When David MacKenzie contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in playtesting of one of the game that was coming to Kickstarter, I jumped at the chance. We are talking about the company that released Alien Frontiers and Sunrise City… It’d be foolish to refuse!
When I opened the first prototype of the two I’ve seen of Princes of the Dragon Throne, I found a lot of parts inside. And a *huge* board.
I will not review the components of this game for obvious reasons. The game hasn’t been fully produced yet and therefore I’ve no idea what it’ll end up looking like. What I will say, though, if that when I received the second prototype, the components improvement was so drastic, that any further improvement will make this game a true classic.
The game is a mix of deck building, resources management, working placement and a Euro type scoring mechanic.
The theme, though, has been truly excellently implemented, which is a massive plus for me.
In this game, the old Dragon King is giving up his throne and one of his children must take the throne and rule the kingdom. The players are those children. To prove they can rule the kingdom, they have to take over guilds in the different provinces of the kingdom and gain influence that will translate into seats in parliament and score victory points. When all the seats have been filled, the game ends and the player scoring the most points will rule the kingdom.
Every round, the players will be able to gather some resources; Sheep, Influence and Gold. Each one of them will serve a purpose, like feeding the dragons or influencing citizens. With those resources you’ll be able to either get dragons or citizens. On the board there are spaces for cards. The players will buy those cards with their resources and the gaps left will be replenished with cards from either the dragon or the citizen’s deck.
Once you influence a guild, you also get a favour card, which means you can now do one thing that kicks ass, like moving meeples from one guild to another and mess another player’s plan (result!).
When enough points are scored, parliament is called. Then dragons are recalled, special abilities are used and everyone is happier. Apart from the players who don’t benefit from that, who might get annoyed because another player is winning (result!)
I have had tremendous fun playing this game even in its current state. The rules are still difficult to follow and they’re rewriting and editing prior to release, so they should be seriously polished before it hits the shelves. Having said that, when we played it at the UK Games Expo, it wasn’t very well received generally. I feel the confusing rules and the fact that is a complex and long game doesn’t make it a good convention game unless someone can explain how it plays and you can get into it right away. So it’s not perfect yet and it’s not for everyone, but it certainly is a game for me!
Although the start is a bit slow to start with, once the players pick up the rules, it is generally easy enough to make a decision on what you want to do on the board and have the game advancing. The decks of dragons, citizens and favours are big enough that allows for great replayability. There are some issues with cards balance, but they are so minor that resolving that imbalance wouldn’t really make much difference to the gameplay.
The depth of play is truly fantastic. There are enough different strategies one can use to win the game, but not an overwhelming number, that it will keep you wanting to come back to it.
This is a bit risky of me to say this, but when this game has been fully produced and the rules got their final edit, this game will become a true classic. I really have had a terrific time when I’ve played this game in my group and I can see this will be another Clever Mojo Games Masterpiece!
For the record, I haven’t been paid to do this review and have no vested interest in this game. My opinion is truly meant!