Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Product Review: Iron & Ale

Iron & Ale is a card-based drinking game for at least four players.  It's made by Table Forged LLC, who appear to be a lot of fun to drink with on their promotional videos.  I picked up a copy at GenCon as an impulse buy and we decided to try playing it after we finished up our game of Settlers of Catan on Friday night.  We had four at the table, ready to try this strange new experience.

In Iron & Ale, each player assumes the role of a particular dwarven lord who is out to accumulate honor.  At the end of the game, the dwarven lord with the most honor wins.  The game ends when you run out of mining cards or mead hall challenges (we'll deal with what those are later).  Your dwarven lord also gives you certain special things that only apply to you.

Namik Inronhand was one of our dwarven lords.
He's kind of a copycat.

Each player then takes a turn that's divided into two phases.  First, you go mining, cause mining is what dwarves do, right?  When mining, each dwarf flips over two mining cards.  Mining cards come in two varieties: ore and monsters.  If you draw ore, you get some honor.  It's just that easy!  Monster cards have a number.  You have to roll higher than that number on a six-sided die to get the honor for defeating the monster.  Failure requires you to drink the number of drinks on the card.


After spending some time mining, every dwarf lord wants to go and spend some time in the mead hall, quaffing and enjoying his day.  The next stage of Iron & Ale requires dwarven lords to participate in table challenges to earn more honor.  A player flips over a Mead hall challenge and issues the challenge to another lord (or occasionally to the entire table).  These can be as banal as a race to finish your drink to as unexpected as challenge another player to slap you in the face as hard as they can.

Mead hall challenges were a lot of fun, but our
drunk selves lost track of them pretty quickly.
Seeing a couple try wrestling each other from behind
was hilarious though!

We didn't finish our game of Iron & Ale, and it fell apart pretty quickly.  None of us really wanted to track our honor.  In fact, the mining phase of the turn broke down pretty quickly and was ignored after we'd gone around the table about twice.  The mead hall cards made it for about another two rounds before we lost interest.  In the games' makers' defense, we started playing already drunk.  But, I don't know how long the game would have held our attention anyway.  It seemed like the only monsters we ever drew were the skeletons, which made them feel repetitive.  The mead hall challenges were well received by all and we enjoyed the challenges.  I had a good time, but I'm not sure that I'll play Iron & Ale again.  If I do, we will probably just pull out the Mead hall cards.

Two out of five stars.

Table post-Iron & Ale bliss.