Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Dwarf King...

Recently I managed to get in a game of Dwarf King, a simple trick taking game by Bruno Faidutti.  Normally I find trick taking games fun, but not overly memorable, with one exception being Chronicle.  Dwarf King, on paper, seems to have nothing to take it from the benches of the merely ordinary to any pew closer to greatness, however, there are a few simple twists that make it a whole lot of fun.

Before I go any further I should note that I am usually a big fan of Faidutti games, where some might choose to see a chaos creating disequilibrium in the gameplay, I see a layer of of uncertainty that forces a player to play in the here and now, from the seat of the pants so to speak.  It pulls the game from the strategic to the tactical, and typically does so with oodles of theme - something I really appreciate.

I won’t gush so sycophantically about Faidutti games as to suggest that Dwarf King has much of a theme, it doesn’t.  However, the gameplay is certainly a huge amount of tactical fun.

As a trick taking game Dwarf King is remarkably simple, play a card, follow suit where possible, the highest card of the led suit wins the trick.  Nothing groundbreaking here, nothing that would cause the idle gamer to march on the local gallery and demand the game be added to the list of artistic works.  

However, there are twists.  In Dwarf King, each turn, players will flip a scoring tile which will basically provide the rules for how points are scored that turn.  It may be that the players who manage to collect Dwarves over the tricks that hand will score points, it may be the players who collect Goblins will lose points, it may be that players will score for collecting tricks with certain numbers in them, or lose points for other numbers... Every turn the method of scoring or maintaining points will change, and for the length of that turn players will be trying to shoe-horn their hand of cards into service in order to either gain, or prevent themselves from losing points.

There is a visceral tension as players try to balance losing the right cards to tricks that don’t matter and save cards for the tricks that count.  Sometimes players will be trying to give the trick to another player, sometimes to anyone but themselves, sometimes for themselves.  The twisting, turning, changing pressures of the points tiles make for a varied and fun game experience that doesn’t last too long.

Faidutti strikes again in my view, a very fun take on an age old genre of game.  Well played Faidutti, well played...


  1. This was a brilliant game.
    When you've played it a few times I'd love to read a comparison of Chronicle and Dwarf king -- from a 'fun-ness' and 'replayability' perspective; not from a 'this is similar and this is not' point-of-view.

  2. I'd have to play both again before being able to provide a better comparison - I enjoy both a lot - both are neat and funky little trick taking games - not sure which I prefer though! :D