Review of Drakon

Posted: August 18, 2015 in Board Games, Gen Con 2015, Reviews
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Drakon1

The allure of the dragon Drakon’s hoard has long enticed adventurers to tempt fate and seek their fortune in the winding depths of her labyrinth; do you have what it takes to elude the legendary dragon and escape with the treasure?

 

Drakon, from Fantasy Flight Games, is themed around your classic dungeon crawl–explore the dungeon, avoid the dragon, and get the gold! Drakon was originally released back in 2001, and Fantasy Flight brought out the fourth edition of the game at Gen Con this year. I have not played any of the previous editions of the game, so I can’t speak to the differences between this edition and the last edition.

Drakon is one of those games that at first glance looks a lot more complex than it is, but it ultimately is quite easy to pick up and play. On their turn players can take one of two possible actions–they can play a dungeon tile to expand Drakon’s dungeon, or they may move their character to another tile and resolve its effects. It is the long list of tile effect symbols that make this game look more complex than it really is, but they basically boil down to finding gold, taking gold from other players, destroying/changing dungeon tiles, moving the dragon, and various assorted shenanigans. Each player also has a unique class ability which they may activate once per game to briefly gain some sort of advantage. Throughout their quest, the players keep the value of their gold coins (ranging from one to three) a secret; the first player to obtain a gold value totally ten wins the game!

Drakon is a lot of fun to play and crazy fast to learn; it’s a games where when you’re teaching a new player that less is certainly more. You tell them the first to find ten gold wins and that on their turn they can either play a tile or move and resolve the tile they moved into, then hand them the cheat sheet which tells them what the various tiles do.  After a couple of rounds, everyone gets the basic mechanics and starts to understand the strategy. This strategy lies in trapping your opponents by playing the right tiles in their route to mess up their strategy (since you must follow directional arrows on each tile when moving) while putting the right tiles in your path to get more gold than they do. The nature of the game is that you legitimately won’t play the same game twice.

This game also plays very quickly. The box says it takes 40-60 minutes to play, but in the games of Drakon I have played so far our longest game has been about 30 minutes and we have even finished a game in about 15 minutes. Adding more players to the game also doesn’t seem to affect the length of a game by too much, which is great because Drakon can be played with two to six players. The different player classes add some differences in abilities, but as they can each only be used once per game they certainly aren’t game breaking and often some of our players forgot to use them at all before the game ended.

The components are of the quality that I have come to expect from Fantasy Flight Games–the dungeon and gold tiles are printed on sturdy, well-wearing cardboard. The icons on each dungeon tile are clear to read without obscuring the great artwork on them. The rules are also concise and the tile cheatsheet clear on what each tile can do; the rules also have clarifications as to more specifically how exactly certain abilities work. The one thing I am not a fan of with this game is that while the box looks fantastic, the component organizer is poorly designed. The box organizer leaves three-quarters of the box unusable and forces the dungeon tiles to be stacked on edge; unfortunately stacking the tiles on edge means that the box lid not longer closes properly; this is one game that I most certainly need to create a custom foamcore box insert for. The biggest highlight of the game components are the player and dragon miniatures. These miniatures are on par with what I have seen from Fantasy Flight Games such as Relic; while the miniatures look great straight out of the box, when I get a chance I will most certainly be painting them. All things considered, Drakon is a fantastic game which is quick to learn, has a solid depth of strategy, great replay value, and captures the theme well.

I give Drakon 4.7 out of 5 stars.

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