Stealing a dragon’s treasure is an iconic adventure trope, a classic test of a hero’s mettle or a thief’s craftiness. But do you have the skills and luck necessary to pilfer from a sleeping dragon and get away clean?
In the card game Hoard, you’ll get your chance to do exactly that as you and your fellow players maneuver around a sleeping dragon, trying to collect matching sets of treasure while defending yourself from or attacking your fellow plunderers, all with the ever-present threat of a slumbering fire-breathing beastie looming over you.
In fact, waking the dragon (or lulling it back to sleep) is a key part of the game play, since it could be to your advantage to wake the dragon after securing some treasure for yourself.
Hoard combines the resource management aspect of numerous other card games with the luck and wherewithal of Memory. As you move around the board, you have the choice to look at one of the dragon’s treasure cards. You can either take that card, or you can leave it (and hope you remember what you found there, in case you need it later). If you leave the card, you’ll instead draw a random card from the deck.
You might find helpful treasure, a sword to attack with, a shield to defend with, a way to wake the dragon, or a way to soothe the dragon. The variety of cards makes the relatively small playing area a rich field, rife with possibilities.
Wait a minute, why would you WANT to wake a dragon?
Simple. You play for several rounds, and each round can only end in one of three ways:
A.) The last card from the deck is pulled
B.) A player begins a turn with no cards in their hand
C.) The dragon wakes up
So, if you’ve secured a good bit of treasure and you think you’ll win that round, it’s to your advantage to wake the dragon and end the round before the other players can catch up.
Only the players with the top two point totals (amassed from making treasure sets and other related card patterns, similar to Go Fish) receive victory points at the end of the round.
The first player to five victory points wins the game.
The strategy involved is what makes this a terrific game for puzzle fans. You need to make sure that you keep finding matching sets of treasure (both by remembering what cards are around the dragon and seeing which cards you get from the deck), defend your treasure from the other players, and avoid getting outfoxed in manipulating the dragon.
The mechanics of the game are simple, but the sheer number of options available to the player — as well as the element of chance involved — make for a very replayable game experience. One round, the dragon could be your greatest ally, while another time, the dragon wakes at the worst possible moment for you and your meager treasure hoard.
A great game for families, casual players, and hardcore board gamers alike, Hoard is gorgeous, well-executed, and great fun.
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