Draghan: Once Upon a Dragon – Jumping Turtle Games – Review

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Quick setup and play and then quicker reset and replay -- win or lose, you can’t just play it once!

Matthew Kearns


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Theme and What is it?


Do you yearn for adventure?  Do you seek to keep the realm of Draghan safe from the ravages of dragons?  If so, you have come to the right place. Take charge of a merry band of heroes, defeat the Society of the Dragon to enter the Shadow Realm, gather items of power, and put an end to the scourge of the dragons once and for all!

Gameplay Mechanics



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The goal of Draghan – Once Upon a Dragon is to defeat the dragon in the Shadow Realm before losing all the characters or drawing the last Shadow Realm Location and not drawing the dragon as one of the Encounters.


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Separate the different decks of cards and shuffle them: Characters, Marketplace, Draghan and Shadow Realm Locations, Draghan and Shadow Realm Encounters.  Take the number of desired Character cards and each gets an item from the Marketplace to start. Assign a Character as the active character.


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Each round has 7 phases: Healing, Visit a Location, Search Location and Fight Monsters, Check the Results, Share Equipment, Healing, and Check Equipment.

The round starts with the active Character given the opportunity to use an item from his inventory to heal himself.

Next, you turn over the top card of the Location Deck in play, Draghan or Shadow Realm.  Each card has unique capabilities to provide bonuses, ability for all characters to heal, enter the Shadow Realm, etc.

When you Search Location and Fight Monsters, turn over a number of cards from the Encounter Deck in play, Draghan or Shadow Realm, equal to the number of Characters in play, unless otherwise specified.  

The characters use their powers and any bonuses from their items to Check the Results in an attempt to defeat the monsters and collect any treasure that was drawn.  In the event that the dragon is drawn in the characters must defeat any monsters drawn first before attempting to vanquish the dragon.

If any monster cannot be defeated, the active character is wounded.  If the active character was already wounded, he dies (losing all items and gold), and is replaced only while the heroes are in Draghan.

If the active character so chooses, he may Share equipment with another character.

This is one last chance for the active character to attempt Healing this round.

Finally, each Character checks their inventory to see if they have too many items in total or of the allowed types and discards them as necessary.

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Initial Impressions


I liked the look of the game when I first saw it (fantasy is one of my favorites) and the components are nice.  The rules were not well-arranged in their presentation, making it difficult to scan them for reference. I had to constantly look back to them for a couple games because there was always some little rule or nuance I was missing as I would easily read passed them, making the game frustrating.

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Game Build Quality


The components for Draghan – Once Upon a Dragon are primarily cards and cardboard coins.  The cards are quality stock with a nice finish. The coins are a heavy card stock and well-crafted; no tears or connection bumps when punching them out and they came out easily.

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Artistic Direction


I love the art of this game!  It reminds me of some older Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network cartoons.  Some of it better (characters, dragons) than others (creatures) but overall happy with the consistency in the game’s presentation.

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Fun Factor


This is a game meant for a younger audience — no take that! or PvP — but a nice co-op for everyone to enjoy — beating up the baddies, taking their stuff, and defeating the dragon in the Shadow Realm.

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Age Range & Weight


Age range is 8+, the complexity is light, and the game moves fast.  Though reading the rules is the most complex thing about the game, understanding the basics of a round is easy enough for this age.

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Quick setup and play and then quicker reset and replay.  You’ll want to do it a lot, especially if you lose, because it won’t be by much and you’ll want revenge on those dragons and their monster buddies.  The key aspect for a good game is the number of characters in play as one is impossible, two is almost there, three is the sweet spot, and four is probably too easy.

One of the things that confused me though is that the game says 1-4 players. You can play solo but you must control multiple characters instead of one, like you’d expect in a truly solo game.  Needless to say, I got frustrated after a couple of games of not getting anywhere with one character. It took some careful reading and confirmation with the publishers, but there is just one line that talks about playing as one player.  And yet after contacting them, they said they had some tweaks in the works to improve balance with the number of characters and potentially solo character quests as well!

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