CRITICAL HIT: "Dwarven Miner"

Dwarven Miner

Publisher: Rather Dashing Games

Designed by: Michael Richie

Art By:  Grant Wilson

Publisher's site:  Rather Dashing Games

"Dwarven Miner" is, as the publisher put it, an "intuitive two-tiered fantasy themed crafting table-top" game, and quite the apt description that is. The game is an interesting amalgamation of mining, crafting, and fulfilling orders. Actually, that accurately describes the three phases of play. It also holds two unique distinctions. First, it is the second Kickstarter project I have backed with "Dwarven" in the title. Second, it is the first game I have backed on Kickstarter that I have actually received, having picked it up from the guys at Rather Dashing Games when they made an appearance at the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio. Unlike Josh, I am more fond of simple rules, that allow for variation, but are not hard to understand. I am a firm believer in games that offer ease of play for a wide audience, and in that respect, "Dwarven Miner" delivers.

The unboxing, was not the lavish affair that most of my games receive. Instead, it was unboxed, in part, at the convention, so that I could get Michael and Grant to sign the box. Which lead to me holding the box for a long period with a sort of reverence usually reserved for  holy relics. The full unboxing came hours later. I was pleased to see that the rules book that so many games seem to have, was instead just a rules pamphlet, consisting of only 4 pages, with the bulk of the game being described on just two of those pages! Already, I was a happy camper.

Inside the box, you had the following items:

  • The game board
  • The Rule Manual
  • A Deck of 80 Item Cards
  • A Deck of 60 Resource Cards
  • A Deck of 42 Patron Cards
  • 4 Backpack Cards
  • 8 Vault Cards
  • 4 Colored Player pieces
  • 6 Plain White Dice
  • 1 Sheet of stickers. 

The hardest part of this game actually involves those last two items. Before you play your first game, you have to put stickers on the blank dice, based on a set of patterns that are indicated on the back of the rules manual. This allows for some slight variations on things, if someone sets up the dice wrong. But, it also opens up the options for some interesting variations! What if one were to buy 6 more blank dice, and create variations of the pattern? The mutability of this structure just leaves my mind pondering all kinds of new possibilities.

Each player receives one backpack card, and also is dealt three patron cards. Each patron card has a list of items they are looking for, an effect that is activated when their order is fulfilled, and a number of victory points. The victory points associated with a patron is relatively proportional to the difficulty of obtaining the items that they are looking for. Before play begins, players can trade in their initial patrons, for other patrons. 

Play is separated into 3 phases; mining, crafting, and fulfillment.  During the mining phase, you are given six dice to roll. Each one of these dice has a series of images corresponding to one of the resource cards. Each one may also have an orc, and a burglar. You can roll the die until you get the resources you need, unless the orc appears. When the orc is showing on one of the die, that die is set aside and can not be rerolled. The Burglar, on the other hand allows you to steal from other players. The more burglars that you roll, the more you can steal!

Once you are happy with your roll, you move on to the crafting phase. Using the resources obtained in the mining phase, you may wish to start crafting items. Each item has a "recipe" for what is needed to create it. Using the example from the rules manual, a "Tome of Wisdom" requires 2 "Arcane Crystals" 1 "Alchemist Powder" and 1 "Mithril". If you can not use any of the resources that you obtained, you can place them in your backpack or vault for later. Each backpack however, can only hold 4 resources, and 2 crafted items. When you are finished crafting, move on to the Fulfillment phase!

The fulfillment phase, is where you finally fill the patron's orders. IF you can not fill a patron's order, your turn ends. Place your items and resources in your backpack, and discard anything that can not fit. If you can fulfill a patron's order, turn in the crafted items, and place the patron face up in front of you. You immediately gain victory points as indicated on the card, and the ability described on the card takes effect. After that draw two new patron cards, and discard out of your hand down to three patrons.

And that is the basics of the game in a nutshell! Quick, easy and straightforward. Game play theoretically moves pretty quickly, and an entire game can be played in as little as about 20 minutes. The game is fun, fast, and palatable to a wide audience. It manages to take what is my least favorite part of an MMO, and make it actually enjoyable.  

Recomendation: 

This game is a game that is playable for a wide range of ages and backgrounds, and speaks to the geek in all of us. If you're looking for a sort of intermediate level game to take the next step in introducing your non-gaming friends to the wide world of gaming, this could easily fill that role. 

Final Thoughts: 

This is a simple game, with plenty of replay value. The art lends itself well to the subject matter, and helps to establish the feel of the game. The stickered dice are a nice idea, but I wonder how they will hold up over the course of time. Having the second set of stickers should however be enough to hold up until the inevitable expansion! (and sources tell me, it is coming)

Critical Hit Score: 4.5 out of 5 (Critical Hit!) 

 

The game is currently not available for sale, but as soon as I hear about it being made available to the general public, I'll let you know!