Sunday, April 21, 2024

Dawn Offers A Chance To Build A Town Or Build Your Fortune

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From Green Meadow Games comes a game of cooperative city building…or quiet greed and sabotage. The choice is up to you in Dawn.

At its core, Dawn is a fairly simple premise. You and up to four other people play citizens who have banded together to build a township, and must work together to make it grow and to defend it from outside threats. But, while you do that, you will have a choice to make. Will you play for the good of the group, and try to ensure a collective victory? Or will you scheme and take treasure for yourself, to ensure a single player win? The choice is yours, to build a village or build your fortune.

What’s In The Box?

In terms of components, Dawn is dead simple. There’s the instruction booklet, and then a bunch of cards of various types. No mat, no board, no dice. Just a collection of pretty cards in a nice, neat, likewise pretty, box. The cards are simple, but it works in their favor, conveying the necessary information without clutter or unnecessary flourishes. All in all, the game looks quite lovely, and fits the pastoral but uncertain theme of the game quite well.

Cards in Dawn are broken into various categories. You have Resource cards, which are further divided into four suits- Attack, Heal, Spy, and Wild, and can be used to either accomplish the actions those suit names imply or to be contributed towards the building of various structures for the town. Then there are the buildings themselves, the threat cards that will undo your progress if you don’t stop them, and the Great Buildings, four special buildings that must be finished by the end of the game. Finally, there are the Wound cards. All players are given two wound cards at the start of the game, and must balance healing those with dealing with the Threats cards and contributing towards the buildings.

Dawn laid out

How’s It Play?

The interesting thing about Dawn is that you are required to cooperate in order to win, even though it’s entirely possible to play a Scoundrel only in it for yourself, rather than an Ally who’s in it for the greater good. You will not be able to win if you don’t thwart the threats and build the buildings, because then you won’t be able to reap profits. There’s no ‘become a bandit’ outcome. The prosperity of the town you’re building is paramount, even if you’re playing as a greedy schemer.

Every player can put some of their resources in their personal storehouse, to save in the face of threats or a long term goal. But to win Dawn, investment is required. There are two ways to win. Once the last round wraps up (the instructions state Round 6) you declare if you’re an Ally or a Scoundrel, and then the prosperity of the town as a whole is calculated. The number of Ally players determines the prosperity threshold that must be reached. In order to win as a Scoundrel, the town must have failed to reach that threshold and you must have the most resources in your personal storehouse. But the collaborative requirements of the early game mean that you can’t simply go full Scrooge McDuck, and that’s where Dawn requires you to be strategic and careful.

Do you play it safe and work with the team? Or do you try and take it all, while not making it obvious that that’s what you’re doing? It’s a clever setup, though I concede I don’t know why one would take the risk of the Scoundrel given the circumstances.

Final Verdict

Regardless, if city builders and card games where strategy and forethought are the key is your thing, or even just hidden role games, do yourself a favor and give Dawn a look! With lovely art, solid but simple mechanics, and a fairly reasonable price tag of $20, this is something worth adding to your game closet.

Dawn
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Gameplay8.5
Presentation8.5
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Summary
Dawn is a clever and strategic card game of risk management and forethought. With a demand for some collaboration regardless of your endgame, players will find an interesting game. But the rules are simple enough to not intimidate a more casual crowd.
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Images Courtesy of Green Meadow Games

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