Dragoon: A Test of Aggressive Play

I had the opportunity to finally play Dragoon by Lay Waste Games, a game I happily backed on Kickstarter ages ago! Dragoon is a game about rival dragons, who subjugate local towns and villages while burning their opponents’ holdings to the ground. I was excited about the theory behind game play back then, and absolutely satisfied with how everything came together in the final product

Here’s the thing. You get to play a Dragon. A DRAGON. You want to hoard gold in any way you can. So every action you can take has the goal of gathering gold, whether it’s as tribute from human towns, stealing your opponents, or from the adventurous thief who is likewise trying to steal from all of you. And dragons don’t sit at home hoping gold shows up. They get out there and fight.

So an important question for me is whether this is a game that rewards Aggressive play.

Aggressive play can be a huge problem in a gaming group. In war games like Diplomacy, aggression often leads to player elimination, and the winner is simply the last one left standing. But other times, aggression leads to putting a player into a losing state without actually removing them from play. In Lords of Waterdeep, you can be so far behind in victory points that winning is absolutely improbable. And that’s just demoralizing.

Good news. Dragoon makes it work!

In Dragoon, play feels very temporary. Laying claim to a village is just as easy as destroying it. So building up an epic empire of subject towns isn’t hard, but you always know that it could crumble at any moment. You might lose towns through random chance! So your goals become very short term and utilitarian. How do I get the most gold right now. How do I stop someone else from hurting me this round?

And that’s perfect. Because another player’s aggression can’t remove you from the game. They can give you a setback, but scores can be very volatile. I was losing one round, winning the next, and losing again just as suddenly. And at none of those points did I feel stuck. It also meant I felt no guilt at all at those moments when I was aggressive. Because everyone can bounce back.

Which means Dragoon really allows you to be a Dragon. Aggressive, defensive, building, plotting, destroying. All of that and more.

I highly recommend you try out Dragoon! Try different playstyles, because this is a safe kind of environment to try a lot of strategies. Solid game theory opportunities, and I’m sure I’ll be talking about it more in the future!