A Double-Take Review of King's Forge

kingsforgeThere's a new dice-rolling game on Kickstarter! Do you have what it takes to claim the King's Forge and become the greatest blacksmith in all the land? Let's see what this game is all about!

The Overview

You are trying to be the first player to craft four items for the king. If more than one player accomplishes this feat on the same turn, whoever crafted the highest-valued item wins.

The Components

Dice, dice, baby...

91 dice, including:

  • 42 black Metal dice
  • 22 green Wood dice
  • 14 red Gem dice
  • 10 blue Magic dice
  • 2 white Library dice
  • 1 purple Cemetery die

53 cards, including:

  • 26 Craft cards
  • 18 Gather cards
  • 4 Storage cards
  • 4 Black Market cards
  • 1 Player One card

4 tokens: 2 yellow "Automatic 6" tokens and 2 green "+1/+1" tokens

The Setup

Everyone gets a Storage card and five black Metal dice.

Set out the four Black Market cards. Then you'll choose which Craft cards to use in the game—between 9 and 13, depending on the number of players. You sort them according to their worth (a number between 1 and 48), place the three least-valuable ones out on the table, and then put the rest of the cards splayed out above the three low ones, with the dice icons visible to all.

Then take the 18 Gather cards, separate out the two Mine cards and the two Forest cards, and then shuffle the remaining cards and choose seven randomly. Place them facedown in a pile near the Black Market cards.

We gather here today...

The Cards

These are complex and a key part of the game, so they deserve their own section.

Gather cards are unique cards, each with an upper and lower half. When you claim one of these cards, you'll choose which half you're going to do on that turn and "pay" a number of dice, depending on the card. The Gather cards have squares on them. White squares mean you can choose any die to fulfill that. A green square means you can only use a green die to pay for that square. A red is just like green—only red!! And a square that's half blue and half red means either color will work. So one card might have you paying any one die to get a black die. Or another might have you paying two green dice to get a red die. Or yet another might have you pay two dice (one of which you'll lose forever) in order to change any 1s rolled to 6s.

There are also Black Market cards. Every dice spent here is lost forever, but it will allow you to get that green or red die you desperately need.

Crafting cards have a number of dice on the bottom (between 1 and 6), of differing colors. Each die on the cards has a number on it as well, and that's the minimum number you need on that color in order to craft that item. So the lowest-valued item (the Anvil) takes three black dice and at least 2 on each in order to craft it. The Battle Axe takes a black 4, black 5, black 6, green 4, red 4, and blue 4.

The Gameplay

The game is divided into two phases: the Gather phase and the Crafting phase.

First deal four of the Gather cards face-up to the center of the table, and then each player grabs any dice on his or her Storage card.

Now each player in turn order can either:

  • Claim a Gather card.
  • Take a Black Market Action and ditch a Gather card.
  • Pass

To take the Gather card, you just pay for it with the required dice, and place it in front of you. (And if you get any dice from the action, you grab the dice and put them on your Storage card. You'll get them next turn.) Then you deal out a new Gather card and it's the next player's turn. If you take a Black Market action, you pay for it, grab the dice and put them on your Storage card for next turn, as normal, and then you choose and discard one of the face-up Gather cards. Or you can pass. If you're the first person to pass, you get to choose either a black die and add it to your current pool of dice. Or you can grab a "+1/+1" token, which allows you to add 1 to two different dice during the upcoming Crafting phase.

The dice you start the turn are all you use over both phases, so it could be that you don't want to gather anything and only craft, or vice versa. But those dice are it. That Gather phase if over if everyone passes, or if there are no more faceup Gather cards and at least one person has passed.

In the Crafting phase, each player in turn order rolls the remaining dice he or she has, manipulates them if possible (due to Gather card abilities or tokens you might have), and then tries to craft an item. You have to have the correct dice colors with the correct (minimum) values in order to attempt it.

Five is right out!

Editor's Note: In our video review we were playing a rule wrong. In the rules-set we received, it said in one spot that you could only craft one item, and in another that you can craft as many as you want. We only noticed the "one craft" rule, so we playing that incorrectly, and mentioned that incorrectly in the video. Please forgive us. And play correctly.

One of the key mechanisms in the game is stealing. A player in later turn order can steal an item that you're trying to craft on that turn. In order to do that they only have to meet the dice values you already have, and then at least one of the dice has to have a greater value. So if I try to build the Anvil with a 2, 2, 2, you could steal it with a 2, 2, 3. And then there's weeping and gnashing of teeth...

