Wellingborough, Nov 2018
Ambitious as ever in their game concepts, Trapp’d have set the third game of their Wellingborough branch in a dragon’s cave. At least, that’s what the game’s marketing material suggests, though having set players’ expectations so high, the room risks being a disappointment when it opens with rather simple Middle Ages decorations, despite the effort they’ve gone to with sawdust and thatching. However, even if it doesn’t live up to the website artwork, the game looks quite a bit more impressive than the initial impression suggests. It’s also large, taking up a physical area that another venue might have subdivided into two or three different games.
As with the other games from Trapp’d, the lengthy backstory is printed on a glossy card that the gamemaster entirely ignored, leaving it up to us whether we wanted to read the plot before playing or not. I did, and, much truncated, it describes how a dragon has laid waste to the kingdom, with the only remedy being a magic goblet guarded by that same dragon.
My teammates’ biggest objection to Drakon was that it was a little too dark. A large part of that was that the light sources were all fixed in place, which is fine as long as they illuminate the important parts of the game. But that becomes a problem when you’re not sure whether you need to thoroughly search each dark corner or not, doubly so in a space as large as this. As it turned out, searching is an important part of this game, but in a directed way that mostly works despite the low lighting.
Drakon built up to a potentially very cool moment that was over before I knew it, and which the rest of my team missed entirely. We were left to finish the final couple of steps as an anticlimax. I’m not sure if the poor timing of that was a tech failure or under direct gamemaster control; either way I’m not sure to what extent that will be representative of other teams’ experiences. It seemed indicative of the game though: excellent potential that instead ended up a bit confused and confusing, needing more attention invested in the game’s sequencing and signposting. While it’s never going to live up to its own dramatic marketing material, the size and detail of the build is often excellent; but it could do with more fine tuning to translate that into an equally impressive experience.