I've been on the road a lot the past few weeks, which means I had a lot of time to marinate on some thoughts for Dung & Dragons. I got to thinking about ways to adapt some mechanics from San Juan, Pandemic, and Yspahan. Here are my loose notes from the road.
Welcome to Dragon Ranch Co-op, a group of free-thinking dragon breeders raising the finest dragons, drakes, coatls and winged serpents in the tri-county area. No corporate stakeholders allowed here, just free-range dragons raised the old-fashioned way. There are no managers or corporate execs running the show. Every day, each rancher chooses the duty he or she would like to perform. If others join in, so be it! Of course, getting these people to work as a team can be harder than raising a fire breathing reptile!
OVERVIEW OF PLAY
Each player coordinates their own workforce to perform various duties on the ranch. Inspectors arrive periodically to grade your ranch's performance thus far, in one of several categories. Your goal is to get the best grade across all categories before all the inspectors have arrived. Manage your workforce well and coordinate with the other players to achieve the best grades!
Place a Stable card on the table. Place your starting dragon on the Stable. (Dragon cards are oriented vertically on a horizontal Stable cards, so you can see the Stable's info even though the dragon is on top of it.)
Set the bank board to the side. It begins empty.
Shuffle the card deck and deal three cards to each player. If any of these cards are an Inspector, set them aside and draw a new card. Once everyone has three cards, shuffle the Inspectors back into the deck. (The card deck is comprised of Buildings, Skills, Inspectors and Dragons.)
HOW TO PLAY
Players take their turns at the same time. At the beginning of the turn, choose one duty for each worker and set that die so that the top face matches your chosen duty. For example, if you want a worker to go on shopping duty, you'd set it to . Keep your choice secret by covering it with your hand. Then, all players reveal their choices at the same time.
Duties are performed in order of the number noted at the top left of the card. So, shovelers work first, then feeders, then builders, then shoppers, then trainers, then coordinators. If multiple players choose the same duty, the player with the Coordinator marker does that duty first, followed by the player to his or her left, then the next player to the left, and so on, clockwise around the table.
Duties have different game effects depending on how many workers are assigned to the same duty in the same round. Each duty lists effects according to the number of players who've also chosen that duty. For example, more workers shoveling in the same round allows each shoveler to collect more chips than a single shoveler would be able to do alone.
*1 Shopping Duty
Shoppers go into town to bring back new supplies for the ranch. Sometimes they run into an inspector! It's important to draw cards one a time. If you ever draw an inspector card, follow its instructions immediately before proceeding with your turn.
1-2 Each shopper draws one card from the deck and keeps it in his or her hand. The first shopper draws two and may keep one.
3-4 Each shopper draws two cards from the deck and keeps them in his or her hand. The first shopper draws three and may keep up to two.
5-6 The first shopper draws four cards and may keep up to three. No other shoppers may draw cards.
*2 Shoveling Duty
Shovelers remove the valuable dragon guano from the stables, refining it into currency that can be spent to construct buildings, train skills, buy new dragons, etc.
1 The shoveler moves one facedown card from one dragon to the bank.
2-3 Each shoveler moves up to two facedown cards from each dragon to the bank.
4-6 Each shoveler moves up to three facedown cards from each dragon to the bank.
*3 Feeding Duty
Feeders provide food for the dragons. After all, they can't make guano without food! This is also the time when ranchers notice if a dragon is sick. It takes a whole team to restore a dragon's health, so feeders will have to forgo their duties to lend a hand. Otherwise, sick dragons simply refuse to eat.
1-2 Each feeder places a facedown card from their hand on each healthy dragon. OR If any dragon is SICK, one of those dragons is now healthy.
3-4 Each feeder places two facedown cards from their hand on each healthy dragon. OR If any dragon is SICK, two of those dragons are now healthy.
5-6 Each feeder places three facedown cards from their hand on each healthy dragon. OR If any dragon is SICK, three of those dragons are now healthy.
*4 Building Duty
Builders expand and upgrade the ranch's facilities. When you build a new building, place its card in the middle of the table.
1-2 You may build remove one building. Spend the listed chip cost.
3-4 Each builder may build or remove up to two buildings. Spend the listed chip cost.
5-6 Each player may build or remove up to three buildings. Spend the listed chip cost.
*5 Training Duty
Trainers improve the abilities of their workforce.
1-2 Each trainer may place one skill on one player. Spend the listed chip cost.
3-4 Each trainer may place up to two skills on up to two players. Spend the listed chip cost.
5-6 each trainer may place up to three skills on up to three players. Spend the listed chip cost.
*6 Coordinator Duty
The player who chooses this duty gets the Coordinator marker. The player farthest from the Coordinator marker wins ties.
END THE TURN
Discard: Each player has a hand limit of three cards. If you have more than three cards in your hand, you must discard the extra cards.
Healthcare: Each stable lists a maximum capacity for chips. If there are more chips in a stable than the capacity, that dragon becomes SICK. If the dragon was already SICK, it runs away from the ranch. Discard this dragon. Its chips remain in the stable.
Health Inspector grades the health of your dragons. Here is your ranch's current grade in Health.
One healthy dragon = F
Two healthy dragon = D
Three healthy dragon = C
Four healthy dragon = B
Five healthy dragon = A
Building Inspector grades the facilities of your ranch. The inspector likes to see groups of three matching buildings. Here is your ranch's current grade in Building.
One group of three matching buildings. = F
Two groups of three matching buildings. = D
Three groups of three matching buildings. = C
Four groups of three matching buildings. = B
Five groups of three matching buildings. = A
Sanitation Inspector grades the cleanliness of your ranch. Here is your ranch's current grade in Sanitation.
Four chips on any dragon. = F
Three chips on any dragon. = D
Two chips on any dragon. = C
One chip on any dragon. = B
No chips on any dragon. = A
Training Inspector grades the skills of your dragons. Here is your ranch's current grade in Training.
One player with three skills. = F
Two players with three skills. = D
Three players with three skills. = C
Four players with three skills. = B
Five players with three skills. = A
After drawing an Inspector, shuffle it back into the deck.
There are also various cards that can contribute to raising grades in categories. Buildings that contribute to sanitation scores. Skills that contribute to Health scores. The basic idea being that this is a cooperative game with gradients of success, but the axes of success tug against each other.
END OF GAME
The game ends when each category has been graded at least twice. It is possible that a category might be graded several times. As the inspectors get shuffled back into the deck, they appear more and more often, with less opportunity to adjust between tests.