English language edition
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Adventure in Dragonland! The dragons hide their treasure in the numerous volcanos, but their treasure is in danger - the volcanos will soon erupt! To save the treasure, the dragons have asked the dwarves, elves, humans, and magicians for help. Each group competes with the others to be the most successful at gathering treasure for the dragons.
Using strategy and cunning, each player moves his group of companions from volcano to volcano collecting treasure. All their movements are under the control of the tower of destiny, which sometimes arranges for a companion to reach his destination a bit too late....
When I saw this marvelous game on sale for such a great price, I just had to write my very first review. I absolutely love this game! I especially love playing it as a two-player game. I usually find it very hard to find good two-player games... especially ones with unique, interesting and fun mechanics. It has enough luck to keep my less strategic gaming partner (my mom) engaged enough to continue playing it, and still feel like she can win (even though superior strategy generally wins out). Dragon Land has a unique quality that makes you keep coming back for more, even if you lose pretty consistently (which is pretty important to me, so I can keep playing!). We will often play it three times in a row. I like the fact that the gems and eggs collected are kept hidden, so that you always feel you are doing well. It can be a let-down at the end if you find you weren't doing as well as you thought... but that is quickly forgotten when you are into the game the next time and again feel quite rich as you collect your treasures. In other words, it is totally enjoyable for everyone, up until the very end!
Dragon Land is an attractive, fun, and sometimes-tantalising game by Reiner Knizia (Lost Cities, Ra, Blue Moon and many many more). In Dragon Land players set out to collect the most sets of gems and Dragon eggs, and this journey is an enjoyable one. The rules of the game are simple and easy to learn, and provide for one of the best ‘roll a dice and move a piece’ games I have ever played.
One very pleasing element of Dragon Land is attractive and high quality components that come with the game. The tokens are printed well and made of thick card, the screens to hide your treasure behind are of the same quality, the player pieces are oddly shaped and made of wood, the game comes with very nice looking plastic gem stones, two special dice and a dice tower – A Dice Tower!
In Dragon Land players take turns moving their pieces around the board collecting gems, dragon eggs and magic tokens; player pieces are all of one shape and in each of three colours, red, blue, and green. The red pieces are allowed to pick up the rubies, the green pieces the emeralds and so on. What makes Dragon Land a clever roll and move game is the fact that there are two dice and three pieces, each dice can only move one piece, and this can lead to some interesting tactical decision- making.
At the end of a game of Dragon Land players will score points base on the gem sets they managed to collect, for every Gem or Dragon Egg the player will receive one point, if however they can make a set (one each of a Dragon Egg, a Ruby, an Emerald, and a Sapphire), they score ten points instead.
Knizia manages to inject some clever elements into this simple scoring mechanism as well; making the game that much more than a simple roll and move set collection game. If one of the player’s pieces ends the game without a magic ring (gained during the game like gem stones) then any gem stone of that piece’s colour are discarded before scoring, in addition any diamonds picked up during the game can be used as ‘wild’ gems – substituting for any missing ones when it comes to making sets for scoring. There are also magic tokens, which can assist pieces to move in various ways not usually allowed.
All in all Knizia’s alterations in the simple rules are easy to digest and add much to the game-play. This is a very simple game that is easy to learn, but one that, because of the twists here and there, offers considerable variation and is a game where good tactical play is discernable, and rewarded. This is a brilliant game for families, children can cope easily with the rules of the game and quickly learn to develop and implement strategies, plus there is enough of interest to engage the adult mind without making the experience boring or repetitive, plus there is enough luck to mean that while strategy is important it will not always, on its own, win the day. The game pieces are gorgeous and help to build a great ambience. Dragon Land is a clever and fun game, and one that is especially good for family play.
Dragons, dragons, dragons! They are in all kinds of games, nowadays making for a fun theme, and a theme for some to rant against. Along comes a game called Dragonland (Rio Grande or Ravensburger games, 2002 Reiner Knizia) that looks like a fun game about dragons aimed at children, it would appear.
And is the game for children? Well, certainly yes, but it makes a very fun, quick game for adults, especially for two players. Beautiful bits, nice artwork, and a dice tower make Dragonland a fun, fairly strategic game. Lets go over the rules together, shall we?
A board is set up in the middle of the table, with volcanoes scattered around on it. Each volcano has two numbers on it, one for eggs, and the other for jewels. Cardboard counter eggs are placed on the volcanoes according to the numbers, as well as random plastic jewels. There are four types of jewels: rubies (red), emeralds (blue), sapphires (green), and diamonds (white). A pile of cardboard discs are shuffled and placed face down, one on each volcano. Each player takes three wooden pieces of one particular shape, one each of green, blue, and red. They also receive a treasure vault shield to hide their gotten treasures behind. They also get three tokens that they place face-up in front of their vault. The dice tower is set up, and the game is ready to go! The oldest player goes first, and then play proceeds clockwise around the table.
