Review: Catalyst Game Labs – Dragonfire


Dragonfire
Dragonfire is a fantasy deckbuilding game set in the Dungeons & Dragons universe, developed by Randall N. Bills and Loren L. Coleman and published by Catalyst Game Labs.
By Aaron T. Huss

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Dragonfire is a cooperative, deck-building adventure game set in the Dungeons & Dragons. It utilizes the same engine that powers Crossfire, but tailored for epic fantasy and layered with D&D flavor (more on that later). The base box comes with a huge collection of stuff including a rulebook, quick-start rulebook, character sheets, campaign adventures, encounter cards, player cards, and lots of fun equipment to be rewarded after you complete the game! The artwork is stunning and quite reminiscent of the style being portrayed in 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons and all other recently licensed D&D products. Not only does it play like a game set in the D&D universe, it looks like a game set in that universe and has a sense of cohesiveness with many other games, books, and accessories.

As previously stated in the Shadowrun Crossfire review here, the mechanics are interesting with lots of re-playability. However, to keep with the D&D flavor, there are some slight changes to the base engine. One of the biggest changes is that Dragonfire has a single setting with multiple environments. Each environment creates a unique experience and corresponds to specific encounter cards. Environments include dungeon, city, and wilderness, just to name a few. This means that as you venture into different environments, you will not be repeating the same encounters as you did in other environments. Just like D&D, each location within the overall setting looks and feels different.

I really like cooperative adventure games and I really like deck-building mechanics. It makes for an interesting game that builds and builds as you play. The cool thing about being an adventure game is that your deck continues to build and build over the course of an entire campaign, not just a single game session. This includes the loot rewards at the end where you get the opportunity to snag some awesome equipment!

Out of the box, you get a great amount of stuff to play your first campaign (the campaign is included). I do not, however, like the adventure that comes with the quick-start rulebook. I absolutely love the idea of including a quick-start rulebook with fewer rules and a simplification of the game, but the adventure itself is grinding and seemingly a bit overpowered. I would rather see an adventure like the campaign, but it can be completed in a single game session. Instead, it’s just a dungeon crawl that could get tedious very quickly. And as with Crossfire, I find that you really need to have players who all really understand the game’s mechanics and how to actually defeat each monster encounter, using the damage order defined on the monster card, in order to avoid certain death. However, you can quite easily use the quick-start rules and either create your own adventure or just run the first adventure in a larger campaign.

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