Designer: Aigar Alaveer
Play time: 30 to 45 min
A copy of Dwarven Traders was provided by 2D6.EE for this preview. Everything you see here is in prototype form. I want to thank them for their support of Jambalaya Plays Games.
Notice: You may notice the color of the gems are slightly different from the cards, which I assume if for color blind friendly purposes and the featured image is a better representation of where the art direction is going.
Kickstarter Preview: Dwarven Traders
In Dwarven Traders, players are Dwarven miners competing to trade in their finest gems for profit over the course of four rounds. After four rounds, the player with the most points wins. Are you savvy enough to acquire the right gems and sell them at the right time? With no hidden information the gameplay takes a lot of unexpected take that approach to market driven game. Let’s take a deep look at Dwarven Traders.
Setup and Overview
Each player starts the game with their own gem a player board. The player board is used for storing a maximum of two gems. The market board has spaces for every player to track their gold (points), a mark for current round, and a market board. On the Market Board each of the four gem colors starts at a value of one. As players use the selling action on the Trading cards, the market value could raise as high as three or as low as negative three. I’ll talk about the impact of the Market plummeting or elevating beyond the values list a little later.
Dwarven Traders has a Smuggler (dummy player) that keeps the pressure on everyone as they market changes. As I alluded to before, if the market value for any gem must go above or below the values shown, then the Smuggler moves forward on the scoring track. What if I told you that the Smuggler could win as well? If players become careless with taking actions, then someone may push the Smuggler into a possible victory.
Hard Work Pay Off, Right?
During a round, each player will choose to take one or both actions from one the four Trader cards available. Your choices are mining for one gem or selling one gem. The acting player will take actions on the Trader Card in any order and the market will change after actions are taken. When everything is complete, the Trader card is flipped and the current player’s turn is over. Based on my experience, the choices you make in Dwarven Traders have to be well-timed and hopefully you have a little luck in your favor. This is a traders game, it doesn’t mean you have to play nice. Let’s talk about actions.
Searching for Precious
The mining action is on the bottom of each Trading card. The player would take the color gem matching the hard to miss gem icon and place it on their player board. If you two gems already on our board, you cannot take this action. On the scroll side of the mining action, the price of gems will plummet as indicated. Sometimes you might take a gem and that same color gem decreases as well. You have to press your luck a little bit and hope the market will recover. If you don’t take some risk in Dwarven Traders, your success will be left up to other players choices and less about yours.
The Market Is Looking Good!
You can sell one gem for the going market value. The player pawn is moved up or down the track and you’re on your way to being the best trader in all the land….maybe. The sold gem is thrown back into the box until the next round because it’s currently off the market.
One of the more interesting parts of the gameplay is the extra trade action. If any player finishes their turn in last place, they have the option of swapping one gem with any player, including the Smuggler (Dummy player). The chosen opposing player cannot refuse the trade if they have a gem to give. If there are no gems to trade or players are tied for last, nothing is traded. Think about that. There’s a little strategy to timing your temporary visit to last place. Maybe you set yourself up come last place, but somehow luck your way into trading with a player for the most valuable gem. Choices my friend.
A round ends when a player cannot take any actions. All players gems are sold for their current value and VP is awarded according to the player with the highest score for the round. First place receives 4VP and each place below it receive one less VP (3,2,1). Ties are broken by gem value and I’ll spare you all of the tie breaking situations. Once again, the Smuggler will always be part of the end of round scoring. It’s important to keep the Smuggler out of the running for first place or even second. All players could potentially lose if they play too haphazardly. Don’t worry, it didn’t happen to me in my couple game, but it definitely puts all players under some pressure.
To prepare for the next round, all gems are returned to the into a pile and the market remains as is. One of each gem is displayed for players to draft. The person with the least VP gets to choose their gem going into next round first and selection continues until the person with the most VP chooses last. If you have less than four players, all gems remain in the pile. All Trading cards get shuffled and four of the eight are made available. The next round marker is moved one space and the starting player is the player who won the round. The game ends at the end of four rounds. The players with the most points wins.
Why Should I Back Dwarven Traders?
Quick and light gameplay for family and casual gamers
Perfect for teaching gamers market manipulation
I like the Smuggler player idea because it build tension between players
The catch up mechanisms seem fair and make the game accessible to different gaming situations
The gameplay might be too simple for your taste
I don’t like the art in it’s current form, but I’m not going to punish a prototype. The new art is the featured image for this preview.
Too much take that for your liking, which can be hard for less experienced gamers
Some gamers completely reject the idea of dummy players
There’s a lot of fun to be had in Dwarven Traders. I enjoy games like this because the risky style of play that’s created between the players. Some potential backers may be looking for more gameplay, but once you play this game for the first time, you’ll see there is enough strategy to keep you interested. It all boils down to timing and setting up the market the best way you can for your next turn. A game like Dwarven Traders fits right is a family weight game that’s good for teaching market manipulation to younger gamers. I also think this is a good filler game for a casual game night crew, IF you don’t mind a little market driven cutthroat action. One big turn off for some gamers will be the dummy player. I feel like having the Smuggler made the gameplay more interesting and everyone had to pay attention it’s position at all times. Overall, I think Dwarven Traders has more fun than meets the eye. I believe you’ll enjoy your 30 minutes of play and you’ll probably want to give it another go.
Yeah! Games that are quick, simple and fun to play, always have a chance to hit the table. Dwarven Traders is one of those games and it’s up to you to decide if it’s the right game for you. I will leave the link below to direct you to the Kickstarter. I hope my post was informative and thank you for your time.