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Smiths of Winterforge is a fun and well-paced board game of dwarven crafting. The game puts you in charge of a dwarven clan attempting to forge the best armour and weapons.
The ultimate aim is to win by forging more and better items than anyone else, and this is best achieved by fulfilling your Royal Contract. Players get one Royal Contract at the start of the game and cannot get more.
Other points are earned by completing regular contracts, either on your own or with the assistance of hired crew.
I took this image of a 4-player game in progress:
Each turn you can move through the halls to the market, where you purchase crafting materials such as steel or diamonds, or to the bank to borrow enough money to buy crafting materials, to the tavern to hire crew to help you complete contracts, and finally to the forge where you will make the items required by your contracts.
Shown here is my board from partway through the game. I have completed a few contracts (the face-down cards), and I have four in front of me, including my Royal Contract, an item called Thommag’s Favor. If I complete this I will receive 5 RP.
I’m out of crafting materials but I have the money to buy more, along with an outstanding loan which I must pay back before the end of the game or else suffer a penalty.
In fact this is the point in the game where I’m about to make a huge mistake, buying the best items I can afford, and heading off to forge that Reinforced Breastplate. With a score of 29 needed, it ended up taking me 7 attempts to complete!
To forge an item you roll dice, indicated on your crafting materials. Cheaper materials may let you roll a D4, while better equipment lets you roll a D6, D8, or D12. You can also add your forging skill to the roll.
If you succeed, you receive a monetary reward, usually enough to let you buy materials to forge your next item. If you fail, you get a +1 bonus on your next roll. However once you start forging, you can’t use those materials on another item, so even if you fail, you probably want to keep going next turn.
Unless you’ve made a huge mistake, you item will be forged in 1-3 attempts.
The game ends when the first player has completed their Royal Contract, or when all the ordinary contracts have been taken. The game finishes with the end of that round, and you have a final chance to pay back any outstanding loans before the scoring starts.
The player with the most RP wins, these are earned by completing contracts, with the Royal Contract awarding 5 RP.
What I like most about this game is the pacing. It works out that players are getting ready to complete their Royal Contracts at about the same time, I’ve never had an instance where one player seemed too far ahead or hopelessly behind.
Overall Smiths of Winterforge is a fun game that should suit newer board players, as well as giving experienced players another set a strategies to develop.
(note this review is based on the Kickstarter version of the game)