Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Thursday 26 July 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:-Dragon Castle

Game: Dragon Castle

Publisher: Horrible Games

Designer:  Hjalmar Hach, Luca Ricci and Lorenzo Silva

Year: 2017

Dragon Castle is probably one of the games I’ve been anticipating the longest time. When it first released at Essen in 2017, I was excited by the look of the game and the initial reviews that likened some of the mechanisms to the computer version of the game Mah Jong. The two publishers – CMON and Horrible Games also have a great pedigree of working together on Potion Explosion – a very addictive game that keeps hitting our table and also gets a lot of play on the mobile app. I have no idea why gamers in the UK had to wait 9 months for the game to hit store shelves but when Dragon Castle landed on our doorstep I was lightning fast with opening the box and setting up for our first game!

Dragon Castle is a competitive tile-laying abstract game for 2-4 players that has lovely artwork and really high component quality. The highlight is certainly its heavy plastic tiles with the typical colourful designs of a Mah Jong set. Abstract games with high production values are becoming the norm, but how does Dragon Castle stack up?

A game of Dragon Castle begins with setting up your castle of tiles. We’ve only played the basic setup, but alternative setups are available that offer some variety, but not anything that I think would be game-changing. On your turn you can either take two matching, available tiles from the edge of the board, take one shrine and one available tile from the top layer or trash a tile from the top layer for a victory point. The tiles you have taken then need to be added to your personal player board to make groups of tiles in the same colour which give you scoring opportunities. As soon as you make a group of 4 or more tiles in the same colour, those tiles will flip, scoring points and allowing you to place a shrine on top on one of the tiles which will score end game points based on the height at which the shrine was placed.

Only groups of four or larger in the same colour will flip, so it is possible to place tiles in small groups to be connected in a later turn.
I was so excited for Dragon Castle that I did find our first game underwhelming. We played with no special powers or special end game scoring and this meant the game was a very pleasant experience but didn’t feel like much of a game. In our second play, we threw in one of each style of card and still the game didn’t quite click. Luckily game three was fantastic, which I think was both down to us, as well as some more interesting cards.  It certainly takes a few games to get used to the tactics and in particular the powers that need you to discard a tile or a shrine actually need some careful planning to use them really well. Some of the end game scoring cards can really focus your strategy too, which is something I always enjoy in games and I’m now super eager to explore more of these. This is definitely where the true variety lies in the game, not in a variable setup.

We have only played Dragon Castle with two players and fortunately it hasn’t got too mean or competitive. There are certainly times when you can observe what your opponent needs and take that away from them, but we’ve found that that derailment is only temporary – meaning your opponent needs to concentrate on something else until another opportunity arises. I think this competitive edge is likely to be most augmented at two-players. However, the benefit of two-player is that you have the opportunity to plan a few turns ahead, because the board state won’t change much between turns. This keeps the game really quick – which may be slightly diminished with more players. Playing with two-players also allows you to be sneaky in baiting the other player to take a tile that opens up an even better opportunity for you on your next turn – a tactic that Amy has successfully employed against me!

Dragon Castle is a fantastic abstract game, but the art, production quality and game variety really elevates it to feel like something more than a simple abstract. I possibly see myself playing the basic game again to introduce the game to my parents, but ultimately we’ll be working our way through different combinations of cards to bring variety into our games. Dragon Castle is a really tactile game that allows players to do something they always crave (stacking up their pieces!) and I think this makes it a great game for families and one I’d highly recommend for any level of gamer to try.

For the Yellow Meeple, Dragon Castle is an 8/10.

Dragon Castle was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £46.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

No comments:

Post a Comment