Steel Dragons: Gameplay Style

The game plays how you’d expect…until it goes crazy…

Darrell Hardy

3 minute read

Photo by Gobind Khalsa
Photo by Gobind Khalsa
If you’ve read the product announcement, you probably have a pretty good idea of how a game of Steel Dragons plays. After all, it’s a cooperative adventure board game with heroes, monsters, and a quest for loot… and to save the world, of course. It would be fair to say you’ve seen other board games that hit a lot of these same notes (cough Arkham Horror), but I assure you that you’ve never seen anything quite like this.

The game plays how you’d expect…

Like the words “adventure board game” would suggest, each player takes on the role of a unique hero at the start of the game. Each round, the players move their heroes around a board representing the broken lands of Shikaku. After moving, heroes have encounters based on where they stopped (so a mountain encounter may be different than an encounter on the outskirts of the lava-ruined city of Shinkei). These encounters may challenge the heroes’ abilities, or (more likely) challenge them to combat. Once the encounters are resolved, the players collect their rewards (or suffer their penalties if they lost a fight) and a new round begins.

…Until it goes crazy…

Steel Dragons offers a couple twists on the standard adventure board game experience. Because it’s a digital game, it can do things that your usual board game either doesn’t do well, or can’t do at all.

…With simultaneous turns…

One of the big drawbacks of adventure board games is the downtime between a player’s turns. If there are four players, for example, and each turn takes three minutes of exploring, fighting, and bookkeeping, that’s nine minutes between each of a player’s turns.

In Steel Dragons, everyone resolves their encounters at the same time. So while you’re off fighting the lava giant, I’m rescuing the sword merchant, and the other players are having their encounters. And because everyone is playing on their own screens, we’re not getting in each other’s way while drawing cards and rolling dice.

…Tactical combat…

[EDIT March 2017: We have put off tactical combat for now; the current version of Steel Dragons does feature an abstract series of dice rolls to resolve combat. It ends up running much faster than a tactical encounter can, and keeps the overall game flowing more smoothly. We like our tactical combat idea, though, and may return to it in a future version of the game.]

When combat breaks out in Steel Dragons, it’s more than an abstract series of dice rolls. Instead, combat is resolved on its own terrain-filled battle board, where the players use their heroes and allies to play through short tactical battles to defeat their enemies and otherwise achieve the encounter’s objectives.

You could do something like this with a physical game—but you wouldn’t want to. Setting up the battle board itself would add minutes to each player’s turn. But it’s perfect for a digital game with simultaneous turns.

…And more.

We’ll be going deeper into the game play of Steel Dragons in future posts. We’ll be going over what the battle board looks like, some sample encounters, the sorts of stats that heroes and allies have, and much. Make sure you don’t miss a thing by joining the mailing list, following us on Twitter, or liking us on Facebook.

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