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Players: 3 - 4
Weight: 700 grams (estimated)
Average Rating: 4.8 in 4 reviews
my dad owns this game... i've played it many times and i say that this is the best game ever... it is a very easy to make people mad at you while you are playing but it's a game
I picked this game up many years ago, and my copy clearly shows the beating it has taken over the years, having endured many moves and many playings. The game is similar to hearts, in that there are various cards that should not be taken, but there is so much more to this game.
In the full game, there are as many as twenty hands played, with each player service as dealer for as many as five deals. I say 'as many' since the number of deals varies with the number of players (3 or 4), and since an unlucky dealer can have the deal taken from him by a crafty player. Serving as dealer is the best way of garnering points, since players garnering penalty cards must settle up with the dealer at the end of the hand.
There is more to it than that, as each of the five hands results in a different set of cards servings as penalties, up to the Staff of Power hand where all the penalties from the other four hands are all in play. This can lead to wild play, since the dealer must determine which hand will be played each time, with no repetition. Knowing when to play Wizards or First and Last, for example, can be agonizing choices.
The full game also features Power Plays. A successful Power Play can result in a change of dealers, with the lucky power player earning lots of points, while an unsuccessful play results in a huge loss. There are various ways of initiating a Power Play, which keeps the game fresh.
Finally, a word about the components. The cards are beautifully illustrated in the same style as the much beloved Dark Tower game, with faux-fantasy artwork, and the points are a bunch of plastic 'gems' of various colors that are very satisfying to have lined up in front of you and play with while the dealer is shuffling. The only downside to the components is that the cards are so thick that they do not shuffle easily.
This game can still be found in some thrift stores, and should be picked up by anyone who enjoys good card games with a classic feel and yet some novel play. Highly recommended.
Bought this game because it was cheap at a used book store. Got home and discovered 2 complete copies of the game inside the box. Which was a good thing because my gaming group has put both copies to use simultaneously! Which is probably one of the best indicators of how good the game is.
The game is basically a trick-taking game with a custom deck of cards. (The art-work on the cards is beautiful by the way, putting even The Great Dalmutti to shame.) There are some twists however.
Each player will take a turn playing the DragonMaster. The dragon master will play five hands in succession. For each hand the dragon master will chose one of five games to play:
- Don't take the red prince card.
- Don't take any purple cards.
- Don't take any wizard cards.
- Don't take the first or last trick.
- All of the above at once.
The dragon master gets to look at his/her hand before deciding which game to play, but all games must be played exactly once during the dragon masters turn.
After all players have been the dragon master, the player with the most points is the winner of the game.
The game play is fairly fast. About an hour for 4 players. And the strategies involved with choosing the correct game to play on a given hand are very rich. There is also some strategic value in the determination of which of the other players to slugh the forbidden tricks off to.
There are advanced rules for the game which allow players to reverse the victory conditions of a given hand (secretly) under certain game situations, but my gaming group has not seen the need to try them (probably for fear of messing up one of our favorite games.)
It's too bad this game is out of print. I would love to buy a newer copy. And I recommend it to any who can actually find a used copy for sale.
This is a fun trick-taking game, conceptually sort of like hearts, in that it's every man for himself (i.e. no partnerships), there are no trumps, and the object is not to take certain scoring cards (or to take all the scoring cards and reap extra benefits). There are five different hands that can be played, each corresponding to a different set of cards or tricks than are to be avoided (or taken), so the strategy changes from hand to hand.
Rather than keeping score and counting up to a predefined number that triggers the end of the game, Dragon Master is played with money (in the form of plastic gems) that is paid between the players every hand. Whoever has the most at the end of the 20 hands in the game (15 in a three-player game) wins.
+ The hearts on steroids design makes it easy for people reasonably versed in trick-taking card games to pick it up and play.
+ The strategy involved is fairly deep.
+ Aggressive play is well rewarded.
- The cards, while nicely illustrated, are big and thick (i.e. hard to shuffle), and only have their rank and suit noted in one corner (so you have to flip all your cards around to get them right-side up every hand).
- The fantasy theme may scare some people off who would probably like the game.
- Takes a while to get through a game (a couple of hours or so).
Regardless of the game's drawbacks, I like it a great deal. And it's pretty easy to substitute 33 cards culled from a regular deck to surrogate for the ones that come with the game, if the clumsy cards prove too troublesome. You can track this game down pretty cheap on eBay, and it gets my recommendation.