Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Dorfromantik: the Board Game

It's been awhile since I've written a board game review. So, I've decided to end that drought today and talk about, Dorfromantik: The Board Game. (I will note here that I originally typed dorfromantik as two words, "dorf" and "romantik" because this is how the game's logo design makes it appear, but that "dorfromantik" is one word.)

Dorfromantik is of German origins. According to Google translate in German, "dorf" means village and "romantik" means "romance." According to Zwi Zausch, one of the game's designers (in an interview with  Robert Purchese of the word "dorfromantik" is "an older word ... usually used to describe the kind of nostalgic feeling you get when you long to be in the countryside."

Zwi Zausch quoted above is one of four designers along with Luca Langenberg, Sandro Heuberger, and Timo Falcke who make up the company, Toukana Interactive. The four were German students studying at HTW Berlin, and their design is not for a board game, but for Dorfromtik a computer game. As a computer game (we have it for the Nintendo Switch,) Dorfromantik is a gentle, calming, hex-tile placement kind of game that according to its designers was inspired by board games.

So, Dorfromantik: The Board Game is based on a computer game that was itself inspired by board games. If I'm being honest, I found Dorfromantik on the Switch to be kind of slow and boring. Despite this, the board game continued to be intriguing. Then Julie and I saw Dorfromantik: The Board Game featured in a YouTube video of, "Top Ten Comfort Games" and we knew that we had to try it. In addition to this, the board game iteration of Dorfromantik is designed by Michael Palm and Lukas Zach, two designers responsible for another cooperative board game that Julie and I really enjoy called, The Dwarves

In Dorfromantik: The Board Game, players work cooperatively to place randomly drawn tiles into a shared "map" of a serene countryside made up of farmlands, forests, village homes, railroad tracks and gently winding streams. Three of the tiles in your shared countryside must always be task tiles. Task tiles are of one of the five types listed above, that are then covered by a little numbered token (usually a 4, 5 or 6.) The number challenges you to place a grouped set of tiles having the same base type as the task tile together (including the task tile itself) to equal but not exceed that number. 

If not contributing to a task, tiles aren't required to be placed next to those of like terrains except for train tracks and streams. Tracks and streams must always be placed next to each other so that the track or stream can continue uninterrupted. Completing tasks scores points, which is the goal, but as a cooperative game, there isn't really any way to win or lose the game. Instead, as you play and score points you "unlock" new tasks, new kinds of tiles, and other goodies hidden away in tuck boxes within the main game box, not to be opened until you reach certain plateaus in game play. This is very true to Dorfromantik's video game origins, and it works amazingly well here. Julie and I have played Dorfromantik over 20 times in a row excited to unlock more surprises. 

Back in October of 2021, Julie and I backed a game on Kickstarter called, Mythwind. Mythwind promises to be a sort of village building adventure game designed in the same vein as computer games like Animal Crossing where the goal isn't to win or lose, but to play and build and evolve and experience the game. We found the idea of a game without a winner really interesting and novel, but we weren't sure how that might work. Dorfromantik proves that this not only can work, but its something that Julie and I really enjoy. (I hope Mythwind nails this experience as perfectly as Dorfromantik does.)

So, yeah. We love Dorfromantik. (I even plan to go back and give the video game another try.) I think Dorfromantik might be the perfect "couples" game, especially if you like a serene shared experience like one you might get from putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Dorfromantik is relaxing, but offers excitement in the form of the unlockable treats hiding in its tuck boxes. It offers the kind of joy that one might imagine from a childhood Christmas that's completely free of drama. If this sounds good to you, give Dorfromantik: The Board Game a try.

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