First off, this is my first review, So please be somewhat gentle. (constructive feedback is rather helpful)
Dragonriders is a new game, brought to us by Klaus-jurgen wrede and Jean du Poel. In it, the players play wizards that ride dragons in a race through canyons, using their wits and magic powers to prevail. The game is a fairly new release here in the states by Rio Grande. Now this premise seems neat, and the designers have certainly done some good games, let's see how this one measures up.
The game features a modular board, that can be arranged in a variety of ways. A suggested setup is shown at the front of the maunal. The players are initially dealt cards that determine their starting positions, and these cards also show their starting speed, as well as how much magic the player gets to start. On the first turn, the players must move at this speed, and cannot use any magic.
A note on movement. Movement is shown by measuring from the front of your figure, using one of a few special rulers. A higher speed uses a longer ruler, but gives you a much shorter turn radius. Going too fast means you may hit the walls, which will do you damage. The rulers are notched on the end, and you may turn your figure within the notch at the beginning and at the end of your move.
Each subsequent turn, all the players secretly choose what speed they will travel, and then they reveal them in the order that the figures are in the race, first place moving first. You may only choose a speed that is up to 3 notches higher or lower than your previous speed. (a two pointer system on the speed dial is supposed to keep you honest) At this time each player also decides if they want to use a magic card this turn, and set it aside face down if they do. Each player then moves their piece, and decides if they now want to use the magic card they set aside. (they may choose NOT to play the card, but it is discarded whether or not they use it. ) Movement is measured by a ruler, and the ruler is not alowed to touch the sides of the course. If the player cannot avoid the sides, then the player crashes into the side of the course, taking damage, and slowing down to the slowest speed. If the player can place the ruler without hitting the sides, but the piece still hits it, then the player clips the edge, takes some damage, and still slows down to the slowest speed. In each of these instances, the player may then turn their dragon any way they like. Players may also crash into other dragons, slowing themselves down, but throwing the other rider off course. Taking too much damage will exhaust the dragon, and taking more damage after that puts you out of the race.
The track also has a couple of other features, other than the walls and other riders. Energy fields heal your dragon, replacing lost energy, and removing exhaustion. There are also magic card indicators, which give you more magic cards if you stop on them. The cards have a variety of effects, including throwing fireballs at the other riders, getting a boost of speed, and leaving traps on the track.
The race is only 1 lap/circuit, which helps keep the play time under control; though you could certainly use a house rule to do more if your course is particularly short.
now the evidence:
- The board is modular, which lets you play it many ways.
- The game is pretty easy to learn, and keeps to the theme very well.
- The magic cards help the people that are further behind catch up and to hurt the pople in the lead, which can make a very close game, no matter where you start.
- I've only played with 2, but it seems that it would scale well.
- The Dragon pieces are too light, and fall over and slide with the slightest touch.
- The Magic cards are not much more than the name (in latin) and a few symbols, and require a fair understanding of the rules before their function is clear.
- More spacially oriented people with just dominate at this game, as you have to decide which speed to use without measuring.
- Rio Grande goodness; the rules were changed from the german version! One of the magic cards' function was changed, making it too similar to another card.
- The game is really too expensive for what you get, even for a german game. Buy it online to save money.
Dragon riders is a pretty fun, easy to learn game. The modular game board helps the game have more value. The magic cards really cement the theme. On the other hand, the game is pretty light, and the bits need some work. All in all, a fun experience, but a pretty light one.
Not bad at all for a first review! Thanks, I wanted to buy this game, I think I still will after reading this.
You touched on all the key points. I was expecting the ugly to outweigh the good. I played a five player game with my wife and kids and it was a chaotic mess. You are right that the dragons are too light and bump into each other. I saw some threads here talking about ways to add weight to the base. Not good when the game requires that much tweaking out of the box.
I didn't realize the game is basically a race game using measuring sticks instead of cards or dice to power the dragons. For our first game we omitted the magic cards but quickly realized they are necessary to give the trailing dragons any chance of catching the leaders.
It all seemed like not enough fun factor for the amount of effort, so I traded it away.
This game was terrible. We played it with 4 players and I absolutely hated the ruler system for movement. Every time I tried to move I bumped my dragons wing or another dragons wing nearby. Imagine having 4 very light plastic dragons with wide wings up on pedestals all grouped side by side, with the facing being very important, and having to measure their move with 1 of about 6 different length rulers from the front of the base onward straight ahead. Sometimes each person trying to move bumped or moved everyone in the cluster. It was a nightmare.
Take this same game, take away the clunky ruler movement system and replace it with hexes for movement and movement dice and it would probably be fun. I'll never play this game again ever!