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snark wrote on 2012-12-02 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I love the game, and built myself a wooden set back in '85 (still have it)-- used 3/4" wooden dowels of various lengths for the pieces, with woodburned letters on their top ends.

I also find the dragon to be rather overpowered; too many games seem to devolve into "dragon wrestling." My own suggested solution has three parts:

First change: reduce the dragon's capture-from-afar ability slightly, so that it can't capture the square directly underneath it-- only the squares orthogonally adjacent. (This differs from the usual suggestion of restricting it *only* to the square directly underneath). Rationale: One of the things that makes the dragon so overpowered is that there are so few pieces on the middle board that can threaten it without being gobbled up-- just the hero and paladin. Several pieces can capture straight-up, though, so this makes it more possible to threaten the dragon. By keeping the orthogonal squares, the capture ability isn't lessened all that much (still 4 out of the original 5 squares).

Second change: As others have suggested, shift the row of sylphs sideways by one square, so they're lined up over the dwarves. Not only does this take the endmost sylph out of the dragon's line of fire, but it also has the effect of caging the dragon behind its own sylphs-- unblocking it requires moving a sylph first, which is a nice mechanic to have. (I know that some have objected that this leaves half the warriors "uncovered," but in my experience, this isn't a problem. First, they all have pretty good cover from the back-rank middle-board pieces anyway; second, it's easy to slide a dwarf sideways if needed; third, the ability I describe below mitigates this issue further.)

Third change: Give warriors a new ability, "sacrifice."  A warrior can capture a piece directly above or below it... but dies in the process. Each player can do this only once per game (like castling in chess).

I've found that doing this leaves the dragon as a very powerful piece, but prevents rampages, and keeps an interesting balance with the other pieces.

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