This Dorfromantik review was made after playing through 18 games of a campaign. There will be no spoilers in this review.
What is Dorfromantik?
Dorfromantik Rules Overview
Your goal in Dorfromantik is to score as many points as possible. There are multiple ways to score points, including completing tasks, closing off specific territories, and new scoring opportunities that unlock as you play through the campaign.
All you do on a turn is play one tile so that it legally connects to the map. Throughout the game, the tiles you play will add forests, grain fields, villages, railroad tracks, and streams to your city.
The two types of tiles are Task tiles and Landscape tiles. You’ll always have three Task tiles in play, so if you start a turn with less than three, you play a Task Tile. Otherwise, you play a Landscape tile.
When you play a Task tile, you draw a random Task marker of that type and put it on the tile. The Task markers will tell you how many of a specific landscape type need to be connected to that tile.
The only other unique tiles at the start of a campaign are the Landscape tiles that have flags on them. The flag’s color tells you which landscape type it represents. To score a flag tile at the end of the game, you need to make sure that you don’t have any open edges of that landscape on tiles that are connected to it.
For the most part, you can put tiles wherever you want–other than streams and tracks needing matching edges–but you want to set up your map to get the most points possible. One of the ways you can do this is by trying to double/triple up tasks; for example, if you’re working on a 4-value stream task, you can use that same stream when you draw the 5-value Task marker.
After you’re done with a game, you’ll use a score pad to figure out your score. There’s no win or loss condition in this game. You just try to get the highest score you can.
There’s also a campaign pad that you’ll use to keep track of your progress. You’ll unlock more components as you move through the campaign, giving you more ways to score points.
There’s no real end point to the campaign. You can continue even after you unlock everything, or you can reset the game and start a new campaign.
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Dorfromantik – Pros and Cons
- Dorfromantik is one of the smoothest-playing cooperative games I’ve ever played. After you learn the rules, it’s just: pick up a tile, play the tile. That’s it!
- It’s very satisfying when you’re able to set up different kinds of scoring combos. It’s satisfying in the initial games, but it feels even better later on when you start to remember some of the tiles that are still in the two stacks.
- I think a lot of people will assume Dorfromantik is just a solo game that you can play cooperatively, but I think it’s an awesome cooperative experience. I’m sure it’s also great solo, but I’ve liked working with my teammates to find ideal placements for each tile. Having other people around to help is great for people like me who want to put each tile in the first spot that looks aesthetically pleasing.
- I didn’t mention this in the rules overview, but you always remove three random Landscape tiles at the beginning of the game. That adds a nice amount of unpredictability.
- I also like that every city you build will end up looking different than the rest. I regret not taking pictures after every game during my first campaign to compare all of them. I will be doing that from now on.
- Opening up the secret boxes and checking off achievements as you play through the campaign is genuinely exciting.
- Awesome insert. There’s a spot for everything, including unlocked components so you can easily get right back into your campaign.
- I don’t mention quarterbacking as a con very often anymore, but I can see it being a pretty big issue for some groups that play Dorfromantik. If one player in the group is better at this type of game than the other players, they could potentially take over and just tell everyone else where to place their tiles. A way to get around this is to let each player come up with two or three options on their own and then (optionally) work with their teammates.
- It can be hard to find the flag tiles (and some of the other tiles) once you’re a few games into the campaign and you’ve added in more components. I wish they had made the icons stand out a little bit more.
Dorfromantik – Final Thoughts
For someone like me who plays a lot of cooperative games, it’s always exciting to find co-ops that truly feel new and different. Dorfromantik is the second game in 2023 that has made me feel that way (the other one was Sky Team). I totally understand now why it won the Spiel des Jahres.
Dorfromantik really does play like a traditional puzzle but with scoring and a campaign to play through. My group (three players for the most part for this one) got a kick out of it from the very first game all the way through game 18. We found it so addictive that we played five or more consecutive games multiple times.
I also had a chance to test out Dorfromantik as a puzzle around Thanksgiving this year. We left the game in the corner of the room and one player at a time would go over and play a tile. It was a really cool way to play it.
This is not an edge-of-your-seat, high-tension game, but that’s not what it was designed to be. You kick back, relax, and try to build a city that is going to get you as many points as possible. The really exciting part is when you progress through the campaign and add more components to the game.
I highly recommend Dorfromantik to people who love to work on puzzles together (or think they would). It’s also a great change-of-pace cooperative game to have on the shelf.
Dorfromantik is probably best as a two or three-player game, but I think it’d also play well as a family game.
Update: Dorfromantik was added to our Best Gateway Board Games page!
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