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The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Perspective from a non-Dresden Files Reader rss

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Joe Scharr
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I recently picked up the Dresden Files Card Game at retail after having kept an eye on the game for a while. I never read the books, but my wife did and she loves the series (and Jim Butcher's other books as well). I have only watched the TV show, and to this day I still call the dad police officer on Arrow, "Dresden".

My first encounter with this game was what seemed like ages ago at either DexCon or metatopia in NJ. It was easily the most popular prototype game there, and everyone at the table looked like they were having fun. I didn't get the chance to play it, but I did watch. Back then I did not see much that interested me, so I passed on the KS but decided I would try it when it hit the stores. So anyways, now I've played it a few times solo and multiplayer, and here is my take:

Gameplay
The gameplay basically has players draw a number of cards at the start of the game from their individual decks and then go around playing what's in their hand while sharing a common pool of resources. I like this idea because it really forces players to communicate and cooperate so as to maximize and maintain the available - and crucial - "Fate Points (FP)".

There are 4 kinds of cards that players need to deal with in each "book", and you have 4 kinds of cards in your hand to help you deal with each of them. While I found this aspect of the game to be intuitive, at the same time it's a little bland. I wish there were cards in the players' hand that were more than just "you can do X thing at X range for X cost +/- a die roll". Some cards in each Book have domino effects, which makes them more interesting.

Players also have a unique one-time powerful stunt ability and a talent that can be used as you discard cards for fate. I found this aspect of the individual player decks to be much more satisfying and interesting than the actual drawpile cards, but I wish these abilities had some variety (such as perhaps randomly choosing 1 of 3 Talents for a certain character, specific to only that character, at the start of the game). Not a huge gripe, and probably something that future expansions can address.

After all cards have been played, or once players trigger the end-game, a "Showdown" phase occurs where players can solve or defeat cases or foes that they started on earlier by spending available FP and rolling dice. Although almost totally random, I actually found this to be an exciting part of the game, as most of my games have come down to the wire and one simple roll could score a victory that seemed just out of reach but a minute before.

If at the end of the Showdown you've solved more cases than there are foes left, you win. I was ok with this, but I wish each Book had a variable win condition, and maybe a real showdown against a foe that you prepare cards to fight against throughout the game.

One of my favorite things is that this game takes about 30-50 minutes to play, and I've knocked out solo games in under 25. I have only played with 1 and 2 players, so I cannot comment as to how long it will play at higher counts.

I must also praise this game for being straight-forward. I was dreading that it might be a fiddly ordeal or have complex clean-up or setup. This game sets up in 2 1/2 minutes and cleans up just as fast. Awesome.

Theme
The theme of this game is perhaps the most obvious draw. I understand that board games based on an existing media IP are kind of like movies based off of video games and are usually the death knell of the genre. However, it's hard for me to pass on the urban fantasy detective idea, and given my wife's love for the books it was an easy choice.

The base game includes 12-card scenarios for each of the first 5 books, a set of "side jobs" to form semirandom scenarios, and 5 character decks of 10 cards each. Being only familiar with the TV show, I cannot comment on how well the theme for each setup fits the books. I will say, though, that the theming feels rather light. You have flavor text in the title on some of your player cards, and the same on the scenario/book cards, but no quotes or book excerpts like Sentinels of the Multiverse, or much of anything to give these cards more context. There's also a lot of repeated artwork that made me feel like I was just battling repeated cards rather than individual unique obstacles. Honestly, after playing for a while I just ignored the card text altogether and focused on the "how much of this do I need to beat that".

Artwork
I'll be the first to admit I don't know much about the intricacies of art, nor does it make a huge impact on me for board games. Heck, Legendary: Firefly is one of my favorite games, and that game's art makes this one's look like Rembrandt. That being said, there was a definite lack of variety in both player cards and scenario cards. You'll see a lot of repeats, and that really detracted from the Theme factor (see above).

For the art that was there, I thought it was fine. My wife, who dabbles in art here and there, did think that some cards looked better than others (hey Evil Hat, if you're looking for someone to help with design..) Anyways, I thought what was there was done very well.

