Update: Dragonbond: Lords of Vaala is live on Kickstarter and the campaign will run for 24 days. All pledges that contain the base game include the Armies of Blood & Dreams minis expansion for free. Higher pledges contain new creatures and/or playable characters. The highest pledge levels contain one to three "gargantuan minis" in 240mm scale. All extra content is also available as add-ons for mix and match, as are dice, a playmat and sleeves.
Our preview post below was published on July 30.
Dragonbond: Lords of Vaala is a 1-4 players area control game in which players are either Human Generals or Dragons, but may share their power by becoming Dragonbonded. The game is set in the same universe as previous games from Draco Studios. The campaign will launch on Kickstarter on August 2.
The game is always played with all four factions in play. Two of these are Human Generals and the other two are Dragons. Any faction that is not controlled by a player is run by a card-driven automaton so that in solo, you play against 3 such automata. The game can end in three ways: when any Human player is eliminated; at the end of the round when the Event deck runs out; or when a player collects 10 Power Tokens. In the first two cases, the player with the most Power Tokens wins the game. However, if a General and a Dragon ever share a space (with the exception of a direct attack), the players must then roll a die each. If both dice show a hit, they become permanently Dragonbonded and will share defeat or victory. In that case, the winning goal is raised to 15 Power Tokens, but they acquire new, mightier abilities.
At the beginning of the game, each player receives a deck of Action cards specific to their faction. The game is then played in a succession of rounds until one of the three end game conditions is met. Each round is split into three phases: Planning, Resolution, and Clean-Up. In the Planning phase, you first draw an Event card face up and use it to form a stack. Then, you may pick one of your Action cards and add it face down to the stack. All the AI players will then do the same, playing a random card from their own Action deck. You keep on doing so until you no longer want or can play a card, but the AI players will always play all the cards in their hands. Finally, a second Event card is added face down to the stack.
In the Resolution phase, you flip over the stack formed in the Planning phase and resolve the cards one by one. Once resolved, the action cards go back to your hand. Dragon players, however, may heal one wound instead of resolving their card and must do so if they have no health points left (that way, they cannot die and cannot be eliminated). Your cards allow you take a great variety of actions: they let you initiate a battle in a region, move armies and dragons, collect Power Tokens from the board, get and use Vaala cards (powerful spells you can cast), hire units as a Human General player, fortify a region with a city etc. Some cards list several actions, and you must take all of them if able.
When combat occurs in a region, a number of dice equal to the combat value of the attacker is rolled. This combat value is different for Dragons and Generals: that of the Dragons is determined by their current health, that of the General is equal to the number of units under their control in that region. Dice can show standard hits or critical hits. Critical hits are immediately applied to the defending force: Dragons will suffer wounds and units will be destroyed. Then, the defender rolls as many dice to counterattack as their combat value (possibly weakened by the critical hits they have suffered), and all hits, both critical and standard, are applied to the attacker, while all standard hits from the attacker are now simultaneously applied to the defender as well. You go through these different steps as many times as necessary for either the attacker or the defender to be wiped out, unless you, as the attacker, wish to retreat first. If a General is in the region and their forces are destroyed, they may retreat to any region under their control; if such a region no longer exists, they are eliminated from the game.