On saturday at "Le dernier bar avant la fin dumonde" in Paris, there was an initiation to Drakerys with Mohand. Jim from lesmaitresdujeu.fr was there a made a review in order to give his impressions on the game. The original article in french is here : http://www.lesmaitresdujeu.fr/articles/item/335-j-ai-jou%C3%... (click on it in order to give them some views).
His article is in french, so with is approval, I've made an english (very approximative ^^') translation. Here it comes :
I've played Drakerys
When we speak of the dragon, we saw his tail ! Only two days after I take interest in the Drakerys's kickstarter question, I just got an opportunity to try it ans see what the beast got in her guts. Quick feedback on the game and my impressions.
The world is well made : the comparison between Drakerys and Fallen Frontiers KS gave me a serious envy to test the game of Don't Panic Games, in particular to see how work the time path and the energy vortices wich seem so particular... And the fate just lead me to a game demo immediatly afterwards ! What more could the people want ?
Drakerys is a pleasantly fluid and approachable game. How is that ? With a troop placing and moving system very tolerant, an one line length universal action table (Thank god no never ending chart) and a tit for tat game rythm.
As for the placing and positionning of troops, everything has been simplified in order to give a bigger immediacy and fluidity to the game. No lines of sight, side or back, attack of opportunity... Every miniature is a 360° threat for the opponent and the only value to take into account in your strategy is the distance wich separate the socles of your attacker and his target (even during a charge, all your minis are entitled to an additional move in order to contact)
The neophyte won't be lost in complex positioning notions, while the veteran will be forced to take place carefully in order to best manage the reach of pôtential threat of every troop. We can measure everything at any time and the board begin to looks like "a chessboard" where the potential of every pawn is a defined "area" in sight for every general across the game table.
The moving system also reinforce that sensation of fluidity and quickness ; once activated, every unit has a walk value or a charge value, both needs an action to be used. The average Joe of the starter box can make 2 actions (1 of movement and one charge), while the stronger units can go up to 4 actions (off you go, 2 move actions, one charge and then a withdrawal !) No need to make you a drawing in order to understand that the armies are very mobile, and that we can make some "hit and run" on every side of the table before your opponent can respond. Add on this the fact that the same reference can be activated several times (I'll come back to that point later)... All this contribute a quick, nervous and rich in twists game.
And what about when we come to hands ? The universal action table solve all your problems ! Avoiding the reef of third entries table wich start to smell dust, Drakerys propose an quite simple solution. Every miniature got a reference card with the value of her stats (contact, range, force, armor, morale...). When he tries something, he compares the concerned value to the number of malus/bonus (for example -1pt/10 cm for a range shoot) or the opponent stat (example : force vs armor), the additon of both value give a result to obtain on every D10 in order to get a success ! The 10 "explode" and the 1 could generate epic failures. So to say that after 2 minutes of playing, I could already calculate almost every game actions and their chance of success... A confort wich is not so frequent in our hobby.
The details :
We get it, the game is easy but without being simplistic, fluid and fast. But what about the key mechnisms : the magic and the time path ? Hold your horses we get there !
The time path is a relatively recurring mechanism in every board game since Thebes. The principle is to add a number of time units with every action (1ts for a walk and 3 for a charge), wich make you progress on a global turn track and dictate the player alternation : if you're the last on the time path, it's your turn to play... wich allows to make several "small" actions after the opponent make a big push and so you can control the progress of the battle. I was fearing the "Grobillisme" of the system (like BOUM I make the coffee with my elite unit in one activation and then leave you lagging behind), but after a first game it seems that balances itself pretty well : the shining actions work, but you have to anticipate the blowback... I remember a Minotaurs charge in the heart of the ennemy army in order to destroy the opponent's shaman and it generate a severe beating in return ! I guess that in the long run, people become more "cautious" and reserve their lollapalooza for the crucial moments, adopting an alternation of activations closer of an more classical IGYG.
