Game Buzz: Lotus Dragon

Another preview of a couple of games I played at Gen Con this year.  These two are related in that they are both the result of design collaborations, and in both instances, the design is a family affair.  We’ll start with

image by BGG user Toshirauma
image by BGG user Toshirauma

Lotus is a game by Jordan and Mandy Goddard, a husband and wife design team, that is being published by Renegade Game Studios.  The game is for 2-4 players and takes around 30 minutes to play.  In Lotus, you are building a Lotus Garden by growing flowers through a combination of area control, hand management, and use of special powers.

Lotus comes with four player decks of 31 cards each; 20 Wildflower cards; 8 Insect Guardian tokens; 4 Elder Guardian tokens; 12 special power tokens; and 30 scoring tokens.  Each player takes a player deck (removing some cards with 3 or 4 players), as well as two Insect Guardians of that deck’s color.  Each player draws a hand of four cards.  The Wildflower deck is shuffled, and four cards are drawn and placed face up in a tableau.  All other components are set aside.

image by BGG user Toshirauma
image by BGG user Toshirauma

On your turn, you take two actions.  The possible actions are to play petal cards, exchange petal cards, and move a guardian.

PLAY PETAL CARDS: Play one or two petal cards onto a single flower.  Each type of flower requires a different number of petals – three for the iris, four for the primrose, five for the cherry blossom, six for the lily, and seven for the lotus.  There’s a guide printed on each card so you know how to overlay the petals.  There can only be one of each flower type at a time in the play area, and no one owns any of the flowers – anyone can work on them.

EXCHANGE PETAL CARDS: Discard one or two cards from your hand to the bottom of your deck and draw the same number of cards from the top of your player deck.

MOVE A GUARDIAN: You can move one of your Guardians from your personal supply to a flower, or from a flower to another flower.  These help with determining control.

After taking your two actions, draw back up to four cards in your hand.  You can draw any combination of cards from your deck or the Wildflowers, which are replaced after you take one.

As you play, you’ll complete flowers.  When you do, determine who has control by adding up the Guardian icons on cards from your personal decks and any Guardians added to the flower.  The player who has control either earns a five-point scoring token or a special power token (allowing them a one-time use of an Elder Guardian, the ability to draw up to five cards instead of four, and the ability to play as many petals as he wants instead of just two).  The player who completed the flower gets to pick it, putting all petal cards into his score pile.  Guardians are returned and play continues.

When a player draws their last card, everyone gets one more turn and the game ends.  Incomplete flowers are claimed by the players who have control (tied players split the petals).  You then score one point per petal card collected plus points earned from the scoring tokens.  The high score wins.

image by BGG user kalchio
image by BGG user kalchio

I got a demo of this at Gen Con, and thought it was a pretty interesting game.  We only played a shortened version, and as it was the last day, I don’t think I really got my head around it.  The act of building flowers is a very neat concept, and gives this game tremendous visual appeal.  There’s area control as you try to have the most petals in a particular flower, and there’s a little bit of trick-taking involved too as you want to be the one to complete the flowers so you can score them.  It does seem light enough to be accessible to gamers of all skill levels while providing a challenge in figuring out how to play.  One I am definitely looking forward to playing again sometime.

image by BGG user evilone
image by BGG user evilone

The Dragon & Flagon is a game by the Engelsteins – father Geoff and his children, Brian and Sydney – that is published by Stronghold Games.  This game is for 2-8 players and takes around an hour to play.  The Dragon & Flagon is a tavern that is home to a magical drink called The Dragon which gives its drinker wondrous abilities.  Everyone wants it, and everyone is willing to fight for it.

The game comes with a board and a bunch of 3D components – 3 small tables, 2 large tables, 9 chairs, a time token, 9 character standees, 12 mugs, 4 barrels, and a Dragon Flagon standee.  Additionally, there are 4 rugs, 70 reputation tokens, 9 character mats, 4 game end tokens, 162 character cards, 9 character tokens, 6 treasure chests, 22 status tokens, and a plate of cookies.  At the start of the game, each player takes a character, mat, token, and 18-card deck.  The board is set up as desired (or following the setup in the rules)  The Game End tokens are shuffled and placed face down next to the last four spaces of the time track (21-24 in the basic game, 27-30 in the extended game).  Players add their characters to a starting space on the edge of the board, and their character token to the 1 space of the time track.

image by BGG user evilone
image by BGG user evilone

In each round, you’ll first check the time track to see which characters have their tokens on that space.  Those characters become active, and all active characters will plan their moves.  This is done by filling up any empty I or II spots on their character mat.  There’s also a III spot, but this is only filled if you are dazed.  All cards in your deck are available to be placed, and these will allow you to move, attack, throw things, jump on tables, swing from the chandelier, etc.

Once plans have been made, all tokens on the current round space are randomized and placed in a pile.  The token on top is the first character to act.  They reveal the card in their I spot and change their facing if desired.  Facing determines which squares are affected on subsequent turns.  The card is sent back to your deck, and any cards in the II and III slot slide to the left.  Each action has a time cost, and you’ll move your character token forward that many spaces.  Once the space is empty of character tokens, you advance the time marker to the next round.

As you play, you’ll earn (and possibly lose) reputation.  You could also be knocked down, which means you’ll have to stand up on your next turn and any action with a purple header is cancelled.

If the current round has one of the four GAME END tokens next to it, you reveal it when the round ends.  If it shows the Town Guard, the game is over immediately.  The character with the highest reputation value is the winner.

image by BGG user Amekins
image by BGG user Amekins

This is another one I got to demo at Gen Con.  We had eight players and I wound up in dead last with only five reputation (you start with 20), but it was a blast.  I love programming games, and I really like the time track mechanism, so this game hit on all cylinders for me.  It is very chaotic, and there is a great likelihood that your plans will go completely awry.  But then, I love Galaxy Trucker so that clearly doesn’t bother me.  The game can drag a bit in the planning phase since you get to look through your entire deck, but I’m sure that lessens with experience.  This is another one I’d love to play more.

That will do it for today.  Thanks for reading!

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