Fist of Dragonstones:
Fist of Dragonstones is a quick, fun, gorgeous, and often tense bidding game by Bruno Faidutti (Citadels, Warrior Knights, and many more) and Michael Schacht (China, Coloretto, Draco & Co and many more). This is yet another stunning production from Days of Wonder, with components that really make the game a pleasure to own and play. If I’m ever asked to show off one or two games from my collection, I almost always pick this game or Shadows over Camelot, both are gorgeous games where the high quality and attractive nature of the components really make you want to open them up and play them.
Again the artist Julien Delval (Shadows over Camelot, Citadels and many more) has done a brilliant job with the card artwork, they are absolutely stunning, and do much to invoke the theme and atmosphere of the game.
In Fist of Dragonstones players are competing to be the first to obtain three points; points can be bought with Dragonstones. Every turn players will blind bid on each of the characters in the character deck, the player who bid the highest gains the use of that characters power, some of these characters allow you to get Dragonstones, others allow you to buy points with Dragonstones, additional characters allow you to affect the other players, bids or characters.
Three points doesn’t sound like many, but when the game is played by a group of people who know the character abilities well the third point can be extremely difficult to get. This game is one best played by people who are familiar with the processes and powers, by people who know the value of the various characters given the in-game situation. If played by such a group of people Fist of Dragonstones can be one of the most exciting and tense games available for a group of six to play.
The blind bidding system has been much maligned by various individuals for being either too repetitive or too unforgiving. People who claim that the bidding process is repetitive could just as well claim that chess is dull because all a player does is ‘move pieces’, the bidding is not the game, it is the vehicle through which the game can be played – and as the vehicle does a brilliant job. People who believe that the blind bidding is too unforgiving are not wrong, the fact that everyone must pay all that they bid means that every bid you make must be well thought out, quite deliberate, and decisive.
Fist of Dragonstones is a clever game filled with much bluff, second-guessing, intelligent and controlled use of player resources, and tension. In many ways it feels like a less luck based game of poker, but designed for people who love great Fantasy books like Lord of the Rings or the many tales of Elric of Melnibone.
Faidutti and Schacht have done a brilliant job in their careful designing of this game, it is gorgeous, fun, and involves a level of nervous tension every bid that other games have difficulty inspiring only once or twice in their entirety. Fist of Dragonstones is a great game that is quick to play and always filled with tension and fun.