Dwarf card game 2020 cover

Dwarf (2020) card game review – portable strategy, worker placement game

Collect as many resources as you can to become the most famous, richest Dwarf in the mountain.

Dwarf card game 2020 cover
Release date
2020 June (Web printable 2017)
Gender
Strategy, Worker placement, Resource management
Players
1-3
Playtime
15-20 min.
Difficulty
Medium
Age
10+
Designer
Lee G. Broderick
Publisher
Dragon Dawn Productions
Our Score
7.6
Your rating2 Votes
7.4
7.6
Good smallgame
WHERE TO BUY

Get your little pick and move your a** into the mine, you little dwarf! Actually, you have never left the bottom of the majestic Mountain. You were born in it and mining is your life. Why should you go outside if there are creatures coming in, to claim what’s yours? This means that there is nothing better outside. So, Hobbit, you better protect & cherish your gold, steel, and all the treasures you have mined & forged!

Dwarf card game (2020) – is a strategy, worker placement & resource management game, that was originally released in 2017 as a web, free printable version. From June 2020, it has finally re-released as a card game available on retail stores. This is one of the games that I would expect to gain more attention, as in my opinion, this is a pretty good board game.

Please note that I am not associated or affiliated with the game publisher. The review produced is based on my personal impressions about the game.

Dward card game overview

There are 9 cards placed in a 3×3 grid face up, representing different mine locations, events & actions. Players place their workers onto these cards to do different actions, to collect resources & forge items. The goal of the game is to be the richest dwarf – players each count their steel, gold & items collected to decide the game-winner. The player who collected the most of any 2 resource categories is the winner.

Dwarf (2020) – components.
Image credit: Dragon Dawn Productions.

The round of the game is played in different three different phases:

  1. Mining phase. One player draws 2 cards from the Mountain deck. These cards are other mine locations. Each card has an indicated location to be placed in a 3×3 grid of the mine. Once a player places both cards 1 by one onto the Mine grid, then the players start the second phase.
  2. Action selection phase. Each player gets to place 2 workers onto any location he wants. Firstly, one player places its 1 worker, then another player places his first worker on the card that has no workers placed onto it. This continues until both players place 2 workers.
  3. Action resolution, players start implementing the actions based on the card effects their workers were placed on.

Now the cards or mine locations represent 5 different types of actions:

A) Mine. This is a card that provides you with resources, such as iron, steel & gold. These cards can also have swapping effects, such as submitting numerous units of iron to obtain fewer resources of steel, which is a more valuable resource at the end of the game.
B) Forge. This action allows players to forge an item. It usually requires numerous other resources to be submitted if you were to do the action. Once any player collects 4 items, the game ends immediately.
C) Defend. Defend the mine from various creatures, who have come to deprive you of your loot! Each defend card indicates an effect that is usually about all players losing a particular count of resources forever. If there are any defend cards in the mine without the workers placed onto them, the monster attacks treated as successful, and the resources must be removed as per card instructions. For every successful defend action, the player obtains 1 medal (also called glory).
D) Get help. This action allows you to take control of 2 additional workers that are at your disposal, allowing you to cover up to 4 mine locations (cards) during this round (turn) only.
E) Special actions, that include selling an item, mustering an army, or removed 1 mine card back to the Mountain deck, and reveal the card underneath it (only available for mine cards that have at least 1 underlying card beneath it). To implement a special action,s the player must place 2 workers onto the action or 1 worker + 4 medals that are obtained from successful defenses.

The action resolution phase is implemented based on action priorities. You do not need to remember which worker was placed the first, etc. Instead, the action priority is as follows: Get Help —> Defend —> Mine —> Forge. The special actions are resolved immediately before any actions.

That was a short overview of gameplay, for mode detailed game rules, you can check the official Dwarf card game rules.

Dwarf (2020) – game-play.
Image credit: Dragon Dawn Productions.

