Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Preview: Three Dragon Ante

No Cthulhu game actually happened today, but fortunately our host, Charles Ryan and his wife Tammie had a preview copy of Three-Dragon Ante (Paizo store) for us to play instead.

This is a new non-collectible card game from Hasbro that mixes bits of the familiar and the strange. It feels very much like a Hasbro card design (the way they do templating, the abilities, the overlapping strategies), and it is in fact a game by the talented Rob Heinsoo. The art is appealing but not distracting, and we were playing within 3 minutes of asking "So, how does this work?"

I could detail some of the rules here, but really, it boils down to a fun beer-and-pretzels game with enough screw-your-neighbor elements to keep it competitive. It has just enough elements of real strategy to keep it interesting. In a 70-card deck there are about 10 power cards, but every card has an ability that might help you win. The ante process is odd; the pot size varies by a factor about 3 from round to round, and ante is related to determining who leads each round: basically, you bid cards to determine who goes first. It's a pretty clever mechanic; the better card you pitch for the ante, the more likely you'll go first (which grants other advantages), but … you've thrown away a better card to get it.

The game's relatively mild learning curve comes from figuring out what's allowed when (printed powers can't always be used, even on your turn), in resolving ties, and in managing the card draw elements. All pretty standard challenges. It's more complex than a mass-market game like poker or uno, but simple for a hardcore CCG player. This is territory that Hasbro has approached before with "simplified" CCGs like the ARC System games of the late 90s.

I think this one's a smarter bet than the ARC System was, as it hits closer to the mass-market end of the spectrum. It'll be interesting to see if it finds an audience.


Latest Month

April 2016

Game Design


Powered by LiveJournal.com