The lengthy setup and rules explanation was only toddler-interrupted a handful of times, and we got down to the business of dwarven dwelling development, daring deeds, dirt digging and drift mining soon after 8.30. The game has you develop a smallholding featuring sheep, pigs, donkeys, cows, wheat and pumpkins (to feed your family and score points); mine a mountain for ore (to equip adventurers) and rubies (to do almost anything you want); and send your dwarves on strictly non-perilous yet somehow exciting adventures to bring back such things as wood, stones, sheep, cattle, cheap fencing and interior decoration.
Hannah and Joe both specialised in mining and adventure early on, allowing them to develop their caves quickly, while I (Adam) got my farm up and running with wheat and pumpkins planted and sheep already shagging come the first harvest.
We played a rule wrong for our first adventurer each (the one about adventure-dwarves levelling up after a trip where they bag multiple rewards). Joe spotted it after he and Hannah had both got a couple of free promotions so kindly let me do the same. But with a game this complex only one quickly-corrected error signifies heroic rules explanationeering.
Joe was first to increase his family size to three and then to four and dotted his mountain with ruby mines, only developing his forest and investing in animals relatively late to feed his hungry masses. He used his rubies to annoying effect during the game with his adventurers often jumping the queue to steal the best spaces, but was beaten to both the ruby spaces on the last turn, hurting his bonus buildings (treasure hut) badly.
|Adam - Joe - Hannah|
Hannah grew to four dwarves a little later than Joe and tried to balance her smallholding - planting fields, breeding animals, mining ore and rubies and levelling up adventurers nicely she scored in every category on the points sheet except gold coins. Notably she had to keep building mines for the donkeys to live in as they bred.
I stuck with a size three family and relied totally on a sinister industrialized agribusiness cramming animals into every nook and cranny. My game-end bonus buildings boosted animals, sheep and wheat/pumpkin pairs, so my 30 animals and 17 plants brought in 3/4 of my points. Joe's 48 points just for the little shields on the board convinced me he'd won until the scores were totted up:
My cruel disregard for animal welfare (and the aforementioned bonus buildings) won the day. With the clock showing 11pm we packed away (fitting Joe's deluxe pieces back into the box is a game in itself) and said fond farewells, congratulating ourselves on keeping the GNN flame burning through these pox-riddled times.