On the initial round, each player moves a piece onto the board. (The board consists of paths of stones between the volcanoes, and there are three entrances onto the board) After that, on a turn, a player rolls two dice dropping them into the top of the dice tower, and looking at the results. (The dice faces are: Die 1 1,2,2,2,3,3 and Die 2 2,3,3,4,4,4) The player then moves two of their tokens on the board, one for each die rolled. They may move the amount of spaces shown on the die or lower. A token does not have to move at all. If the token lands in a volcano space, it reveals the hidden cardboard disc on that volcano. After moving, if a players tokens are in a volcano, the player may take treasure from that volcano. They may take either one egg (and the token, if it can be removed), one diamond, or all the gemstones that match the color of the token.
There are different tokens found throughout the volcanoes, as well as three that the player begins with. Each of these tokens have different functions:
- Change Destiny: This can be played after the dice are rolled, to reroll them.
- Boatman: Some volcanoes are connected by rivers. These tokens let a player move along the rivers during the movement phase.
- Extra Steps: Allow a player to move three more spaces.
- Magic Hand: Allows a token to take treasure twice on a turn.
- Kings Dragon: This token cannot be taken by a player. There are three of these dragons, one of each color. If a token is on the same volcano as the same color dragon, and they roll a 4, they can fly to any other volcano. If a player rolls a 4, they may also summon one of these Kings dragons to their current volcano.
- Ring: This token cannot be taken by a player. A player on this volcano, instead of taking treasure, may take a ring (a small plastic washer placed on the token).
- Small Dragon: A player may use this token to summon a Kings dragon, or to move to a volcano containing a Kings dragon.
When a player takes the last egg on the board, the game is over and points are tallied. Each player receives ten points for each set they have. A set is comprised of an egg, a red jewel, blue jewel, and green jewel. Diamonds are wild, and may be used to take the place of any colored jewel. A player only receives points for a color of jewels if their matching colored token has a ring, however! Any eggs or jewels that are not part of sets are worth only one point. The player with the most points is the winner!
Some comments on the game:
1). Components: The components in this game are absolutely incredible. The board is very well designed and is covered with beautiful artwork. The dice tower and player shields are very well designed, and have castle artwork, adding thematic flavor to the game. The egg tokens are small, but easy to spot on the board. The jewels look like small semi-clear colored beads, and really give off the indication that they are jewels. The other tokens are easy to see and distinguish. The tokens are especially interesting, as a player goes by the shape of their tokens (a cone, hourglass, tower, and midget) rather than the color. The rings fit snugly on the pieces, and during game play, everything looks really good together! Not to mention the fact that it all fits in a nice plastic insert that fits in a wonderfully illustrated, sturdy box. Tremendous quality of pieces here!
2). Rules: The rules are printed on eight pages, with many illustrations and examples. The format is excellent, and I found them very easy to read (as opposed to some game companies rules). I was able to teach the game in about 5 minutes, and everybody picked up on the basic strategies quickly. The rules also include a couple variants, as well as an interesting history of the Tower of Destiny (dice tower).
3). Dice Tower: Is this necessary to the game? Of course not, but it does add a lot to the game. I think games like Dragonland, Wallenstein, and others with dice towers are fine, fine games but the dice tower just adds to the overall fun factor. Even if I knew that Dragonland stunk and it doesnt I might still get it just for the dice tower.
4). Kids and Adults: The game may tend to have a very kiddish feel at first. Adults may find themselves wondering at just how basic the game is. For this, I note two things. One, a game with simple rules need not necessarily be a simple game. Two, there are several different strategies a player can take in this game more if there are fewer players.
5). Strategy: I still havent found the optimal strategy. Should I move one colored piece around the board, picking up as many of one color as a can, preventing the other players from completing sets? Should I get rings on all my players quickly (cant afford to not score for that color!) or get jewels first? How can I best use my tokens? These arent agonizing decisions, but it is quickly apparent that players can use different routes to win. The dice have some affect on a player, but because of the custom dice, luck is very minimal in the game, and movement of pieces is much more important.
6). Time and Amount of Players: The game moves along really quickly, and is a good 30-45 minute game, that doesnt wear the players out. The game is much more strategic with two, since when you play with four players, many jewels and eggs are picked up by the other players during their turns, with less recourse from you.
7). Fun Factor: The game is not a rip-roaring game of laughter and fun, but we did heartily enjoy it. As with many Knizia games, the theme is plastered on a mechanic. But, because of the dice tower and incredible artwork, it works!
So I recommend this game highly. Its one that works well with both children and adults, and really isnt solely for either age group. The wonderful pieces, the easy to learn rules, and the fun time the game provides makes this a worthy game that you should investigate to see if it should be in your collection!
Your emerald, ruby, and sapphire elves travel, via die rolls, down the paths linking 15 volcanoes where dragons' eggs, gems, and facedown tokens are randomly scattered. An elf that stops on a volcano reveals its token, and acquires available booty: (a) one egg and any removable token (later discarded for movement or acquisition privileges); (b) all its related gems; or (c) one diamond (representing any colored gem in scoring). Tokens that remain on the board are dragons on which arriving elves may fly to another volcano (a special delight for younger players), or rings used by incoming elves to activate their related gems. Only activated gems count in scoring. Play ends after all eggs have been collected. Score a point for each egg or gem collected, and bonuses for sets. Most points wins. We're egging all you gamers on to try this family-friendly Knizia gem.