The subtlety of using the time path come from an "gaming under system" bearing the soft name of Stress. Once you activate an unit, this one takes a stress token at the end of its activation, in order to symbolize the stress of the battle. Afterward, this unit will be able to be activated again BUT for every stress token, all of his action will cost 1 extra TS... Ouch. That strongly incites a player to vary the pleasures within his army, at the risk to have an under pressure troop wich is gonna take more time in order to do a simple action that fresher unit will do faster. Of course, you can't just "pass your turn" in order to make disappear the stress token, when it's your turn to play, you must activate something : and waiting for your opponent to come and destroy your face remains an relatively tightened situation !
Once very player's token make a complete turn on the time path track, every unit remove a stress token (you can still have some after that !) and we consider that the first turn of the game is over.
A game last 6 turns, at the end of those we count the Victory Points, you can gain some by murdering the opponent's general (1PV) or by contolling the maelstrom wich is in the center of the map (1PV for each control turn if my memories are good).
As for the magic she is everywhere : even if your general/hero isn't a "spellcaster", he got the ability to awake the elemental wich are sleeping quietly in the energy vortices (water, air, fire and earth) in every corner of the table, with a dice roll at a certain distance of the portal (20cm). An hero can only control one elemental at the time, but it's already not so bad... Once this one is awakened, he's considered as an extra troop wich has the principal task to buff all your minis in a 20cm circle (for the level 1 elemental). In our game, I've noticed the real interest of fire elemental wich add 2 dice in attack to every unit, and the earth one wich grants +1 in defense. You'll have understand it, summoning those creatures and their position in your troops is an essential factor to crush your opponent under your conqueror's boot ! Once again, it's simple, effective and add a parameter to direct your strategical choices during the game.
Those energy votrices are not only useful as summon spots for the elemental, but they're also some reserves of mana for your eventual magicians. My "stupid and nasty" paladins don't touch those dirts, but I could have seen my opponent's Orc Shaman in his works... Every energy vortex have mana points that we pump in order to cast a spell of the list. Depending on the element asked, of course we have to draw in the matching vortex or in the universalmaelstrom in the center. The farther you are from the well you draw, the harder the spell will be to cast. Magic is not only a list of spells that we can cast anywhere and at every turn, but interacts once again with the battlefield in order to always create more dilemmae and possibilities. I haven't seen much of it since my minotaurs quickly flattened that damned shaman before he manages to make too much damages, but that can hurt since the number of obtained successes generally increase dratically the power of a spell...
One hour of game has been enough to lead this initiation into its term, and I've already granted a future revenge to my opponent (who of course let me win in order to have a good review here) ! My presentiment on this game have been strenghtened by this first experience : if the universe isn't the one who attracts me most, the gameplay is actually a pleasure for neurons. Symplifying the classics miniatures game while adding to it 2 essential notions of controlling time and field via several parameters, it settles for me as a refreshing and original game that I will play again with pleasure. And to have held the miniatures in my hands, I can only raise my hat to the sculptor Mohand who mad a magnificent job of an impressive sharpness. Now there's only to see if I adhere to the look of one of the armies and "roulez jeunesse" !
I've also found an other review made by Mattbab on a french forum, so I've tried to translate it for you. He plays the game with Pierre Joanne :
Just wanted to share with you the demo game of Drakerys I've played with Mohand.
First of all, the minis are really gorgeous, even the dragon familiar looks great in real while in photo I found him meh. The human bowmen got nice poses. Even if I was not a big fan of orcs but more due to the painting choose (too much browns for me) than the sculpt wich is really sympathetic.
Frankly, I find everything magnificent (maybe I'm not too much objective and they are studio quality miniatures but honestly it looks really great).
And what about the game ?
We've played twice with the basic scenario and the miniatures of the starter set. Basically the purpose is to control the center of the table (by scoring points every turn) with a bonus if we kill our opponent's leader. We deployed very easily but in my opinion that was a simplified version ; in every case the beginning is really fast : we start to activate our troops turn by turn following the time path.
