Designer: Jake Given, Zach Given, and Jonathan Ritter-Roderick
Published: Lay Waste Games
Players: 2-4 players
Playtime: 30-60 Minutes
Play Type: Area Control/ Take That
Where once lay a pleasant island, filled with peaceful and content dragons has been awakened by a human invasion. Now the four dragon’s instincts have kicked in, and the competition to be the dragon overlord has become fierce. You must fight to dominate the most human civilization and hoard as much gold as possible. As you know, the most powerful dragon is the one with the biggest hoard filled with the most shiney gold.
Dragoon is extremely easy to set up. Each player will take a dragon and all tokens in their color of choosing. Then according to diagrams in the rulebook, players will set up for a 2, 3 or 4 player game by placing their dragon and cave on the board. Then all players will take their dragon skull scorekeeper and place it at the zero on the scoreboard, also making sure to put the human skull there. The human skull represents the amount of treasure the thief has. Finally deal three cards to each player.
Each round in Dragoon is played in a series of three steps. First players will populate the board. Players will roll both the red and black dice to determine the coordinates where humans will choose to create their civilizations. The black die corresponds with the black side of the board, and the red dice with the red side of the board. Players will populate the board the number of players plus one per round. When populating there are three possible outcomes for what might happen:
- The map location is empty (except for dragons or Theif’s Treasure)- place a dark village tile there. Place the tile under the dragon or treasure if it is occupying that space.
- There is a dark village tile already there- flip it to the red city side.
- City or cave space is rolled- Thief gains three treasure. If the thief is not yet on the board, roll to place thief on board (it cannot be in a cave).
The next stage is the action stage. This is when the players will take their turn and do any actions they choose to throughout the turn. The player who is currently in last place will go first. Each player will get three action points per turn, and all three of those actions must be used. Players will first draw a card, then do any combination of the following actions:
- 0 Action Points-Play a card
- 1 Action Point- Move one space orthogonally
- 1 Action Point-Claim a population tile by placing a totem
- 1 Action Point-Destroy a population tile and instant gold (2 for villages, 4 for cities)
- 1 Action Point-Steal gold from another dragon by standing in their cave by rolling one die and stealing that amount. You can only steal gold if a dragon has gold to steal.
- 1 Action Point-Roll (1) die to steal gold from Thief’s treasure and take that amount. You can only steal as much treasure as the thief has. Once there is no more treasure in the chest, take the chest of the board until the thief steals more treasure either by rolling during the population phase or by a thief card being played.
- 1 Action Point- Choose one card to discard, then draw one new card
- 2 Action Points- Draw one new card
While all the different actions and values may seem complicated to remember at first glance, it is not as bad as it seems. Mostly because Lay Waste Games included handy player aids that outlines that actions that can be taken as well as the different phases of gameplay.
Finally the tribute phase will occur. This is where all of the dragon’s hard work conquering the humans pays off (well hopefully). There are three things to consider when doing a tribute. First, if any dragon is on another players settlement, that settlement will not produce tribute. Second, if you are standing on a population tile that you own, you will automically be given tribute for that space as if you rolled a 3/4/5 (1 gold for villages and 3 gold for cities). Finally, for all other claimed population tiles the player will roll one die total.The number rolled will apply to all population tiles you have claimed. You will gain money based on what you roll:
- Rolling a 1- You lose a population tile of your choosing that does not have another player on it (village or city)
- Rolling a 2- You gain no gold, but you also don’t lose anything
- Rolling a 3/4/5- You gain one gold for villages and three for cities
- Rolling a 6- Gain 2 gold per village, and 4 gold per city
Once again it may seem like a lot to remember, but all of the information is on the player aids. Players continue going through rounds until someone has reached 50 gold. Then players will finish the round. If two or more players reach 50 gold, the player with the most gold will win.
The components in Dragoon are what make it stand out from other area control games. Dragoon is released in two different formats, the gold edition and the standard edition. The difference between the two is only that the gold edition comes with metal dragons and tokens, and the standard is in plastic.
I personally own the gold edition and love the look and feel of the metal dragons. It gives a lot of character to the game and a lovely table presence. The dragons are not the only thing adding table presence though. The game comes with a cloth board, high quality linen cards and a scoring board that is also a cloth bag to hold components. In addition, each player recieves their own cloth bag to hold their individual dragon pieces, making set up very quick and easy. The cloth board is especially nice because it holds up to wear and tear better than a traditional cardboard board.
The component quality is honestly hard to beat. However with quality also comes cost. The game could have been significantly cheaper if Lay Waste Games decided to use less quality of materials, and the Gold Edition is rather expensive for a light to medium weight game. If you are looking to spend less and still enjoy much of the same quality I suggest taking a look at the standard edition.
- Quick to Play, Easy to Teach
- Great Player Aids
- Visually Appealing and Sturdy Components
- Player Interaction
- Mixture of Area Control, Dice Rolling, Combat, and Strategic Card Play
- Some Luck Involved
- Best at 4 Players
- Lots of Take That
Dragoon is a game that I have now owned for over two years and it still is my favorite choice for area control and take that gameplay. This is mostly because I love how much direct player interaction the game allows for. Players are able to interact with other players in any of the following ways: playing cards, stealing from caves, combat, stealing claimed populations, or even destroying population tiles. Almost every turn players will be engaged because they will want to see what their opponents are doing, as it may have an effect on them. However, with that much player interaction also comes plenty of take that. If you are a player who does not enjoy direct conflict in a game, I would not suggest Dragoon as it is a major part of gameplay.
The mixture of mechanics also provides unique gameplay that is a balence between strategy and luck. Players are able to strategize as they move their dragon, trying to control the most benefical areas and defend their populations from competiting dragons. However, even with great planning if they roll poorly on a tribute phase they may be out of luck. Arguably though, there is a greater focus on strategy than the luck aspect. Players have control over most aspects of the game with only the dice rolls and card draws adding a luck aspect.
Due to the fact that Dragoon is an area control based game, it does play best at four players as it forces the most player interaction. While it is still enjoyable at two and three players, I would suggest picking it up if you frequently play with four players. Additionally if you play up to six players frequently I suggest checking out the Rogue and Barbarian Expansion which allows for play up to six players and adds unique mechanics to gameplay. After trying it once, it has become high on my list to add to my collection!
I would suggest taking a closer look at Dragoon if you enjoy area control games like Blood Rage, Ethnos or Tyrants of the Underdark. Additionally you may enjoy Dragoon if you enjoy games with heavy player interaction/ take that like Cash and Guns, Colt Express, or Imhotep. Finally if you are someone who enjoys games with high component quality or great table presence, I highly suggest taking a look at the Gold Edition.