Base price: Not sure. Will update.
Play time: 3 – 5 minutes per player.
Logged plays: 10
Full disclosure: A review copy of Dragoon: Heads Will Roll was provided by Lay Waste Games.
Sure, it took me almost six months, but slowly but surely I’m powering through these Gen Con game reviews. Let’s take a break (especially after the last few) and talk about a nice, short game — Heads Will Roll, a quick multiplayer dexterity game set in the Dragoon universe.
In Heads Will Roll, you play as various dragons who have just finished a, uh, meal, of sorts. You’ve got some extra skulls laying around because who even eats bones anyways and you decide to play an especially macabre game with them. They bounce a bit and roll kind of weird, but you should be able to get the job done. Will you be able to defeat your fellow dragons?
There’s no setup. Take the skulls:
There are human and dragon skulls, there.
It does come with a bag, so that’s handy:
Have the starting player shake them all up in their hands and roll them onto the playing area, and then you’re ready to play:
A game of Heads Will Roll is also surprisingly simple, which I appreciate. Your goal is to flick the dragon skull such that it hits the golden skull. If you do, you get a point. If you hit any other skulls, your turn immediately ends. If during your roll or your flick anything goes off the table / out of bounds, your turn immediately ends, as well. It’s harsh but fair.
What’s the point of the other skulls, then, beyond being irritating? Great question, glad you asked.
The other skulls form pairs, and you can imagine a line being drawn between them (as any two points can define a line, thank you math) which would form a sort of gate. If you flick the golden skull across one of these lines (through the gate), you gain extra points and you may take another flick. If while doing this you hit a skull that isn’t the golden skull, your turn ends and you score nothing. The points gained depend on the skulls:
- Black Skulls: +1 point
- Silver Skulls: +2 points
You’ll also notice that the skulls have orientations (face-up, face-down, on the side). If both skulls on a gate have the same orientation, your bonus for passing through that “gate” is doubled. That’s also pretty good!
The first player to hit 21 points wins! You can adjust the score required to win, if you want to play a shorter game. Additionally, as a fun variant, set the required score to 11 but allow players to bust (you lose if you end with a score higher than 11 points). It makes the strategy … interesting.
Player Count Differences
There aren’t really any, gameplay-wise. You’ll just be hollering at a player as they try to make a difficult flick, which is fine. The game will also take longer. I worry at super high player counts the game will take longer than a microgame should, but it should be fine for up to, say, 6 – 10 people, probably.
- Uh? Flick the skull good? It’s a pure dexterity game. The best I can tell you is to try and determine whether or not you can make it through the gates on your way to the skull. If you can’t, don’t go for it — it’s often worth more to just get points and hope your opponent messes up.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- High-quality components, as usual. I think it’s not really much of an opinion to say that Lay Waste probably produces the highest-quality components in the business. The skulls look great and feel great and they’ve got a satisfying weight to them despite their size. They’ve done the same in the past with Dragoon, so, glad that they continue to do so here. I’m excited to see what they do with METAL, the new Jordan Draper game.
- Exceedingly portable. It’s super small; you can take it anywhere. It’s also a solid filler, so it’s got a good place in a quiver or a purse or a backpack or a side pocket. It’s solid.
- Plays quickly. It’s only a few rounds until someone has enough points to win, especially with the busting variant.
- Basically no setup. You just roll and you’re basically ready to go. It’s quite something.
- Also pretty easy to learn. Just flick the gold dragon at the gold skull. There, now you know how to play.
- It’s often a bit difficult to tell the orientation of the skulls at a glance. It’s a less prominent rule, so I think players are likely to forget it, but it’s really useful for getting a lot more points (and matters a lot for the busting variant). I wish it were easier to tell which side was up.
- If you don’t like luck in games, well … this has a lot of luck. There’s skill in making the flick correctly, but there’s luck in how (and which) components are distributed in the play area that’s kind of hard to mitigate. That’s just … how the game is, though, so this may be a negative for you (I don’t mind if that much, though the distribution of pieces can be somewhat frustrating).
Overall: 8 / 10
Overall, Heads Will Roll is pretty great. It’s one of many games that are rapidly forming a “bring everywhere” kit, including staples like Catch the Moon, Sprawlopolis, and I think Skull King — they’re quick, simple games with a lot of fun components that are going to get people excited about new games. The thing that might turn people off of this game (beyond the macabre theme) is that it’s pretty stripped-down; there’s not much more to the game than just flicking skulls. For me, that’s fine — it’s almost a micro Ice Cool, in that sense. Personally, I just think this is another example of Lay Waste doing something neat and doing a great job of producing it. I can’t wait to see what they do next. If you’re looking for a bare-bones (pun intended) dexterity game, I’d recommend checking out Heads Will Roll!