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Only The Sharpest Minds And Teeth Survive in “Dragonbond: Lords of Vaala”

5 Minute Read
Aug 2 2021
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In Chess, they say you need to plan your turns at least 3 turns in advance. That’s nothing compared to this game.

Dragonbond: Lords of Vaala is a spectacle, for sure. Don’t get me wrong, it’s more than just a spectacle, but it is one, nonetheless. Draco Studios didn’t have to go so hard on these minis and make them so massive and cool, but they did. And for that, I thank them.

As of right now, the Kickstarter campaign is live, which you can find here.

Gameplay

Dragonbond: Lords of Vaala is a competitive strategy combat game with area control and action planning mechanics. The goal of each player is to earn 10 Power, which is earned mostly through controlling territory and combat. But the game has, in my mind, two main systems which separate it from games of the game genre.

One of the main features of Lords of Vaala is the action planning system that kicks off at the beginning of each round. The Action Stack is started with a facedown Event Card, which will trigger some random event when resolved. Then each player goes around the table, one at a time playing one of their Action Cards facedown on the Action Stack. Each Action Card has icons set in the corner which dictate which actions that player will perform when that card is resolved.

Each player board comes with icons to denote what each icon represents, and how that action is performed.

Once each player has passed on playing any more cards, or they have run out, another Event Card is placed on top, then the pile is flipped over. When a card is revealed, it is resolved, and either the event or actions are taken.

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There are a variety of actions, things like move, collect power, reinforce are all different actions players can take. But, similar to the mechanics mentioned previously, there are two that stand out from the rest (we haven’t gotten to the second mechanic yet. Hold your dragons.).

The Upgrade action allows the human players (as opposed to the Dragon players. Not the AI players for solo play, which is also an option) to select an Upgrade card to enhance their army’s units. Each Upgrade card adds special abilities to one type of the human’s army: Infantry, Cavalry, and Ranged. These upgrades are a great way to specialize how a player wants their army to operate.

The second standout action is the Vaala action. When any player takes the Vaala action, they can either draw a Vaala card or play one. The Vaala cards are powerful one-time-use spells that can provide an opportune moment for once the planning phase has already been completed.

This brings us to the aforementioned second big mechanic in Dragonbond: Lords of Vaala, which is the titular Dragonbond. At the end of each action card resolution, if there is a human General in the same region as a Dragon, they can attempt to forge a Dragonbond. The players roll a combat die, and then both players can exhaust their Power tokens to reroll either die as many times as they’d like. Once settled, if either die shows a hit, the General and Dragon are now Dragonbonded, which means they are locked into an alliance for the remainder of the game.

Both players gain unique buffs depending on the bond, all their units are considered allied, and most importantly, they now need 15 Power in order to win, as opposed to the typical 10 for an unbonded player. Once any player has the requisite amount of Power they immediately win!

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Review

Dragonbond: Lords of Vaala hit so many of the right spots for me. I love that you can play as the monstrous dragons and they aren’t just bosses to fight. Plus, each character (human or dragon) has unique cards which separate them from each other player, providing a great addition of some asymmetrical gameplay, which I love. Top it off with some character customization in the form of Upgrade cards and you got yourself a winner.

But the main thing that really makes Lords of Vaala great for me is that it’s so streamlined. The rules, the gameplay, and the strategies to employ are really easy to understand, but the mechanics driving them allow for a hugely strategic experience. This is a game that you’re going to want to play over and over to try different tactics or better fine-tune the ones you used previously.

If you like grand strategy combat games like Rising Sun, Blood Rage, or Kemet, you’ll be a big fan of Dragonbond: Lords of Vaala.

Dragonbond: Lords of Vaala – Available on Kickstarter Now

A game of power based in the universe of Dragonbond. Raid as a dragon or raise armies as a general, destroy your enemies, and cast mighty spells, all to collect power. Once you have collected 10 power tokens, you win the game immediately.

Dragons and generals play entirely different in strategy and actions. And all characters in the game have a unique deck of spells. In a world without gods, only you may claim your destiny.

  • 1 – 4 Players
  • 60 Minutes
  • Ages 12+

Thanks for watching!

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