Draconis Invasion

Game Overview: A deck building game in which you are protecting the kingdom by gathering an army to battle against an evil that has appeared at your borders.  Each player will battle the multiple invaders of Draconis by obtaining gold that is used to hire mighty warriors to defend the kingdom while avoiding terror cards that get in the way of being victorious.

Box Contents: An extremely well made box that goes beyond what you would normally see for most games on the market.  The box is so big in fact that 2/3 of the box isn’t used at all.  However, the designer, Jeff Lai, has confirmed that an expected expansion is coming in 2017 which will help fill up the box.

514 total cards are found within the box.  The art is simply amazing on the cards and will easily rival the art of any other game that is based in a fantasy world.

Even though the cards are well made, one issue we saw with all cards is that there is a slight bow to them.  However, as you play with the cards they seem to easily come out of this.

Included in the box are separators which allow you to easily organize the cards.

Clarity of Rules: Three rule books are provided in different languages (English, French, and German).  The manual is 26 pages long and is in a brochure format.  It does an outstanding job in explaining the rules and provides a lot of background information on the world that the game is based upon.

While the rules are easy to read with black text on the beige background, the text font is pretty small.  I found it easier to actually read the rules online using the PDF made available on the game’s website (https://www.draconisinvasion.com).  It allowed you really see up close the examples that are provided.

Game Play:  Game setup is similar to many other deck builder games.  There are three piles of cards which represent different values of gold which is what will be used to purchase cards and to play certain cards from your hand.

Each game will have seven sets of action cards that will have a certain gold cost.  When purchased, they go into your discard pile.  They may provide you with additional actions, additional gold, the ability to buy multiple cards, or to draw additional cards to your hand.  A few cards will also give you some abilities to interact with other players when it is their turn.

An additional seven sets of cards are also placed into play which are the defender cards.  These are cards that you want to have in your hand to battle the invaders of the kingdom.  These also have an associated gold cost to purchase them as well as two additional features that are very important to the game play.  They will have the damage that the card can do to the invaders and also the cost to actually use the card.  Defeating the invaders is the only way to earn the much needed victory points. 

Two sets of invader cards will start the game.  They are broken down into two different levels with one being easier to battle and to defeat but provide fewer victory points (one or two).  The others are much more powerful and will provide a higher value of victory points (three to eight).  Both card sets will have three invaders showing that you can choose to do battle with.

A set of campaign cards will also be available.  These are cards that will give you additional victory points based upon the invaders that you have defeated.  They may give you a single amount of victory points for defeating a certain type of invader or may require that you defeat two of the same invader to get those additional victory points.

The rest of the setup involves placing the deck of terror cards, which will come into play during the game.  In addition, a set of event cards which is based upon the number of players are put onto the table along with a singe terror die.

The terror die is used to move the game along.  As players take certain actions, they will be required to add a terror card to their deck.  These do nothing for you except to fill up your deck and act as a game timer.  Each time a terror card is discarded from you hand, it moves the terror die up for each card discarded.  Once it hits a six on the die, an event card is given to the next player to reveal.  These will typically affect the player(s) that has killed the most invaders and tries to prevent a run away leader problem.

Players will start with same 12 cards which include 7 wealth cards (worth ten gold each) and five Imperial Guard defender cards which provide 5 points of damage each and have no cost to use them.  In addition, each player is given two campaign cards.

Each turn, a player draws six cards into their hand and then use an A-BCDE-F turn system.  It should be noted that this is different from the actual rules that are provided in the game.  Each letter represents a single action that you can take.

A=Action-You may play a single action card.  If you have obtained action cards that provide additional actions, you can use them at this point.

For BCDE, you can only take one action of your choice per turn.

B=Buy-Buy either an action or defender card, if you have the gold to pay its cost.

C=Campaign-Draw two new campaign cards.

D=Defeat-Attempt to defeat an invader card.  If you do defeat an invader, you turn over the next one from the deck and there will be some action that you will need to perform.  They may reduce the number of cards on your next turn or may add terror cards to your deck.

