During my time between jobs, besides spending a lot of time doing mind numbing training in new programming languages, is go to Fantasy Flight Game Center and try out some different games than I’ve played before. And yesterday I went with a friend and played Dresden Files game five times. That is slightly crazy, but that should give you an idea that I think the game is a lot of fun.
The Dresden Files game is a card game where you are trying to solve the different mysteries in the books. Each game is a version of one of the books that has the main things Harry Dresden has to figure out and the bad guys and monsters and bad guys that he has to face. So, quickly a little bit of what the Dresden Files are.
Harry Dresden is a wizard who is a private detective that lives in Chicago. Things never go well for him and there is almost always an world ending or very bad event that is happening. So Harry then has to solve it while fighting vampires or fey or werewolves, or other supernatural creatures. In each book there is one of these events that happens, so that is what the different scenarios are in the game.
One cool feature besides being able to play the stories, you can actually create your own side jobs. To help with replayability they give you a collection of foes, investigations, obstructions, and rewards. The foes and investigations are pretty obvious as to what they are, but the obstructions are things that make it harder to get rid of monsters or harder to investigate, and the rewards are the opposite and can help you get closer to winning.
The goal of the game is when the end of the game event starts, called the showdown, you end the game with more investigations completed than there are monsters on the game board. To do this, you spend your investigation cards to complete investigations and you use your attack cards to deal damage to foes. There are other cards for the obstructions and rewards that allow you to get them.
So, that doesn’t seem like it would be terrible difficult, you play cards and you get rid of things, you have a pretty large deck. However, you might never draw from that deck after your initial hand. It makes the game tough, because you have a limited random hand of cards that are based off of the character you have. In a three player game each person draws six cards, and you might only have 18 cards to use throughout the game. Plus, there are more things making it hard for you in the game.
Each card has a cost on it, a number of Fate points (for those of you who are wondering what Fate points are, the game is built with Fate points and dice from the RPG system), and you have a limited pool of fate points, way less than you have that you can spend on your cards. So what happens when you run out of Fate points, well, if you do nothing to get them back, you go into the end game and the showdown. But if you just did that, you would lose. So instead you can spend a card and get back it’s Fate point value. That helps you replenish the pool and forces you to make tough decisions as to which cards you want to keep or need to keep to do something.
Another things that ratchets up the tension in the game is the board set-up and the card ranges. Each story book card on the board is in a spot 1 through 6, things in spot 1 have a range of 1, things in spot 6 have a range of 6. On every attack, investigation, obstruction or reward card you have in your hand, there is a range, and a lot of them are range 1. So you are limited what you can go after. So how do you go after those cards that you might really want to get to in range 6, well you have to take out things that are closer. So sometimes you need to solve a case before you can get something further back. When you complete a card, known as story book card, you remove it from it’s spot in the list of cards, and then all of the cards move forward, so you have to play strategically in terms of how to move cards forward.
Finally I want to talk about one thing that is a lot of fun, there are so many more things that I could say about the game, but one more thing. The Dresden Files allows you to play at a lot of different characters from the game, and there are expansions so that you can even get more scenarios and characters to play as. Each character has a special power and a special talent. Powers can be used once per game, and talents every time you discard a card for Fate points. So each character plays uniquely, and has a unique spread of cards in their character deck. Some characters are better at attacking, others are better at fighting, and some have more to deal with obstacles than rewards or vice-a-versa. So you can pick characters for each story as long as one person is Harry Dresden.
In conclusion, this is a very fun game. It’s a very fast game, I would say that each game maybe lasts 30 minutes and we were playing the game in less time than that with two players. I think with three new players and one person who knows how to play the game, the longest it would take is 45 minutes. This game might be better for people who have read the books, but there is a little bit at the beginning of each book scenario for the game that you can read that would help people who don’t know. Also, mechanically this game is slick and enjoyable to play even without having read the books.
Overall Grade: A
Gamer Grade: B
Casual Grade: A
(I’d say that this game is going to be easy for everyone to pick up, but if you’ve read the books definitely an A for casual players)
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