If there’s one thing dwarves like to do, it’s hoard things. This time it’s gems, but really it’s supplies. See, it’s fall and apparently it’s about to be winter (notice how I refrained from saying “Winter is Coming”).
Dwar7s Fall (or 7 Dwarfs Fall) is a worker placement game with area control and “take that” aspects built in. You are managing a group of dwarves struggling to prepare for the winter by stockpiling supplies. In order to purchase these supplies, you must mine gems and spend them at the General Store. The first player to fully stock up for the winter (complete 3 goals) wins.
So what’s the gameplay like?
Each turn, you can perform 3 actions (4 if your Castle is in play). On your turn, you can place Meeples, move your Meeples, or place Kingdom tiles. You can perform any of these actions multiple times as long as you have actions remaining. You can also play any Ogre cards you have gained for free (doesn’t count as an action).
Your objective is to mine enough gems to complete 3 goal cards, which triggers the end of the game. You also will be playing Kingdom tiles to build up your Kingdom and take areas away from opponents. At the end of the game, any tiles within your walls (if your Castle is present) count toward your Victory Point total.
There are also 5 different types of tiles that are activated or defeated by placing your Dwarf Meeples on them. Castle tiles allow you to “dig” other tiles and give you an additional action when present on the board.
You can even place your Meeples on other players’ Castles and use the “dig” ability there.
Mine tiles allow you to collect different types of gems:
Tavern tiles allow you to hire Ogres to do your dirty work for you:
General Store tiles allow you to trade in your gems for Trading Goals:
Monster tiles have a negative effect on tiles of the same kind within the walls of a Kingdom:
All of these tiles have walls on them, which denote the borders of everyone’s Kingdoms (if their Castles are in play).
These, of course, are the most basic actions available. You can compound and combine them differently each turn. You can stack tiles on top of other tiles (up to 3 high). You can dig tiles back out from under since-placed tiles. You can use Ogre cards to move your opponents’ Meeples. Basically almost anything you can think of to do is fair game.
If you place enough Meeples on a tile to activate it, you reap its reward and then your Meeples come back to you to be placed the next round. If you haven’t, you can build them up over several rounds and then activate the tile. There are many other tiny things to consider as well. For example, if you have a Meeple on a tile, no one can stack on top of it or move it without an Ogre card. If you place a monster in someone’s Kingdom and one of your Meeples on top of it, it becomes extremely hard to get rid of. These are just two examples, but as you can see, the game gets deeper the more you think about it and play it.
First off, let me say that I really like this game. The more that I play it and think about it, the more I get it. You see, it’s deceptively simple and yet I think it’ll hold up even after playing it a bunch.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it. That’s sounds weird, but it’s true. It took me a minute to understand the series of actions you could choose to perform each turn, but once I did, it opened the game to a lot more strategy.
It is a very sound worker-placement game, but also has a significant “take that” aspect to screw with other players. I like this part most of all, since it keeps everyone involved in the game throughout.
Everyone is building Kingdom tiles on the same board, which is constantly changing, so if you don’t pay attention you can get completely screwed out of what you were working towards pretty quickly. The game ends when someone completes 3 goals, but it is not necessarily just a race to complete goals, because if someone else has been concentrating on their Kingdom, you can still lose. So there is a good deal of balance to be maintained if you want to win, but also a number of strategies you can employ.
The artwork is really incredible and contributes greatly to the fun of the game. The Dwarf Meeples are great, and the cards are of good enough quality to last quite a long time. In fact there is a whole lot of game in this tiny box.
When I first received the game, I had trouble with the rulebook. There were a bunch of things that I had questions about. I was able to reason most of it out, and consult the forums for Others, but it was frustrating and from some of the comments online, I realized I was not alone.
But rest assured this has been fixed.
There is a new version of the rulebook that is well organized and covers every question that I had. It explains the concept and gameplay well and solves what was really the only issue I had with the game. It does this without managing to give away everything and makes the game become much deeper strategy-wise every time you play it.
“Oh, I never thought about doing that before. Guess I’ll know for next time.”
Each time will be different and perhaps more challenging and engaging, and that’s really cool. But it also makes it much more likely that a rookie player will lose to a veteran player most of the time or at least their first few games. This didn’t bother me so much, but might make it frustrating to some potential players.
This is a very interesting game with a lot of strategy built in. In fact, it has more and more strategy the more you play it. Which is awesome, but also may be the only problem that people will have with the game.
You see, this game has a rather interesting learning curve. You get the basics pretty early, but the deeper strategy stuff takes a few plays to get. If you are just starting out, you may not fully understand all of your options, and an experienced opponent can easily get the better of you. This can be a bit frustrating and may turn some potential fans off.
But…once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can have some really great and competitive games. So I guess the deep strategy is a double-edged sword. Overall, it’s a really fun game full of interesting choices and lots of twists and turns. There are a lot of opportunities to screw over your opponents and change the entire outcome of the game. There are multiple paths to victory, and once you find some people to play it regularly with, no game will be the same.
If you like a game that can be really light or really intense depending on the players and their moods, then this is the one for you.
Vesuvius Media sent us a copy of Dwar7s Fall in exchange for an honest review, so that’s what we provided.