Amasser Dragons Review

Rob Kalajian review, tabletop 1 Comment

Amasser Dragons Review - CoverDesigners:  Shawn Wilson (II)
Publisher: Shawnsolo Games
Year: 2016
MSRP: $59.99
Players: 2-6
Play Time:  60-90 min
Ages: 13+
Rules Available Online: No
BGG:  Amasser Dragons

Prelude

I first saw Amasser Dragons on Shawnsolo’s Instagram feed and instantly fell in love with the late 80’s/early 90’s style fantasy artwork of the game. It’s a game about amassing as much gold as you possibly can while battling other dragons to see who can have the most loot by the end of the game. It features dragons, more dragons, dragon riders, gold, and dragons.

Do you like dragons? I sure hope so, because this game is full of ’em.

Play

Amasser Dragons Review - Green DragonAt first glance, Amasser Dragons look like it could be a much heavier game than it actually is. In fact, it’s fairly light, with only a couple of pages of rules and fairly simple movement/combat. During the game’s setup, each player is given a Dragon Tile at random. They then take the matching Dragon Card, standee, and a hand of 5 cards. The Dragon Tiles are then mixed in with a number of Terrain Tiles and laid out on the table in a grid. The total number of tiles and layout is determined by the number of players in the game. Then all the Encounter Tiles are shuffled and placed face down on all the enounter spaces on each tile until every tile is filled. Each player places their standee on the Lair spot on their Dragon Tile and play begins.

Every dragon in Amasser Dragons has its own set of attributes. The base stats are Attack, Speed, and Carry. Each dragon also has an Alignment, Breath Type, Enviornment, and a special ability it can use in play. The stats coincide with the following mechanics:

  • Attack: How many d6 are rolled during an encounter
  • Speed: How many spaces a dragon can move
  • Carry: How much gold a dragon can carry before having to return to its lair
  • Alignment: Mostly used to determine which Dragon Riders can ride the dragon
  • Breath Type: Each round a random Breath Type is determined by the roll of a die. Dragons with this type get a bonus d6 for encounters
  • Enviroment: Dragons get a bonus d6 for enounters on their own Terrain Tiles
  • Special Ability: An ability, usually available to use once per turn, unique to each dragon

Each turn a player draws 2 cards, plays as many as they want, then moves. Dragons can have up to three item cards equipped at a time (though may only have 1 Rider), but can also lay items down under their card to be swapped in and out at their lair. Other cards affect other dragons, encounters, etc… and can be played to your hearts content. When a dragon moves around the board it must check every Encounter Tile along the way, then may choose to attempt to overcome it or continue moving. Each player can have up to 2 encounters per turn. Encounter tiles can have an obstacle to overcome, or event text that resolves as soon as that tile is flipped. Obstacles have an Attack value and an amount of gold a dragon gets for overcoming it. Combat is as simple as a dragon rolling its Attack + bonuses against and Event Tiles Attack. If the dragon wins it gets the amount of gold, as long as it can hold it. If the dragon can’t hold the amount of gold, whatever excess gold is left for the taking on the board. If the dragon loses the encounter, nothing happens and the event stays face up. Dragons get a +2 bonus to gold for completing encounters, and can earn an extra +5 gold if they’ve completed every encounter on a single Terrain Tile.

Dragons can also battle other dragons, though it’s a straight 3d6 vs 3d6 die roll. No bonuses are taken into effect, and the only way to modify the dice is by playing a card that specifically says it can be used in a dragon battle. A winning dragon can pick one of the following outcomes:

  • Force the losing player to discard their end
  • Force the losing player to lose their next turn
  • Steal 5 gold from the losing player’s lair
  • Draw five cards

As the end of a player’s turn they must discard down to 5 cards.

Amasser Dragons ends when the last Encounter Tile is completed. The player with the most gold, counted from their lair and their carry, wins the game.

Pieces

As I stated in the introduction to this review, Amasser Dragons has some really excellent fantasy art that’s a throwback to the late 80’s/early 90’s. The dragons look like ones I had posters of hanging on my walls through middle/high school. The quality of the components if fairly high, the only exception being the gold tokens which are a bit flimsy and left a lot of “dust” when first punched. Other than that you’ve got huge, thick tiles for the dragon boards and location titles, sturdy encounter tiles, and cards of a quality you expect from a professional board game.

Amasser Dragons does have a few problems when it comes to overall graphic design. The font choice used in most of the games text is a bit hard to read. A better font, and some use of some iconography in place of commonly used text could make the game more accessible. At times things feel cluttered/overbusy, like the dragons’ cards used to display all a dragon’s information. While these issue don’t make the game unplayable, it does detract from things quite a bit.

Amasser Dragons Review - Example Cards

Perspective

Amasser Dragons is a pretty light game, something I really wasn’t expecting when first unpacking it. The box is pretty big and you get a lot of stuff in there. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I was able to teach the game to my 3 oldest children (age ranges 7 – 12) with no issue, and we were all able to play to our fullest without any rules bogging down play or being hard to understand. It’s a lot of fun flying your dragon to each location, powering then up with riders and different equipment so you can tackle bigger and bigger encounters. Fighting other dragons is also fun, but isn’t overly useful in the overall scheme of things. Focusing on defeating encounters and grabbing gold seems to be the best strategy.

My two biggest issues with the game are the design issues I spoke of above, and the length of time it takes to play the game. A 4-player game with 9 tiles (one of the recommended setups) ran pretty close to the 90 minute mark and starts to feel like the game drags a bit. Mostly this is due to a slow ramp up of dragon powers. By the end of the game things were a bit more exciting, but at that point you’re ready for the game to end.

I can’t say Amasser Dragons is a bad game by any means. In fact, it’s quite fun with it’s mix of awesome dragons, light humor, and simple game play. It just feels like it needs a little bit of polish/streamlining to really push it to the next level and really make it worth the $60 it costs. I’m hoping Shawnsolo Games gets the opportunity to do so.

A copy of Amasser Dragons was provided free for review by Shawnsolo Games

Father of 4. Husband to 1. Overall Geek. Rob is the owner of A Pawn’s Perspective. During the day he’s a Senior Web Developer for an ad agency in Avon, CT. In his free time…he has no free time. Games. Toys. Books. Scouting.
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  • Shawnsolo

    Rob, Thanks so much for the review. You did a great job. If you have any further comments or suggestions, please let me know. I am always open to feedback. As an indie game designer I want to take what I learn from this game to make it more enjoyable and to be able to use it in my next game title.

    After you play the game a few times it will speed up once you get a little more familiar with the cards and game play. I just hope you and your family had fun. That is really what I want to achieve.

    Thanks again, Shawnsolo