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Review: Dastardly Dirigibles

img_1287Have what it takes to build the best airship in the skies? Well, now is your chance to find out as Professor Phineas Edmund Hornswoggle, world renown airship builder, has announced his retirement! In order to keep the fleet of airships in the skies, Hornswoggle has announced a competition to see which inventor can build the most Dastardly Dirigibles and take over his hanger.

Released in 2016 by Fireside Games, Dastardly Dirigibles is designed by Justin DeWitt and is suggested for 2-5 players.

The game draws upon the set collection mechanic and could be considered a strategy card game. The point of the game is to build an airship and score the most points possible. The inventor who scores the most points after three rounds wins.

The game is based in Victorian times and is steampunked-themed. The artwork for the game is splendid!

A completed airship

A completed airship

Set up
Talk about easy. Pass out a guide sheet (blueprint) to each player, deal out five cards, and build the Emporium. You are ready to play! Before you do, let’s talk about building the Emporium.

The Emporium is built off the top of the deck. Each player takes a turn drawing a card and placing it face up in the play area. The player that draws the card closest to the nose cone goes first.

Set up is complete, it’s time to play.

A quick note about the part cards. There are nine suits in the deck, Goggles, Chains, Wrench, Screw, Wild x 2, Top Hat, Key, and Gear.  As you build your airship, you will want to try to get as many pieces in the same suit as possible. It matters when it comes down to score.

How to Play
A turn in Dastardly Dirigibles is broken down into the three steps. The first step, draw up to your five card hand size. Once done, the inventors will be able to choose three actions. They can discard a card, replace the Emporium, play a part card or action card (to complete the action card you simply follow the directions on the card), swap a card from the Emporium with a card from their hand, or pass. They may choose to do the same action more than once.

When an inventor adds a part to their airship, all inventors must add the same part to theirs, even if they have already played that part. The part they are replacing is discarded.

This is where the strategy comes into play as a player may now be forced to discard a card from the suit they were collecting.

Once your turn is complete, it is the next player’s turn. Play continues this way until someone completes an airship (which can happen during anyone’s turn) ending the round. When the round ends you score the airship and begin the next round. A total of three rounds will be played.

When an airship is completed and the round ended, all airships are scored. To score the ship you determine which suit you have the most of and score two points for each card in that suit. If you have a wild card, you get one point for each wild card. If you have more than one suit with equal number of cards, choose one.

If you were the first to complete your airship, you get two bonus points. If you are holding a card titled, Gilded Dynamotor, you get another point.

If your airship is incomplete, you score the same way. If you have no pairs, you get one point for each card.

The penultimate in scoring is the Muddle. A Muddle is when you have one part of each suit, with no pairs or wild cards, completing your airship. A Muddle is worth a fixed 20 points. No bonuses are applied when you score a Muddle.

At the end of three rounds, all scores are totaled. The person with the highest score wins the competition!

Dastardly Dirigibles will take you one or two turns to get the rules down as they are incredibly simple. After that, the speed of the turns will increase dramatically. We played the game twice and it took us about 1.5 hours to do.

This is not an in-depth game so don’t expect your entire game night to be dedicated to it. Although, I suppose you could make an interesting night out of it with costumes, accents, and treats. Especially if you use the hilarious Victorian Insults listed at the back of the rule book.

To the person, we all agreed this game was a lot of fun. But it isn’t without its flaws.

The reference sheet you use to place your cards on comes folded. Because of the higher grade paper used to make it, it doesn’t unfold well. This means your cards don’t sit well on it as you are building the sheets.

The cards are of a decent quality, but, as someone who plays Magic: The Gathering, I am wanting to get the sleeved as soon as possible. Although the cards are “tarot-sized cards” there are options for sleeves out there.

On the bright side, the game is inexpensive with an MSRP of 19.99. Its small size makes it easy to transport therefore easy to take to a friend’s house. Also, because there are no small pieces, this game could easily be taken on a trip and played in a hotel.

This game receives the Forge Herald stamp of approval.


Patrick Steam punkPatrick Cossel is the publisher of The Forge Herald. He is a gamer, father, husband, and level 1 Magic Judge. Professionally he is the Operations Manager for a family-owned newspaper company. He can be reached at pcossel@gmail.com


© 2016, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.

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About Patrick Cossel,

I am a journalist and gaming enthusiast.

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