A player further down in order could also steal the item from the player who stole it from you! After everyone has a chance to craft or steal, you reset things, gather back your dice, and shuffle up the Gather cards and start a new round.

The first person to craft four items (you play through the full Crafting phase) wins. If more than one person accomplishes that on the turn, whichever of those people who crafted the item with the highest value wins.

The Verdict

Firestone—This is a good game! I'm not a big fan of dice-rollers, but the way you can manipulate them here makes this a dice-roller I actually enjoy!

Jeremiah—I enjoy a good dice roller, and this is a good dice roller. I love that there is much more than just dice-rolling going on here too!

Firestone—I used to think the stealing mechanism was too powerful. I might still think it is, but after some thoughtful back-and-forth email discussion with the designer, I'm coming around. I never thought it was enough o a problem to keep someone from playing.

Jeremiah—I never had a problem with it. I felt thematically it was perfect. Maybe stealing isn't the proper term. It's more of an "I made a better object than you did so mine got accepted by the king. Maybe you shouldn't produce such sub-standard wares and you wouldn't have to worry about this sort of thing happening, and no, you don't get a consolation prize for under performing!" mechanic. Or you could just say it's stealing.

Firestone—I can't really comment on components since what we played was a prototype version, but I LOVE the artwork I've seen so far on this. It's cool, colorful and evocative. I hope it reaches some stretch goals that allow them to produce some slick dice, too.

Jeremiah—Yeah, I'm pulling for the cool dice. I like dice. I own a lot of them, and the dice in the prototype were sort of boring and smaller than standard dice. The artwork we're seeing on the Kickstarter page really puts the game over the top. Having pretty pictures on a card doesn't make it play any better, but lets face it: We're a visual culture, and those sort of ascetics make a difference.

Jeremiah—I've played a handful of 2-player games now, and the game seems to benefit from multiple player interactions. It's still fun with only 2 , but it gets really fun with 3-4 players!

Firestone—Yeah, I think more is better on this one. Some guys in the group played 2-player, but they thought it wasn't as good as multiplayer—which they'd also both played.

Firestone Final Thoughts—My gaming group played this two times in a row the other night, and that almost never happens—even with published games, let alone a prototype. I play a lot of prototype and prerelease games, and this is one of the best I've played in a long time. I can say without hesitation: Put this on the table! Gamers! Nongamers! Youth groups! I think this would fit them all.

Jeremiah Final Thoughts —There's a lot to like about King's Forge! From solid well thought out mechanics, down to the little details with some cool geeky references. It's those little touches that make a big difference when you're sitting at the table. I've had a lot of fun with this one! The theme is cool, and completely friendly to any group of folks you'd want to play with! Without a doubt I recommend you put this on the table!

You can check out our video review below. And head over to the Kickstarter page to jump in on this one! Thanks for reading!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IIEGfp18Vg]

A Video Double-Take Review of King's Forge

kingsforgeWe get a lot of prototypes to review. Some of them are awesome. And some of them are the Nickelback of games. Today we turn our sights to the Kickstarter game King's Forge by Clever Mojo Games and Game Salute. How's that game? I'm glad you asked...

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IIEGfp18Vg]

Thanks for watching! We hope this video gave you a good overview of the game. As you can tell, we liked it.

Kickstarter Weekly—August 1, 2013

Well it's Thursday and you know what that means... It's not yet Friday. But never fear because we're here with another installment of Kickstarter Weekly, the place where we make our recommendations and let you know what's a poppin' over on Kickstarter. Let's jump in, shall we?

BigArtKing's Forge - Clever Mojo Games

Go back this project! We have both played the prototype (and will be posting our written AND video Double-Take on it soon!). This dice-builder offers up lots of great decision making moments, a bit of a take that element, and lots of ways to tweak your dice rolls. It's super easy to learn, play and teach. A pledge of $39 gets you a copy of this game and it's money well spent! Check out the full campaign here!

betwixtA Duel Betwixt Us - Game Salute

This nifty little 2-player dueling card game takes card dueling into the realm of an old-timey gentlemen's duel. Loaded with lots of humor and jest, the one looks like a lot of fun! In just about 24 hours the campaign is over 60% funded, so you can bet there's going to be all kinds of stretch goaly goodness coming for this one! A $35 pledge gets you the game shipped to your door in the US and UK! We'll be interviewing the game's co-designer Laurence Honderick next week so stay tuned for that! You can check out the campaign here, and be sure to watch the entertaining and informative video on this one!

