Dragon Dodge is Live
Play time: 15-25 minute
Type: Tile / Card game
Mechanic: Grid movement / Hand management / Modular board
Designers: Jeff Fitzgerald and Maggie Stewart
Published: Hidden Creek Games (self published)
The flickering light of the candles gently illuminates the room. The soft scratching of quill against parchment. You have to finish these lessons, the time of testing draws near. All of your studies have lead up to this, the manipulation of the 5 elements. You rub your eyes, tired from the long day of studying. Settling back in your hard wooden chair, you hear the padding of stealthy feet in the hall. Looking down you see the head master’s familiar a stern fox named Cyrus. He looks up and says, “It’s time.”
Dragon Dodge is a spell casting game where you are in control of a team of fledgling wizards. Each team of two wizards can use element spells to manipulate the 5 elements and move around the arena from tile to tile. Wizards are also able to use tile spells to change the orientation of the arena itself. The goal is to move the two black dragons, who also inhabit the arena, in such a way as to tag the opposing wizards thus removing them from play. When you eliminate both opposing wizards you win!
To begin, shuffle both the Element and Tile Spell decks separately and deal one card from each deck to every player. Then randomly arrange the tiles face up to create the battle arena. There are four suggested tile layouts included but once you’re comfortable playing feel free to design your own! Place the wizards and dragons as shown in the diagram and you’re ready to play.
On your turn you’re going to do the following three things in order. First you can draw either two cards from the same deck or draw one card from each deck. You are able to look at the first card you pull before drawing the second. Next you want to play those cards or maybe you don’t. You may play as many cards as you want or none at all. By playing Element Spell Cards you are able to move your wizards or the dragons to adjacent tiles. There is no diagonal movement and you are unable to move over gaps. To move you must match the Elements Spell Cards to the elements on the tiles. If the tiles have matching elements facing each other then you need to play only one spell card to move. If they don’t match then you need to have an element spell card of each element along the path. When the dragons move they “destroy” the tiles they were on. What this means is you remove that tile from play and keep it in front of you.
Aside from playing the Element Spell Cards, wizards may also play Tile Spell Cards. The Tile Spells allow the wizards to change the arena itself. There are three types of Tile Spell, rotate tile, move tile and add tile. If you rotate a tile you may spin it 90°, 180° or 270° even if there is something on it. The move tile spell allows you to move a tile into any adjacent hole. The only catch is you must stay within the smallest rectangle enclosing the tiles in play.
This prevents a player from just moving a tile away from all the magical action. Any piece on the tile moves with it. Lastly you may add a tile. You have to have a captured tile to be able to play this card. If you do, the tile maybe placed into any hole in the arena, inside the smallest enclosing rectangle. The tile can be placed in any orientation.
Lastly you cannot have more then 6 cards in your hand when you end your turn. If you do discard down to six. One more thing, if you have three of the same card you can play them all together as a Wild card. So if you have three Fire Element Spell Cards you can play all three cards as any other element. The same holds true for the Tile Spell Cards as well.
You win when both of the other teams wizards have been eliminated from the arena. Pretty simple.
Dragon Dodge is an easy to learn yet fairly strategic card and tile game for 2-4 players ages 8 and up. More then just a simple set collection game, players are able to manipulate the tiles with the Tile Spell Cards changing the layout of the board. This ability to change the board increases the replayability of Dragon Dodge as each game will play out differently then the one before.
The low rules complexity means that you’re playing in minutes and having a good time, making Dragon Dodge not only a good family game but but also a good gateway game for your non-gamer friends. Even though it’s a light strategy game I feel like there’s enough there for a hardcore gamer to dig into as well. Recommended for ages 8+ Dragon Dodge is definitely a family friendly game. The box and rules art by Terrana Cliff really captures that playful, family/kids vibe.
As always, for me portability and quick game play are important and Dragon Dodge delivers on both counts. With game play averaging about 15-20 minutes you can get in a few games during your lunch break or a few games with the kids after dinner. Taking a family trip, throw Dragon Dodge in your bag to keep you busy during your downtime.
Intended for 2-4 players, I like this best as a two player game. When playing teams you are unable to share cards or tell your teammate what cards you have. I thought that would tend to throw off players individual strategies but but I didn’t really see that during game play. It does seem that the three player game is a little unbalanced though. In a three player match the single player will always have access to more cards as they are drawing twice per round, making it more likely to pick up the card you need.
As I mentioned earlier the art on the box and included in the rules is fun and expressive but the art on the tiles and cards is a little flat. My review is based on the prototype and I know that Maggie and Jeff over at Hidden Creek Games are talking with Terrana about upgrading the art for both the tiles and cards. Here’s a look at some of the new art design.
All and all I think Dragon Dodge is an interesting and fun little game that would be a welcome addition to any collection.