Review: Save the Dragon

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Length 10 minutes

Release Date 2020

Designer: Fréderic Moyersoen
Artist: Stivo
Publisher: Blue Orange Games
Category: Roll-and-Move, Children’s Game
Players: 2-4

Save the Dragon is a children’s game from Blue Orange. With a simple ruleset and a cool, three-dimensional table presence, it provides a great introduction to basic strategy and decision-making.

Review

As my daughter enters her toddler phase (Lord have mercy), I am checking out little-kid games in hopes of introducing her to the tabletop hobby. Save the Dragon is a new one from Blue Orange, and right out of the box, it just looks fun. Using the box as a base, the game is played on a super-cool 3D staircase with 3 chutes at the top from which boulders can fall.

Given that this game is aimed at tiny players, the rules are very minimal. The goal is to reach the top of the staircase, where the player can (you guessed it) save the dragon.

Each turn, the active player rolls a die that lets her move 1, 2, or 3 spaces – movement can be left, right, or up. On a roll of 1 or 2, the player can also roll the action die, which allows her to either:

  • Move the shield or door piece to a different slot, or
  • Roll the boulder through either of the 2 open doors.

These dice are CHONKY.

The latter is where the game’s “action” element comes in. When the spherical wooden boulder gets rolled, it tumbles down the staircase, possibly knocking over player pawns in its path.

Any players who get knocked off the stairs earn a token, which can be used on a future turn to move an extra space. The first player to reach the top wins!


Like I said, there’s not much to this game, but for its target audience, that’s perfect. By my count, this game offers 4 decisions:

  1. Which direction do I move (up, left, or right)?
  2. If I get to move a board element, do I move the door or the shield, and where?
  3. If I get to roll the boulder, which of the 2 open doors do I roll it from?
  4. If I have bonus movement tokens, when do I use them?

Now, these decisions are simple and would all be immediately obvious to an adult, but to a kid, they are just difficult enough to make them think strategically. I played this with my 3-year old godson, and he had a blast with it. He understood what was happening, and he was able to make the “correct” choices most of the time. (Admittedly, the game eventually devolved into him just rolling the boulder over pawns, but he was having fun, so whatever.)

My daughter is probably a year and a half from being able to play this, but I definitely plan to when she is ready. Save the Dragon is a a great stepping stone for starting the youngest gamers in the hobby. It’s super accessible, it does a good job introducing basic strategy, and it looks awesome on the table. If you have a tiny gamer-to-be in your house, this is definitely one to check out.

A review copy was provided by Blue Orange Games.

The Bottom Line

Save the Dragon is an awesome game for instilling the love of the tabletop hobby in young children.

 

Stephen Hall

A bard pretending to be a cleric. Possibly a Cylon, too. I was there when they dug up the "E.T." cartridges.