giant meeplesGiant Meeples - Gamelyn Game

Gamelyn Games founder Michael Coe has found a great niche with these awesome, sturdy, and just super-cool-to-look-at meeples. They were introduced to the gaming world through Dungeon Heroes, and since then Gamelyn has been releasing different sets of meeples for gamers to use, give to kids to play with, use in story telling, or display proudly. The latest installment in this line is a set of GIANT MEEPLES! These things look great, could be used as a set of book ends, or a centerpiece in your medieval dinner party, or... well you can decide. You can pledge $12 and get one, or $40 and get 5, and there are dozens of them to choose from! Check out the campaign right here!

Click-Clack Lumberjack - Mayday Games

ClickclackAlso known as Toc Toc Woodman 2.0. Click-Clack Lumberjack is a dexterity game that puts a dangerous weapon in your children's hands. Ok, it's a plastic axe, but to my children I'm sure it would be a ninja ax, or a bat-ax or something to wield in a quest to eradicate evil... Anyway, there's this plastic tree and you're trying to knock the bark off of it without knocking the wood off of it. Bark scores points, wood scores negative points. An interesting pledge level of $17 gets you the game shipped in a flat rate box and the game box is collapsed to make everything fit. If you want it uncollapsed you can pay an extra $5 and get it shipped that way. Check out the full campaign here!

dungeon attackDungeon Attack! - Attack Dice Games

Attack Dice, creators of the dice roller When Zombies Attack! are back at it with a dungeon themed dice-apalooza! Dungeon Attack! Looks like a game that takes a straight-forward dice roller and adds some depth and tweaks the scoring mechanism a little. I (Jeremiah) loved When Zombies Attack—it's a filler that comes out quite frequently with my group and is way better than Steve Jackson's Zombie Dice (which is basically a zombie-themed Farkle). This campaign is already funded and there are some sweet stretch goals in the future for backers! $20 gets you in on a copy of the game for this one and it looks well worth it if you're into rolling dice! Check out the full campaign here!

Thanks so much for reading! If you like what you see here we ask that you consider subscribing over on the right.  You can also find and interact with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube!

Kickstarter Weekly: Game Salute Special!

Well, like we said: Game Salute is busy powering a bunch of Kickstarter Campaigns, and bringing a bunch of games to market! So we thought we would dedicate an entire post to campaigns that wear the Game Salute brand, so here we go!

magnumopusMagnum Opus - Clever Mojo Games

We'll be reviewing this title here on TOG very soon. Magnum Opus is a deck-builder with a cool matrix of cards to research and select from! You can jump on board with this one for $35, which is a great value! But! If you go in for $200 you can also receive one of the 8 prototype copies that are being sent out to the reviewers. (Including the one sitting on Scott's shelf and the one sitting next to me (Jeremiah) right now!) How cool is that!? You can find the full details and lots of videos and such right here!

Chaos-alchemyChaos & Alchemy - Clay Crucible Games

There seems to be a lot of games delving into the realm of alchemy lately and we see another example of that here! The game is listed as a quick-playing card and dice game for 2-5 players, and seems to feature a fair amount of decisions on each players turn. You use dice to give the players actions (play cards, etc.). You can get in on this one for $25, and with plenty of time left they've already funded, so there should be some sweet stretch goals in the future for backers! You can check out the full campaign, right here!


Zoo FuZoo Fu - Closet Nerd Games

After a long day in the zoo, animals go full out in a samurai battle royal. This card battle game pits players against each other in an attempt to be zoo champion! When the deck runs out the player holding the most chi tokens is crowned Zoo Fu champion! A super inexpensive game to jump into at $15, and looks like a fun, light family game! They need a good boost to get to their funding goal on this one! You can check out the full campaign here!


kerflipKerFlip! 2nd Edition - Creative Foundry Games

KerFlip is a fun fast paced word game that we reviewed a few months ago. (Read that review here!) But wait...there's more, because with the help of Game Salute, Creative Foundry Games is upgrading KerFlip for a second edition! It's really quite simple: If you have the original version, for a $10 bill you can get a conversion pack, or if you back it for $25 you'll get the 2nd edition of the full game! The campaign is right here!

Thanks, as always, for reading! If you like what we bring you every day, take a second and sign up for our email list over on the right!

You can also interact with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube!

