Dragonwood Board Game Review
I love how board games are able to teach kids so much without it ever feeling like ‘school’. Of all the games we have played, Dragonwood is one of the best at this. It’s FULL of learning opportunities, but presents them in a game that is fun for kids from kindergarten age up through adults. Keeping reading for all the details in this Dragonwood board game review.
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Overview of Dragonwood
Dragonwood challenges players to capture as many creatures as they can. The game combines cards and dice in a unique, fun way that asks kids and adults alike to think strategically. Each turn players decide if they should attempt to capture a monster or build up their hand for future capture attempts. Reading is helpful but not required for this one. This makes Dragonwood accessible to kids at a younger age. There are tons of details on this game available on Gamewright’s Dragonwood page.
- Manufacturer: Gamewright
- Manufacturer Age Recommendation: 8+
- Number of Players: 2-4
- Game Length: 20 mins
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Gameplay of Dragonwood Board Game
Gameplay is one of the most important aspects for us when it comes to board games and Dragonwood does not disappoint. Two simple options for each turn (draw a card or attempt a capture) keep the game moving quickly. For us the game typically lasts between fifteen and thirty minutes. For our family this game length is about perfect. We got the most play of this game when the kids we seven and eight years old, and games that lasted much beyond thirty minutes were often a strain on attention spans. The game length plus quick turns make for great gameplay.
Learning Opportunities in Dragonwood
Dragonwood is cholked FULL of learning opportunities. From a ‘school’ skills perspective Dragonwood teaches addition, subtraction, mental math, basics of multiplication, beginning statistics, and also some reading comprehension (if kids are old enough to read, reading ability is not required).
Kids work on addition/subtraction when adding up their dice rolls to see if they captured the creatures as well as at game end when determining who the winner is. Statistics/odds and multiplication basics are brought into play when kids evaluate which creature to try and capture and how many cards they need to use for a capture attempt. Its really fun to watch kids start to figure this out. The first time our son tried to capture a dragon and only had two dice (total possible 8, total needed to capture 10!) was such a great lightbulb moment to see. And no, I didn’t force him to go through with the turn, though my competitive side wanted to!
Dragonwood also instills some great soft skills in kids. Delayed gratification is my favorite soft skill that is featured. If kids want to capture the high point creatures and have a better chance to win the game, they have to be willing to build up a hand of cards to have the power to capture it. Its fascinating to watch kids battle against their want to attempt a capture every turn vs. their need to gain cards so they can create more powerful capture attempts.
The other unique soft skill kids can start to grasp playing Dragonwood is the importance of investing in themselves. Even with a handful of cards, it can still be difficult to capture the dragons without capturing some enhancement cards along the way. Most kids I’ve played the game with would much rather capture creatures that give them points at the end of the game rather than a card that just helps them possible capture future cards, but after a few playthroughs they will see that those enhancements can help a lot toward the end of the game when trying to capture bigger creatures.
What We Love About Dragonwood
There is a lot to love in Dragonwood, the gameplay is fun for anyone capable of grasping the rules. We recently played a game with four generations of our family involved (my son, me, my mom, and my grandma!). Everyone involved had a blast and we all come from very different places in gaming experience. Another thing about Dragonwood is that it is a great stepping stone to card games played by adults like gin as kids learn how to group their cards to give them the best possibility of sets and runs.
I also really appreciated the attention to detail in this game. The different strike/stomp/scream values are thought out and will make you laugh if you pay attention. For instance ist’s a lot harder to capture the blog via striking it vs. screaming at it, and its the opposite for the ghoul where it’s harder to capture via screaming. The medieval theme is also executed really well, if you like this style of game, check out our best medieval themed board games.
What We’d Change About Dragonwood
The one thing I would like to change about Dragonwood is I wish an expansion would add more enhancement cards/harder creatures. Its always enjoyable when you get a few enhancement cards and start to feel like you can capture any creature, but a lot of games by the time you get yourself amped up, the game is almost over. I think the current game’s balance is great, and love how fast it plays so I wouldn’t want to mess with that. But having some additional cards to add in after a handful of play through (similar to Mole Rats in Space) would be an awesome add. I think this would also help older gamers get more out of the game.
Final Thoughts on Dragonwood Board Game
You’ve probably guessed our family are big fans of Dragonwood, but how does it stack up to other great games? A reminder of our rating scale:
- 1 die = Skip this game, not worth your time!
- 2 dice = May be fun for a few plays, but we think there are better options out there.
- 3 dice = Great game that we really enjoyed and played a lot.
- 4 dice = One of our favorites for this age range, definitely check it out!
- 5 dice = In our opinion this is the best game for this age range, you have to try it!
4.5 dice! This is a must own in our opinion (and one of our Best Board Games for 7 Year Olds!) it’s fun and fast and works on a ton of important skills for kids from ages six through eight. Even once kids have mastered the learning opportunities built into the game, they’ll continue to get a bunch of enjoyment playing the game.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments, what do you think of Dragonwood? Comment below!
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