Have you ever wanted to fly into the great blue beyond in an airship that you cobbled together yourself…from various mismatched pieces? Of course you have! Silly question, I know.
Well for those of us without a hanger full of airship parts, you’re in luck. Today we are going to be looking at Dastardly Dirigibles, a new set collection card game from Fireside Games. So let’s set sail and see if Dastardly Dirigibles provides an enjoyable gaming experience.
Dastardly Dirigibles is a set collection card game that takes about 30-45 minutes to play. In our experience, Dastardly Dirigibles plays best with 2-3 players.
In Dastardly Dirigibles, players are trying to assemble the most valuable airship each round. On their turn, players will be drawing cards into their hand, playing cards onto their airship, or possibly using action cards. A player will earn points by creating their airship with as many cards with matching suits as possible. After the game’s three rounds are over, the player with the most points is the winner.
Dastardly Dirigibles is not an expensive game, so I didn’t expect it to have a vast amount of pricey components. The main feature of Dastardly Dirigibles is the deck of cards, which are printed on a nice, high gloss stock.
The cards themselves each feature one of 7 types of airship parts in 9 different suits. There are also 12 special cards that function as your standard action cards. The artwork is highly thematic and well thought out. One thing I really liked was how the edges of each airship part is identical to the rest. So even if you play two cards from different suits next to each other, the artwork will matchup perfectly.
Other than the airship cards, the only other component of note are the guide sheets. These foldable sheets act as a blueprint for players to play their cards onto. It was a nice addition to the game, as it’s most likely unnecessary. It would have been nice if it were made out of a heaver cardboard (I could see the sheets wearing over time), but probably not worth the price increase it would have required.
How to Play:
Games of Dastardly Dirigibles are played over the course of three rounds. Starting with the first player, turns will go in the standard clockwise manner.
On their turn, a player will:
1. Draw up to a hand of 5 cards.
2. Perform 3 actions. Options include:
- Play an airship or special card
- Discard a card
- Swap a card from your hand with one in the Emporium
- Clear out the Emporium and redraw all three cards
Most of those actions should be pretty self-explanatory. Where Dastardly Dirigibles gets interesting is with the first option. When someone plays a card onto their airship, then every other player MUST play a matching card from their hand onto their airship (if they have one). If they currently have a part in that spot, it’s discarded and replaced with the new card.
The round ends when a player has played all 7 parts to their airship. Players will score 2 points per card of their most numerous suit and 1 point for each wild card used. After a round is scored, all cards are discarded, the deck is reshuffled and a new round begins. At the end of the third round, the player with the most points is the winner.
Dastardly Dirigibles ended up surprising me in a few ways. The first of which was the interactive airship part mechanic. I really liked this one. Dastardly Dirigibles could have ended up being a multiplayer-solitare type of game where everyone is racing to build their airship first. But it’s the fact that when you play a part of one type, everyone else also has to as well, opens up the game to a world of possibilities.
For one, it can be used to really mess with your opponents. If you see your opponent focusing on one suit, you can make sure to play a part after they have in the hopes of forcing them to kick out a valuable card. That’s a great way try and hurt your fellow players. When I first sat down to play, I wondered why anyone would every take the discard action. Then I quickly realized it was to get a part out of your hand you didn’t want replacing on you wanted to keep.
Not only is the mechanic good for messing with your opponents, it can also help yourself. Since you can only hold 5 cards in your hand, smart players will look around and see what other players still need to play. Then, you can hold that part back and hope that your opponents will play the same one. In that case, you can piggy back off their action to get a free card play. This mechanic really opened up the game to a lot of tactical decisions for me.
The other thing that surprised me with Dastardly Dirigibles was the player scaling. After my first 2 player game, I assumed the game would be much better at the higher player counts. I figured you’d have more players going, so you’d get more free plays of cards from piggy backing off all their actions.
However in practice, this ended up not being the case. Since you draw at the START of your turn, not the end, most of the time I didn’t even have the cards to play still in my hand. So even when playing at 4-5, I usually just sat around when it wasn’t my turn. I found I still did around the same amount of piggy backing during a game.
It’s the reason I feel that the game plays better with 2-3 players. Not only is the downtime a bit much with 4-5 players, but the game tends to drag a little bit. 30 minutes is a good play time for Dastardly Dirigibles. After that, it can slowly start to wear out its welcome. It’s pretty good as a filler game, but once you start bumping up to the 45-60 minute mark, you’ll definitely be ready to move on. There just isn’t enough depth here to justify that long of a play time.
Moving on, one of the nice things about Dastardly Dirigibles is how accessible it is to new gamers. The rules are very easy to explain and the game has an almost rummy-like feel to it. You can easily play this with just about anyone, gamer and non-gamer alike.
Although the 9 suits does add a bit of randomness to the game, there were a few ways to help combat that. Being able to draw face up draw cards and the ability to wipe out the Emporium were both nice touches. There are even a few action cards that can help you dig out the part you really want.
Overall I enjoyed Dastardly Dirigibles. Its airship play mechanic was a great design choice that helped prevent the game from getting too stale too quickly. However, the player scaling isn’t the best, so I’d recommend saving this one for when you have only 2-3 players unless you are ok with downtime.
But the component quality in Dastardly Dirigibles as spot on, and I really enjoyed building my airship out of the various pieces. I will say that the game drove my anal-retentive nature a bit nuts that the parts don’t all match up, but that my own demon to battle.
If you are looking for a game that can be easily played with just about anyone then, check out Dastardly Dirigibles. It’s a nice little filler game that works well when you are looking for a bit of lighter fare.
If you’d like to pick up a copy of this airship building game, you can get it for about $15.
Final Score: 3 Stars – A fun little set collection game that will have you racing to build your airship both quickly and creatively.
• Clever airship mechanic works great
• Easy to learn rules
• Highly accessible mechanics open the game up to anyone
• The game takes too long at the higher player counts
• The luck of the draw may drive some players nuts waiting for the right part.