Giveaway #2—We Have a Winner!

sunrisecitycoverThanks to the fine folks at Clever Mojo Games, we have a copy of Sunrise City to give away to celebrate our 1-year blogiversary. Did you win...?

Once again, we went to random.org to generate a random number. After counting off that number of followers, the lucky winner is a fellow blogger, and a board game designer: Ed Marriott! Congrats, Ed! We'll be in touch so we can send you your game.

But we're celebrating our 1-year blogiversary for this entire month, and we have yet another game to give away next week! We can't reveal what it is quite yet, but believe us: it's boss! So keep reading, and if, for some reason, you're not subscribed...do it!

Kickstarter Weekly—July 11, 2013

Hey! Kickstarter Weekly is back! And boy is there a ton of stuff going on in Kickstarter Land, so let's get started! vivajavaVivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game - Dice Hate Me Games

The follow up to Dice Hate Me's coffee game, the dice game appears to be more than just a dice version of the original VivaJava, but introduces new game play themes and concepts. The campaign funded super fast and they've already knocked down a couple stretch goals, with plenty of time left! $30 gets you the game and any stretch goals as well! You can check it out here! You can also check out our interview with designer TC Petty III right here!

the agentsThe Agents - by Saar Shai

The Agents is a card game based around a series of characters who are all decommissioned secret agents who have been reactivated. The game play invovles playing agent cards and choosing to either score points, or use their ability—the catch is that whichever you choose, the other effect works in favor of your opponent. We'll be getting the latest prototype of this game and let you know our full thoughts very, very soon! Check out the campaign here; it just launched and you can get in on the early bird deal, which scores you the game for $15!

ancient thingsAncient Terrible Things - Pleasant Company Games

Game Salute is powering another Kickstarter Campaign, and they're doing it very well (as usual)! Ancient Terrible Things is a dice roller with some meat on its bones. A good level of resource management adds some nifty decision making elements to the game. Check out Jeremiah's video preview of the game here. You can check out the campaign here, it's been funded and they've also hit several stretch goals. A pledge of $45 will score you a copy of this fun dice-roller!

Coming Soon!

frog flipFrog Flip - Sprocket Games

Jason Kotarski has designed a mini game, along with his daughter Claire, that plays in just a few minutes. We've reviewed the game, and it's a great kids game! The campaign doesn't begin until tomorrow (Friday, July 12) but you can get a sneak peek ahead of time, right here!


photo (11)Princes of the Dragon Thrones - Clever Mojo Games

We're super excited for Clever Mojo, who just brought this one in under the wire! This is yet another successful campaign by Game Salute. This game has been a long time in the works, and we're glad to see that it will make it to the marketplace soon! Jeremiah was fortunate enough to play one of the prototypes, you can read his full review here. Want more Dragon Throne goodness? Check out our interview with Fred and David Mackenzie here!

Council of Verona - Crash Games

The first in Crash Games' Pub Series of games, that feature small games with big game play! The campaign funded at 303% hitting over $27k! That unlocked what Patrick says is the most exciting stretch goal - a 5th-player expansion! We haven't played this yet (unreal!) but we LOVE the idea of the game, and see a smash hit coming to market with this game's arrival! Congrats Crash!


Thanks so much for reading, as we continue our 1-year Blogiversary! Don't forget to subscribe to the blog over on the right, and you can win a copy of Clever Mojo's game Sunrise City! And look for us wherever social media is happening, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

Wanna Win This?

photo (24)If you were around last week, you know that we gave away a copy of The Great Heartland Hauling Co. to a very lucky individual! This week we're giving away a free copy of Sunrise City from Clever Mojo Games! In fact, it's the very same copy pictured here!

How? Easy...

The way to win this amazing prize is quite simple: Just subscribe to the blog! That's right, if you type your email address into the little box over on the right, you'll be entered into our fantastic and unbelievably easy-to-win contest! Already subscribed, you say? Well then you're already entered! Yes. It's that easy! If you enjoy what we're doing here at TOG we would be ever so grateful if you took a moment to share this contest with your friends and family. If you don't enjoy what's going on here on our little blog, then maybe you could inform your arch-nemesis?

There is a bit of not-so-fine print to go along with this contest: We can only offer the contest to US and Canadian residents only. We'd love to ship it across the Seven Seas but the cost of doing so is prohibitive. If  you would like to enter and pay for the shipping, we would be glad to do that!

We get really excited when folks connect with us on social media too! So be sure to hit us up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and yes, even YouTube!

