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Fist of Dragonstones: Alternate Rules

A few years ago, Sonja and I bought a little box game called Fist of Dragonstones (whose webpage is mysterious inoperative at the time of this writing). Each player is a prince who is trying to score fame by racking up Dragonstones, which you do by hiring a bunch of characters who do stuff for you. There are a ton of cards with neat characters on them, and the Dragonstones themselves (in three colors), and money that you use to hire the characters in silent auctions.

This box contained all the pieces for a good game, but the actual play is dull and dreary. It goes like this: you flip over a character, everyone puts some gold and silver in their closed fist, and everyone shows their bid at the same time. The one holding the most money gets the guy. You do this dozens of times, and it quickly becomes repetitive. Plus, because it’s a silent auction, there is very little player-to-player interaction, except in ties.

So we decided that we should make some new rules. We like the cards themselves, and they’re pretty well balanced. We thought the “get people to get stones to get points” flow of the original game plays nicely, so we kept that. But we really liked the idea of hiring people and getting them ‘on your team,’ but there was no team in the stock game, so we added that. We also kept getting into auctions for characters no one wanted, so we gave the players more freedom to choose the person to be auctioned. This all fell out into the following rules:

Fist of Dragonstones: Team Edition

Changes from Stock
  1. Photocopy the silver cards
  2. Play to six victory points instead of three
  3. A silver is equal to one half of a common gold, instead of being a tie-breaker
  4. All bids are public: the tokens go down on the table as they are announced
  5. Any cards referring to the characters already auctioned refers to the discard pile
  6. Any cards referring to the characters not yet auctioned refers to the cards on the auction table
  7. The Witch now kills a player on the auction table or in a players’ hand. If the Witch targets the other Witch, both are killed.
  8. The Imp replaces himself with any character on the auction table at time of use. The replacement does automatically get played, but can be used if actions remain
  9. The Goblin replaces himself with the top character in the character pile. The replacement does automatically get played, but can be used if actions remain
  10. The Ghost acts as if he were any of the characters in the discard pile. The discarded character’s action is used immediately, and does not count as a separate action
  11. The Doppleganger acts as if he were any of the characters on the auction table or in a players’ hand. The other character’s action is used immediately, and does not count as a separate action
Set up
  1. Start the game by randomly drawing 4 dragonstones for each player
  2. Then deal cards out to the center of the table, two per player
  3. Choose a player to go first. She selects one card. Next, the player on her left chooses one, then the player on *her* left, etc. When all players have chosen one, go in reverse order choosing a second card
  4. Deal out four cards to the center. This is the auction table
  5. Each player gets five Fairy Gold, Two Common Gold, and Three Silver
  6. Set up is now complete. Your table should look like this:
    already set up table
The Round

The person who chose the first card is the round starter. Give them a token.

  1. That player takes a turn (see below)
  2. Each player in clockwise order takes a turn
  3. When each player has taken a turn, pass the round starter token to the left, and all fairy gold returns to its player. That person is now the round starter, and takes the first turn in the next round.
The Turn
  1. The player uses up to two of their characters.
    The effect written on the card takes place at this time.
    Gold characters, once used, are placed in the discard pile. Silver characters are turned sideways on the first use, then discarded on the second use
  2. The player can optionally chooses a card from the auction table to bid on
    1. The current player places an openning bid of whatever amount they want this is a public bid: all monies are places on the table for all to see
    2. Each player around the table can meet or raise this bid
    3. When all players agree not to or cannot raise, the winner is decided. That player pays the amount bid and takes the card into their team. Any bids that did not win the other players get their money back. In the event of a tie, the highest bidders pay, but no one gets the card

We’ve played this through once, and play is quick and fun: it took around 45 minutes to reach six points. This preserves the cards almost completely intact (the Witch changes slightly, and the scope of a few of the other characters is redefined to make sense in the new scheme). While similar in structure, the varying powers of the characters mean that the turns are each different and you never know what’s coming next, even though almost everything is laid out on the table. We’ll have to play it a few more times, but so far we really like what we’ve done with it.