Game Buzz: Princes of the Dragon Throne

Here’s one I’ve been following for a long time:

image by BGG user CMG2
image by BGG user CMG2

Princes of the Dragon Throne is a new game coming from Clever Mojo Games (as well as Game Salute) and designer David MacKenzie.  It’s a game for 2-4 players and takes 2 hours to play.  It’s currently on Kickstarter, in a campaign that ends July 9.  The game is not yet funded…more on that later.  For now, let’s take a look at the product itself.

In Princes of the Dragon Throne, you are trying to rally support from the dragon clans of the Land of Lo’en in order to take your place as the rightful ruler.  The game comes with 95 resource tokens (influence, gold, and sheep); 80 supporter pawns; 72 King’s guard pawns; 60 Dragon Lord pawns; 4 Dragon Prince pawns; 72 prospect cards (citizens and dragons); 40 starter cards; 36 guild favor cards; 80 guild markers; 6 clan house bonus tiles; 2 prospect deck title cards; 2 sorcery dice; a board; and 4 reference sheets.

In the beginning, each player gets five supporter pawns, a Dragon Prince, all guild markers, and all Dragon Lord pawns of their color.  Each player also gets three sheep, three gold, and three influence, as well as a deck of 10 starter cards (from which you will draw five).  A citizen deck and a dragon deck are formed and placed next to the board.  Three cards are drawn from each deck, shuffled, and distributed face up to the prospect spaces around the kingdom.

PotDT proceeds in individual player turns.  On a turn, you fill prospects, take actions, and reconcile your hand.

FILL PROSPECTS: If there are any empty prospect spaces around the kingdom, you must fill them with cards from the citizen and/or dragon decks (Your choice).

TAKE ACTIONS: You must take one main action during this phase, though there are a number of optional actions you can take at any time.  The main action options are:

  • Gather Resources: Play up to three cards from your hand, taking the resources indicated by the white number.  You must always spend sheep to use a dragon (they’re hungry), but you can use sheep collected from one card to feed the dragon on another.  If the resources ever run out, you start taking them from the other players, beginning on your right.
  • Recruit Prospects: Take a prospect from the board by paying the indicated resource (influence for citizens, gold for dragons) and placing the card in your discard pile.  For each prospect recruited, add a supporter to your supply.  You can recruit as many as you wish, as long as you can pay for them.
  • Deploy Supporters: Play up to two recruits from your hand (not starting cards)to move supporters from your supply to guilds on the board.  Citizens have to go in a kingdom or guild that matches the kingdom and guild on the card.  Dragons replace King’s guard pawns (there are two below every guild space at the beginning) with one of your supporters, though it has to match the dragon’s color icon.  You have to feed the dragon you use.  The King’s guard pawn goes to your supply.  If there is no King’s guard present, you can’t do this.
  • Maneuver Supporters: Move one or two of your supporters from any guild to another open guild space on the board (only five spaces per guild).  If you ever have the most supporter pawns in a guild (even more than King’s guards), you have control, scoring two points and taking a guild favor card into your discard pile.  A dragon lord goes in a clan house that matches the kingdom or guild of which you just took control.  You place a guild marker to indicate you have received the benefit.

Optional actions include:

  • King’s guard actions: You can spend a King’s guard pawn to draw two new prospect cards (citizen or dragon) and put them in any kingdom, possibly covering other cards; move prospect cards from within a stack to the top of a stack; or discard any number of cards from your hand.  You may do as many of these as you wish in a turn, paying a King’s guard each time.
  • Play one guild favor card: You may play ONE guild favor card from your hand.  This is a one-time use card – it goes back to the guild favor deck once sed.
  • Use clan house bonus: At certain times during the game, there will be a Parliament.  Players will be able to place their Dragon Princes in different clan houses, which gives certain bonuses – opponents can’t remove your supporters or Dragon Lords; trade a King’s guard in your supply for a supporter pawn; take two bonus resources when Gathering Resources; you get a 1 cost discount when you recruit; discard and draw at the beginning of your turn; and dragons only eat one sheep.

RECONCILE YOUR HAND: Draw up to five cards, reshuffling your discards if you don’t have enough.

The game ends when all Dragon Clan houses are full of Dragon Lords.  Players will have been scoring throughout the game, but you’ll get five points for each kingdom in which you control the most guilds, 5 points for each particular guild you control more than anyone else, 5 points per Clan house where you have the most Dragon Lors, 5 points if you have the most recruited citizen cards, and 5 points if you have the most recruited dragon cards.  The player with the most points wins.

To me, Princes of the Dragon Throne seems like an area control game with deck-building as a mechanism.  Despite the fantasy theme, this is pretty clearly a Eurogame, and one that looks pretty good.  The story behind it kind of gives it an epic scale, and the art that I’ve seen so far looks quite nice.  The buzz I’ve heard so far has been fairly positive.  Plus, it’s coming from Clever Mojo, who has a pretty good track record with Alien Frontiers and Sunrise City.  So this one looks like a winner to me.

And yet, with just under a week to go, the game has not yet funded.  In fact, they have a little less than $6000 to raise to achieve their $25,000 goal.  This current campaign is actually the second for the game – the first, which included minis, had a $50,000 goal and was cancelled after a slow start.  They revamped the campaign, lowered the goal, and left out the minis to make it more Euroish.  They also dropped the price tag from $100 to $79, which still seems pretty hefty.  I think the game will probably fund – these things usually get a last minute bump when supporters get their 48-hour notice.  However, I think people are still confused about what it’s supposed to be.

If you are interested, go check out the game and consider backing it.  I think it looks like a very solid experience, and Clever Mojo has a history of making good on their Kickstarter projects.  I’ve been watching it since it was first announced a couple of years ago, and I’ll continue to keep an eye on it.  I hope it makes it.  Thanks for reading!

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