Dwarven Smithy has a few game mechanics you will quickly recognize. At its core, Dwarven Smithy uses set collection as the primary game mechanic. Resource management is a secondary game mechanic where players balance and wisely choose how to use the various in-game resources to achieve their goals. Another mechanic used is a combination of hand/table/area management, where players decide the best use of randomly drawn cards, played to a limited number of spaces on the table from a limited hand size. Player must choose when and where to play cards from their hand. There are a few other mechanisms in the game that keep the game fun, such as achievements, bonuses and hidden information. Risk, reward and time play a big part in player decisions.
Dwarven Smithy has a Euro-game feel. The game puts emphasis on simple rules and actions, keeping all players in the game until the end, indirect player interaction, less direct conflict and more strategy. There is an element of luck when drawing cards but this also makes each game different.
Before explaining any more, I need to give a short overview so you can visualize the game. The center of the table contains two draw decks of Order cards and Resource cards. Orders represent customers, and the King, asking for handcrafted items, but there are also special tools or abilities. Resources represent your mining suppliers, magical runes and players don’t control what resources are available. A player’s workshop card sits on the table in front of each player that reserves spaces for cards played to the table. The space above the workshop card is called the ‘Shop’ area and it contains 4 places for played cards. The space below the workshop card is called the ‘Work’ area and it contains 6 places for played cards.
Player’s Turn (4 Phases)
Game Downtime/Adding Value to Cards
Dwarven Smithy simulates working in a smithy shop where time is valuable and there are only so many things one dwarf can do! In designing the game, we carefully picked the order of phases on a player's turn, used player downtime to generate value (gold) and risk is rewarded. To win the game, you must have the most gold. If you look at the phases of a turn, you will notice Actions are taken on the 3rd phase and cards are drawn on the 4th phase. Dwarven Smithy makes you wait. Waiting adds value.
Every gold piece you earn has either risk or time invested in it. You must get the resource you need, possibly refine it, collect all the usable resources needed to craft the Order then you have to wait to complete the order. When you receive gold from selling an Order, you definitely feel you have worked for it.
Lastly, players cannot discard cards from their hand. This restriction actually glues many gameplay dynamics together. Players can choose to keep the cards in their hand however; players can only play cards to either their Shop or Work areas. Any card moved or played to the Shop on the player's turn has to remain there until the player's next turn (wait mechanic). This means any card moved or played to the Shop is at risk of being purchased by another player. If another player didn’t purchase a card from you, then resource cards in the Shop area can be sold for half their value to a warehouse or Orders can be discarded. With limited spaces on the table and a limited hand size, players have to make meaningful choices on how to play each card in their hand.
That’s all for this week and thank you.
~ Mike Warth
Begin with the end in mind ~ Stephen R. Covey’s second habit of highly effective people
Other game designers blog or post about how they come up with their idea for games and how their game was developed. So, I'd like to tell a short story about how I came up with the idea for Dwarven Smithy. It happened on the way to work...
Charles, Craig and I were already working on a few other games so I didn't plan on making a card game that day. Sitting at a stop light, waiting to turn up a road to get to work, I looked down at my phone then looked up again to check the light and a fast moving dump/cement truck was just a few inches away from the front of my car! I remember seeing a blur of a name on the side of the driver’s door, "Smittys". I sat there for a few moments more, waiting for the light to change, composing myself and thought a few inches closer would have been bad bad news. I'm thankful I wasn't hit or hurt, it was a close call.
So I turn, travel up the road to work and started to think,'Smittys', then thought 'Smithys'. I asked myself, 'Is there a game about dwarves in a smithy shop?' During that day at work and on my breaks, an idea started to form in my head of a card game and I started to type on my phone the outline of the game.
In making the outline, I had a few ideas/goals to keep in mind when I chose the mechanics of the game.
By the end of the day, the core mechanics of the game were figured out. Within a month, we were developing and playing a prototype.
~ Mike Warth
Dwarven Smithy is hand and area management card game. You are smithy, working in a limited space, trying to earn gold by using resources to complete orders. Players choose to draw resources and/or orders but they can also be purchase from other players or players can purchase resources from a warehouse. Use abilities to change the rules or tools to use fewer resources in making orders. Special orders made for the King are revealed at the end of the game and the player with the most gold at the end of the game wins.