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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.
O.K., like those reviewers before me, yes, DruidenWalzer has an odd theme compared to most other games: druids, dancing spirits, fairie ring, subversion of trees. Yet, play it several times and it all works well together.
Basic gameplay is described already here, but it is worth repeating you do have three options each turn. Play a spirit card, move a druid, or discard a card (from hand or tree). While most turns playing a spirit card is what you'll do, knowing when to move a druid or discard can be crucial to your success. You can save your trees or set yourself up for better moves by these two actions, especially if your spirit cards are weak.
We have several other Kosmos 2-player games, and DruidenWalzer ranks right up there with them. The games move along nicely, the rules are rather easy and straightforward (tho' I agree some translations were rather poor; Funagain e-mailed me two versions and they proved very helpful), games were close, and there is a good blend of luck and skill involved. The components are first rate, too.
Don't be misled, either. Luck only goes so far in the game. It is a factor, but not dominant during play. You really must work out how best to play the spirit cards, know when to discard, and also when it may be advantageous to move a druid.
From the start, we liked it. Each game only made us appreciate the subtleties and strategies of the game. Don't be turned off by the theme or its unusual mechanics either. You overcome these issues very quickly. DruidenWalzer turns out to be a game well worth having if you enjoy other Kosmos 2-player games. Indeed, you may find it better than some.
This one won't sit around gathering dust, well recommended.
Druiden Walzer (Druid's Dance) is a fun and addictive 2-player card game, based on an entirely unique subject matter!
Here is how the game plays. The object of the game is to subvert two trees from your opponent. Each player chooses a cult, either being the Sun or the Moon. Each player has 4 tree tiles (each numbered 1-4) and a discard tile. The tree tiles are placed such that they are opposite the opposing cult's trees. Each player then places their three druids, one on each of their 4 trees. Each druid has a matching color that corresponds to the druid on the opposing cult (either black, purple or orange). Each player also has an identical deck of fairies that are numbered from 1-5. They are shuffled and 5 fairies are placed beneath each tree (4 face down, and top face up). The remaining cards form a draw deck and three cards comprimise the playing hand.
Each player takes a turn, which consists of one of the following actions: Play a card from hand, Move a druid, or discard the top card from a pile. When a card is played, it is placed on the top of a fairie pile under one of the trees. A Fairie ring is now placed on that tree, which makes the druid on that space immune to any attacks. The Fairie card tells you which direction (clockwise or counterclockwise) the like-numbered faries will 'dance', and the tree that it is played under will tell you how many spaces each farie will move. For example, a fairie with a value of 4 is placed under the #3 tree. The Fairie has a clockwise symbol on it and all face up fairies with a value of 4 (with the exception of the one just played) will now move clockwise three spaces. This can result in having an opponent's fairie move around from one of his trees to one of your own. Next is the combat phase. All druids with matching colors (except the one with the fairie ring) compare the value of the fairie card beneath them. The winner gets to place a cult sign on the loser's tree. When a tree has 6 markers it is subverted to the opponent's side.
The game ends when any two trees of the opponent are subverted.
This game is quite addictive, and even though there is a fair element of luck involved, there is quite a lot of planning and strategy too. At times it can be rather frantic as you try to protect one of your vulnerable trees, only to make another one of your stronger trees weaker. Gameplay is quick (30 min) and the artwork and the quality of the components is truly fantastic!
Played lots of German games? Starting to recognize common elements in them? Looking for something different? I guarantee it, you've never seen anything like Druidenwalzer.
Druidenwalzer - this is a play on words in German, implying both forest and dance, both elements appearing in the game - is yet another in Kosmos' successful two-player range. (Others include Lost Cities, the Settlers of Catan card game, Caesar & Cleopatra and Kahuna.) It is vaguely derivative of the classic game mancala in the way the playing area is set up and in the way that the fairy cards move, or 'dance', but even this relationship is tenuous.
Each player has four trees, which are laid out in a row in front of the player, and a discard tile; both discard tiles are placed roughly between opposing players' outermost tree tiles. The ten tiles together then form an approximation to a circle; this is the circle that the players' fairies will dance around. Fairies are represented by cards numbered from 1 (weakest) to 5 (strongest). As well as these fairies, each player has three druids in black, gold and purple. The druids guard a tree each (so that one tree per player is unoccupied at first). Every time a new fairy card is played, and the other fairies on the table have done their mysterious dance, like-coloured druids fight it out, and the tree with the weakest fairy takes a point of damage. When a tree gets six points of damage it is lost and out of the game; that player must then get by with just three trees. Lose another, and you lose the game.
The fairy's dance is simple to describe, but very difficult to visualize: when a fairy card is played onto a tree, all the fairies of the same strength on other trees move (the one just played stays where it is). The direction they move (clockwise or anticlockwise around the ring of ten tiles) is determined by a symbol on the fairy card played, and how many spots they all move (one to four) is determined by the number of spots on the tree the fairy was played onto. These moving cards may reveal other cards underneath, with different strengths. The battle then takes place between the three pairs of druids, except that the druid guarding the tree you just played the fairy card to doesn't participate (and nor does the corresponding opponent's druid).
It really does take a couple of plays of the game to appreciate the dynamics that this gives Druidenwalzer. It isn't always clear at all what the best move is, and sometimes you just have to make a guess. There is also often a need to take a point of damage to give your opponent damage, so it is easy to get a close game in Druidenwalzer.
Beautifully produced, and with a theme that is strangely apt, Druidenwalzer is an eclectic game; it borrows mechanisms from many other games, and intertwines them together in such a complex way that the resulting game becomes quite challenging, and probably inaccessible to some players. This is a game that will certainly not appeal to everyone, but for a game that is far off the beaten track, it just may be your number.
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.