Draconis Invasion Review | Is it the deck building game to rule all deck building games?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been playing quite a few games of Draconis Invasion.   This is a kickstarter project that has a lot of hype going into it.  Is it worth all the hype? Well lets get into it.

The game seems most like Dominion combined with maybe a bit of the combat mechanics of a game like Legendary.  It is a competitive game where you’re goal is to end the game with the most points, and like many Euro games, there are multiple conditions that can possibly trigger the ending of the game (none of which indicate who won).

I liked the parts of the game that felt like Dominion.  The random decks that give you a different gameplay experience each time.  The other similarity are cards like the wealth cards which help you buy better cards later force you to make a decision around how long you’ll spend building up your deck’s purchasing power vs pursuing points.  I also like the artwork as well as the hints towards a “lord of the rings” type story.

The game is very quick, with no one sitting too long before the game comes back to their turn again.  Its also quick to setup, and quick to tear down.  This makes the game a good “after a stressful day at work” type of game.

What I don’t think anyone cared for too much, is the combat mechanic.  There are monsters called “invaders” which ultimately are how you score points.  All combat cards are called “defenders”.  Most of the defender cards you purchase cost gold to purchase and then later gold to use.  This requirement to spend gold each time you attack means that many times you’ll spend all of your gold to purchase a powerful warrior, only to discard that same warrior later when you don’t simultaneously get enough gold to actually play the warrior.

The other aspect that can further aggravate the feeling of “useless hands” is the Terror card mechanics.  The longer you play, the more terror cards you tend to acquire, with no way to get rid of them.  These terror cards are your typical “blank” card that many deck building games have, but unlike other deck building games that give you an ability to “clean up” your deck, Draconis Invasion has an entire aspect of the game dedicated to using the Terror cards to help force the game to end.  I’m assuming this Terror card ending the game is to prevent people from turtling too long, but in our experience, the game could still drag out which is bad, but also having the players feel like the terror cards waste their turns, which is also bad.

These two aspects can combine to have turn after turn after turn of the players having nothing meaningful to do.  The turns go quick, which is pretty cool IMO, but there is very little reason for the players to interact with each other and often many reasons to just throw your hands away.

To wrap it up, I like a lot of the game, and I’d definitely play it again.  But I don’t really have high expectations out of the game.  Its easy to setup, its quick to play, but some of the glamour is gone.

Richard Mathis

Author

Richard Mathis

Richard Mathis is a software architect and CTO of CHSI Technologies. When he isn't imagining new ways to help insurance companies run their business, he's writing, gaming, or performing. You can follow his meanderings on twitter.

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