We'd also like to give a HUGE thank you to Clever Mojo Games and Game Salute for furnishing us with this great prize to give away!! Thanks guys!

Podcast Poll—And Blogiversary Giveaway #2: Sunrise City!

sunrisecitycoverWe're working away in the background to prepare, produce, and, of course, launch our very own podcast, but we thought we'd pause and get some thoughts from you! If you could take 5 seconds and fill out our poll, it would be much appreciated.

So, we'd like to know...

[polldaddy poll=7234366]

We're also happy to announce the next game we're giving away! Clever Mojo Games has graciously donated a copy of Sunrise City! We'll give it away on Saturday, and all you have to do to be eligible is subscribe over on the right---->. One other thing we have to mention is that this contest is only open to those living in the US. We're really sorry about that, but we just don't have the funds to mail a copy of a game around the world. If we pick your name and you live outside the US, the only option is for you to pay shipping. Otherwise we're picking a new name. Also, if you've already won something in this round of giveaways, you're not eligible to win again this round. The chances are small, but still...

The Real Princes of the Dragon Throne—An Interview With Fred and David MacKenzie

photo (9)Today we have the pleasure of interviewing the team behind Clever Mojo Games’ Princes of the Dragon Throne: Fred and David MacKenzie.

Guys, thanks so much for taking a few minutes to answer some questions with us today.

Let’s start off by having you guys tell us a little bit about yourselves.

FRED: Hi! Happy to be here. Well, what’s to say? I’m just a typical middle-aged guy who loves playing games. To be honest, I might actually enjoy designing them even more.

DAVID: Well, I’m just this guy, you know? I’m more of a game adjuster than a designer. I look at game ideas that Fred and others have, offer feedback and suggestions, then help them bring the design to tip top performance.

FRED: Don’t let David fool you. He’s a good designer with a couple good ideas already in prototype stage. He just doesn’t have time to work on his own designs now.

How did you get mixed up in this crazy gaming industry?

FRED: That would be David’s fault. We grew up playing all the standard fare that everyone else was playing in the ‘70s and ‘80s, then just party games with the family, then pretty much nothing for several years. I was introduced to Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne in 2006 and I showed them to David soon after. We were hooked. The discovery that games like these were available re-awakened David’s creativity. One day he told me he was working on a game design and asked if I would like to help. This game became Ogre Castle.

DAVID: Actually, Fred and I each had game ideas independently of each other and we just dove in and started designing and playtesting. Fred’s idea was called “Oubliette” and mine was “Ogre Castle.” Oubliette was going to be the first game we published, but we lost momentum after a game agent turned it down. We put more work into Ogre Castle and in mid-2009 we put out a homemade garage production and Clever Mojo Games was born.

So let’s talk about Princes of the Dragon Throne: Where did the idea for the game come from?

FRED: It needs to be said that the game we now call Princes of the Dragon Throne was originally intended to be something quite different. My first inspiration came from the fact that I love dragons and wanted to design a dragon game. My second inspiration came from a poem David wrote, which tells of the life of a dragon, from birth to death. My first version (in 2009) of a game based on that (which was called Dragon Frenzy) required 125 dice! I knew there was no way a game could be affordably made with that many dice (this was before Quarriors) so I scrapped that idea. I won’t bore you with the details, but Dragon Frenzy went through many iterations over the next two years as I attempted to discover just what this game wanted to be. Near the end of 2010 I played my first games of Dominion and Ascension and I just knew I wanted deck-building in the game. For the next four months Dragon Frenzy was developed to be similar to those games, with a few tweaks. But the game just seemed to be missing something, so I told David of my ideas for adding worker-placement and area-control to our current resource-management and deck-building mechanics, and actually making a board game instead of a card game. This is the game we have been developing ever since. With these changes the name Dragon Frenzy didn’t fit anymore and Princes of the Dragon Throne was born.

DAVID: Yup, what he said.

Can you tell us how the game plays?

FRED: Thematically, players are dragon princes making a claim on the now-vacant dragon throne. Mechanically, players use their starting decks to gather resources. They use those resources to recruit more influential prospects into their hands. They use those recruits to place supporters on the board. They use those supporters to gain control of as many kingdoms and guilds as possible. They use that control to influence the clan houses in the dragon parliament. When all members of the dragon parliament have chosen a prince to support, a new king is crowned.

Dave MacKenzie—Fred wouldn't hold still for a pic...

What about Princes of the Dragon Throne will make it stand out from other games in its genre?

