In Drakon, you and your opponents are walking through an ever-changing, maze-like dungeon. Your goal is to gather enough treasure to get out while avoiding the dragon.
Setup And Gameplay
The dungeon of Drakon is represented by tiles. At the beginning of the game only one tile, the Entrance Chamber, is in play. Each player has a hand of four tiles with the rest in a draw pile. The dragon’s hoard is a collection of 28 face-down coin tokens with a value of 1 to 3. Every player chooses a hero card and its matching figurine, and you are ready to start. On each turn, a player can do one of two actions: place a tile or move their hero to a new chamber. Each chamber has four doors on it, some with and some without arrows. You cannot place two doors with arrows next to each other. When moving, a hero can only move in the direction of the arrows in their current chamber. Most of the chambers have icons on them to signify an effect. Most effects happen when a hero steps into the chamber. But some will activate when you place a specific tile, or the next time the hero moves. There are 16 different effects, including find/steal/lose a coin, move/turn a chamber, and take a special move action. One particularly important effect is the dragon icon. The first time you place such a tile, the dragon figurine appears in an empty chamber. Whenever a hero enters a chamber with the dragon icon, their player can move the dragon up to three chambers. If the dragon ends in a chamber with a hero, the player loses one coin and gets sent back to the Entrance Chamber. Throughout the game, coins the players have found are kept face down. The game ends as soon as one player has coins with a combined value of 10 or more. This player wins, and everyone else’s hero gets eaten.
Experience And Replayability
A game of Drakon is easy to set up and only takes about 30 minutes to play with two players. The player aids outline all the different chamber effects, so you don’t have to memorise them. With a wide variety of effects, Drakon accommodates many different play styles. You can prioritise bouncing around the dungeon to find as many coins as you can. You can opt to gain all your coins from stealing from your opponents. Or, you can dedicate your game to messing with your opponents. Removing tiles they want to go to, forcing them to go to certain other tiles, or barraging them with dragon attacks. You won’t gain many points from the latter, but you can still have a great time. As no player can influence the stacking of the draw pile, it is quite random which play styles are accessible at any given point in the game. But that is also what ensures that no two games will be the same. Another aspect that makes Drakon very replayable is the variant rules provided by the rule book. In one variant, it is no longer enough to gain the correct coin value, you have to also escape the dungeon via specific chamber effects. In another, you get to use the powers printed on each individual hero card. There are six different heroes, each with a unique power. The way these work with the placed chambers and each other makes for some very different experiences.
Art And Components
The art for Drakon is simple but efficient. Every tile is square and depicts a chamber with four doors (some open, some closed). They are marked with icons and arrows that dictate the game. There is a small variety of different styles of chambers and their doors: some have skeletons in the corners, others barred cell doors. The art is not at the centre of the game, but it conveys the setting well and makes the play space interesting to look at. The tiles are made of sturdy, good quality cardboard and on their backs is the dragon, staring at you with its yellow eye. A constant reminder of the stakes. The star players of the components are the plastic figurines. The hero figurines are highly detailed and match the art on the hero cards perfectly. The dragon figurine is likewise detailed and about twice as tall as the heroes. When she is moving around the tiles, you know danger is coming. (Note: Please be aware that the figurines that come with the game are all unpainted. The paint on the dragon in the pictures was added later.)
Drakon is a fun game that scales well for two players and for more. Due to the tile placing mechanic, no two games are ever the same. And with the vast array of tile effects and player powers, there are many ways to pursue your victory. I recommend the game to anyone who likes the flavour of a dungeon crawl and the randomness of tile drawing.