Review of Dastardly Dirigibles

Posted: August 22, 2016 in Board Games, Reviews
Tags: , ,

Dastardly Dirigibles #1

Professor Phineas Edmund Hornswoggle, the greatest dirigible engineer of the day, has announced his retirement; the time has come for you to prove that you are the heir-apparent in airship engineering!

Dastardly Dirigibles from Fireside Games is a fast-paced, Steampunk themed game where you work to build the best possible airship before the other dirigible engineers (also know as the other players) complete theirs. The rules and set-up for Dastardly Dirigibles are quick and simple–each player gets a reference sheet, five cards, and the “Emporium” of face up cards is set up in the middle of the table. On your turn you draw up to a full hand of five cards, either blindly from the deck or from the Emporium, and then take three actions; those actions are to play a card to your airship or a special action card, swap a card from your hand with one in the emporium, replace all of the cards in the emporium, discard a card from your hand, or pass and end your turn.

As you build your airship, you’re attempting to construct it from matching suits as when it’s time to score you only get points for your majority suit or wild cards (but those score lower). Where things get dastardly is when a player plays a card to their airship, any player who has an airship part in their hand which matches the part played must play that card to their airship; this means that you can either get a boost on your airship during other players’ turns, or you’ll be required to play a part that replaces one already in your airship and mess up the set you’ve been trying so hard to collect. Whenever a player completes their airship, the round ends, scores are calculated, all of the cards are collected, and then another round begins. The airship engineer with the highest score after three rounds of play wins and is declared the heir of the greatest dirigible factory in all the land!

I had a blast playing this game when I demoed it at Gen Con and picked up a copy there. I have brought Dastardly Dirigibles to a couple of game nights and so far it’s been a big hit. It’s quick to learn, quick to play (a full game took maybe 30 minutes), and can handle 2 to 5 players. While the game-play in Dastardly Dirigibles is fast and simple, it brings a surprising amount of strategy to the table in the selection of how to best build your airship, defend against when other players try to thwart you, and how to thwart their efforts to build a better airship than you.

The art for this game is great and really captures the steampunk aesthetic. The cards of the game are listed as being tarot sized cards, but seem to be slightly smaller than other games I’ve played which use tarot sized cards (although they are definitely larger than standard poker sized cards). The player reference sheets are a little flimsy and I’m not sure how they will hold up over time; they are printed on glossy paper that seems of a different quality of the rest of the components and may need to be laminated to protect them for long term usage. One little component that we had lots of fun with is the Handbook of Victorian Insults on the back of the rules manual which came in handy for when things got a little salty, as they tend to in such a dastardly game.

Overall, I give Dastardly Dirigibles  4 out of 5 stars. For a quick game that plays up to 5 and costs less that $20, this game is “bang up to the elephant!”

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