I was recently at the Origins Game Convention, and I picked up my copy of Dwarven Miner from Rather Dashing Games while there. Let’s have a look:
Art and Theme-The theme is pretty simple. You’re a dwarf, so you do Dwarf-y stuff like mine and make stuff. It’s pretty classic, but that doesn’t make it bad. In fact the theme and art are very well done. I like the box, card, and placemat art. Everything does feel sufficiently Dwarf-y. As I played and keep looking over the art and cards, I thought this was a fun universe and would love to play more games or RPGs here. Some of the art is somewhat simplistic, but this is mostly on the art for the resource cards and on the dice. It gets the point across, but its not as in-depth as the art for the item. All and all a solid theme with great art: 8/10.
Mechanics-The goal of this game is to get the most number of points that you earn by satisfying victory point cards. Simple enough, but not bad. Points are scored by crafting all the items for a patron. Patrons will want between 2 and 4 items. Each turn, you get six dice. You roll the dice and can reroll the dice as many times are you want. However, if you roll an ork face, you cannot reroll that die. The die faces generate resource cards that you can store or trade in for items. In addition, you can also roll a stealing symbol. When that occurs, you steal a card from a player of your choice. More symbols means you can steal rarer items. This and some additional card effects are really the only way to interact with other players. When you craft the items for a patron, you get the points for the patron. In addition, some patrons give you extra powers or affect the table in some way. The rogue will kill another patron, thus depriving someone else of a power. The engineer will give you extra storage space for items for free. There is a good variety of patrons and they really drive the game with their effects. Also, you can see some time went it to this design as the higher point characters help the other players so the game has an auto-balance built in. It tends to fight the runaway victor problem and all players end up with a close game when someone finally ends the game. You can learn the game in five minutes and play a full game in ~45. That’s the mark of a good game: 9/10
The Good: Solid Gameplay with good art. Well thought out with nice cards and cardstock. Well worth my kickstarter money! I was also able to meet the guys who made the game and their pretty cool. So, good all around.
The Bad: The game feels kind of short. I like the length, but the goal is 30 points. This isn’t a problem, but some of the cards give you 15 points at a crack. Good to see some high point cards, but since patrons are secret you might just have a person win in less the 4 turns. I would almost like the game to be 60 points.
The Ugly: STICKERS! The game comes with 6 blank dice and a page of stickers. You have to make the dice. There are nice directions for that, but still…stickers? You guys get a pass on this one as you are a smaller company, but one day when you have your yacht and you’re summering in the Mediterranean due to the board game fortunes you’ve amassed, I want a deluxe edition with nice carved or painted dice.
So in the end , Dwarven Miner is a great game that plays quick and is fun. Give it a try! For me it’s a solid 8.5/10.