Gordon Roach
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*** Please take this as a personal opinion and a note for people looking to purchase the game who have not played Thunderstone system, in particular the Dragonspire edition ***


Having heard lots of great things about Thunderstone, and with appreciation for a good theme (I was a big time RP'er in my younger days) I rented a copy of Thunderstone Dragonspire as I had heard it was the one to start with. Now not having anyone to learn from, this is all based on my experience at learning the game from the rules book, cards, videos and the forum.

Opening the brand new copy I was overwhelmed with pretty cards, each with some great artwork. Immediately I saw the downside of the cards, it was the heavy textured finish that would mean these would grate on each other and rapidly need card protectors. It was probably intended to stop card stacks slipping over so easily. The other thing I noticed is that there was alot of dark and small symbology/writing on dark background. My eyes are at the point of just starting to deteriorate towards glasses having had 20/20 all my life, and this just made the cards harder to read with dark on dark in small fonts.

Having watched a few videos a while before, I decided to read the rules. All the videos had said how great the new rules layout/explanations was compared to the original. Upon reading my initial opinion was that the first ones must have been really poor because this left me with more questions than answers. It may seem small stuff to some or those experienced in Dragonstone, however I think any set of rules should not require you to search through a forum to find the answers to questions that should have by logic and commonsense been made clear in the rules.

As an experienced Dominion player and RftG I am familiar with deck building, and as a designer working on games. Thunderstone tries to squeeze more out of each card than other games, there is a lot of information on the card. Some of the description by logic as written conflict with the rules. Now at the back of the rules there is a small paragraph which says in a nutshell that the conflict might happen, the card takes priority. Sounds like a poor excuse for English language skills and playtesting to me. It is.

Thematically this game has an good overall feel, yet I think many players overlook some of the structural issues of the game because of the strong theme. It reminds me of CoC, good strong theme which helps cover some of the mechanical issues.

I have played 4 times now, 3 times with the suggested starting setup, and all with 2 players. The game states 45minute playing time, yet I am finding it damned hard to even get the game near an hour. When you make a starting game suggestion you need to get such things a bit better timed.

Mechanically the game starts to drag mid game with the suggested newbie starting setup. This is because as a deck building game you really start to clog up your deck with useless cards as the game goes on. They become useless because you no longer need to purchase much and so money becomes of little importance and just gets in the way. However the option you get in the game to get cards out of your deck will also cost you points in the end. So by games end it takes more turns to achieve what was very simple early on. Its a frustrating experience.

Game good points:

+ Its a deck building game, if you like them.
+ Strong theme
+ Nice artwork
+ The Monster Hall board makes things easy to remember
+ The game has 'potential', some nice or interesting ideas to improve your Heroes and such.

Negative points:

- Card printing and font harder on older eyes
- Rules book needs an overhaul or you end up searching forum threads
- Game slows down due to clogging of deck the more you succeed
- The game time and perhaps card mix for newbie starting setup is not accurate or perhaps best mix.


I know there is a dedicated following for this game, just keep in mind this is my initial reaction to the game after a few games, that I am experienced in a wide variety of games and designing them, and really enjoy strong themed games.

At this point I have decided to not buy the game, there are many other better overall games. I am giving this game a few more plays before the game is returned to experiment some more.


Regards,

G
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Mark Fowler
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Cmdr_G wrote:

Some of the description by logic as written conflict with the rules. Now at the back of the rules there is a small paragraph which says in a nutshell that the conflict might happen, the card takes priority. Sounds like a poor excuse for English language skills and playtesting to me. It is.


I understand that this is an opinion, and you seem to have some experience with other card games including RftG, Dominion, CoC. So the above comment was surprising enough to me to post a reply.

This seems to be a a fairly standard rule for most expandable card games -- so not sure if you are saying all the rules should be explained in the rule book with no ability to supercede the rules by a card, or if you are saying that even with the standard card takes priority rule, you found too many cards with questionable text -- ie stuff that is usually answered in a FAQ/rules update.
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Gordon Roach
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Hi Mark.

