Vou don’t know the dwarves’ song? They want gold, always more gold. To do what ? Nothing, except the pleasure of owning it. Runedar’s gold mine is drying up, but the group of dwarves have stumbled upon an exceptional vein. They must have celebrated this discovery a little too much, it became known, and quickly the fortress of the dwarves was besieged by hordes of orcs who wanted their precious metal. The dwarves will have to defend their citadel, and flee through the mountain by digging a tunnel, obviously taking as much gold as possible.
When I saw the first info and the first visuals on the game, I was completely hyped: a tower defense cooperative with some deck building, and Doctor Knizia at the wand. Neither one nor two, on a whim I acquired the game in import to see what was hiding behind its walls. It comes out at the end of September in France distributed by Asmodee with the other games from Ludonova the Spanish publisher.
No board, it’s the box with its insert that serves as a besieged citadel, and we will place the orcs on the sides who will break into the dwarf bastion. In the middle of it the gold nuggets, and on the sides the various leather, metal and wood workshops, as well as the tunnel that will have to be excavated to access the exit and win the game.
If there’s only one way to win, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to losing. If there is no more gold in the citadel, or the empty orc deck, but also if we can no longer place trolls (and yes, in addition to the orcs, the troll friends join the party, we is never quiet).
Our dwarves don’t leave with nothing, we have a few tools and a few rudimentary weapons. Each dwarf starts with the same 12-card hand. He will never be able to have more than 12 in his deck, when you acquire a new card, you will have to remove a basic card, from the refined and hyper selective deck building.
Your cards are used for everything, first, you can play a card to move your dwarf one or two spaces, but you can also: with the Pickaxes extract scree, with the leather symbol, if you are in the workshop produce leather, wood to carpentry and metal at the forge. You can also fight, but that we will come back to soon.
These resources that we produce are placed directly on the offer to buy the cards. When all the required resources are gathered, we can take it in hand, limit of twelve cards obliges, it will be necessary to definitively destroy one of our starting cards, and not to do it lightly! Super tight deck building.
It is not uncommon for one to contribute a card that one will not take, it will benefit another dwarf. Another surprising fact, in a deck building in general we quickly buy cards to make our game more efficient, in The Siege Of Runedar, we will spend several turns before we can finally enrich our deck. This gives the thing a little winded, especially since the enemy is a little late, we see a troop arriving, but we are far from the furious horde depicted on the game box.
In our starting cards we have two Orc cards that cannot be purged. Each time we have an Orc card in hand, we must draw from a specific deck, which has the effect of placing an Orc on either side of the citadel (see photos), or even advancing all the orcs, who climb the wall. When they enter the central room, they take away a nugget of gold.
When you have drawn all the value 1 orc cards you have the value 2 cards etc. The more the game progresses and the more the horde intensifies, then will arrive siege engines like the watchtower, which, if it is not destroyed before your next turn, will see the irruption of Troll which it will be necessary to fight before you can continue digging, or catapults that destroy a market map.
This threat management system is very clever. At first, we are busy building our decks and the threat becomes more and more pressing, we can almost smell the foul breath of our enemies, but it takes a little time before we really feel attacked. Sometimes, we will have the two orc cards at the same time, a little wind of panic and chaos which suits this kind of game well. Other draws without orc will allow us to have some time to prepare.
To attack !
The problem is that the orcs, in addition to stealing our gold, prevent us from working in our workshops! Could you concentrate on the task with one or more orcs beside you? So we have to fight them and send them ad patres.
And that’s where the game has a “slight” problem, because dice are crap: for every Ax symbol on your cards, you roll a dice. The first time, uninformed, you go into battle with one die, which is like going in your underpants. Achievements really aren’t automatic, and to send an orc to join their ancestors requires two hits. In short, when you have understood this, you arm yourself accordingly and you go there by rolling three dice, four dice, five dice, which reduces your actions accordingly.
You roll your five dice screaming to cheer yourself up, and there comes the drama: four arrow icons and a key! you have spent all your cards for a zero result, because the crossbow does not work in melee. Shame !
If you think the crossbow is more effective, you climb to the top of a tower, thus watering an entire area, you arm your bolts, roll the five dice to make … 0 hits! there is only one crossbow symbol per die, frustration stat in sight.
Some could compare it to the excellent Ghost Stories, where successes at the dice are really complicated, but in Antoine Bauza’s game, we prepare our fights, we collect Tao tokens which catch up with our failures at the dice. When you know the game, you know that you don’t go into a fight unprepared, either in the form of a last stand that will see our expected defeat, or on the contrary a snatch victory that the we no longer hoped. Here it’s a waste of time, you can go there armed to the teeth and get your feet stuck in the carpet. It’s true, dwarves drink a lot but still…