The movement is really fluid, very tolerant on close combat wich avoid headaches, it reminds me of SAGA and that's a really good point ! Furthermore that really alows to make big manoeuvres and surprise the opponent (for those fearing a too smal gaming surface, the game will perfectly adapt himself to bigger areas). For example I've been ablo to make a 50cm charge with minotaurs !
We could fear a too big "bourrinisme" but that's here where is the interest of the time path : a big manoeuvre cost a lot of tims (especially the charges) wich give a big margin to your opponent in order to retaliate. My epic minotaur charge cost me 6TS wich have let to Mohand the time to respond. Logically my minotaurs should have die (but fortunately the dice were with me)
The other important point is the stress tokens that we get every time we activate an unit (another detail that remind me of SAGA ! Even if it’s not exactly the same, the aim is to avoid using too often the same unit). We’re often tempted to use the same unit (elite troops or bowmen for example) but in the end it costs a lot of time and that’s the sinews of war ! So we have to be very careful with the positioning of our troops because reactivating them in the same turn because of a bad positioning could be very expensive.
It could also be interesting to have an unit in reserve without stress token in order to do a big maoeuvre (the cost is expensive anyway, but less than if we got at least a stress token). But in order to do that, we need that the reserve unit is not too far from the combat, if your troop is too set back she become useless when the time comes.
The other key point is the elemental system. Basically, the heroes can summon them (but it takes time) on the vortices or the maelstrom. The advantage of the vortices is that we know wich elemental we will get (impossible to summon a fire elemental on a water vortex for example). The maelstrom summon a random elemental. They can fight but they’re weak, their true advantage is to give a permanent bonus to the friendly units in the area. So they have to be positioned near the fights but they’re vulnerable and easilt killed.
Finally the heroes have interesting profiles but they’re weaker (in principle) than other units. The orc shaman got access to spells : he might cast them by drawing in the vortices/maelstrom, the difficulty of the spell casting depend on the distance with the vortices/maelstrom, the maelstrom grant access to an infinite of dices but it’s really dangerous since the shaman took injuries if there’s a critic fail (roll a 1 on the D10). But the more critical hit you get and the more powerful your speel will be (that’s why it’s interesting to maximize your number of dices)
The human paladine doesn’t cast spell (it’s totally possible to play without any magic spells, since all the elementals are accessible to every hero) but she has got interesting abilities helpful for the activation like : removing stress tokens, add actions to a troop (allowing to do heroïc actions, like my minotaur charge !) She can also perform heroïc action herselfn she gains a huge bonus but very expensive (you don’t have to miss, it’s some kind of one shot).
All of it works well and the universal action table is really elegant and simple, it allows to include a lot of modifiers without spoiling the game with boards and calculations, for example the range is resolved in function of the number of 10cm edges that separates the shooter from his target; plus the modifiers like the under cover.
Like that we know quickly the difficulty rate and I’ve never seen before a miniature game wich takes into account of so much sharpness on the shooting difficulty depending of the distance (it’s not just a simple modification on the half-range).
D10 are the real bonus to me : first it changes and secondly it allows to include a lot of modifiers which would have too much importance with a D6 (+1 on a D10 is less stronger than a +1 on a D6) so we have a lot of bonuses/maluses depending on the situations, spells…etc. without becoming grosbill (for example the earth elemental gives a +1 resistance but a + 1 in resistance (with d10) is a lesser bonus than +1 in toughness in warhammer battle system).
Here it is, I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Personnally I’m gonna run to pledge, my only regret is that we have to wait several months before assembling our first miniatures. No, really the game is really well thought, fast, it reminds me SAGA on some points (got an equivalent rythm), with originalities with a significant presence (time path/stress token, elemental) , and everything is based on a classical system but a very efficient one.