E=Eliminate-Trash a non terror card from your hand.

F=Forward and is a final action that you can take every turn, no matter what other actions you have taken on your turn.  It allows you to place an unused gold card of any value from your hand back to the top of your deck.  This is a good strategy to use if you know you have some strong Defender cards coming up in your deck.

The game continues until one of two things happen.  If a player has defeated six Invaders or if the terror die has moved along where the final event card is drawn, the game ends immediately.  You then add up your victory points for the invaders that had been defeated along with any bonus points from the campaign cards you obtained.

Replay Ability: The game is just dripping with replay ability and the various combinations you can use.  It comes with fourteen types of action and defender cards with just seven of each being used during a single game.  The rules manual provides ten battle scenarios that you can choose from, which lists the action and defender cards to use.  Beyond that, black and white versions of the action and defender cards are provided which allows you to randomly select them.

Rules are provided on how to play a solo game with your final score determining if you were successful or not.

In addition, there is a team versus mode which allows to you play in a 2 v 2 or 2 v 2 v 2 format.

Appropriate Audience: The game suggests 14+.  There isn’t anything questionable with the art and the mechanics are easy enough to understand that someone as young as nine or ten years old should be able to play the game.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: With so many deck building games on the market, it is nice to see a game with a fresh take on this mechanic, which Draconis Invasion has done.

A few things have set it apart for us.  First are the multiple uses of gold.  You will need it to purchase the cards to add them to your deck initially.  However, you must ensure that you continue to have enough gold in your deck to then play the same defender cards when they come up. Don’t be surprised if your most powerful cards come into your hand and you can’t afford to pay for them.  Do you add in additional action cards which may allow you to draw more cards or give you money?  Do you add more gold cards, which sometimes can just clog up your deck?  Multiple strategies can be taken to accomplish what you are trying to do.

The other thing that we really liked was the terror cards and the terror die that acts as a timer in the game.  Each time a player discards a terror card (sometimes multiple cards in a single hand), the die keeps moving up and causing the events to occur and increasing the stress level in the game.  We can see how some fans of deck builders may not like the fact that you can’t really remove terror cards from your hand.  However, we think this makes the game unique and allows you to take a totally different strategy.  As the game progresses and if you feel you have the game in hand, you can start pushing to move the terror die along to end the game.

Along with the use of the terror cards, we like how you roll the terror die at the start of the game to set the starting threat level.  This sets the terror die further along than it would normally be and may provide terror cards right out of the gate to certain players.

Although a minor thing, with a box this big and not very much space being used in it, a couple of the game components just don’t work well.  Foam inserts included to fill in the open spaces in the box appear as if they are meant to sit in the slots upright, but are not wide enough to provide any real support and easily slide around in the box.  To ensure they are doing their job, you will need to stuff them in sideways.  The other thing are the creature cards and turn overview cards.  These cards are square instead of rectangular.  These do not fit in the box like the other cards and are too wide for the compartments.  You have to store them sideways in the box.  For now, this isn’t a problem.  As future expansions are released, it could take up precious space in the box.

Obtaining additional campaign cards is a very important step to winning the game and a strategy can be taken that you gain as many of these as possible.  Even though you skip your turn when you take two new campaigns, the extra victory points that you may earn or prevent another player from gaining them at games end are very valuable.  It might be beneficial to limit the number of campaigns that a player may hold at any given time.

The game would benefit from different events as sometimes you will see the same one multiple times in a single game since there are only four different types even though there are 24 total cards.  Most of these target the leader to help prevent a run away leader it would be nice to see different events happening throughout the game.

At times, it can be pretty hard to come by victory points, depending on what cards you are drawing into your hand.  Although the game is trying to set itself apart from other deck builders, we think seeing a few victory points on the cards available for purchase might be benefical to give the players other choices on their turn.

Add-ons/Other Releases:  As noted above, the game designer Jeff Lai, has indicated that an upcoming expansion will be coming in 2017.

          **A review copy was provided to us.