DWAR7S WINTER is the second of the large box games in the super DWAR7S range. The other is DWAR7S SPRING. Both of these have small, square-box expansions, some of which have specific pieces and rules for either or both games. The third in the seasons is DWAR7S FALL which arrives as a stand-alone game but confusingly in an expansion-size box. This too has expansions, one being in a similar sized box and another, TROLL BRIDGE, being presented in a ¼ sized box. DWAR7S series continues to grow with the 'LOST TRIBES' Winter arriving on Kickstarter recently and SUMMER due out, hopefully in the Summer.
The DWAR7S games are fun, beautifully created, and look amazing when set up ready on the table. They all have excellent miniatures for the characters and the monsters, characters being produced in player colours and monsters in bright turquoise blue - I have not touched mine with a paintbrush yet, but I have seen some incredible painted miniatures online that show these miniatures do take paint very well - see below.
After our first game I took the blank piece of card that I found in the box and a couple of Sharpies that were to hand and scribbled out a player's guide, something our players decided should have been included. It's not brilliantly produced but it's pretty darn helpful and keeps the game flowing.
Rather than cut & paste my scribbling I suggest that when you have time you type or write it out legibly. Being me, I just never got around to it; I continued to use the scribbling.
The game setup is simple. Players take the Dwarfs in their chosen colour, along with their personal 7 card action decks. Starting cards all are useful but have a zero points value at the end of the game; they are easily and quickly recognised as Starter Cards by the coloured medallion ribon they each have.
It doesn't matter how many players you have this is an extremely difficult game to win, in our opinion.
There is a degree of Deck-Building, man management, Tower defence etc. You need to obtain extra cards for your deck because they affect your play and they give additional bonus VPs.
Monsters are mean looking and have special abilities (shown on their cards by pictograms). Many of these abilities affect the zone they are in and often also the zone/s they are adjacent to. Zones occupied by Monsters, and again adjacent, can cause the Dwarfs to lose Actions, lose Resources, or prevent the gathering of resources etc. All Monster abilities are bad for the Dwarfs, but the worst things are an extra Disaster spawning and, worst still, one Monster moving one space closer to the Castle.
Along with their miniatures and card sets each Hero (Dwarf) has a special Music Token. This is an additional fun action players can take. Players also have their own personal character board on which they keep track of their Stone, Food, Wood and Gold resources. Players may never go over 7 pieces of each but they can go down to Zero, but never below.
Heroes/Dwarfs also have special abilities, but they are not as powerful as those of the Monsters - they can produce additional resources (often all this does is negate an adjacent Monster's ability), they can move other Dwarfs one zone and they can do a variety of okay things, but they cannot affect a Monster directly in any way.
The board is like an City made up of different Battlegrounds, Forest, Mines, Fields, Wall and the Central Castle. These are all surrounded by a breeched outer wall over which the Monsters spawn and ready themselves for war. Their objective is to take over and control the Castle. Your objective is to save the tower from being over-run and lost.
Each of the zones on the board except the Castle has a resource icon and a number. These are used when a Monster spawns (on the outer wall) or when a Disaster occurs (within a zone). Monsters get to move each turn in Phase 1: Enemy Invasion. They always move one zone closer to the Castle. There are three zones between each Monster spawn space and the Castle. We have discovered so far, after 5 plays, that the Monsters have very little problem reaching the Castle and hardly any trouble holding on to it.
It only takes 3 steps (3 zones) for a Monster to reach the Castle and ALL Monsters move every Round. With one more Monster than players it seems to be an impossible task to win, especially as the board is depleted of a large number of Dwarfs when a Monster is defeated. Monsters are usually defeated by an average 4-5 Dwarfs with Disasters taking 2-3 Dwarfs out of the action.
One of the Actions the Dwarfs can take is to play music, each player only once per week and never using the same instrument. This is a neat part of play which requires the player to place their Musical Clef Token onto an empty space on the Music Hall and enjoy the fruits of your music. The rewards is to play any/all of the actions of cards you hold that have the same Instrument on them as the one chosen at the Music Hall. Once the player at turn has activated all the cards they wish to, every other player can also activate their cards with the instrument. This is the only real bonus Dwarfs get so the players really should take advantage of it, every week.
The Monsters are extremely difficult to beat and defeat. You need to survive 7 weeks to win. The player with the most VPs wins - apparently. We wouldn't know if that's true as we have yet to discover a tactic or strategy to get us close to victory. Everything is set against the Dwarfs succeeding. Dwarfs only have a limited number of Action points. These are required for almost everything they do, including Placing a Dwarf on the board, Moving a Dwarf from one zone to an adjacent zone, Buying a Hero from the display (you also need gold) etc.
Monsters have all the fun. Dwarfs lose if just one Monster is in the Castle at the end of the week (7 weeks make a game, 1 week makes a complete Round of Phases). Dwarfs also lose if 4 Disasters are happening on the board at the end of a week. At the end of each week there should be one more Monster on the board than there are players.
To defeat a Monster (or a Disaster) all you need to do is have the required number of Dwarfs and Resources in the same location as the Monster/Disaster. Sounds easy but there are a couple of problems that truly frustrate. The main one being that, in both cases, the Dwarfs used in the action are returned to the player's board. Another is that Dwarf Clans cannot work together, but they can be on the same zone.
Also against the Dwarfs is the rule that you cannot place more than one Dwarf from your player-board into the same zone space on the board. This means you cannot gang up on Monsters or Disasters without moving the majority of your Clan into the zone. This takes a fair amount of planning to achieve and yes, you can remove a Monster, which is good, but it's a double-edged sword because all of the Dwarfs involved are also removed from the board.
So far, for us, this is one of those 'almost' games. We 'almost' win and then we fall at the last. Between the Monsters having a short route to the Castle and the Disasters appearing all over the place it gets tougher and harder to win. It's a sort of semi-cooperative game that when it gets to the crunch isn't really that cooperative. We are thinking of trying our next outing into DWAR7S WINTER as a coop game, where the number of Dwarfs needed to defeat a Monster can be Dwarfs of any Clan. If this makes it too easy we'll go back to trying to win the way the game suggests, but I cannot see that single change doing us a whole lot of extra good.
You can also visit the Hive Portal to download the rules in a language other than English. So far it is available in:
DWAR7S WINTER can be found in the Vesuvius Games Shop for $50.00. In the UK ZATU has it online for £32.49
Note: I believe the correct plural for Dwarf is Dwarves but the game speaks of Dwarfs and so I have continued in the same manner.
Note 2: The DWAR7S series is growing and we are hoping it will link together to form an exciting campaign in the year of the Dwarfs.
Who Are Vesuvius Games
Vesuvius Media is a small (but mighty!), Canadian, indie development company. Starting off by producing online strategy games, Vesuvius Media branched into new areas of production and currently boasts online games, mobile games, graphic novels and board games in its portfolio.
What makes Vesuvius Media different from all the other companies? Vesuvius Media is community-driven. Whether online or on the table, its game designers and developers interact with players, listen, debate, and continually gather feedback. Its community of players help shape the future of its games!
To date, Vesuvius Media has successfully Kickstarted fourteen (14) projects. Twelve of them have been successfully produced and delivered, one is being delivered to backers now, and the last one is in production. You can check out our Kickstarter Projects' history and stats on this website: