Some concepts are so perfectly complimentary to one another that it can be hard to deviate from the standard expectation just because of how darn well the imagery and concepts work together. Summer and the beach. Ghosts and Halloween. Peanut butter and jelly. And, as it happens here, dwarves and mining.
This isn’t a coincidence. There’s been a correlation between dwarves and smithing since they first appeared in Norse mythology over 800 years ago. Dwarves have been imbued with many traits and mannerisms since their inception. Yet one of the most consistent ones – besides being somewhat height-challenged – to survive into the modern era is that of their crafting acumen. Namely due to a combination of folklore and fantasy media that has, shall we say, hammered it home over the years. From the tale of Snow White, to the worlds of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth and Lewis’ Narnia, to the advent of Dungeons & Dragons, dwarves have become a staple of high fantasy, complete with the stereotypical visage of a bearded male, grizzled and gruff, who only seems to care about being in the mines, at the anvil, or in a pub. We have crafted a solid identity for these mythical folk, much as we have with swashbuckling pirates, pillaging vikings, and shambling hordes of zombies, and while we may get deviation from time to time, it’s unlikely that image is going to radically change anytime soon.
Nor does it necessarily need to. As Dwarven Smithy by Flatworks Gaming clearly illustrates.
This is a game whose theme is steeped in everything you’d expect a game about dwarven mining. It is an excellent example of a game that works in familiar thematic territory but still provides a worthwhile experience due to its quality and mechanical ingenuity. Done right, as Dwarven Smithy is, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to have a decent product.
Which is probably good news because dwarves don’t use a ton of wheels to begin with.
In this flavorful game of hand and tableau management, players are (naturally) dwarven crafters competing to see who can be the most profitable. Each turn requires you be mindful of multiple aspects of your workshop. For one, you only have so much workshop space to work at any given time, which includes the refinement of raw resources, using resources to assemble specific items, and training new staff. Excess cards must either be held in your hand or sent to the market for some extra cash. Holding on to cards in your hand can be useful if space on your table is an issue, but the more cards you keep, the fewer cards you can go mining for. The more efficient you can be in your workshop operations, the better your odds of becoming the most profitable dwarf at the table at the end of the game.
Many games like to abstract the whole ‘dwarven mining’ trope down to something simplistic, but Dwarven Smithy goes the other direction by putting all those elements on full display. The result is an enjoyable exercise in workshop management, where you must plan ahead, maximize tableau efficiency, assemble profitable items, and above all, actually go digging for desperately desired precious gems – something oddly absent from most dwarf games.
Well, until now.
But you don’t have to take our word about how well-run this subterranean workshop is, because thanks to a generous partnership with the Khazad-dûm Board of Commerce & Tourism, we’re able to show you by giving off a copy of the game! (We’d have preferred to get you into the live smithy instead but no one on the Board is returning our calls…)
From now until August 6th you can check the contest out on our Facebook page, or by entering below. Just follow the entry form and proceed with the contest. The more you do, even if just one, you still have a better chance than not entering at all. Of course you’re welcome to do that too. But your odds of winning drop to zero. No pressure or anything.
The Fine Print: The Cardboard Republic, in conjunction with Flatworks Gaming is giving this game away strictly for entertainment purposes. This act is not a paid endorsement by Flatworks Gaming or any other entity. This contest is open to individuals only. Staff members of The Cardboard Republic and Flatworks Gaming are not eligible to participate. For winners outside of the Continental US, the publisher reserves the right to request they cover part or all of the shipping costs.