Look Up Wizard in the Phonebook: Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game Review


Review Summary

Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game is a card-based strategic game that situates you and up to 4 friends in the eponymous book series, taking on the role of one or more protagonists.

Dresden Files Game Box (Front)
Wait, that’s not Paul Blackthorne!
As a fan of the books, the use of the intellectual property (IP) hits all of the right spots for me. The base game provides you five book scenarios (including the ever-random Side Jobs deck), as well as five characters.

The components are of average quality, and that is not meant as a slight. They are fine, just not anything that stands out positively or negatively. On the other hand, I am a big fan of the artwork. I agree with other reviewers that it does get a bit boring with having repetitive artwork, but for me, that’s mostly because I would appreciate seeing more of it.

Overall, the gameplay is challenging and plays out as a fun-themed puzzle with a bit of randomness tossed in. I enjoy the game on solo–I especially enjoy the app as it lets me get games in when I may otherwise not–but some of that enjoyment is derived from being a Dresden Files game.

If you like card-based strategy/puzzle games, then you will probably enjoy the game. If that applies and you are a Dresden Files fan, then the game is en fuego

Extended Review

Contents / Components

The game box is nice quality and big enough to hold any future expansions you purchase. The only complaint from some is the inability to put sleeved cards into the box; however, I have been using KMC Perfect Size soft sleeves without any problem.

Picture of Dresden Files Game Box
Can’t wait to fill this with more expansions…
Inside the box you will find:

  • Game board
  • 5 character decks (12 cards each)
  • 5 regular book decks (13 cards each) and a Side Jobs deck (30 cards)
  • Token punchboard (77 tokens for fate, clues, and hits)
  • 8 fate dice (4 purple and 4 orange…perhaps the designer is a Clemson fan?)
  • Rulebook
  • Dividers


  • Picture of Dresden FIles Game Tokens (Fate Clue Hit)
    Only 77 for you to punch out

Game Basics

The game consists of two types of decks: character decks (cards you play) and book decks (scenario you are trying to overcome).

Each book deck has 4 basic types of cards that players with which players interact:

  • Foes who can be attacked
  • Cases which can be investigated
  • Obstacles which can be overcome
  • Advantages which can be taken
Picture of Dresden Files Storm Front Deck
Storm Front Book Scenario (aka, one of the easier ones)
Each character deck has 4 basic types of cards that allow you do the following actions:

  • Attack foes
  • Investigate cases
  • Overcome obstacles
  • Take advantages
Picture of Dresden Files Game Harry Deck
Of course Harry’s ego requires you to use his deck in every game

Game Setup

Game setup, especially if you are using the game board, is rather quick and straightforward.

Picture of Dresden FIles Game Board
Even I can keep the game state organized with this
You will need to select the book scenario (or Side Jobs) you will be encountering, and then select the character decks you will be using. Shuffle each deck–there aren’t many cards, so just a few shuffles should be enough–and then place create a 6×2 grid with the book deck (again, the game board gives you outlines where to place cards); for the character decks, you will draw cards based on the number of players.

If you have obstacles at the end of the row, then you should swap them with the card in the 5th row slot. If an obstacle is also in the 5th row slot, then you will need to push the obstacles ahead 1 slot and move the card in the 4th slot to the 6th slot.

Now you are ready to start investigating, attacking, and planning for showdown.

Playing the Game

Playing the game is rather straightforward.

The active player has three possible options:

  • Play a card from hand.
  • Discard a card for fate, which allows you to use your character’s talent.
  • Use your character’s stunt (only available once per game).

From there, each player takes their turns until the pre-showdown phase of the game ends.

The showdown can be triggered one of two ways: the active player has no cards to discard for fate or the active player elects to enter the showdown.

My Thoughts

Theme

I absolutely love the theme!

One of the complaints of the game is its difficulty, which is in part related to randomness. The ordering of the cards can greatly impact your group’s ability to win; the showdown rolls don’t always go your way.

But in my mind this is all related to the theme. In the Dresden Files series, Harry and his friends are constantly on the verge of failing. And, sometimes they even do.

On top of that, the character cards do a good job encapsulating each person–or animal in the case of Mouse if you seek out the kickstarter exclusive. And for those familiar with the books, the book deck cards align well with each story. While you will not necessarily complete the game in the same order as the respective book–though the conditions on some cards actually require you to do so–you can to some degree “feel” the story playing out.

Though the artwork is considered a negative (including to a smaller degree by me), it also helps provide some thematic elements. While understanding of why the artwork is repetitive (hint: $$$), having different artwork for each card would make the theme even more immersive.

Pace of Play

No, you didn’t magically get warped to a baseball blog. Pace of play, as all games know, is just as important in our hobby.

Under theme, I mentioned the less than ideal repetitive artwork. Well, one advantage is that it makes identifying the different cards (investigate, attack, etc.) easy.

Also, if you follow the instructions your group will be working with limited information throughout the game. Not only this an added challenge, it also should expedite the game since players won’t all be attempting to work together on each turn. Simple comments like: Do you have an investigate card? or Can someone take care of this obstacle? can be answered quickly and allow for quick movement through turns.

Last, each game consists of only 12 cards for the book deck. This is enough to provide a challenging puzzle without creating a prolonged game. For someone who likes multiple experiences during a game night, being able to generally complete a game in around 30 minutes is a great advantage.

Replayability

I will limit this review to just the base game, but I do want to mention that for a relatively low cost you can expand the playability by adding 2 new characters, 2 new books, and some side Side Jobs cards for only around 8 bucks per bundle. See end of post for a list of available expansions.

Even within just the base game, though, you have five character cards and five book (including Side Jobs) decks. Not quite infinite, but it does provide a lot of configurations, giving you a good bit of replayability even if you just count playing each configuration. Add in that some book/character card configurations are harder than others, and you have a game that can keep you busy for many gaming sessions.

Instruction Booklet

Ok, so I know the instruction booklet is not the make-or-break thing for purchasing a game. But, they really did do a good job on the instructions. Nice diagrams and clear explanations.

Picture of Dresden FIles Game Instruction Booklet
May Bob help you if this doesn’t help you understand

Expansions

As promised, here are a list of the available expansions through September 3, 2018:

Winter Schemes

Winter Schemes (expansion 5) includes:

  • 2 characters: Winter Knight Harry and Winter Lady Molly
  • 2 books: Skin Game and Cold Days
  • Extra Side Jobs cards

Dead Ends

Winter Schemes (expansion 4) includes:

  • 2 characters: Mortimer Lindquist and Jared Kincaid
  • 2 books: Changes and Ghost Story
  • Extra Side Jobs cards

Wardens Attack

Wardens Attack (expansion 3) includes:

  • 2 characters: Carlos Ramirez and Anastasia Luccio
  • 2 books: Small Favor and Turn Coat
  • Extra Side Jobs cards

Helping Hands

Helping Hands (expansion 2) includes:

  • 2 characters: Molly Carpenter and Sanya
  • 2 books: Proven Guilty and White Knight
  • Extra Side Jobs cards


Fan Favorites

Fan Favorites (expansion 1) includes:

  • 2 characters: Thomas Raith and Waldo Butters
  • 2 books: Blood Rites and Dead Beat
  • Extra Side Jobs cards




Wesley Lyles

Wesley is a jack of all trades hobbyist. Though much of his spare time is spent playing board games (especially solo card games like Legendary), Hearthstone, Rocket League, and MLB The Show.e He also enjoys most sports, but pays way too much attention to baseball and football.

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