FRED: I guess that depends on what genre it is placed in. Is it a deck-building game? Then its area-control mechanics will make it stand out. Is it an area-control game? Then its rich theme will make it stand out. Is it a highly thematic game? Then its worker-placement mechanics will make it stand out. Is it a worker-placement game? Then its deck-building mechanics will make it stand out.

 DAVID: In my mind, what makes PDT stand out is that it uses deck-building in a non-traditional way. Deck-building is not the game; it’s the engine that drives all of the other game systems. The cards you recruit into your deck control the resources you can acquire and the guilds you can control and the clan houses you can pack with your loyal dragon lords. It’s really a whole new animal, and we think gamers will be intrigued.

Can you tell us a little more about the designing process—did one of you handle certain aspects and then put them together, or was it a collaborative effort from beginning to end.

DAVID: As I mentioned before, I’m less of a designer and more of a project manager and game doctor. PDT is Fred’s game and he was the driving force throughout. He’d give me a new version to try and I’d run it through my local play testers and then give Fred the feedback and ideas we had. He’d consider them, reject most of them, keep a few, and then we’d do it all again the next week. So, yes, it was collaborative to a point, but Fred was always “THE” designer.

Is there anything else you guys are working on that we should keep an eye out for?

FRED: I have a small press-your-luck dice game called Monsters and Maidens that has already launched for support on JumpStartCity.com. I have dozens of other ideas, several of which are at varied stages of development, but none of which are actively being worked on at the moment due to concentrating on getting the first two produced.

DAVID: Well, PDT is the major project for Clever Mojo Games at the moment, but I’m also working with several other designers on projects you’ll see on Kickstarter later this year. The two closest to the top are Magnum Opus by Ian Steadman and King’s Forge by Nick Sibicky. Magnum Opus is yet another riff on the deck-building mechanic that will make people re-think that genre, and King’s Forge is a dice-building and management game that’s fiercely competitive. Oh, and there’s a new expansion for Alien Frontiers coming to Kickstarter in a couple of months. 2013 is a VERY busy year for the Clever Mojo Game label.

Since launching the initial Kickstarter you’ve taken down the campaign to re-tool and re-boot it. Can you tell us a little bit about your thinking behind that decision and what changes were made to the campaign?

DAVID: Basically we learned that games are not like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Chocolate and peanut butter might taste great together, but Euro-game mechanics and Ameritrash minis just cause confusion. Euro-gamers maintained that the game was overproduced and Ameri-trashers were wondering why their minis were bogged down with a game. The other lesson I learned personally, or rather I should say “re-learned”, is that Kickstarters don’t really want a FINISHED game. They want to see a game at bare-bones and then get the thrill of building it up through stretch goals. I learned this in Formula E and I learned it again on Princes of the Dragon Throne.

We’d love to hear your top three games of all time, and why you love them!

FRED: There are so many games I haven’t played that any list of favorites will seem severely lacking to most people. Currently my favorite light game is a tie between The Great Heartland Hauling Company and Biblios. Both games are easy to learn and fast to play and just a ton of fun. My favorite medium game is Finca. I love rondels and hope to design my own rondel game at some point. For my favorite heavy game I am totally going to cheat. I have only read the rules and watched several reviews but I know that I will absolutely love Stronghold when I finally get to play. If that answer doesn’t count, I also love Trajan and Castles of Burgundy.

DAVID: When people ask me “Have you played X, or Y, or Z”, I always tell them it’s best to assume I have not played it.  I spend so much time playing prototypes that I can hardly remember the last time I played a published game. The games that are my favorites now will be your favorites 2 years from now. That’s the best answer I can come up with for that.

So why board gaming?

FRED: I love the challenge of testing my mental aptitude against my opponents. I love the fellowship of hanging out with friends, or making new ones. I love the escapism when I just want to get away from the daily grind. Of course, these days the daily grind includes board game design, so sometimes it‘s hard to distinguish between the grind and the escape. But I still love it.

DAVID: It’s about the socialization for me. I’m no Brainiac and I lose nearly every game I play, but I have fun with the people who are playing. If a game is too serious and thinky and tense, then I’m not having fun.

David, your email signature says you are the “Shepherd of Games” at Game Salute, could you explain the thought behind that title?

DAVID: Game Shepherd is the summation of what I’ve been saying about my role in game development. I work with designers to bring their games to life, grow them into strong healthy titles, and then lead them through the production process. It’s very rewarding when a game I’ve been shepherding for a year or two finally hits the dealer table at a convention.

reeses-peanut-butter-400x4001 Word Questions - Please answer these next 5 questions with only 1 word (or phrase).

