Dragon Market gets kids to learn to think ahead and strategize their turns in a non-confrontational way. Jump between boats, collect items, and earn glory for your family!
Theme and What is it?
It is the upcoming wedding of the Princess Xue and it is your job to collect items for a wedding gift for given by your esteemed family. The marketplace is located upon the waters of the river, and many vendors are their boats. You must collect these items jumping from boat to boat and bring them back to your pontoon before the heirs of the other notable houses do… make your family proud!
Complete the required number of Objective Cards before the other players to secure the honor of your family and provide the princess with a wonderful gift!
Set out the gameboard between the players. Players take turns placing the boats on the river — be careful to follow their placement restrictions. Separate the item tokens into like piles of two, and randomly distribute them on the boats. Players draw their Objective Cards.
The player who has seen a dragon most recently goes first and the other players get coins that provide additional Movement Points on their turn.
On a player’s turn, he first rolls the dice to determine the number of Movement Points he gets to spend. Then he chooses from any of the following actions in any order for as many times as he has Movement Points.
Move Boat – The player moves a given boat back and forth in the direction the boat points, stopped when the player decides. A boat’s movement is limited by obstacles (boats and pontoons) or the edge of the board.
Turn Boat – The player turns a boat clockwise or counterclockwise as far as allowed. The center of rotation of a boat is the sailor on the boat — some boats have them at the end or the center of the boat. The ability to turn a boat is limited by obstacles and the edge of the board.
Move Heir – The player moves their pawn on the pontoon and spaces on the boat not occupied by the sailors; you can move over, but not stop on, another player’s pawn.
When a player moves his pawn over an item token, he can only take it if it is on his Objective Card. Once a player has collected all the items on his Objective Card, he must make it back to his pontoon in order to gain any special ability granted by the Objective Card and acquire a new Objective Card.
There are rules also for an advanced variant of the game which uses different Objective cards and some other special rules for when there are four players, otherwise it is the same as the regular game.
Looking at the game, it is beautiful and the pieces are large enough for young players to grasp without trouble. The rules are basically 1.5-2 pages long, lots of pictures, so it was fairly easily grasped. I missed one crucial setup step though (very easy to overlook) and had to start over. After that, it was a breeze.
Game Build Quality
All the components are top-notch. The dice are larger than standard with rounded edges and painted. The boats are thick, high-quality cardboard with wooden sailors attached. The player pawns are wooden, painted in different colors. The cards are standard playing card stock. The coins are average thickness but well-constructed.
The artwork is great. It is consistent between the rulebook, box, and components, though I wish more of the components were more detailed to fit along with the artwork. The pictures of people and such are a little cartoon-y but serves the age range well.
As an adult, I think the fun factor is low as the game is repetitive. Yes, you get randomization from placing the boats, which Objective Cards you have, and where the items are located on the boats… BUT each game feels like the last, nothing new being offered, even when using the advanced variant cards.
When it comes to kids though, I can see them getting a kick out of hopping along the boats and collecting the items. It is a game that will teach them to think ahead and strategize what they are going to do to maximize each turn to collect the items in the fewest Movement Points possible. Confrontation between players is only indirect in that you can only control the placement of the boats to benefit yourself/stymy your opponent.
Age Range & Weight
Age range at 7+ is spot on for this game and could even go to 6. The game is quick to set up, understand, and play. It requires some concentration about planning moves and paying attention to what the other players are doing. So few rules and limited options for turn actions keeps the game with a low barrier to entry and light weight.
Dragon Market is a good game aimed right at its target audience’s age — young players and their parents and friends. The game is short enough that it could be played multiple times in a sitting by kids without too much attention fatigue. It is easy enough that the younguns can teach their friends to play without really needing to refer to the rulebook. Other than the coins, the pieces are almost too big to lose. It is something I can see getting a bit of play.
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