Form Factor
Yeah, this is a weird one - and I will say off the bat that this did not influence my final score for the game - but I have a gripe about the box size. I appreciate that Evil Hat attempted to conserve space by making the length and height of the game box relatively small, but its width is the size of 1 and 1/2 standard sized games. And the length+height is still large enough that you can't stack another game on top of this if you stand it vertically on a standard-sized shelf. You can literally fit everything in this game inside a couple standard deck boxes, sans the game board.

As for the game board itself, it's fine, but I feel like it's somewhat unnecessary. All you would really need to play this game is a ruler with "1 - 6" printed on it, and some way to separate "available" and "spent" FP.

At any rate, if I do keep this game I will likely cut the box down to size or just put all the cards in deck boxes and print my own Range and FP markers.

Value
DFCCG comes with 155 cards, spanning 5 character decks and 5 books, and the game board and punch-outs. Compare that with the similar-priced Sentinels of the Multiverse which comes with over 500 cards comprised of 10 heroes, 4 villains, and 4 environment decks. You have plenty other deck-builders and card games similar to this one at this price point, with or without boards, that offer far more cards and different art. While the board in DFCCG is nice, it does not substantively add to the game. I get that this is coming from a small publisher, but I really feel that the price point does not match the amount of content and variety you receive.

Conclusion
DFCCG does a lot of what I want a board game to do - it's fast, puzzly, can be played solo, doesn't take itself too seriously, and has exciting elements.

It's just the lack of content and variety that sorely holds it back. Yes, I understand there are expansions available, but once you shell out $30+ extra for all that, you still have a $70 game with less content and art variety than Sentinels of the Multiverse base game ($40) or Arkham Horror LCG base. As a base game alone, it just does not offer enough. The scenarios are just different varieties of "you need to do this before that" and the player decks are always the same mostly flavorless color-coded cards that deal with like-colored scenario obstacles. I wish they spent the time they took making the day-1 expansions and instead added more variety to the base game itself, making a much stronger starting presentation.

I also feel like you could put any theme to this game, and it would likely feel the same. If you are looking for a P.I.-in-a-box game, this might disappoint. If you look at it as a mid-light puzzle strategy game, however, it's actually quite good.

I really enjoy DFCCG and feel that it is well designed. Ironically it was not a big hit with my wife, who is a Dresden Files fan, but at least I appreciated it for the gameplay and quick playtime. I give it a 6/10.
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James Cartwright
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Interesting review, I really enjoy the game and am a big Dresden Files fan. One thing though, I don't understand how you can compare 'in box' stuff to Arkham Horror LCG. I have read many reviews of that game that say you at least need two base sets to use all characters properly and make the game feel complete.
 
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Joe Scharr
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Rindel wrote:
Interesting review, I really enjoy the game and am a big Dresden Files fan. One thing though, I don't understand how you can compare 'in box' stuff to Arkham Horror LCG. I have read many reviews of that game that say you at least need two base sets to use all characters properly and make the game feel complete.


I own the Arkham Horror card game and you can play it solo or 2 player just fine with what's in the core box. The collection philosophy for that game is different, it being a CCG, so people naturally want to start with more options. Nonetheless, what's in a single box for that game is plenty diverse and more than sufficient.

For the record, my views on that game are far less kind than for this one Arkham and Dresden both share that "spend cards to add clues to thing" mechanism, but that's about it. And Dresden CCG does it with far less fiddlyness. But alas, I digress..
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Scott Mohnkern
United States
Germantown
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I own both Dresden and Arkham TCG and I think, even though they look similar, they are very different games.

Arkham really borders on a choose your own adventure model, it's kind of an RPG, and its got a lot of variety.

Dresden, really isn't that, its a puzzle, and its about putting the puzzle pieces together. You could totally remove the theme from this game, paste on another and it would work.

I still like Dresden, but its not an adventure, its a puzzle. I think if you treat it like a puzzle, the lack of variety in the stories is superceded by the fact the cards change orders every game.
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