25 April 2020
Watch the World BURNINATE!
No fantasy story is truly complete without the presence of a dragon. Misty Mountain would be an inconvenient hike without Smaug, Harry Potter would simply be a boy on a broom without a Hungarian Horntail to guard the golden egg and Khaleesi would struggle to cross the Narrow Sea and fight for the throne in Game of Thrones. Now a new challenger descends to eat peasants and burn villages – Trogdor The Burninator, a comic character, an 8-bit video game and the epicentre of the board game with the same name.
If it isn’t obvious from Trogdor’s title – The Burniator – or its looks – a large green dragon with a bulging muscular arm – this cooperative game does not take itself seriously. Each turn players, esteemed members of the aptly named cult the Keepers of Trogdor, use their actions to guide Trogdor and burn, excuse me, burninate everything on a five by five randomly generated tiled board. In order to win the game Trogdor will have to lay waste to all tiles, huts and have eaten or burninated all villagers on the board. Unfortunately, pesky knights and archers stand in the way of this explosive endeavour. They travel around the tiles through AI deck drawn routes, trying to catch Trogdor and defeat him. Additionally, they can also repair tiles and huts that have already been burninated.
Every turn is a tug-of-war, where players play cards unleashing Trogdor using the action points displayed on them to move and burn, along with any other special abilities available, and then villagers, knights and archers move in an attempt to deal damage to Trogdor and also repair everything in their path.
Seasoned co-operative board gamers, who are used to the high-stake strategies that are involved in winning games in this genre, might find Trogdor!! The Board Game frustratingly luck-based. Very minimal pre-planning can be done as the villagers’, knights’ and archers’ movement is completely random each turn. Certain assumptions can be made on which tiles are less likely to be in their path, but these are not exact predictions.
Trogdor!! The Board Game is not about pin-point precision. It is about having a laugh. Starting with the rule book full of silly slapstick humour to its entire gameplay where burning villagers get Crowns of Flame and frantically run around the board setting tiles in their path on fire. Even if Trogdor is defeated, he gets one last chance at a win with a Fiery Rage burning everything along the path of five randomly deal movement cards. With any luck, this last hurrah can meet the win conditions, but even if not, it never feels like a let-down or a failing.
The deluxe version of the game comes with beautifully painted miniatures for all the characters as well as usual wooden meeples used in the standard edition. Seemingly just to underline, that Trogdor!! The Board Game doesn’t like to take itself seriously, players can play a stacking mini game with the wooden meeples (reminiscent of Meeple Circus but simplified), the rules of play for which are included in the main rulebook. It has absolutely nothing to do with the main game but is fairly well done and entertaining!
With most modern co-operative games being as tough as nails, sometimes it’s nice to play one that is about having silly fun with friends, rather than putting all team efforts into strategies and objectives. The downside of a game that leads with its humour is that any joke at some point will likely get old. Trogdor!! The Board Game may not have a long table-life, but it will lift spirits and bring laughter and joy with every play.
PLAY IT? YES
The main goal of Trogdor!! The Board Game is not to win, it is to have fun. That may come at the expense of robust strategies, that many have come to expect from co-operative games, but once in a while it’s fun to be a big dragon with a muscly arm watching the world burninate.
Designer: James Ernest, Matt Chapman, Mike Chapman, Mike Selinker
Time: 30-60 minutes
Players: 1-6 players
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
- 16 wooden meeples
- 16 miniatures
- 25 double-sided cardboard terrain tiles
- Cardboard Trog-meter
- 36 Trogdeck cards
- 45 movement cards
- Nine Keeper of Trogdor cards
- Nine magical items cards
- Bag for stacking mini game
This review originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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