Vikings of Dragonia
Joseph and I found some time to make our way out to Berkeley, CA to visit Games of Berkeley and do a play test with the Mach Brothers and other avid gamers on Vikings of Dragonia, a “take-that” area control tabletop game. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a representative of Games of Berkeley at the Hotel Durant (where the play test was held at) and soon after greeted by Albert Mach, one of the three Mach brothers. The Mach Brothers were at Kublacon, a tabletop convention the weekend prior, and were well-received by its attendees. They are currently on Kickstarter and have until June 18th to complete their campaign–do check them out!
This event was a success to say the least, and if I understood them correctly, will take place for the future Thursdays to come. Everyone was welcome to play test, and the venue was extremely accommodating to the crowd of tabletop supporters as well. I initially was reluctant to play the game– not because the game itself was intimidating, but because I knew I was surrounded by people who have played tabletop games for much longer than I have. Vikings of Dragonia is a tabletop game that requires strategy, but maintains a good balance between making enemies and allies. The game can be as fast pace as you allow it, but I definitely enjoy taking time out to strategize, and I was grateful to have 3 others who took the time out to really understand and appreciate the game for what it was. What caught my attention was the art work–although at first glance, the racer blue tiles seem plain, every aspect of the game adds an element that the tiles might have lacked. The chits (tokens) were colored in tones of gold to indicate money. The cards were designed flawlessly and was the highlight of my visual experience with the game. You can tell that the art was well thought out and cleverly crafted. The art was playful, but to the point. After short conversation with a Mach Brother associate, we learned that the prototypes that we played were hand cut and created by the three Mach brothers themselves–with the exception of the cards (that were printed by a third party). The meeples and dragon piece were cut by a laser printer/cutter, and the pieces were done flawlessly.
The game play itself takes about 30-60 minutes, however the group that I played with took around 75 minutes to go from start to finish (might I remind you that I talked myself through the strategies during each round). The other group took just around 60 minutes to finish for a 4 player game. The game starts with selecting a Viking leader (which pretty much means you are starting that round; the leader will switch to the left at the end of each round), then each player places their village and first meeple on the island of their choice. There are a number of actions that you can take per round, but the object of the game is to acquire the most land which will equate to points. At the end of each round, you will calculate the points that you have earned and collect coins that equal the number of points you have earned that round. These coins that you earn will go towards purchasing new meeples to place onto new land that you wish to acquire. Each one of your meeples must start from the village of your color, and you are only allotted 3 actions per round. Throughout the game you’ll run into obstacles that may prevent you from earning points (the dragon when it is outside of the cove), and you’ll also run into having to earn some enemies or allies depending on your move. The game very much plays like a combination of Carcassone and Small World, where you are very simply taking as much land as you can to earn points, but Vikings of Dragonia incorporates another dimension by having the cards. These cards allow you to engage in battle with other players, earn free moves, move the dragon, retreat your meeple, or earn a free viking. These cards add a new dynamic to a “take-that” action tabletop game, and even if you decide to hoard these cards the entire game through, the art work will not disappoint!
Overall, the game was extremely interactive, and was not too difficult to learn. There were questions throughout the game; however the rule book was sufficient in answering everything we needed to know in case someone was not present to help us along the way. If you have played Carcassone or Small World and loved it, I highly recommend you checking out the Mach Brother’s Kickstarter for Vikings of Dragonia and pledging to earn a copy of the game. Or, if you live in the Bay Area, CA, I definitely don’t think it would hurt to give the game a play test.
P.S. Don’t forget to stop by Games of Berkeley if you are in town! They’re awesome and will take care of you and your gaming needs.