Theme and What is it?
Deep in the heart of the mountain lies one of the largest cities in the known world. This city is the ancestral home of a people as hard as the granite which surrounds them day and night. Generations ago the dwarves built this bustling city once they discovered the rare metals and gems the mountain hid. Since that time, it has been the privilege of a select few to take those precious materials and build stunning weapons and artifacts to please the kings. With each year that passes, these dwarven smithies become more renown not only among their own kind, but all around the world. The next generation of smithy is just coming into their own and are on a quest to prove that they can craft objects beyond the skill of any before them. They will all create great, amazing items but only one can become the most famous dwarven smithy.
Dwarven Smithy is a 2-4 player game where players compete to earn gold from their creations.
Dwarven Smithy is a hand management and set collection game where players take resources and combine them to create valuable items to sell. Each player selects a dwarf and sets up their play area. Players are dealt cards from two decks. The guild deck has items that can be produced. The other deck is the resource deck. This gives the cards that will be used to build items from the Guild deck. At the end of each player’s turn, they can draw up to four cards from either day in any combination they want.
Around each dwarf card are areas that cards can be played. Above the dwarf card is the market. These cards can be sold to a general warehouse or can be purchased by other players. The market limit is four cards. To the left and right of the dwarf card are the apprentice and tools areas. Each of these can only have two cards. Below the dwarf card is the area where players play resources. There can only be seven cards in this area. Players use these resources to craft objects, apprentices and tools. Once these are crafted, then the player can choose to keep any in their play area or sell them for gold (which are points at the end of the game).
There are special items called Kings Items. These are played upside down and are not revealed until final scoring. These items take extra resources to craft and they are not sold during the game. Once crafted, they are moved to the market area (still upside down) and take up a market slot for the rest of the game. Players draw cards to refill their hands from either a guild deck or a resource deck. Once either of these decks have been exhausted or when a person can complete their fourth King’s Item, the game wraps up and final scoring happens. At this point everything is sold for gold and the player with the most gold is the most renowned dwarven smithy.
Dwarven Smithy was just a whole lot of fun. It was pretty easy to learn and teach and once everyone knew what they were doing the game moved quickly. It was just a little over 90 minutes, but it did not feel that long. There were multiple options that each player could take during their turn and at the end of their turn they again had a choice of which deck to choose from. All the variety was awesome. For the next couple of days after playing the first game, we all talked about how fun it was and that we needed to make time to get it back on the table.
Game Build Quality
Dwarven Smithy received positive comments from everyone about how nice all the pieces were. The cards were heavy duty and had a nice linen feel to them. The coins were made from heavy board and had the same feel as the cards. I loved the warehouse and deck board. It was a great addition and helped tie everything together and give a central location for it all. It also has a very nice box and a great insert. Overall, it gets a big thumbs up from me.
The artwork was fun. Everyone had a good laugh about the dwarven women characters. They all had beards! Just like Gimli said they would. All of the card art looks great and has a very uniform feel. This brings the game together and lets the players feel invested in it. The artwork perfectly captures the theme of the game and does it in a way the feels familiar without feeling like they took it right from Tolkien.
The thing that makes Dwarven Smithy a great game is the crafting element. Having the King’s Items really takes it to the next level because the other players know you have finished one of these but they have no clue what it is or how much it is worth. Also, the game moves quickly so as people are selling regular items, they are collecting gold and it is hard to keep track of what has been selling and for how much. It really keeps everyone on their toes. We have had some close games and some blowout games, but it never felt like it was going to be a blowout.
Age Range & Weight
Dwarven Smithy has an age recommendation of 14+. I have not yet tried this game with my 10-year-old daughter but she has enough gaming experience that I feel confident she would pick it right up. I think 14 may be a little high, but of course it depends on the player and how much exposure they have had to gaming.
Dwarven Smithy is not a gateway game because it will probably feel heavy to non-gamers. You will want to get people hooked on one of the many great gateway games and then introduce them to Dwarven Smithy.
Dwarven Smithy quickly became one of my favorite games that I have had a chance to review for MeepleGamers. It has great depth with its uses of multiple game mechanics. All of which I really enjoy. The gameplay is enhanced with the great artwork. The game is engaging and fast paced. Everyone that I played with wanted to play again. I recommended it to multiple co-workers who are gamers. That should give you an idea about the esteem that I have for Dwarven Smithy. It really clicked with me.
Maybe it is because I am a big Tolkien fan. Maybe it is because the game play was very enjoyable. Maybe it had a little to do with all those things. Regardless, I am glad Dwarven Smithy has found a place in my collection.