Monday, 28 May 2012


Plays: 2Px6.

The Game

Dragonheart is a two-player-only card game with a bit of psychology element, where you often find yourself baiting your opponent to do something you want him to do, or bluffing him into not doing something you don't want him to do. Each player has five cards, and every turn you play as many cards of one type as you want, then draw back to your hand limit. There is a simple board which shows where each type of card must be played, the number of cards that can be played, and the effects of playing the cards. In most cases playing cards let you claim another type of card already on the board. These claimed cards are worth point values, based on the numbers on the cards.

Some examples: Playing a Flying Dragon card(s) lets you claim all Treasure Chest cards (if any are on the board). Playing a third Archer card lets you claim all Flying Dragon cards, after which the Archer cards are moved to the stack beneath the Ship card space. Playing the fourth Dwarf Miner card (bottom right) lets you claim all four such cards, including the one just played.

There is a dragon token in the game, and whenever you claim any Petrified Dragon card, you claim this token too. The token holder's hand size increases to six, and the token is also worth victory points at game end. So this is something very much worth fighting for.

The game ends after the ninth ship card is played, and whoever has the most points wins.

The Play

Han and I played this at BoardGameArena (BGA). It is very quick to play, even when playing a few games at one go. The game is simple, but quite fun. You must play at least one card every turn, and sometimes that is tough, because you don't want to set up scoring opportunities for your opponent. You have to pick the least bad option, or hope that he doesn't have the right card to claim what you are going to play. It is possible to do card counting. Each player has his own deck of cards.

Sometimes you play a card to lure your opponent to claim it, so that you can in turn claim the card he has just played. Sometimes you are merely tricking him into thinking this way, so that he hesitates to claim the card you have just played. Some card types require multiple cards to be played to take effect, and often you want to hold multiple cards of these types so that you can suddenly fill up the slots while your opponent is not expecting it. However holding cards will tie up the slots in your hand, making you less flexible.

Timing can be very different from game to game, depending on when the players draw Ship cards and when they play these cards. Scores are hidden, so you only have a rough idea of how well your opponent is doing. Manipulating the pace of the game can be critical.

What cards your opponent may have constantly keeps you in suspense. In one game, when it was my turn, I had the choice of playing a Knight card to claim a number of lucrative Troll cards, or playing two Ship cards to claim a very big stack of used Archer and Knight cards. If I did the former, the Knight card would go to the accumulated stack too. I had to gamble whether Han had two Ship cards in hand. If he didn't, I could earn not only those Troll cards, but also the newly played Knight card, and all the other accumulated Archer and Knight cards, when I played my two Ships on the subsequent turn. I was behind in points, and I thought I probably needed the boost. So I went for the Trolls first. Alas, Han did have two Ships! Aarrgghh!!... Greed is not always a good thing...

The Thoughts

Dragonheart is simple, but has interesting decisions. In fact it has downright difficult decisions, like those you have to make in Lost Cities. There is some luck in the game, and if you keep getting the right cards at the right times, you will win. I don't think it's a problem, because most of the time you have interesting decisions to make and there is skill required to play well. Each player having his own deck of cards reduces the luck element somewhat.

I like the bluffing and baiting aspects of the game. Often you need to try to read what your opponent is thinking and what cards he may be holding. I enjoy this psychological element. Dragonheart is a juicy little gem.

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1 comment:

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