Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game.
Recently we reviewed a fantastic looking board game called Dragoon from Lay Waste Games. While the game wasn’t perfect, it was still pretty fun to play and provided a really high amount of player interaction.
Dragoon is once again back on Kickstarter with not only a reprint of the base game, but an expansion that includes two new roles for the game. So let’s take to the skies and see what new goodies this expansion brings.
The aptly named Dragoon: The Rogue and Barbarian expansion adds two new roles to the game. Want to take a guess as to what they are?
All joking aside, this new expansion takes Dragoon from a completely symmetric game, where everyone plays the same role of a dragon, into the asymmetrical realm by giving players something new to try out.
This Rogue is the most unique of the two new classes and plays quite differently from the dragons. The Rogue doesn’t have a cave, claim tokens, or even start on the board. The Rogue also doesn’t use the shared action cards from the base game.
Instead, the Rogue has a hand of 6 equipment cards, of which 4 can be active at any given time. The six equipment cards are:
Shovel: This lets the Rogue place a network of tunnels that can not only be used for fast travel, but also act as claim markers if placed on villages/cities (these can be shared with a dragon’s claim markers).
Pick Pocket: Used to rob other players
Grappling Hook: Allows the Rogue to move 2 spaces with an action
Poison the Well: A Rogue can normally steal from a village/city, earning the gold amount a dragon would get from destroying it. This allows the Rogue to destroy the village after robbing it.
Pawn Shop: Unequip other cards for a bonus action.
Poison Dagger: The Rogue automatically loses in combat unless they have the Dagger equipped, which allows them to fight as normal.
Finally, the Rogue only fights if an opponents ends their turn on their space. Their stealthy nature allows enemies to pass through the same space without combat.
The Barbarian seems to be a bit of a hybrid between the dragon and the rogue. The Barbarian starts off the map and can come in on any edge with his ship. He can also jump back on his ship and use it to travel to other edges of the map. This gives him a lot of flexibility with regards to his position on the board.
The other key difference is that he has his own deck of play cards. Many of them are similar to the dragon cards, yet the Barbarian cards all have a level requirement. Every gold piece earned by the Barbarian will give him a level (max level 5). If the Barbarian isn’t high enough level, he won’t be able to play some cards. Losing a combat resets the Barbarian back to level one.
Many of the Barbarian’s actions are identical to that of the dragon. Combat, movement, claiming villages, and tributes all work the same as the dragon roles. The Barbarian uniqueness really comes from him having his own deck of cards and his ability to leave the edges of the board and appear elsewhere.
Game Experience with the Expansion:
I am a huge fan of asymmetrical games. I really enjoy playing games like Trieste, Cry Havoc, and Vast: The Crystal Caverns. However one of the draw back of asymmetrical games is the learning curve, which at times can be rather steep (I’m looking at you Vast).
Yet the minds over at Lay Waste Games managed to give Dragoon an asymmetrical spin without dumping a completely new rule set on us. I think that’s important to know as the two new roles in Dragoon are both fun to play and also easy enough for a first timer to control (we tested).
Of the two new roles, I think the Rogue is my favorite. I love his unique approach to the game and his equipment gives him a lot of flexibility for his strategy. In one game, the other dragons were constantly stomping my tunnels, so I eventually gave up even bothering with them for a while and started burning down their cities (that showed ‘em!) with the poison the well equipment card. A clever use of the grappling hook allowed me to zip around the map, wreaking havoc in unexpected places.
With these two new roles, Dragoon now plays up to 6 players. While it’s nice the game goes that high for those that need it, I doubt I’d play it at that player count. I think the game would just take way too long (many games with 6 player games do). Dragoon has always shined with 3-4 players and I think that’s the perfect amount for the expansions. Two players can use the new roles and the other two can play the dragons. It has a nice balance between old and new.
Lay Waste Games has clearly put a lot of thought into The Rogue and Barbarian expansion, as the rule book helps to clarify card interaction for cards from the original game. At least twice in our first game we had questions arise that were conveniently answered in the rulebook.
Lay Waste Games did a great job with their first expansion for Dragoon. The pieces look just as amazing as the base game and the game play integrates rather nicely. I was a bit concerned if these two new asymmetrical roles would work OK with the normal dragons, but it turns out that my concerns were unfounded. Dragoon and the expansion work together as a great, cohesive unit. Scoring was tight in all our test games, with neither the dragons or the new classes having a clear advantage.
My only gripe about this new expansion as it doesn’t address my biggest issue with the base game, and that’s the combat system. I’m still not a fan of the simple randomness of it and the 6 gold swing. Other than that the Rogue and Barbarian expansion is a great example of adding content and variety to a base game, without increasing the complexity. I can play Dragoon with these new roles without feeling like I’m learning a whole new game, which is what I want from an expansion.
If you are interesting getting either the Dragoon base game or this new expansion, their Kickstarter campaign is going on right now and runs through Tuesday, April 11th. So head over today and check it out.
As always, we don’t post ratings for preview copies as the components and rules may change from the final game. Check back with us after the game is produced for a full review.