Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game.This post was a paid preview, you can find out more information here.
In Dwarven Smithy, players take the role of blacksmithing dwarves trying to craft the most expensive and prestigious items. All, of course, in the pursuit of making the most gold.
Each dwarf is limited to a certain number of cards in each section and must manage how resources and goods are stored. It plays 2-4 players and has a variable setup for a starter or full game. The starter game takes about 60 minutes while the full game plays in about 90.
In Dwarven Smithy you attempt to craft the most valuable weapons, armor and other tools to earn gold. However, your forge isn’t some sprawling place where you can store infinite goods. You must manage your space to succeed as you are limited to the number of items you can place in your workshop, the number of items you can take to market, as well as the number of tools and apprentices you can have.
On your turn you can take seven different actions. These actions can be done in any order and repeated any number of times:
- Play a card from your hand to your workshop or market
- Move cards between your workshop and market
- Craft a guild card
- Discard a guild card from the market
- Sell a resource from the market to the warehouse
- Buy a card from another player’s market
- Buy a card from the warehouse
In general, you are trying to gather the right resources to complete guild cards. Guild cards come in a few different varieties:
- Tools that can be kept to improve your efficiency on future crafting or sold for gold.
- Apprentices which can be hired to give you a special ability.
- Item cards that earn you gold.
- King’s Items that are crafted face-down and earn you gold at the end of the game.
The key here is that the metal and gem resources have to be refined to be used to craft a guild card. At the start of the turn, you refine anything in your workshop that is unrefined. So you have to plan ahead to make sure you have the right material at the right time. Once you decide to craft a card, it (and the materials that are used to craft it) still count against the limit of cards you can have in the workshop until your next turn.
After you have completed taking actions you may draw up to four cards, choosing as you wish from the resource or guild deck. However, you have a maximum hand size of six. If you end your action phase with 4 cards still in hand, you will only be able to draw two more.
This is where the market can be extremely valuable. Items placed in your market can be bought by other players, yet they give you another spot to store resources so you can draw back up to hand size. Items that start your turn in the market can be sold to the warehouse, albeit at a discounted price.
The game ends when either deck runs out or a player has completed four King’s Item cards. Every player, other than the player who triggered the end of the game, gets an additional turn and the game ends. The player with the most gold is the winner.
On the surface Dwarven Smithy appears to be a pretty straightforward resource gathering game. You get goods to build items in exchange for points. The hook here is the limited amount of space that you have to do it all. Not only are you managing your hand but also your workshop, tools, apprentices and market.
Dwarven Smithy rewards good planning. Things left in the market won’t become refined. If you have cards you have to swap between your workshop and your market multiple times, you won’t necessarily being running on peak efficiency. Getting tools and apprentices will give you additional benefits throughout the game. You can only have two tools throughout the game and they can never be replaced. Building tools early can be important as you will get a discount on crafting later in the game. However you will lose some flexibility if you draw better tools later on.
It is also important to know when and what to place in the market. At times you use the market as an extension of your hand. Again, you only get to draw up to six cards, so you are incentivized to play four cards every turn, even if that is into the market. At times you will hope that no one buys from your market because you have a plan for that resource, but you just don’t have room in the workshop for it. At other times you’ll hope players do buy from you because then you will get much more value from it than selling it to the workshop.
The starter game and the full game play without any rule changes. The guild deck for the full game is larger and the King’s Item in those are a bit harder to craft. This makes for a longer game but allows a bit more room for strategies to play out
Dwarven Smithy is a good game for those who like hand and resource management. The limited space aspect adds a bit of a unique twist to the traditional formula. The artwork looks great and the different types of tools and apprentices give a bit of a long-term strategy to the game as well.
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. This post was a paid preview, you can find out more information here.