Dwar7s Fall Review

I think I must secretly be a Dwarf. At 175 cm tall, it’s hard to justify that statement, but I have a beard, I don’t mind being underground, I like large stone structures, I enjoy drinking ale and I listen to loud music. So, I’m going with it. This kinship I’ve just made up is going to be used to thinly explain why I find Dwarfs’ Fall from Vesuvius Media so appealing, at least the idea of it anyway.

Actually, there’s a few reasons why I backed Dwarfs’ Fall on Kickstarter and it wasn’t entirely based on my affinity for rock. The artwork is very whimsical and I love its cartoon style. It’s cute and serious at the same time. There is the other hefty reason that it is in fact a worker placement, so of course I gave it a looksee being the Euro-lover here are Collider Towers.

Dwarfs’ Fall is a card-placement, area control, worker placement game, which is a bit of a combination to try to meld. As a Dwarf king, your job is to prepare for Winter (for it is coming) by acquiring as many jewels, foods and supplies as possible. Now, being of the English persuasion, it took me a few minutes (ok, days) to realise that by “fall” the title refers to the season, not the decline of a race of halflings. For those of you who don’t live in a country that’s butchered the English language, they’re referring to Autumn although “Dwarfs’ Fall” does sound better I will admit, especially as Autumn in England is a wet and windy period where the weather is about as consistent in form as Donald Trump’s hair.

dwarf's fall worker placement board game review

Each player begins with a hand of cards which depict different areas of a kingdom, which the players define as they play. You score according to how big your kingdom is so it needs careful thought. Map cards show your castle, shops, mines and enemies which you are free to place wherever you wish – even in enemy kingdoms so it does pay to be a little…aggressive…in your thinking. Some cards can even be placed over the top of others so you really can shape the destiny of both your own and your opponents’ kingdoms. Everyone starts with the same nine cards so it’s all fair. At least to start with.

Buildings have worker placement spots on them and you can spend actions to place or move your dwarves to obtain gold and jewels. These in turn are used to pay for provisions at the shops to feed your clan. You can even enlist the help of Ogres to further ruin your enemies’ day and send them packing. It’s all very interactive and the ways you can interrupt your opponents is many and varied.

dwarf's fall worker placement board game review

There’s a lot to Dwarf’s Fall beyond just the cutsey-pie artwork – tactically it takes some thinking about as, whilst overriding your enemy’s cards with your own seems like fun (and it very much is), it may not be the best thing to do – which is where the size of the playing area comes into it. The bigger it is, the more players can spread out and do their own thing, taking away a big element of the game.

Because of this, I don’t think the game works at all with two players. Given the map size is 6x6 squares, which remains static regardless of player number, it can permit you to keep to yourself if you so wish even at four players. This is very much the sort of game you’ll enjoy if you get a kick out of just being a pain in the backside.

dwarf's fall worker placement board game review

Which leads me to the downside. I’ve played Dwarfs Fall a fair few times now and with player counts from two to four and I always have the same niggle – it’s a bit…flat. I feel this flatness stems from the lack of interaction, or from too much freedom.

A big part of the game is is the interaction between players so you’ll probably need to introduce a house rule to force a cosier arrangement. A forced kingdom size would certainly benefit the strategy a bit more as without one, there’s scope for every player to do their own thing and never interact, thus undermining the point of the entire game.

dwarf's fall worker placement board game review

Additionally, one of the scoring mechanisms is the size of your kingdom, which can be shared with other players. Given you'll almost never be able to build an individual kingdom that scores as many points as a shared one (both players score the same if they do share) then there's little point in keeping to yourself. Having said that, the moments when someone puts a Giant or a Dragon in your kingdom are a little vexing for the recipient, but since you can put your meeples in other kingdoms, it’s less of a problem and more of an inconvenience at worst. If you're all sharing then putting a Dragon or Giant down ruins it for you too, so there's little incentive to do it.

It's an interesting dichotomy, but in every game I've played and tried to stick to my own kingdom, I've lost by a good 10 or more points compared to the players that shared. That said, there is a good chance that I'm a bad player so take that statement with a mountain of salt.

dwarf's fall worker placement board game review

For a game with such a simple appearance, there is a lot of tactical depth to Dwarfs’ Fall and it’s worth a look, but I strongly recommend you house-rule the size of the board or you’ll find that, like nerds at the school disco, there’s not the interaction I feel the designers were hoping for. The expansions add additional mechanics add more tribes of Dwarfs to spice things up and there’s a nice sense of Tête-à-tête once the chip-weeing begins, which is very entertaining if you’re the vindictive type like me.

However, if you're a friendly gamer who sticks to themselves and doesn't like to poke the lion, you'll probably find that Dwarfs' Fall is an uninspiring, if functional game that does little to draw you back for another go.
Next PostNewer Post Previous PostOlder Post Home


Post a Comment