Dragon. Gold. Adventurers. Most players will get the idea for what this game is about from the start. They can’t completely know what to expect until they experience it.
Setting up and learning Drakon should take five minutes. It has one of the simplest setup and instructions for play amongst tile-laying games and indeed amongst any other games out there. Players start with their miniature avatar at a central tile. On their turn they may move their character or lay down a tile and draw a tile. The effects of the various tiles are presented on a reference card. That’s where the real challenge begins.
When a player moves their character onto a tile, many have a dramatic gameplay effect that is activated. Some involve moving a player or tile. Some tiles involve collecting gold while others steal gold or activate the eponymous “Drakon” dragon figure. As soon as one player collects 10 gold (hidden amount of coins), the game ends. If playing with an optional rule, the player must reach the exit to end the game.
- The icons on the tiles are functional and brightly colored, making them easy to see.
- The tiles are too small when playing with larger player counts. Beyond four players it gets crowded.
- Art on the tiles is detailed and evocative of a mysterious dungeon. However, most of this is reprinted from an earlier edition.
- The rulebook is clear and brief with additional variants presented.
- The player reference is concise and clear, greatly aiding play.
- Miniatures are repurposed from Descent, but the Drakon figure (the same as in previous editions) remains distinct.
- Instructions for play may take some getting use to, especially the draw a tile AFTER placing a tile rule.
- A programmatic mind for understanding loops and activating the same advantageous effects repeatedly is crucial. However, these effects play out slowly.
- Gameplay can be chaotic and somewhat random, depending on what tiles players have drawn. The short playtime, usually, forgives this, but games can go on for over 40 minutes easily if players are playing too defensively (moving back and forth between the same two rooms to activate effects that deny options).
- The overall strategy is subtle but very tactical. It’s almost impossible to craft a grand plan due to the nature of play. Staving off the winner collecting gold is very common.
- Play is usually fast and very antagonistic with multiple moments of others ganging up on the leader.
- The tone of the game stays light and the simplistic play provides MANY options. Back to back games will almost always play out very differently.
- Optional rules can add or change the game to players’ preferences, based on how much individual luck they want.
- Players prone to deep analysis of play can bog down the game.
- Depending on how aggressive players want to be, de facto player elimination can occur.
- Players may need to advocate for fast turns to make sure the game doesn’t turn into a slog.
Players looking for a heavy filler with lots of take-that and a wealth of decisions will find Drakon very enjoyable. It can replace a game like Carcassonne for those looking for something with a little more bite. Few other games with a programming element replicate its style due to the time-slowed nature of the programming.