Three Dragon Ante
Un-Poker with Dragons
What if there was a version of poker where you actually used your own cards to determine the amount that was in the stakes? And what if the cards you played with were a mix of good dragons, evil dragons, and mortals? Welcome to Three Dragon Ante.
Unlike poker, there is no bluffing. Each round you commit one of your cards to the ante, which helps determine the bid that everyone must play into the “stakes.” After that, it’s a battle to see who has the strongest (or in some cases weakest) set of three cards, and the winner takes the pot (or what’s left of it if people have been stealing from it). It’s wonderfully simple, but the vast number of possible combinations and situations has kept me playing this game over and over again.
- Decisions: 5/5. Do I ante my best card to force my opponents to put in lots of gold? Do I save that special card for later, or use it before someone has a chance to steal it from me? The decisions in this game usually go pretty quick, but at times they can be devastatingly tricky.
- Artwork: 4/5. The style of artwork in Three Dragon Ante (mimicking woodblock prints) appeals to me, and the novel card shape and size is a nice touch.
- Replayability: 4/5. So far in my experience, different numbers of players yield a completely different kind of game (the tactics that work for a 2-player game may not work as well in a 5-6 player game). And if you get the expansion (see below), the possibilities for mixing and matching cards from the two sets are huge.
- Awesomeness: 4/5. I love Three Dragon Ante. The balance of luck and chance is just perfect in this game, and the thoughtful card interactions are a delight to watch.
TOTAL SCORE: 17/20
Bottom line: Get yourself a copy of Three Dragon Ante if you can find it. But also get yourself a nice set of poker chips or coins to play with; it helps complete the experience. Ante up!
Three Dragon Ante: Emperor’s Gambit
Unlike most expansions, this one is completely playable by itself. And despite what I expected, it plays quite well by itself. I have also tried various combinations of the cards from this game and the original “base” game, all with great success. None of the combinations seemed broken; they all worked well. And that’s saying something.
My review for the base game holds for this one as well.
Bottom line: If you can’t find the original game, buy this one instead. You won’t be disappointed (as long as you have your own set of poker chips!).