Recap: In the Year of the Dragon First Impressions and More Dungeon Lords
This week I got to expand my Stefan Feld plays with In the Year of the Dragon. ItYotD (even the acronym is too long) was an interesting experience that really focused on specialization over generalization: very un-Knizia. And, of course, after a great game last week, we had to get Dungeon Lords to the table again.
In the Year of the Dragon. Dragon (I’m shortening it to “Dragon” to preserve my sanity) seemed unusual in its play-style. In most games, you have a finite number of actions and you typically want to diversify. In Tigris & Euphrates or Samurai, you need to have multiple items because you are scored based on either your lowest resource or if you can achieve majorities in multiple resources. And the game actually makes it tougher for you to gather diverse resources.
In Dragon, the opposite is true. The more of a resource you have, the more efficient that action becomes. So you are encouraged to specialize. But, over the course of the game, every resource will be important on different turns. So there is an excellent tension between efficiency and necessity. In a way, it is reminiscent of Macao, another of my favorite Feld games.
In our play, I decided to grab privileges and fan ladies early. I got a small privilege first turn. I would have gotten the large one, but a tribute event was up third (first non-peace event) so I was afraid of being unable to pay if I used up all my money. I grabbed a court lady on turn three or four and built as many palaces as I could, and I had five by about the midgame. I gave up on Fireworks and Military pretty early and focused instead on building and preserving people. By game end, I had lost only four of the thirteen people you get over the course of the game.
When all was calculated out, I ended with nintey-nine points, just two above the second place. Really an interesting game and I was also especially pleased to be playing it in the actual Year of the Dragon.
Dungeon Lords. This time, we played with all of the correct rules. We handled the evil-o-meter correctly and did everything right. I came in a respectable second place, but that was only because two out of the four of us had a minus 15 points from non-payment of taxes.
In this game, I really focused on making sure that my dungeon wouldn’t be conquered. To do so, I was the least evil for most of the game. I grabbed big monsters and good traps. That part worked. I killed all the adventurers and only lost two tiles all game, so I was awarded the Battlemaster.
Unfortunately, that was not enough to clinch it. My original plan was to grab Battlemaster, but also grab imps or tunnels or rooms for additional titles. One player hit tunnels hard and I abandoned that early. One hit imps hard and I had to abandon imps. Then, in the final round, I was outmaneuvered and one player had one more room than I did. Curses!
I think in future plays, I’ll need to pay much more attention to titles early on. While killing off the adventurers did have some benefits, it cost me too much in the way of other titles. Still, the game is fantastic. I’m really looking forward to additional plays. I love the tense strategic nature, the gambling/bluffing element, and the randomness seems to be at the perfect level to keep things interesting without overwhelming plans and strategy.