Favorite director?

FRED: Spielberg

DAVID: del Toro

Do you have an archenemy?

FRED: Social Anxiety Disorder

DAVID: Sweets

Favorite ice cream flavor?

FRED: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup

DAVID: Caramel

Favorite lyrics?

FRED: I don't really care if they label me a Jesus freak.

DAVID: We Will, We Will, Rock You!

Let’s say there was some sort of crazy cyclone thing that picked up you and one book, and took you out to sea where you were stranded alone on an island for one year: What would you want that one book to be...? (Let’s assume this island has plenty of fresh water and food. And no hatches or polar bears.)

FRED: The Bible

DAVID: Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary

You can check out the rebooted Princes of the Dragon Throne campaign here. Thanks for joining us for this fun interview!

Princes of the Dragon Throne—A Review

photo (10)- By Jeremiah Clever Mojo Games has, along with designer Fred MacKenzie, put together a large-scale board gaming experience that is truly unique...while somehow familiar.

In Princes of the Dragon Throne players assume the role of one of the overlooked princes of the recently deceased Dragon King in the land of Lo'en. Beginning with a small amount of loyal followers you'll attempt to gather resources, persuade prospects to join your forces, and earn favor of the guilds throughout the kingdoms. Which prince among you and your siblings will rise to power and take the throne? Only time will tell.

The Components

The game comes with oodles of game bits, cards, and a huge game board. To be more specific there are:

216 custom miniatures - 80 Supporters - 60 Dragon Lords - 4 Dragon Princes - 72 King's Guards

179 Punchboard Chips - 84 Guild and Score Markers - 95 Resource Chips

157 Cards - 36 Dragon Prospects - 36 Citizen Prospects - 40 Starter Deck cards (4 decks of 10) - 36 Guild Favors - 6 Clan Favors - 2 Deck Title Cards - 1 Bargain With the Giant card

4 Player Aid Sheets

2 Custom Sorcery Dice

1- 22" x 33" Game Board

And of course the Rule Book

There is no apparent sign of either a partridge or a pear tree.

Setup and Overview

photo (9)The board is separated into 6 kingdoms (Humans, Elves, Sorcerers, etc.); each kingdom is made up of 6 guilds (Merchants, Shepherds, Warriors, etc.). There is also a space for a prospect card (either dragon or citizen) in each kingdom. Surrounding each guild in every kingdom are 5 slots for Supporters or King's Guards. To setup the game: - Place 2 King's Guards in every guild (this will use all of them). - Give each player their starting deck of 10 cards. - Take 3 Dragon and 3 Citizen prospect cards, shuffle them, and place one in each kingdom. - Give each player three of each resource type (Gold, Sheep and Influence). - Each player then takes 5 of their Supporters (placing the rest to the side for now),all of their Dragon Lords, and their Dragon Prince.

Players shuffle their starting deck, draw five cards, and the game begins.

There are lots of stacks of cards, and resources, and so forth, so the bigger the table the better!

photo (8)

Game Play On a player's turn he or she can perform one of a possible four main actions, and a number of additional "King's Guard Actions," provided they have a King's Guard to use.

The four main actions are as follows:

Gather Resources—All the cards have two main functions, and gathering resources is one of those. On their turn players can play up to three cards from their hand and gather the amount of resources listed on them from the pool. If there are none left in the pool, you start pillaging them from other players, taking one at a time from each player moving counter-clockwise.

Recruit a Prospect—Once you've gathered enough resources, you can then begin to recruit prospects from the game board, by paying the value listed at the very bottom of the cards available. When you recruit that card, you snag another Supporter from your reserve pile; you also potentially score points (if there is a claw icon next to the cost). And if that wasn't enough, you get to remove a card from your hand or discard pile from the game!

Deploy Supporters—You can deploy up to 2 Supporters a turn, using two different cards from your hand. A Citizen card will give you two icons, which offers more flexibility; you can play a Supporter either in the matching Kingdom, on any guild, or on any matching guild in any Kingdom. Dragon supporters are locked into one Kingdom, on any guild, but they remove a King's Guard from the guild they are placed in (which goes into your reserve for later). Dragons also require you to feed them a number of sheep from your resources when you deploy them. You also can't deploy them where there are no King's Guards...