I think that the rules left a lot uncovered, almost like they were writing for those who already played. The logic rules appears in conflict with the cards. Once you find out it is no big deal.

Could a FAQ help? Certainly would for those who are new to the game.

Would an update help? I think a revised rule book available to download would also be great. It could include various things to better show the rules in action.


I had intended to add that if you learned this game from an experienced player you would find this game much easier to get into. I would also suggest people looking into the game have a try before they buy if this is new territory.

Looking forward to some more games to test the potential the game has. Some more plays may revise this upward, I still think that the initial impressions will stand.

G
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Prakash Madhav
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Gordon, I agree about the game lasting much longer than 45 minutes. A variant we have employed with success is to add the following rule to the game, which we allow to be played twice per Dungeon trip:

Dungeon: Discard a Monster card to draw a card.

As I said, you can play this twice per Dungeon trip. This sped up the game and also rewarded players for winning monsters early.
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Gordon Roach
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That is one idea along what I had been thinking.

Nice idea, will experiment.

G
 
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Martin Larouche
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medchem30 wrote:
Gordon, I agree about the game lasting much longer than 45 minutes. A variant we have employed with success is to add the following rule to the game, which we allow to be played twice per Dungeon trip:

Dungeon: Discard a Monster card to draw a card.

As I said, you can play this twice per Dungeon trip. This sped up the game and also rewarded players for winning monsters early.


I have found that the game plays faster the more players there are. The 2player game is the longest...

It's essentially the same number of monsters and cards in play, no matter the number of players. This means that in a five players game, you don't really have time to "clog" your deck. The dungeon deck dissapears in a flash and the game ends quick.
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tom moughan
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deedob wrote:
medchem30 wrote:

As I said, you can play this twice per Dungeon trip. This sped up the game and also rewarded players for winning monsters early.


I have found that the game plays faster the more players there are. The 2player game is the longest...

It's essentially the same number of monsters and cards in play, no matter the number of players. This means that in a five players game, you don't really have time to "clog" your deck. The dungeon deck dissapears in a flash and the game ends quick.


agreed.

One thing I will mention about Dragonspire vs. other TS base and expansions I have played - this game gives you a lot of chances to trash cards. Believe it or not, I feel like this mid-game "clogging" you mention is much more prevalent in versions prior to DS.

What you can do to get the most enjoyment out of your game:

If only 2 players or just want a shorter romp, use two monster types not 3.

Don't play the first time setup..oh wait! too late!

Look at the cards for the village you own: incorporate some of them that cater to trashing cards

Monster deck: use the monsters (forget the type off hand) that kill your weaker heroes. (ie destroy two heroes with strength 4 or less, etc) They let you purge militia and level ones you bought to get some killing in but now you can't or won't level them up for stronger attacks.





OH AND Remember: if you only have 3 gold or if you just want to thin that deck out: REST IS YOUR FRIEND.

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Gordon Roach
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@ Martin
I had calculated that more players would shorten the time a little that way.

@ Tom
Thanks, by the time I try out a few more cards I may create a better start. Some guidelines on alternative starts in the rules would be useful.

Hope to fit in another game today.

G
 
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Waitasec -- isnt' there an option, Rest, where you can simply trash a card from your hand? I think "when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em" is an important strategy in the game that's not in Race or Dominion.
 
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Gordon Roach
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My problem with trashing points cards is just that, trashing victory. I have learned to use rest so far to clean out cards of lesser importance as the game goes on. You do however reach a point of critical mass when these less important cards are thinned out and monster cards fill your hands, and the last thing you need is more cards.

Now this may be more a problem in the 2 player game than the 4-5 player game, yet it seems to me that 2 players this game is a very different game.

We (in our house) have talked about reducing the monster deck size for 2 players, 1/3-1/2 the cards randomly removed. This would do two things, shorten games to a reasonable length, and secondly stop hands over clogging so much in a way larger multi-player games might. I may try one more game with the suggested starting set with this idea to benchmark it.

G
 
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