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Dragonmaster - Board Game Box Shot


| Published: 1981
16 4 3

Dragonmaster is a trick-taking card game based on an older game called Coup d'etat. Each player is given a supply of plastic gems, which represent points. Each player will get to be the dealer for five different hands, with slightly different goals for each hand. After all cards have been dealt out, the dealer decides which hand best suits his or her current cards, and the other players are penalized points (in the form of crystals) for taking certain tricks or cards. For instance, if "first" or "last" is called, then a player is penalized for taking the first or last tricks. All players will get a chance to be dealer for five hands, but other players can steal this opportunity by taking all of the tricks during certain hands. At the end, the biggest pile of gems wins the game.

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15 of 15 gamers found this helpful
“Great for anyone, gamers and non-gamers alike!”

Dragonmaster came out in 1981, and has beautiful artwork and gameplay that is simple, fast and fun.

Overview of components
In the box:
• Deck of 32 cards (8 cards in a suit)
• 4 score cards (to track how much the goal of a round is worth)
• Information card (explaining the rank of cards)
• Crystals (4 different colors to denote different values, used for points)
• Special cards (track what the “goal” is in the round)

The art on each of the cards is what most people who have played Dragonmaster will comment on first. This is typically why people enjoy playing the game as well. Each card has a unique and beautiful and stylistic drawing of a character, done by Bob Pepper, who was the artist for Dark Tower. It has a very vintage vibe, which makes sense, seeing as how it came out in 1981. Each card is slightly larger than the typical card size which really showcases the art. The only potential problem is the type of stock used for the cards makes them soft with constant use.

Every card in the 32 card deck is a “face” card, there are no numbered cards. The four suits are “Dragon Lords” “Nomads” “Druids” and “Warriors”. The order of card value is below:
• King
• Queen
• Prince (Princess)
• Wizard
• Duke
• Count
• Baron
• Fool
For the four different suits, each cards character is uniquely drawn and named, so playing the game is enjoyable just to see the different personalities that the artist put into each card character.

Overall, the art makes this game worth owning.

Overview of gameplay
Dragonmaster is a trick taking game that can be played with 3 or 4 players. There are three levels of gameplay: basic, advanced and expert.

During the Basic Game, each player is the Dragonmaster for five different “hands”, which are denoted by the Special cards. In each “hand” there is a different objective. The Dragonmaster chooses which “hand” to play-after he looks at his cards.

In each “hand” there are certain penalty cards or tricks. When a player takes a certain penalty card or trick, he must pay the Dragonmaster a specified amount of his crystals at the end of each hand. Thus, it is a great advantage to be the Dragonmaster-because he is the one who always gets more crystals.

Each player gets the chance to be Dragonmaster for five consecutive hands. Then, whoever has the most value of crystals, wins the game.

The Advanced game differs from the Basic Game with the addition of the Power Play rules. These new rules allow another player to overthrow the Dragonmaster during any hand and become the new Dragonmaster and win lots of crystals. In the Advanced Game, each player is not guaranteed to become Dragonmaster for 5 complete hands as in the Basic Game. To usurp the power of a Dragonmaster, a player must be dealt the special Dragon card. Whoever is dealt this card may attempt a Power Play to overthrow the present Dragonmaster.

The Expert Game differs from the Advanced Game with the addition of two very important rules: Lead Restrictions and the Secret Power Plays. The lead restrictions make it harder to make a Power Play when playing certain hands. The Secret Power Play Rules allow players to attempt a Power Play without using the Dragon Card. In order to prevent a Secret Power Play, the Dragonmaster must be sure that one player does not get all of the penalty cards. This usually means he has to take one of them himself.

Quick difference between “Hearts” and “Dragonmaster”
Most of the time, people will simply say “it’s hearts”, and forget about Dragonmaster. The style and mechanics of the game are very much like hearts, but the game is different, and more fun in a few ways:

The addition of the Dragonmaster and crystal component adds more strategy to the game. It forces a more aggressive style of play that is not seen in hearts.

The 5 special “hand” cards change what each round is, whereas in hearts, it’s always avoiding 1 suit type. This makes the rounds far more engaging, and not the same every time.

Power Plays
The power plays, coupled with the Dragonmaster scoring mechanic makes playing Dragonmaster much more interesting, because in hearts, a power play is rarely attempted because of the cost/benefit. In Dragonmaster, a power play is almost necessary to usurp the “dragonmaster” title from other players.

Who will enjoy this game
This game is great for anyone who likes card games; and why I like it particularly is that I can get non-gamers to play it. Often times a board game seems overwhelming or rules too complex. Dragonmaster is easy to explain, and easy to play. Anyone, no matter their experience with games, can grasp it and be good at it. I think it won’t scratch any “hardcore gamer” itch, but it’ll satisfy anyone who wants a good, strategic, casual game that is great.

Player Avatar
Guardian Angel
Baron / Baroness
Miniature Painter
21 of 34 gamers found this helpful
“Fantasy Hearts”

This game is basically the standard card game of Hearts.

There are four suits – Druids, Warriors, Nomads, and Lords – of cards and the each player takes a turn being the dealer. After dealing out the cards the dealer decides which of the 5 types of hands this one is going to be. Each of the 5 hands has a different objective (ie – different sorts of cards you want/don’t want to take), and each hand is played by the dealer only once. After a dealer has played all 5 hands, the role of dealer passes to the next player, and so on around the table.

Winning a hand gets you points (small plastic gemstones included in the game). At game’s end most points wins.

The cards are beautifully drawn and are very good for use in any fantasy rpg you might play.

As a game, you could just play Hearts. It’s the art on the cards that makes this game worth having.

I have good memories of playing this game, but don’t feel the need to play, or own it again.


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