Trolldilemma Card Game Kickstarter Preview
Trolldilemma Card Game Preview
WBG Score: 7/10
Player Count: 3-5
You’ll like this if you like: Cockroach Poker, Skull, Citadels.
Published by: Barefoot games
Designed by: Tim Jahn
Disclaimer: This game was provided free for an unbiased preview. Trolldilemma is the second game from Barefoot Games, the team behind 2020 release Chef à La Card. It is hitting Kickstarter in Autumn 2021. This is a preview copy with slightly different quality components and print quality of the final version. But otherwise, this represents the mechanics and rules of the final game.
Trolldilemma on face value looks incredibly simple, but there is some depth to this game that will surprise and maybe even delight you. You play as a Troll under a bridge, attacking anyone who dares to trip-trap over your bridge. Traveller cards will be revealed in the same number as there are players. Each player will then be assigned one of the Travellers to go to their bridge. Players will then either gain the benefit of that particular Traveller card or take the loss it brings depending on the cards text. But the way the cards are assigned, and the clever way their value changes is what makes this game fun.
Let me explain. In Trolldilemma, there are 55 different traveller cards. Each cards shows the characters Courage in the top right of the card. The Courage scores run from one to 55. The higher you go in Courage, the bigger the target for the Troll, and the greater the reward when the Troll robs that Traveller. So, you always want to get the higher value card right? No! That would be too easy!
The very top value Traveller cards, those with a courage of 42 or higher, will take away your coins. The braver the Traveller, the greater the reward. However, if they become too brave, they will fight back and rob you! So, players will be looking to get the higher value cards, but not when they are too high. Although it wont always be completely within their control.
After the first round wen Traveller cards are assigned by table order, and when everyone has at least one Traveller who has come their way; all cards are reversed to show the Skull side. Then, on every subsequent round, once the Travellers for that round have been drawn in the Reveal phase, all players on the count of three will give their skulls to themselves or any other player at the table. The player with the highest number of skulls will then get the highest value courage cards. So, if the highest value card is offering nine coins, it’s a straight fight for who can get the most skulls and people will give their Skulls to themselves hoping to have the most. But if the top card robs you of your coins and the second highest value card gets you coins, you need to find a way to have the second most skulls, but certainly not the most. You may give some to yourself, and some Skulls to others.
As you get more Skull cards, your power to dictate who gets which card in the following round will increase. You may not want the most Skulls in one round, but it does mean that you have more power to vote in later rounds. It may be that in one round, no one wants the top card as it is has a negative effect due to its high Courage, and one player is given all the Skulls to force them to deal with that particular traveller this round. They will then lose some coins if they have any. But, they are then left with more Skulls than anyone else for the next round handing them the power. There is a delicate balance between wanting to win certain cards, but not all of them, but also not wanting to give up all your Skulls for later rounds. Having more than eight skulls at the start and end of your turn is also how the game comes to an end.
Within the deck there are also a number of other cards that bring chaos, fun, and interesting mini games into the order of play. Let’s take a look at these.
Trollbird. At a courage of 17, the Trollbird gives the player who has this card the ability to act as the player with the most Skulls in the next round, even if they don’t physically have the most Skulls.
Trollan Horse. With a courage set to 18, this card gives the player who receives it eight coins, but then at the end of their turn, they will then lose coins equal to the number of sulls in front of them.
Troll’ey. This card has a score of 29 and when received by a player, will enact a quick mini game. On a count of three all players will point both of their fingers, either left, right or one each way. The Troll’ey card will then move left and right, depending on all the fingers directions, taking a coin and skull with it each time is passes through a player. When the card reaches its final resting place the player who now has it will take all the coins and Skulls it gobbled up along the way.
Capitalist Kobold. This card comes with a courage score of 37, and like the Troll’ey, starts a mini game when it arrives. On the count of three, all players will reveal between one and five fingers on their hand. All players who show a unique number will receive that many coins.
Nasty Necromancer. This card, has a score of 41 and shows a necromancer with a staff, On top of the staff is a pointed hand. The player who gets this card must throw it spinning in the air. The person the staff is pointing at when it lands will get a skull from all other players.
Holy Men. This card has a score of 54 and gives the Troll player who receives it the chance to either gain two coins from each other player or discard three skulls. Something you may want to do if you are close to ending the game due to having a lot of Skulls but are not in the lead so don’t want this to happen.
King of the Trolls The final card with a courage of 55 will allow the Troll player who gets it to steal as many coins from another player as you own Skulls.
Troll Guide. There are four Troll guide cards numbered 11, 24, 33, and 40. When drawn, these card cause another card to be immediately drawn to go travel with this one taking on the Troll guides courage. So, it could be that a very high card that will rob from you, now becomes the lowest ranked card. It could facilitate a situation where the top and bottom card will both take coins from you but the middle-ranked card gives you nine coins. An interesting situation to try and navigate, especially in a five-player game!
The end game mechanic brings in yet another dynamic to take into consideration when passing Skulls in the Redirect round. In later rounds, if you have the most amount of Skulls, but you don’t have the highest number of coins, you need to elongate the game. Conversely, if you have the most amount of coins, you will want to end the game as quickly as possible. The difficulty here being that if you want to elongate the game by getting rid of Skulls, this will mean you will most probably not have the most amount of Skulls in a round, and will not get the best card, and potentially other players will catch up with you by looting higher amounts of coins.
The entire game is a balancing act made even more interesting by the five item cards available. There are eight in total, and in each game, five will be randomly dealt onto the table. These cards give players the chance to buy special powers for the cost of five coins, which can change a number of factors.
This game looks very simple to start with, and in terms of turns and turn options, it is very simple. But the dynamic at play from the different powered cards and the way the end game is triggered brings a very interesting and often laugh-out-loud hilarious experience to the table.
I have really enjoyed getting to know this game with this preview copy. I think at Kickstarter this could do very well. The art is gorgeous. The theme is a lot of fun. And for a card game with a twist, this is certainly one I will cherish in my collection.