Maneuver Supporters—Finally if you choose to maneuver Supporters, you can move up to two of your Supporters from anywhere on the board to anywhere else on the board. This is great for taking over guilds, but also leaves guilds open for being taken over by other players... Speaking of taking over guilds...

If at any time you have more Supporters than any other player (or King's Guard) in a guild, you gain control of that guild. You get to place a spiffy token on it, score two points, and gain a guild favor card into your deck to use one time (and then it goes back into the general supply of guild favor cards). And you get to place one of your Dragon Lords into one of the houses around the Dragon Throne (either matching the color of the kingdom or guild that you just took control of).

After (or before) you've done one of those four main actions you can also use a King's Guard action (as many times as you like... provided you have a King's Guard to use).

The King's Guards that you gain by deploying Dragon Supporters allow you to do a few things. - Place 2 new prospects (if you don't like any that are out there). - Place 1 prospect card back on the top of a stack (if someone covered up one that you like). - Discard any number of cards (you still don't get to draw back up until the end of your turn, but it gets you through your deck faster).

You may also play one, and only one, Guild Favor card during your turn.

When your turn is over, draw back up to five cards (if you've played any) and the next player begins their turn by placing new prospects from either the Dragon deck, or the Citizen deck (their choice) if there are any empty slots, and then they proceed to take their turn.

Parliament—One last feature of the game is Parliament. Whenever a player's scorekeeper passes a red spot on the score track (at 6, 13, 21 etc.) parliament is held and players take turns placing their Dragon Prince in a house (starting with the player in last place). Each house has its own house bonus, which will give the player a special edge, or action, on their turn. When the next number is reached you do it all again.

The Goal and Game End—The goal is simply to score more points than everyone else; the game ends when all the spots in the Houses around the Dragon Throne are filled.

photo (11)Thoughts and Recommendations -

Family/Party Game? Uhmmm about that. No. The game isn't hard to learn, but there are tons of aspects to grasp before even beginning to strategize. This one is not for the kids.

Youth Group Game? Not really. The setup is lengthy, the gameplay is lengthier (about 2 hours, once you've learned the game), and it doesn't lend itself to a big group setting.

Gamer's Game? Absolutely! This may be the very definition of a Gamer's Game! Intricately woven mechanics, rich back-story, and tons of pieces-parts—the more I learned about the game the more I loved it!

Components—I can't really speak to the final quality of the components; I was sent a prototype of the game with good ol' fashioned wooden meeples. But I will say this: Even the "rough draft" style of the meeples was pretty fantastic, and the renderings of the finished minis look splendid! Clever Mojo is going all out for this one, folks!

Gameplay—There's a lot to take in. I've played with 2 players and with 4 players, and if you're in a 4-player game it can get a little sluggish if folks don't plan ahead. That being said, there are a ton of different decisions to make on each turn; just choosing which of the four main actions you're going to take can be a painstaking process! "Do I buy up that card before someone else does, or do I deploy Supporters while I've got this dragon in my hand, or do I save up resources so I can get that awesome dragon??" There's a ton of planning and a ton of decisions to make on each turn, so be ready to make threats of bodily harm to those who are lagging behind.

If I had any small complaint about the way the game plays, I'd have to say I don't know how well I like the Maneuver Supporters action. It seemed a little too free, with being able to (in a Risk-like fashion) move your Supporters around and conquer guilds. Yes, there was a risk (pun intended) to getting that reward, but I felt it could have used a little tweaking.

Artwork—Again, what I had my hands on was a prototype, and I don't know how close to final everything was. But the cards already looked fantastic—lots of great detailed illustrations, and not one was like the other. Each Dragon and Citizen featured a name and a bit of flavor text; a lot of work went into the thematic realm the game is placed in. Beautifully done.

Overall—With elements of deck-building, worker-placement, and area-control—and finding a great balance and synergy between the three, while throwing in a pinch of resource management—Princes of the Dragon Throne combines the best of your favorite game genres into a large-scale board game. Simply put: It's epic!

We'd like to thank Clever Mojo Games and Game Salute for loaning Jeremiah a prototype of the game; this had no effect on the content of this review.

If you'd like to back Princes of the Dragon Throne on Kickstarter, you can do so here.

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Also you can find all kinds of Theology of Games goodness on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Check back soon as we interview Fred Mackenzie and his brother David Mackenzie, the brains behind Clever Mojo, Game Salute, and Princes of the Dragon Throne! Coming tomorrow! (June 5, 2013!)