25 June, 2015

Game Chef Review 5: Dragonfly by the Warden

Dragonfly
by The Warden (Todd Crapper)

Ingredients: 8 [Abandonment (3), Still (3), +1 Bonus: Dragonfly, +1 Bonus: Dream]
Every ingredient plays a part in this game, but I figure the name of the game is probably the least relevant of these. It feels more like surface gloss, and the author readily admits this. The concepts of holding in card games are common, and a holding/stillness mechanism makes sense in the game, the same applies to the concept of discarding cards or "abandoning" them. The hand of cards is called the "Dream Hand", but again that feels more like surface gloss than something integral to the game. Still, all of the ingredients are there, and that earns a high point count in my book.  

Theme: 9 [8 +1 bonus for it being a personal game dedicated to a loved one]
This was written for the author's wife, which is a different audience to the games he normally claims to design for. I love the way this game starts, dramatic and grandiose, it addresses a fictional reader in multiple person voice, drawing you into it's world. I also really like the fact that this game is addressed to a specific person, that's clever and beautiful.

Would I play this?: 7
I really want to play this because I feel like there is something about the game that I'm just not getting, and maybe a play through might get the concept to gel. I've played a few traditional card games, and I know that this sort of game always has regular players especially when they use a standard deck of cards. Easily accessible and familiar components make games more accessible to the wider audience, so it wouldn't be too hard to get players for it.

Completeness: 8
There feels like there is enough to play the game, all the procedures are there. But it would have scored even better if there were a few play examples. This might also give a better feeling of how the game plays without the actual need to play the game and find out whether the game is actually suitable for a player's sensibilities. But generally, the game looks as complete as anything you'd find folded up on a sheet in a deck of cards.

Innovation: 6 [4 +2 Bonus through the clever presentation of the game and the way it addresses the audience]
All of the mechanisms comprising this game feel like the kind of things that you'd find in a traditional card game. They might have been assembled in a different way, but none of the components feel particularly unusual or innovative. A general read of the game gives me the impression that it's marginally more strategic than "War" (where opposing players simply flip cards, high card wins, and the winner adds both cards to their deck), but it has the optional element of playing with the dream cards.

Output Quality: 7 [Language (3), Layout (3), Imagery (0) +1 bonus for an overall good package ]
I can't fault the language on this one, and the font is a nice atmospheric addition that feeds into the style of the game. I haven't offered any points for imagery, because there are no images in the game. But these are concise rules that don't really need images. On the whole it looks elegant.

Overall: 77% Distinction [24+18+7+14+6+7]
This game has me intrigued. If it had been presented in a dry fashion I probably wouldn't be impressed by it much, but I guess I'm a sucker for a well presented gimmick.
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