Evil Hat Productions Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game Role Play
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- For 1-5 players
- 30 minute playing time
- Cooperative card game
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CHOKING HAZARD -- Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
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Play Harry Dresden and his friends as they take on the cases from the bestselling Dresden Files novels in the ultimate what-if scenario—what if Harry was on the scene with allies who weren't there in the original story? The core game includes Harry, Murphy, Susan, Michael, and the Alphas and plays through the first five novels as well as Side Jobs, a random scenario generator based on the short story collection of the same name. Designs are already well underway for expansions featuring more series characters and more novels.
Legal DisclaimerThe Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game 1-5 players, ages 13+, 30 minutes By Evil Hat Productions
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|Item Dimensions||9 x 4 x 9 in||1.96 x 5.51 x 5.51 in||7.62 x 11.25 x 3.25 in||10 x 2 x 10 in||4 x 1.4 x 5.5 in||1.4 x 4.6 x 6.4 in|
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The game itself is very well made and designed. The board and pieces are thick and you know they will last a while. I like the art on the cards, though I do wish it was more varied. Some of the cards have identical cards, ie all the obstacles or advantages in a book. Each book has Foes and Investigations that match what Harry faced in the story, as well as obstacles he had to over come in the book, so if you read the cards carefully you can be brought back to the story. The characters have cards which showcase the talents and strengths they have in the stories to help you overcome the challenges of the books. It is possible to beat any book with any set of character, although I enjoy playing with only the characters in the stories.
If you don't know the stories (or want to play with folks who don't know them) no problem! You can solely pay attention to the numbers, hit points vs attacks, investigations vs clues, etc. I think knowing the stories adds depth, but isn't necessary. I find the game challenging, every game is different depending on the layout of the book cards and the cards in your hand. It is rare to draw more cards, though it is possible depending on the books or characters played. This means you really have to strategize which cards you want to use and which you want to discard for more power (Fate Points), which of the book cards you want to take out and which you can leave alone. In order to win you need to have solved more cases than there are enemies left on the board, it is difficult to do this only with the cards allotted so many games will rely on the Showdown at the end of the game. This is where you use leftover Fate Points to give you advantages to finish off any last cases or foes for a last ditch effort to win the game (Harry Dresden is the king of last ditch effort!). I like that there are 1 player rules, as I don't always have folks to play with. This style of play is a bit more challenging (my win rate solo is about 45% while my win rate with other players is more like 80%). Part of this is due to less cards in play and part is due to having to keep track of all the cards and abilities by oneself. I often realize after the fact that I missed something integral because there is a lot to pay attention to. I've gotten better with plays, but it is still a bit much.
There is a lot going on in the game, cards that affect other cards, actions that can't be taken until X happens, etc. I feel this is both a negative and a positive on the game. The negative being that it will take at least one run through to 'get' it, it is easy to miss something that will affect whether or not you can win the game and it can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially for new or inexperienced players. The positive is that all the little things that make a difference in each game are what will make the game playable time after time. Although there is a lot going on, everything is color coded and labeled well. If one card affects another one will be labeled with A> and one with >A.
With the expansions I have a total of 11 books and 13 characters, each book has 12 cards which are placed in random parts of the board (so each game is different) and each character has 10 cards of which 4-7 make up a hand at a time, with 3-5 characters playable per session. The math geeks out there can figure out the exact number of combinations available, all I can say is it is a LOT.
All of that said, I cannot recommend this game at all. I own it both in physical copy (purchased here on Amazon) and picked up a digital version for my phone. I bought the digital version so I could play it a bunch of times through to see if I'd just had a few bad runs, because I was surprised how disappointed I was in it. I really REALLY wanted to like it. Its a cooperative table top game set in the Dresden Files for crying out loud! But that's everything it has going for it.
There are 3 reasons why you might lose in a cooperative tabletop game. The first is that you don't know what you're doing. This is part of the learning curve of any game and is usually quite fun and comical as you realize how badly you've messed up. The second is that you and your team made the wrong choices, which provides you an important learning moment that makes you better for the next time and increases your chances of winning next time. The third reason is what this game excels at, you were given a bad draw. After having played the game once or twice you'll be able to tell from the very start, before any cards are played, if you can win. And it is a mathematical point. Sometimes your team does not have enough damage cards or enough investigation cards to win, period. Sometimes the challenge was laid out in such a way that certain cards can't be solved unless others which are out of range are solved first, so you can't win, period. There is a dice mechanic added to the game which could have been used to make up for this, but it falls flat. The dice used are called fudge dice or fate dice or something. They're a standard cube with 2 +'s, 2 -'s, and 2 blanks. The +s increase your roll by 1 and the -s reduce your roll by 1, so in theory they give you a range of success. But the dice statistically cancel each other out and roll zero almost every time. Rolling more dice in theory could increase the range of chance, but by basic probabilities the more dice you roll, the more likely your dice roll will be a zero. This tends to take any excitement or energy out of a dice roll with more than 1 die, and a roll of just 1 die either doesn't change the result or only changes it by 1.
The primary mechanic of the game is resource management where almost all the cards you'll have for the whole game are in your hand from the start. You have to decide which cards to play, and which ones to burn for resources. But the enemies never strike back or try to stop you, removing all the feeling that there is opposition and leaving you with the feeling that this is simply a puzzle to solve in turns. This still could be very entertaining even without any opposition, but as I said, the game loses pretty much all of the energy between the statistically insignificant dice rolls and the frequency of being dealt a mathematically impossible win. One of the rules in the game is that you aren't allowed to show your hand to your allies. They claim this is to keep the pace moving so people don't stop to talk about what cards to play, but it seems to only exist to maintain the illusion that you have lost because of you playing poorly, and not because you were doomed from the start. We almost always play with our hands revealed and a game still only lasts about 15 to 20 minutes, so no major time penalty seems to occur from it. But because we know what our tools are at the beginning it is not uncommon for us, after having played a few dozen games, to see what we've been dealt and just say "well this one's over, want to deal another round or should we play something else?"
Each game ends with a "showdown" where you have one last chance to defeat the foes and solve the cases. But it consists of nothing more than rolling handfuls of these "zero sum" dice. You typically roll 5 to 6 of them, but in several dozen games played I can't remember ever seeing more than a +1 or -1 rolled. So if you haven't beaten the game by the showdown, nothing will change, and if you have beaten the game then there's no reason to even take the time for the showdown. This makes the showdown basically feel like a waste of time instead of an epic climax to the game.
What could have been a challenging game of trying to solve mysteries quickly as you run out of resources with the final epic showdown looming ever closer ends up becoming a boring grind, where the flavor of your card may as well not exist, the numbers (not the odds) are stacked against you, the dice don't matter and the showdown may as well be skipped. All in all, its a disappointing experience that seems completely determined by luck of the draw, like a game of Candy Land based in the Dresden universe.
I'll be honest, this is the saddest thing Dresden has ever had to offer. All I can figure is that when the game was made, no one looked at the probabilities of anything, and after losing 5 times in a row they said "wow, this game must be hard, that makes it fun right?" But hard is only fun if it is challenging, not if it's a club to beat your friends over the head with. And there's more to game development than grabbing an interesting IP and spewing game mechanics at it.