Fist of Dragonstones is a game for 3 - 6 players, with a strong emphasis on closed- fist bidding. Let's review!
What's it about?
In a secluded country, mighty people have wanted the mysterious Dragonstones for a long time now. Now, they have enough money to make other people get them. And that's where you come in.
Everyone gets some money in the beginning: 8 fairy gold, two common gold, and 5 silver. Everyone also draws 3 random Dragonstones to start with. Dragonstones come in 3 colours: red, blue and yellow.
Every round, bidding starts on a character card. Every card does something different, which you can use to help you win the game. The standard cards (these will always be auctioned) are shuffled, with two random "special" cards (which are removed afterwards).
Dragonstones are visible to all, but your gold and silver is behind a small screen (on which the rules are printed as well). Fairy gold always returns to you after a round of playing, when every character card has been auctioned. Common gold and fairy gold is worth the same. And the silver coins are used only when there is a tie between two or more players. Despite what you might think, silver coins are used a lot!
Starting with the witch every time, the characters get auctioned. Everyone takes an amount of gold from behind his/her screen, and shows a closed fist to all. Everyone opens at the same time, and the person with the most gold wins the card. You can bid 0 coins, of course. Easy.
As I said before: if there's a draw, a second auction is done between the tied players, this time using silver coins. That seems to happen a lot, at least in our games. If there's a tie again, the card is put aside and is not used in this round. All your money is gone, put you get your fairy gold back at the end of the complete round.
As soon as you win a character, you use the special power. This can be just about everything, you can look some up in the pictures section, or on the Days of Wonder website. Examples of standard cards are:
- Witch: has the power to "erase" the special power of one card in this round.
- Sorcerer: give 4 stones of identical colour back to the bank, scoring you two points. (if you can't, you still get some money)
- Wizard: give one stone of each colour to the bank and score one point.
- Red, Blue, or Yellow Dragon: get a Dragonstone of the same colour as the Dragon.
And some examples of the special cards:
- Brigand: choose a player. You get all their common gold and silver.
- Doppleganger: if you win a character, you can use the doppleganger to use that character's special power a second time.
- Goldsmith: you receive a special red coin. Later in the game, you can include the red coin in your bid, doubling the value of each other coin in your hand.
There are also three blank cards included in the game, so you can make your own cards! You can find some very cool ideas on BGG, or the Days of Wonder website.
The first player to score three points, wins.
So, overall feel of the game?
This game is easy to play, doesn't take long, and is a lot of fun, if you're a bit into the bidding system. It can be pretty tense (in a fun way) from time to time. You might think: "Meh, everyone can see he wins if somebody doesn't stop him in some way. So I don't have to bid high."
Problem is: most people think like that, and then the person does indeed win because nobody bid high for that scoring card.
Three points to win doesn't seem like much, but most people will "gang up" on you as soon as you have 2, so the game won't be too short. And it won't take longer than an hour either, so this is a really nice game to play if you don't have a lot of time, or want to play "just one more game".
One of the great psychological games. Table talk encouraged.
Excellent review. Thank You.
This is indeed a funky wee game, ideal as a party game or 'the end of a wonderful games convention in Belgium' game
I'd guess it probably works best as a 6 player game, and from experience I'd say that attractive people will have an advantage...
Much more fun than the description of a 'bidding game' would suggest, tense psychological battles with plenty of bluffing and banter, best served with cold beers and good company!