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A game for two in which players represent druid cults attempting to subvert each other's trees. Not only is the theme unique, but the gameplay is like no other game as well. Through card play, players cause certain spirits to 'dance' around the trees--when they stop, each cult's tree with matching colored markers oppose one another, and the weaker tree comes one step closer to subversion.
Some people thing this game is weird, strange or unusual. I don't think so! It just has a different mechanic that makes it unique-- but I don't think it's weird or bizarre.
Once you get used to how things work, it is actually quite easy to get the gist of things and play. Lots of strategy and thinking ahead is involved. In fact, sometimes players who analyze the movements of all cards in their hand can slow the game down trying to calculate their best play. The Celtic theme works very well for the mechanics and the components (especially the tree tiles) are wonderful. A good buy-- there's really no need for hesitation!
This game is a version of Mankala, the African stone game, in the same way Battle Line is a version of Gin Rummy. It is derived from this game but has added many twists and turns to the original. As in Mankala, things spin around a board in a circle. But which way in Drudenwalzer depends on which way the arrow points on the card you play. Also, the goal is not as clear--you don't always want to win! Winning too much from one pile might deplete your cards there, leaving you vulnerable. Clever manipulation of cards is what the game is all about. The druid theme is fun, if a little arbitrary. I love this game because there is a lot going on in it, it is not at all one-dimensional, and you get to make silly dancing druid jokes as you play. If you enjoy Mankala, you will enjoy this game. If you enjoy strategy games like Carcassonne and Battle Line, I also suspect you will enjoy this one. One technical note: there is an error in the translation of the directions. One of your three choices of actions on a turn includes moving a druid. This is ommitted from the overview but included in the directions as you read on.
Dancing tree sprites?! Oh, C'mon. But it's fabulous!
The components and artwork are excellent, and the extremely unique play is a sure winner. A very nice balance between strategy and luck of the card draw.
This is now my favorite two player game, overtaking Kahuna.
First the dance, then the fight! Two feuding cults each have three warriors, living separately in three of the cult's four trees. You, the choreographer, lay a numbered card from your hand on top of a pile beneath one of your trees. This causes like-valued top cards to dance one to four spaces around the wood, east or west. When the jig is over, enemy warriors of the same color have a fight, and the Druid's tree with the lowest-numbered card beneath gets damaged. Six damages kill a tree, and the first to destroy two enemy trees wins. Unwanted combat can be avoided by moving a warrior to a healthier tree, or by using the temporary immunity granted by a Fairy Ring. Players begin with separate decks, but enemy cards that dance to your trees fight for you.
The avid mancala player will see this as a wonderful variant, with enough chance to add spice, intrigue, and difficulty.
Another 2 player Kosmos card game, this time with plenty of play linked to the theme -- or at least no-one can say otherwise, since no-one knows what druids get up to when they are in a circle! The game allows for a reasonable amount of planning and control, and usually produces tight finishes.
The druids have set up camp in a grove of 8 trees. Trees are either light or dark coloured and each colour is in a line a four. Completing the circle are two more cards -- one moon and sun. Players represent either the sun or moon cult of trees, trying to preserve them from their opponents' attacks. The presentation is standard Kosmos -- neat and tidy, good graphics and chunky cardboard tree tiles.
Each player receives an identical pack of spirit cards and most of these are distributed in four piles, one beneath each tree the druids are defending The top card of each pile is revealed to show a number between 1 and 5 and a direction -- either clockwise or anti-clockwise. The set-up is completed with three coloured druids on each side who tend the trees.
Players alternate turns until two of the four trees guarded by the druids are destroyed (subverted in druid-speak). Most turns players will play a spirit card, which results in the spirits dancing (moving position). The card is played onto one of your piles of spirit cards from your hand of such cards. The card on which the new one is played is turned face down to leave one spirit card visible on each pile. A yellow faerie ring is placed on the corresponding tree card to indicate which pile the card was played onto. The card played is then examined. All like-valued cards (from both your and your opponent's side, but not the spirit card played) will then take part in a dance. The direction that all the cards move is determined from the spirit card played; the distance each card moves is determined by the value of the tree card, which are numbered 1 to 4. Usually you will plan to move several cards, but when there is no matching number on anyone else's spirit cards, the pile you have played is just reinforced by one card. The fact that there is a known outcome of the cards allows some planning. What is uncertain is the cards that will be revealed through the cards leaving.
Following this movement, each pile of spirit cards must have one card visible, so the moving cards become the top cards of new piles, while piles with no visible card have one revealed. Conflict is resolved on trees with druids of matching colours. The visible spirit cards on these are compared and the higher card wins. This causes a `damage point' to occur on the tree defended by the lower spirit card. The winning card is discarded to one of the moon or sun cards. The placement of the faerie ring also precludes conflict between druids of the same colour who occupy this tree.
This sequence is repeated many times with a war of attrition on the trees. Once 6 damage has been caused to a tree it is subverted and dies. The balancing factor is that once a tree loses all its cards -- through a combination of winning and dances -- it is also subverted. The game is about planning how to keep trees alive through dancing and winning.
Instead of playing a spirit card you could move one of your druids to the empty tree. This is usually done to avoid getting a tree too close to 6 damage or if a tree is close to running out of spirit cards.
The wearing away of trees is quite involving and you develop schemes for how to cause pain to your opponent while minimising the damage to yourself. Almost inevitably, this boils down to timing as a tree being subverted on one side means that the other side either has a low number of cards in some trees or significant damage.
When I first played this there was a struggle to get inside the game. You don't get too many games on the subject of dancing druids and I have to admit I have no personal experience of this either. So while the theme seems to fit the game, there is a bit of distance on the game as it is outside daily experience. Overall I have warmed to the game after several plays. The mechanisms work, there are close finishes, so if you like two-player card games and are looking for something off the beaten path, you could do a lot worse. Unusual.