Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Lee Brodericks

Dragon Dawn Productions

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Boardgames are always good for learning new facts! Did you know that a dwarf’s legend lives on through on their contribution to society? I always thought that dwarves are selfish, stubborn confederates whose only aim is to treasure up as many valuables as possible. Ok, there’s the drinking and fighting too. But I have never thought about social feelings when thinking on a dwarf...

But that’s what the card game Dwarf tells us: forging, mining and fighting in a shifting mountain, and all of that to come to fame for the public welfare. A queer notion, isn’t it? But at least one thing confirms my vision of a dwarven empire: in the boardgame we are still set in a mine, digging for gold and encountering dragons and other ugly contemporaries. That at least we already know from a lot of fantasy book like The Lord of the Rings. Phew!


Click on image to enlarge!

Basically, Dwarf is an easy to learn worker placement game in which 9 cards are placed in a 3x3 grid on the table. These cards present the mines, and in their turns the players place their two workers on the cards to perform the action as given on the card. The aim is to collect various resources and to forge mighty items. But its not the sheer mass that counts. It’s the majority in each of the three main disciplines (steel, gold and items). The fourth resource, iron, is only a means to an end. It can be alloyed to steel on special cards (places), and it is also necessary for the one or other item. So you see that there is a lot of resource management in the game.

But what does that all have to do with social behaviour. Well, that’s the other side of the game. Some cards in the mines are no good cards. The dwarves have dug too deep, we know that, they always do. And mighty monsters like dragons and orc raiders have come to the mines. Of course these opponents are nasty and interfere with the mining plans of the dwarves. As a result, they prevent the dwarves from doing certain mining actions or steal the one or other resource from the players as long as they are not defeated. And this is where we find the social component. If such a monsters card is in play, a player can defeat it for the current round (and prevent the negative effect) by assigning one of his workers to that place. But of course that worker cannot go to another place in that turn, and so the player cannot mine or forge new items. So in a way a player makes a sacrifice for the public. Well, why he should do that? First of all, the defending player gets a medal. Ok, medals are nice to have, but in the game they break a tie. That’s quite useful for the final scoring (remember that’s the majority in each of the three disciplines steel, gold and items that counts for victory).


Click on image to enlarge!

Moreover medals can be used for making special actions much cheaper than the normal way. To understand that you must know that three piles of special actions are placed next to the mines. Normally it costs you both workers to use such a special action, but instead you can use just one worker with 4 medals. But even then it’s no good advice to defend a monster just for getting those medals. It’s more that you are often forced to defend for making a useful action for your second worker.

Now 9 different cards in the mines are still a pretty small variety. But of course the dwarves are mining further. Thus, two new cards are drawn each round and placed on top of the existing mining piles. The position for the new cards is indicated on each card. As a result the mines are changing continuously, and in this way more and more challenging cards come into play. Of course you cannot use the actions of mining cards that are covered by these new cards. On the other hand, it’s the only way to get rid of those monsters, because defeated monsters are not removed from play, but are only engaged for the current round.


Click on image to enlarge!

At the end of each round, when all workers have resolved their actions, the worker return to their owners and a new round begins. The game ends until one player crafts their fourth item or the mining pile with the new cards runs empty. And then, as mentioned, it’s the majority in each discipline that counts for the victory.

Dwarf turns out to be a fast game. Two new cards, added to the mines, each of the up to three players assigning their two workers to two cards, resolving the actions and taking back the two workers. That’s pretty simple and can be learned quickly. A problem for beginners are the symbols on each card that explain their effects. You get used to it (and their are also help cards for each player), but I must confess that I was a little bit confused at the beginning. The best you can do is starting a solo game, before playing with other players. Three different automatic opponents with increasing difficult level make it easy to really learn the game. Then you will also learn that it’s quite easy to play the game, but it is much harder to master it. Every turn you have to think twice about the possible actions of your opponent (may it a real player or the automatic opponent in the solo campaign). It’s not really chess, but it’s near the mark. Definitely not a game for every player, but if you are looking for a compact and quick worker placement game with an excellent solo mode, you should take a closer look at the game!

And if you want to play the game with more players (up to 5), you can even combine two boxes of Dwarf.

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