Game Buzz: Dragon Rampage

Dice!  Dragons!  D..nope, that’s all I’ve got.

image by BGG user chaddyboy_2000

Dragon Rampage is a game from designer Richard Launius and Eagle Games.  Launius is best known for Arkham Horror, but this game is a fantasy game.  I haven’t played Defenders of the Realm, Launius’s other fantasy title, but a big difference here is that Dragon Rampage is competitive.  The game for 3-5 players aged 10 and up, and takes around 90 minutes to play.  You’ll either be fighting or running from a dragon, trying to gain treasure while doing so.

Dragon Rampage comes with a board, 6 character mats, 6 character decks made up of 12 cards, 6 sets of nine hero action tokens, 50 coins, 6 sets of twelve dragon wound cubes, 30 hero wound tokens, a treasure deck of 32 cards, 7 special action dice, a movement die, a Dragon Rampage deck of 24 cards, 6 player movement tokens, a first player token, and a re-roll token.  Each player gets a set of character cards, chooses one, then draws two randomly.  They also get 5 coins, a mat, and nine hero action tokens.  You’ll also want to choose whether to use a large or a small dungeon (the large dungeon apparently adds 30-45 minutes to game play).  Player movement tokens go on the start space of the movement track.  The player sitting to the right of the first player gets the re-roll token.  This is their compensation for having to go last.

This game is played over a series of rounds.  In each round, there are three phases: hero action phase, dungeon phase, and rest phase.  During the hero action phase, players in turn order will roll the seven action dice.  They may re-roll any number of them twice, but can’t re-roll dragon icons.  So, after a total of three rolls (or less if you choose to stop), you can then assign action tokens to various spots on the board.  Possible icons include attack (which can be used for the “Attack the Dragon” action); crafty (used to steal gold or get new character cards); defense (which can be used to block the dragon or other crafty actions), dragon (represents the attention you’re drawing to yourself from the dragon); movement (allows you to roll the movement die); treasure chest (gets you a treasure card); and a hero (wild, must be coupled with another symbol to be used).

Board - image by BGG user chaddyboy_2000

After rolling, you’ll count how much you have of each icon and assign action tokens to those spaces.  Your action tokens are numbered, with three 1s, three 2s, a 3, a 4, and a 5.  So, if you have three attacks, you can use your three on the attack action.  If you have three attacks and three movement, you’ll have to use your three on one and a two on the other.  Once all players have completed this, you’ll organize the tokens from largest to smallest, with ties going to the player closest to the starting position.  Treasure and hero cards can be played to boost various abilities.

In the dungeon phase, you’ll resolve the action boxes from top to bottom:

  • Defense – There are three boxes here.  The player with the highest total is protected from the dragon and crafty players.  Second place can heal two wounds, third place can heal three wounds.
  • Dragon Rampage part one – There are two things that happen with the Dragon Rampage.  First, you’ll flip over a Dragon Rampage card.  If the card has no value, you’ll apply its effect immediately.  If the card has two sections, you’ll add up the dragon values of all player to determine which half gets resolved.  If you have four players, subtract two from the displayed color; if you have three, subtract four.
  • Dragon Rampage part two – The player with the highest action token gets two wounds and can draw a hero card.  Second place takes one wound.  Remember that the player with the highest defense value blocks wounds here.  Some hero cards may also be able to block attacks.
  • Craftiness – The player with the highest total may steal gold from another player equal to their craftiness total (high defense is immune).  Second place can take gold from the supply, or draw a hero card.
  • Grab Treasure – The high total can either draw two treasure cards and keep one, or take three gold from the supply.  Second place either draws one treasure card or takes three gold.  Third place takes one gold.
  • Attack the Dragon – The player with the highest total gets to attack the dragon with up to three rolls.  Second place gets to attack the dragon with up to two rolls.  To attack, roll the dice.  You hit on an attack, defense, or hero icon, and you can’t re-roll dragon icons.  4-5 hits gives the dragon one wound, 6-7 hits gives the dragon two wounds.  The dragon’s total hit points is equal to five times the number of players.
  • Run You Fools! – The high total rolls the movement die and adds one, moving up to that total.  Second place rolls and takes what they get.  Third place just moves one space.  Spaces on the path offer different actions – attack the dragon with no re-roll, draw a hero card, heal two wounds, take 2 gold, and draw a treasure card.

If you get no action benefits from this phase, you can choose a benefit (think Doc Badluck from Dice Town): take two gold, heal a wound, or move a space without receiving its benefit.

In the rest phase, you get your action tokens back and the start player passes to the left (as does the re-roll token).  The game ends when someone dies, when someone escapes, or when the dragon dies.  Scoring occurs based on gold, treasures, wounds on the dragon, proximity to exit, and number of wounds taken.  The winner is the player with the most points.

The phrase “Yahtzee variant” is thrown around a lot with dice games these days.  I think it’s pretty apt with Dragon Rampage, if just because of the three roll rule.  It’s nice that there’s a theme.  It reminds me of Roll Through the Ages in that respect.  It’s also interesting that you have several different paths you can go pursue – try to kill the dragon, get gold, run for the exit, etc.  I think this might be a pretty good filler.  But it has a play time of 90 minutes.  That sounds waaaaaay too long for what it is.  I don’t know, maybe it’s better than I’m thinking right now.  The rules as they’re written are pretty clunky.  They were just published on BGG a few days ago, and I don’t think they’re in draft form.

I’m interested in the game primarily because of the theme and because there are some interesting things going on.  My biggest complaint in this minimally-informed stage is that the game seems too long for what it is and what it should be.  I’ve been wrong before, however.  Thanks for reading!

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