Let’s be honest. When I say the words Dragon Castle, what immediately comes to your mind? Swords, fire breathing, magic, fighting, treasure? Well, this game has everything to do with none of those things I just listed. That was strictly an attention grab, for an excellent reason.
Dragon Castle is a wonderful game! It is based off of an old game that legend says was invented by Confucius as far back as 500 B.C. That game is Mahjong. Now there are many other theories as to when Mahjong was actually invented, but more recently, as far back as 2017, Cool Mini or Not and Horrible Games teamed up to reintroduce this style of gaming in an awesome way. I know what you’re thinking, that’s like 2,500 years before an expansion was released. But it’s also 2,400 years faster than some Kickstarter games take to deliver. I grew up playing Mahjong, and I loved it. I never had one of those beautiful, ornate wooden boxes with colorfully etched tiles, but Windows 95 did provide me with a copy that forever shaped my love for the game.
Dragon Castle sets up and looks mostly like the original Mahjong with beautiful stacked tiles in specific patterns on a board. That game board will direct you how to set up the base game. This is a very handy feature for initial setup. After you become more familiar with Dragon Castle, you can use alternative tile placement patterns listed in the instruction booklet. The alternative patterns have really cool names and themes, such as “The Pillars of Creation”, “The Fortress”, “The Dragons Head”, and “Monastery of The Abyss”, but the mechanic will remain the same.
You will be taking matching tiles from the board to place on your own personal player board to score victory points. There are a few cleverly designed rules that differ from Mahjong though, such as not having to take two matching tiles, but being able to take one tile and a roof. Or discard one tile and take one victory point.
When taking a roof, you may notice that it looks exactly like the tiniest Imperial Chinese roof straight from the Ming Dynasty. When you have one or more collected rooves on your board, you can use them to place on tiles you have scored that turn. They are finely detailed to look at, and I really enjoy the aspect of the game that allows me to utilize them to aid with end-of-game bonus scoring.
There are also optional variable end-of-game scoring elements called Dragon cards as well as in-game player ability cards called Spirit cards. The latter will let you perform some tile manipulation which normally goes against the rules. During game set up, if you so choose, you may randomly select one of each of these types of cards that will apply to everyone in the game.
I really cannot stress enough how good these tiles feel when picking them up and stacking them. They are extremely well made. Dragon Castle truly pays homage to a classic tile drafting game and adds so much without straying too far from the original feel. If you played and loved Mahjong growing up, you will love Dragon Castle. If you are a fan of tile drafting, tile placement, or pattern recognition, you will love Dragon Castle. Love. Dragon. Castle!
You can purchase a copy of Dragon Castle at your local game store or through Amazon today.
- Very easy to teach and learn
- Beautiful artwork on all the components
- Variable setups provided lots of replayability
- Setup can be timely due to stacking/building the pattern
- Materials used to create personal player boards could have been higher quality