Dragonsgate College

DRAGONSGATE COLLEGE

From

NSKN Games

A review by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2-4 Players
  • 60-90 Minutes
  • 12+ Age

College?

Have you ever wondered how your warrior, mage or rogue, reached the point where they were ready for you to use as a hero in the latest RPG game? What do you mean no? You thought they woke up one morning and went “Oh I know I am going to be a wizard”? Then all of a sudden they knew magic. OH no, they had to attend adventurers college and learn how to be a hero. The most famous of these is Dragonsgate College. Only the brightest and best can earn the honour of graduating and being admitted to the halls of fame. You are taking on the role of the Head of House each of which has tradition oozing from its very pores. Will you go on to prove your House is the most prestigious of the year?

Give me the house cup.

Inside a copy of Dragonsgate College you will find a plethora of game pieces.

  • 1 Game board.
  • 4 Player Boards.
  • 50 Wizard Cards.
  • 4 turn Summary Reference Cards.
  • 21 (yes twenty one) 6 sided Dice.
  • 16 Wooden Marker Cubes (4 per player colour).
  • 16 Wooden Marker Discs (4 per player colour).
  • 1 Wooden 1st Player Marker.
  • 1 Wooden Turn Marker.
  • 12 Level Tiles.
  • 12 Mastery Tiles.*
  • 30 Career Tiles.
  • 44 Apprentice Tiles.
  • 30 Professor Tiles.
  • 36 Building Tiles.
  • 16 Imp Tokens.*
  • 36 Coin Tokens (in values of 1 and 5).

*the pre-production copy I received only has 6 mastery and 12 Imp tokens

Learning with style.

From the start you can see a lot of love has gone into the look and feel of Dragonsgate College. Pastel shades abound. The entire aesthetic is evocative of Oriental temples of lore and there also is a definite nod towards other famous hero schools (Hogwa*cough cough*). The board and rule book while being very busy in their structure are well laid out and I found them quite easy to follow.

Is it draughty in here?

A game of Dragonsgate College is primarily focused on dice drafting and utilization. The first round starts with as many as 8 dice and by the end game you are using as many as thirteen.

All too often in dice drafting style games you are very luck dependant on the rolls. Not so here. Not only do you have dice manipulation thanks to mischievous little imps who can help you magically flip the die over. You can utilize your houses ability to train wizards to gain even greater control over the force of gravity and how it affects dice. Of the starting Dice there will be one of each players colour and a number of neutral dice.

Once these are all rolled the fun can really begin. On your turn you can choose a die of your colour then perform an action based on the number rolled (If you have any imps at your disposal you can adjust the total). If none of your dice rolls appeal then why not draft one of your opponents colours? With no penalty why would you not? Well when using an opponents die they get to take a free action based on the number rolled effectively giving them a free turn that round.

Giving a free turn to an opponent is not as bad as it might seem at first. This is because your dice are still in the pool and when someone inevitably takes your die you get an extra go in return. Huh what? Your still not happy? OK in that case take a neutral die and use that instead, there happier now?

So getting more of your dice into the pool forcing opposing houses to give you free turns! Does that sound like a good idea? It does? Well then you are in luck. when a neutral die is put into the used dice section on the board. You can by using an unused die with a roll of 1 exchange a neutral dice for one from your reserve. This means on the next round there is more chance of gaining free turns. Your opponents might have the same idea though so watch out.

Getting an A grade.

So the dice are rolled you can see the results but what can you do with them? Well this is where Dragonsgate College gets more interesting. As already mentioned you can swap out a neutral die with on of your colour from the reserve. Your options are not limited there however you can,

  • Collect coins based on number rolled. Certain rolls allow you to collect coins when using this option.
  • Buy Prestige (victory points). Expensive way to move up the VP track (3 coins = 1 VP, 7 coins = 3 VP).
  • Recruit more apprentice adventurers. You only have space for 3 apprentices so choose wisely.
  • Recruit more professors. Old Chumley from potions getting a bit doddery? Replace him with young blood.
  • Build various buildings to gain more bonus’. There are three different building sizes each requiring a different cost. But providing several different bonus’.
  • Work your way through the Training Dungeon. No students were harmed in the attempt to claim the trophy for being first (and gaining VP)
  • Gain first player marker / turn order bonus. Going first gives you more choice, Simples.
  • Graduate an apprentice into the world by gaining them a career. Little Ron got offered a job? Excellent claim your rewards and enter his career badge onto your hall of fame. Never to be heard from again (dead probably due to bander-snatch poison bites).

You will play all of this out over five rounds at the end of which the house with the most prestige (player with most Victory Points) will win the title of the most prestigious of this long and illustrious history that is Dragonsgate College.

In front of the Headmaster.

So it is the end of the school year. All of the reports are in. Just how well did NSKN perform is it A+ or a could try harder? After several plays of Dragonsgate college I can honestly say I have enjoyed my stay in the school. I am not usually a big fan of the luck surrounding dice drafting. I am perfectly capable of messing up by myself I do not need bad luck to help me on the way. That being said the possibilities for mitigating bad rolls are handled well. I also liked the fact that using an opponents die had a balanced consequence (they get extra go. But so will you later). This is very much a non interactive playing game but at the same time it did not feel like multiplayer solitaire either. They play quickly felt intuitive and easy to follow. This is even with a game board that is seriously busy in its appearance. The only real problem on the board for me was the location of the dice requirement icons in the apprentice career section. They just felt a little distant and disconnected almost as if they were part of a different section. A couple of other minor niggles were. In the rulebook some of the sections were a little less clear than they possibly might have been (still understandable just possibly in need of some more clarification). The other main niggle was on the player board itself. When placing buildings it was not made clear if placing them over the student or professor icons stopped you from using them as such? This is something I hope the devs will clarify in the rulebook before final release. I also found set-up a little time consuming (better storage option would reduce this). Finally if your eyesight is not as sharp as it used to be you may also find that the imp tokens and the information on the apprentice and professor tokens is a little on the small side. This is something that could easily be rectified if the tokens were 10-15% larger. Nothing game-breaking just a little niggle for me personally. Enough of a reason to not buy? No definitely not. NSKN have produced a game that is enjoyable to play, which is engaging and interesting. But is just stopped short of being brilliant.

Summary.

PRO.

  • Lots of Dice.
  • Clever theme.
  • Lots of options for play.
  • Good luck mitigation.
  • Great artwork.
  • No sense of “Take That”

CON.

  • Tokens and information a bit on the small side.
  • Set-up a little fiddly.
  • Rulebook clarity in some areas.
  • Lack of player interaction might put off something

NSKN with Dragonsgate College end of term report final grade → B

Good progress made throughout the year. Shows lots of promise for the future. With a little more application could easily achieve an A grade”

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Dragonsgate College in order to write my preview. This in no way affected the review above.

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