Dragon Realm is a set collection, push your luck, family friendly, adventure game for 2-4 players by Darren Listen and produced by Gamewright. Will you be the most successful adventurer and find the most dragon stones through your explorations? Will you be able to utilise your enhancements to succeed, or risk exploring too early and lose one of your adventurers in the busy alleyways or academy? Who will gain the most treasure from their exploration and who will defeat the dragon? Only time will tell…
In Dragonrealm each player takes on the role of an adventurer exploring the beautifully designed lands. To do this you collect sets of cards seeking to gather either sets of the same colour, same number or straights. When you have collected a set, you get the opportunity to place adventurers onto one of the location cards. You roll dice equivalent to the number of cards in your set and have to roll equal to or greater than the target outlined on the card. If successful you can place one or two of your adventurer meeples on the available spaces on the location card.
Once all the spaces are filled, the adventurer with the most meeples takes the card and keeps the dragon stones outlined on the card. They also gain coins, victory points for this game. The second placed adventurer on the card takes the number of coins stated for second place.
The game plays out until the final card is defeated. Players then total up their coins and dragon stone bonuses are calculated. The player with the most loot has been the most successful, daring adventurer and wins the game.
First decide whether to play with the adventurer’s academy or alley; the academy offering a slightly more forgiving gameplay suitable for younger or new gamers.
Take the location cards and select at random two from each colour. Placing them in alternating colours in a pile on top of the final dragon location card. Reveal the top three location, these are the starting locations your adventurers can explore. Will you sneak into the Witches cabin or risk storming the Ogre’s Treehouse?
Provide each player with their turn summary card, to remind them of their options. Deal out 3 enhancements to each player they decide to keep two level one enhancements or one level 2 card.
Each player takes their eight wooden adventurer meeples and the goblin meeples and dragon stone coins are placed within reach of all players. The custom dice (D6s but numbered 1,2,2,3,3,4) is placed beside the cards.
Finally, shuffle the adventure cards dealing a hand of five to each player and create a draw pile, with the remaining cards. Turn two face up that players can choose to draw from on their turn, or risk a blind draw from the pile.
Quality of the cards is great and the artwork is just stunning. With a number of different cards replayability remains high. The adventurer meeples are quality but the bright green goblins are the real eye candy in this game. The card coins are good quality and the rule book is easy to understand and well designed.
Once you are all set up, the first player can choose to take a rest and pick two adventure cards from the available face up cards or the draw pile. If they already have a set, and wish to place an adventurer, they name the location and how they are going to adventure, either by sneaking, searching or storming the land. To sneak into the location: play a straight regardless of suit, to search: play a set of cards of the same number, regardless of suit, or storm: play a set of cards of the same colour suit.
You then take as many dice as you have played cards and seek to roll the success total against that exploration style. If successful, you place an adventurer Meeple on the location card. One of the exploration icons, on each location card, has a gold edge,in this case if successful you can place two meeples onto the available spaces on the location card. The cards you played are discarded.
If unsuccessful the adventurer is placed on the alley or academy location. You also regain the cards you played.
Players can choose to use their enhancement on any turn but must be announced before you roll. Some have one use benefits some have continuous use and some provide end game benefit.
Play continues until one of the locations has all available slots filled. At this point the player with the majority of adventurers wins the card and the coins available on the card. The player with the second most adventurers gains the runner up coins. In the event of a tie for first place. No one gains the card but first place coins are awarded to both players.
Additional depth and replayability is provided in the form of some event cards. If you draw a goblin from the adventure deck it will tell you which of the three locations to place a goblin meeple onto, this fills a space and may make it difficult for a player to gain the majority. The goblins can prevent a location being won by the adventurers so are, as expected, an annoyance to all good adventures. There are also rock-slides that trigger the passing of two cards to the player on your left which can undo a set you were collecting.
The two options for lost adventurers: the alley and academy allow for some gamer differentiation. The academy provides more forgiving gameplay for new or younger players and the alley for more advanced players and a more challenging game. In essence at any point on your turn, you can remove one of your lost adventurer Meeples from this location and receive a benefit. Either additional plus one to your die rolls in the academy or, for the advanced player option, the opportunity to obtain an additional enhancement card.
However, for both the alleyway and academy, you can choose to leave your lost adventurers on this location and collect three dragon stones at the end of the game for each Meeple you have on this card.
You work through the location cards until you reach the final adventure: the dragon. This is, as you would expect, a higher scoring but more challenging card to defeat. It is made more difficult as enhancements cards cannot be used. Once the dragon is defeated, final scoring begins.
Players count up the dragon stones they have collected from location cards they have won, enhancements and any meeples in the academy or alleyways. The player with the most dragon stones gains an additional five coins, the next in line gains three coins. These coins are added to the total coins gained throughout the game from each location they have scored.
The player with the most coins is crowned the winner and is clearly the greatest adventurer in the Dragon’s realm.