value over-pursuing? I’ve discovered that it’s extra necessary to rack up giant consolidation blocks than it’s to focus on shrines (though they do look good). A strong second or third place in shrine scoring will simply hold you within the operating.

A recreation that was pressured to finish early, whereas tiles have been nonetheless out there. This occurs quite a bit.

There’s a small draw back within the recreation and that’s if you decide tiles from the central board or flip tiles in your Realm board, it may be a problem for giant arms. The truth is, time after time, Realm boards should be partially deconstructed to flip inside tiles. It’s a minor grievance, however it nonetheless takes away from the general expertise. I don’t assume there’s a workaround to repair it although. The elements are a much bigger black spot. The tiles and shrines are actually incredible, however the boards are terrible. I haven’t performed a primary recreation with anybody but who didn’t derisively touch upon the boards. I’m prepared to miss it this time as a result of the worth of Dragon Citadel is low and it’s a lot of enjoyable, however I actually hope publishers avoid the cardstock “board.” The upside is that they do make it straightforward to scoop up all of the tiles when placing the sport away.

I feel what I like most about Dragon Fort is that it’s actually two video games. First, it’s one thing everybody can relate to in a recreation—matching objects. That’s a easy idea and one that almost everybody has performed with sooner or later. However then the sport introduces a second recreation, which takes place on the Realm board. As gamers attempt to piece collectively giant swaths of tiles earlier than consolidating them and including shrines, it turns into a tougher affair. All of the whereas, it’s straightforward to understand and introduces newer gamers to harder ideas. For that purpose, I feel Dragon Citadel is one that may simply be added to my record of nice gateway video games.

CMON has had a number of under-the-radar video games recently, launched on to retail with little fanfare, that I feel are a lot better than their mini-heavy Kickstarter choices. Final yr’s Ethnos was extremely incredible and a recreation I’ll by no means say no to. Dragon Fort is an in depth second in that group and it’s one you must undoubtedly attempt to play.

Second place. Ought to’ve consolidated that seasons group.

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Disclosure: This recreation got here is a part of my private assortment.

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