Thanks to brick and mortar FLGS L’Autre Monde, we got to test out some demo products for this upcoming Collectible Card Game from Bushiroad! Releasing Aug 2017, Dragoborne is designed by Mike Elliot, which you might know from Dicemasters and Thunderstone Boardgames.
While I’m not really sure if there is still a need for yet another collectible card game, mechanics seem to be interesting! 😺 It’s somewhat a mix of Dice Masters, and Legend of the Five Rings. Each player has 3 forts that they’ll have to defend from attacks of their opponent’s creatures.
You roll the dice each turn and each player assigns their dice either to boost a creature (Dragocross) they control, which gives them a +1 to both attack and defense, or to assign it as a defender to a fort (Dragoshield). When a fort with an assigned die gets attacked, the value of the die becomes that fort’s defense value and will block all incoming attacks until its value is reduced to 0. After that, all other incoming attacks punch through. For Dragocrossing, you sometimes get bonuses if you chose the color specified on the card with an ability.
At the beginning of the game, each player assigns 2 cards from the top of his or her deck, which serves as the fort’s hit points. Each time a creature or effect deal damage to an undefended fort, the player being attacked gets to either add the top card placed in the fort to his hand or use a burst effect, which could have some effects such as dealing damage to creatures attacking, etc.
I haven’t even talked about how resources works in this game. In the demo, we only had 3 colors. During your turn, you get a Resource Phase, which allows you to draw the top card of your deck and decide if you want to put it into your hand to use later, or use it as resources. If you chose the latter, you rotate the card such that the card’s top is inverted. It has a small icon on the bottom so signify what color it produces when used (put sideways to show that it has been used) as resources. You will now be able to use this particular card as a resource besides the 3 other starting resources, but will no longer be able to use it elsewhere.
We’ve really just barely scratched the surface! Dragoborne is a deceptively small game, but could potentially have a lot going for it later on! More colors to come, so I guess the appropriate colored dice will also arrive on release day.
Just one thing I am not too keen on, coming from someone who has played Cardfight!! Vanguard and other products from Bushiroad, I was disappointed at the sub par artwork of this game. It seems rushed and too conventional compared to beautiful artworks they have in their other games.
Bushiroad, if you somehow end up reading this, my criticism is out of love! We wanted CFV so much, but it’s barely even available in the EU to really get into it. Now we’re having Dragoborne, but we were kind of expecting the same pedigree with regards to artwork, since the cards from CFV are so well painted, colorful, and oftentimes unusual.
The tropes here (at least in the demo) are also too conventional. You might be shooting for a western audience, but that doesn’t mean it has to be traditional medieval fantasy. Remember that you will also be competing against Magic:The Gathering, Pokémon, and Force of Will. In this day an age, aesthetics really matter. Even some non-collectible card games such as Ashes or the upcoming Legend of the Five Rings LCG has better artwork at this stage.
A CCG is a large investment, so if you want people to get into it, you better have a good reason for them to switch or play alongside. Mechanics alone isn’t enough anymore, unless it was a non-collectible, it might still pass.
Anime is also big here among the geek community so don’t be afraid to go all out, after all, this is probably your main audience. Just look at the success of Force of Will CCG. I’ve been saying this time and again, there is enough niche audience in the West! You might have heard reports that some localized Japanese games aren’t selling well in Europe, but that’s only because it’s either not readily available or did not have any marketing announcement nor campaign!
Again, some things might change as we only got a hold of the demo. Let’s see how this develops in August! I’ll let you know if we get fortunate again to test out some more. For more coffee time, Give me a like and follow my instagram @paniccoffee, twitter @realpaniccoffee, and facebook!