I thought I was a dragon. I flew over the plains and enjoyed freedom. There was no danger, I just glanced at the extended wings. But then I woke up. And my dragon’s body did not disappear. I am really a dragon! But not everything is as fabulous as it seemed. There are enemies here who want to hurt me. I have to forget about freedom, now it is time to fight!
A pair of designers, Jake Given and Ace Peckham, put on the dragon’s skin for us in the seemingly unobtrusive Dragoon game. Illustrator Nick Nazzaro took care of its decoration. The whole game has gone through production of Lay Waste Games and above all the Kickstarter fire hell. It was successful there twice, second time even with an expansion.
The box itself will grab your interest. Although not large, it certainly offers very original graphics, the concept of which continues even after lifting the lid. Players will find here a surprising pair of cloth plans, that will be spread out on the table to create a scoring scale and above all a map. It consists of a total of thirty-two squares. Players first choose one of the four available colors and receive not only a dragon miniature, but also its cave (both are placed on the starting position on the map), control tokens and points marker (dragon head). The last one is placed on a scale with points and adds one gold skull to mark the thief’s wealth. At the end, each of the opponents gets three cards from the shuffled deck.
Match is divided into rounds and beginning of every turn is always subject to coordinates. To determine them, the active player rolls a pair of dice, and places the village tile on cross specified by rolled row and column number. It represents uninvited visitors to the dragon island, which dragons will try to steal for all their gold.
Every such village starts with black side up. However, if players roll the same coordinates in the future, then the village grows into a red town. On the contrary, whenever players roll again coordinates, where city is already standing, nothing new is added to the map. Instead, the thief’s pointer on the scale is moved three steps further. When this happens for the first time, players place a treasure chest on a map, at a random space. From here onward, players can retrieve coin after visit to that space.
After that, player gets three action points, that he can spend at his own discretion for various expensive activities. The bottom line is chances to change or draw cards, that are surprisingly expensive. It’s better with the map itself. For one point the dragon can fly on the map to neighbouring space. If two dragons would ever find themselves in the same location, they fight. Players simply compare pips on their rolled dice and winner will take three coins from the loser.
But then there is time to occupy the villages and towns, that a player can mark with his control token. Or he can burn it to the ashes and collect the gold, that its inhabitants have stored (2 or 4 based on city size). But opponents can also attack each other, if they reach the enemy cave. On the contrary, it is possible to play any number of cards free of charge and use their skills.
But people are very easily influenced, so they always listen only to the last dragon wishes. Players can easily take control of the village just by being there. How would such a following village be useful for them? This is easily known during the third phase of the turn, which is called tribute. Players automatically collect coins only for cities, where their dragon is currently standing. For others under their influence, he must roll a dice and determine the result of his income.
In the end, however, coins are the main insterest for all players. Gold is gathered from ordinary citizens, but also stolen from their opponents. Everyone is trying to be the first to save fifty gold coins. If at the end of the turn one of the participants has such a sum, and no one else is rich enough, he can immediately begin celebration.
Dragoon is an interesting tactical and positional game that is also interesting for its theme. Honoring gold with dragons and terrorizing ordinary people in villages is excellently well chosen. And the theme corresponds to the mechanisms themselves and, in general, the atmosphere encourages the feeling that you are really flying like a dragon and trying to get people out of their treasures.
Players have enough actions to choose from in every turn. They can play in their favor or react to the efforts of their opponents. Dragon movement is clearly predictable, so it’s easy to guess, what the next move of others will be.
And although there are a number of tactical elements, eventually a large part of the match depends on luck. Dice decide not only about the new bounty on the map, but also about battle outcome and especially the incomes at the end of each round. That is why it is not enough to be the best planner, but you also need to roll dots just right.
You still have to add cards to this mix. They add another level of unpredictability. They allow you to interfere with the map even out of turn, where you are standing or reacting to attacking your city, even if you do not defend it personally. Cards just add juice to the game, but for some, too, an unpleasant dose of chaos.
Generally, the game is very pleasantly conflicting. Players are motivated to attack, because it brings valuable prey to them. It is worthwhile to invade the enemy cave. All this is to be taken into account when planning your assault on the village. Their control is constantly changing.
This makes Dragoon more focused on less challenging and experienced players. This is also a good match for the game time, which can be around forty minutes. With a maximum of four opponents, it can be ten to fifteen minutes longer. And just the numbers of opponents also have a major impact on the experiences, because there is too much space on the map. So players have to fight completely differently and aggressively try to control the cities. Ideal is a fight in three or four, but you have to count on a few waiting times.
In addition to simplicity, processing is the undisputedly greatest weapon of this novelty. Beautiful miniatures, fancy fabric plans and great packaging. All of this is complemented by original, but absolutely thematically illustrations. From the point of view of implementation, perhaps we can only say, that rules lack more examples, but the game is so simple that it is not a big problem.
Dragoon is a gorgeous looking game that ultimately offers a concept for beginners. As an entry-level chaotic tactical game, it works great. In essence, we basically cannot accuse game of being bad in any way – it does everything you would expect from such a game really well. Thanks to this, Dragoon is a great piece, which is a bit collectible.
Dragoon is a positional game that can give joy to all beginners or to those who occasionally play less challenging games. Players become dragons and try to get people's gold coins. This box offers a high level of coincidence in the form of dice and drawn cards. The overall experience is dominated by the theme and the atmosphere is Dragoon's main specialty.