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Princes of the Dragon Throne Impressions!

Last night I participated in a live-play of Princes of the Dragon Throne. It’s a board game designed by Fred MacKenzie and it is being published by Clever Mojo Games, the makers of Alien Frontiers. The game is currently on Kickstarter so it was really cool to get a chance to play it before it’s released.

The premise to the game is that the Dragon King has died and you and the other players are Dragon Princes competing for your father’s throne. To win the throne you must gain the most prestige, which is mostly done through recruiting supporters and controlling various clans and regions on the the game board. Mechanically speaking, it’s a nice mash-up of a deck building with area control.

There were three of us playing the game last night and it took us just under two hours. It would’ve gone faster, but it was my first time playing so I did have to ask a slew of questions. When going over the rules, I was intimidated by Princes of the Dragon Throne, but as soon as we started playing it clicked right away. I ended up having a ton of fun and I am already itching to play it again.

From a strategic standpoint there are two areas to focus on and a lot of the gameplay is trying to balance those two. For example, I constantly had to ask, “Ok am I better off gaining more resources and recruiting supporters or should I spend this turn focusing more on the board and making sure I have control of the regions I want to control?”  At it’s core, the area control part of the game was straight forward and similar to what I’ve seen in other games, but what raised the bar was how the deck building influenced the area control.

This lead to a nice rhythm to the turn order in Princes of the Dragon Throne. A lot of what I was doing was influenced directly by my opponents. If someone had a stockpile of resources and I guessed that they were going to purchase a suporter I wanted I had to quickly shift gears to make the purchase first or do whatever I could to make make the purchase more difficult for my opponent.

I’m fairly new to the world of gaming and to me two hours is a long time, however with Princes of the Dragon Throne it FLEW by! I had been warned ahead of time that the game was probably going to last a good three hours because it was my first time and that I needed to be prepared for it. NOPE. It sailed by and the end game pounced on us like a dragon stealing a sheep.  If it hadn’t been so late I would’ve requested a second play. It was that good.

The version of Princes of the Dragon Throne that we played was a prototype so be warned that the cool meeples and board are not finalized and are not what comes in the retail version of the game. That’s important to note because I did have a few problems with the prototype board and design work. For example, when you control a clan you place a marker on it, but then once you did it made it really hard to see what color that clan was. The clans had iconography but being my first time playing I didn’t have those memorized yet. I also had trouble determining which region was which because the colors were slightly faded on the board.

However, I have been told that the newest design of the board fixes those kinds of problems (below you can see the newest version of the board which Clever Mojo recently shared in one of their Kickstarter Updates), which is great to hear because now I have zero complaints about the game.

Our game ended with yellow at 55 points, green at 50 points, and me in last place with 39. I got my butt spanked, but was still a contender until we got to the last few rounds of the game. Part of the problem is that the person who explained the game to me said he would also go over the end game scoring but then never did, so I hadn’t fully realized where points were coming from.

Another large mechanic of the game that hand’t been explained to me was the ability to move and manipulate other people’s suporters and dragons. I had been under the impression that once you played a token on a location that it was going to stay there. I had no idea that the other players could use clan favors, a kind of special ability, to move my stuff around to keep me from scoring points. I found it super annoying that they could move my people and dragons around when I had spent a lot of time gaining and earning the regions I wanted. If I had known that it was a possibility I would’ve counter moved the other players tokens.

On the plus side, I love the fact that you can maniuplate tokens becuase it brought more interactivity in between the players. The one thing I was worried about going into this game is that it would just be each of us doing our own thing without interacting. That’s not me hating on Euro Games, I enjoy Euro Games, but when talking about something that could potentially last hours I would prefer a game where I get to interact with my other players. So it was a nice surprise to discover that Princes of the Dragon Throne had that element where you get to play with your opponents as opposed to just playing around them.

Not only did I enjoy playing the game, but I also enjoyed the theme. The artwork on the cards is great and the new updated board looks gorgeous. In fact, as a writer, I can’t help but think that Clever Mojo has something special here. I could easily see this game spawning into a novel, comic, or series of short stories.

As I said earlier, Princes of the Dragon Thrones is currently on Kickstarter so make sure you check it out. I fully endorse the game. The world of Princes of the Dragon Thrones is a world I’d love to play in again.