Review details

The review will be covered in the following structure:

  1. Fun
  2. Replay value
  3. Art & parts
  4. Game price

Feel free to read the review details, or just scroll down to the review summary.

Fun

These dwarfey mines are surprisingly interesting. There is a constant tension of prioritization, weighting the alternatives & thinking what your opponent is going to do, to counterplay it.

The mechanics are well crafted. Action prioritization feels really smooth and fun. Making any mistakes in action selection feels a bit punishing, as you may be denied of your actions.

I was surprised that each round is played not turn by turn. A player who implements a get help action, gives another player a starting player token, to indicate that a new player will have the first turn in the next round. This adds another layer of strategy & planning.

Furthermore, for a solo game, it is probably the best optimization of rules I have seen in quite a while. The solo mode is played against a dummy player. The goal is the same, collect more resources than the dummy player.

Drawing & placing mine cards not only indicate the card placement but also have indications where the dummy player will place its first worker. The dummy player always starts first. After 1st dummy worker is placed, you place your first worker as well. And based on the card you placed your worker another dummy worker is placed (it is important to note that all mine cards have such dummy placement indications).

Honestly, I have to say that the game feels like it was specifically designed to play it solo. This is super interesting. I have also must add that there are 3 different solo play levels. Basically, every difficulty level adds more variability to how dummy workers are placed, making your planning more sophisticated.

To sum up, the competitive game-play is certainly interesting, as there is lots of strategic variabilities, the mechanics feel smooth, it brings an unexpected intensity & a light competitive feel that derives from denying each other from useful actions.

“Shall I use the defend action or let myself & my opponent lose 1 gold? Hell yea. As long as he loses it as well, I am more than happy. Plus, I will get 1 more gold during the mining action”.

Dwarf (2020) – mine card – defend (action).
Image credit: Dragon Dawn Productions

Replay value

The replay value is certainly there. No matter if you play it alone or competitively. Those mine cards can always be randomized. There is no telling how many defend cards will cover your tabletop. At some points of the game, it might be a complete stillness allowing you to collect a bunch of resources, or just the opposite, where 5 or even more mine cards indicate attacks to steal your resources.

This creates a rather varying gameplay progression that adds to the replay value. Solo experience is even better, as there is a bunch of difficulty levels, so you will have a decent amount of replays before you even clear all the levels.

Finally, 2 game copies can be combined to form a custom, competitive game experience for up to 6 players.

At first, it looks a bit routine, from a mechanics point of view, as you place the workers, collect & exchange resources only. But combine that with 7 different options of actions, and this actually turns into a surprisingly interesting experience.

Art & parts

The art is very beautiful. It reminds me very much of Saboteur for some reason. Those little Hobbits that care all about materialism or denying others of their happiness!

I enjoy that his little grand game comes with a small box that is portable. Bring the game or even a few copies of it wherever you want, wherever you travel to have a fun time with others or just yourself.

The game is colorblind-friendly, however, it is language-dependent, as the cards have effect descriptions onto them.

The quality of the cards seems to be OK, no sleeves required. I would love to have more thematic tokens, such as items, steel & iron is represented by small wooden cubes instead. But I really enjoy wooden workers. They are such a quality production.

Price

The price of the game is average. It is still a little bit more expensive than other small card games. But that makes sense as in this little box hides an in-depth strategy board game. You can check the current game price down below in the review summary section.

Dwarf (2020) card game review – portable strategy, worker placement game
Final remark
The Dwarf card game has really crafty strategy elements, that make this small game box contain a large entertainment. I think that the game deserves a lot more recognition & popularity than it currently has. The solo mode is simply awesome. Super recommend the game to board game fans & or even beginner players.
Fun
8
Replay Value
7.4
Art & Parts
7.8
Price
7
Your rating2 Votes
7.4
Positives
Simply yet contains a good strategic depth
Super recommended to solo players
Small portable gamebox
Free printable game version available
Negatives
Game rules look a bit complex at first
Item tokens could be more theme related
7.6
Good smallgame
WHERE TO BUY

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