Dorfromantik Board Game Review: Serenity in Tile-Laying

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If you ever find yourself nostalgically yearning for the countryside, but without time and go and visit it, then Dorfromantik: The Board Game is a perfect choice for you. The name directly translates from German as “village romantic,” representing the feeling of pastoral bliss and countryside nostalgia. The English equivalent would be bucolic, which doesn’t come out as bliss or countryside nostalgia, but something rather unpleasant.

But we’re not here to delve into semantics and translations. You’re here to see what this year’s Spiel des Jahres winner is all about. You are here for a Dorfromantik: The Board Game review so let’s get on with it without further ado.

Rating:7
Playing time:30 – 60 minutes
Number of players:1 to 6
Age:8+
Complexity:Light
Genre:Cooperative legacy strategy game
Release date:2022
Publisher:Pegasus Spiele

Pros

Cons

What Is Dorfromantik?

Dorfromantik is a cooperative legacy strategy title that first came out as a video game and was only later converted to a board game. It’s the work of a four-man developer studio – Toukana Interactive, which later partnered with Pegasus Spiele to adapt it as a board game. 

The game can be played by up to six players, which works well when you play it as a family game, but does take away a bit from that serene nostalgic feeling that the game wants to create. It’s best when played solo to relax, with some music, and a beverage of choice (wine is the correct answer) for that full dorfromantik enjoyment.

Dorfromantik components

Dorfromantik: Where Tranquility Meets Strategy

The game, in its nature, is pretty simple. You lay hexagonal tiles and try to create the best possible landscape. While you can go about creating your own landscape without following any rules, it’s best not to, as the game wasn’t meant to be played like that. Dorfromantik works similarly to a puzzle game but with some additional rules about what goes where. 

The most important rule is that your landscape tiles must form a seamless connection. Each time you place new tiles, you have to match at least one of their hexagonal sides with the tiles already present on the board. The only exceptions to these rules are tiles with railroad and river edges. You always have to match them and try to make as long a track or a river as possible to gain extra points.

Dorfromantik board

You also have task tiles, which assign you the goal of creating a specific type of area and dictate its size. For instance, you might receive a task to create a forest spanning six tiles.

The game also comes with a campaign sheet and additional rules. If you choose to follow them, the game will gently guide you through seven stages. With each step forward, you’ll unlock one of the five initially locked boxes that give you access to new tiles and provide you with additional tasks to use in your game. Of course, you don’t have to follow the campaign if you don’t want to. Just take out all of the tiles, grab another bottle of wine, and start creating a beautiful landscape.

Create those rustling forests with patches of wheat fields crisscrossed with rivers and railroad tracks, and let’s not forget the villages and their inhabitants that occupy this idyllic countryside landscape of yours.

Dorfromantik landscape

Maybe it’s the urban life that is getting to me but I find something calling to me. To just get away from it all and look for this peaceful patch of countryside for myself. Until then, I can just look at the pretty scenery. As a millennial, I really can’t afford anything else. *opens another bottle of wine*

The Charm of Dorfromantik

I’ll say it again: this game is great when playing solo on a rainy night, and that’s when its message hits the best. This is not a game where you have to rush to complete your tasks, like in Kites. The whole point is to take it slow and play at your own tempo. 

You can also share the experience with someone you can truly relax with, like your partner. But the game isn’t a party game, and from my experience, trying to play it with a larger group just doesn’t quite capture that Dorfromantik feeling. However, it makes for a great family game. While that nostalgic atmosphere may not be as strong, it’s simple enough for kids to understand and enjoy alongside you.

Awards and a New Chapter for Dorfromantik

Dorfromantik: The Board Game has already claimed two prestigious awards this year: the Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) and second place in the community-focused Deutsche Spiele Preis award during Essen Spiel. 

Pegasus Spiel announced that they’ll be releasing a sequel – Dorfromantik: The Duel. I’m not sure how this is supposed to fit into the whole serene countryside theme. Alas, I couldn’t attend this year’s Essen Spiel convention and I missed out on a chance to find out myself. But I did manage to get my hands on the Great Mil mini-expansion, via a friend. Honestly, it’s not worth it. You could 3D print a better one. 

Dorfromantik windmill

During Essen Spiel, you had the opportunity to purchase Dorfromantik: Das Duel (the German version) at the Pegasus Spiel booth, and it can be bought on their website as well. While the English version should hopefully launch in a few months, the publisher has yet to confirm a specific release date.

Reflecting on Dorfromantik

It’s hard to give your own honest opinion when the game has won so many critically acclaimed awards. I’m aware that many board gaming players won’t agree with me, and that is fine, but before you start arguing that 7/10 is a low score, keep in mind that I don’t think that the game is bad at all. In fact, I own and genuinely enjoy it. I’m even planning to get Dorfromantik: The Duel when the English version becomes available. Additionally, I’ve purchased the Windmill add-on, although it’s a tad pricey for what it offers. 

While I appreciate its simplicity and how well it conveys its message, it is, at the end of the day, a very basic puzzle game with not much depth to it. Subjectively, based solely on my emotional reaction to the Dorfromantik, I’d easily rate it a 9.5 out of 10, but objectively, it cannot compare to the intricate engine-building elements of Flamecraft, or the multi-layered progressive campaign of Pandemic.

It’s akin to the contrast between enjoying a simple homemade apple pie and a red velvet cake. While the latter may require more skill to make and provide a richer and more enjoyable taste, it can never replace the warm nostalgia evoked by my grandma’s homemade apple pie. Conversely, while I may prefer apple pie as comfort food, I have to acknowledge that red velvet cake is simply a better overall product.

That said, I appreciate the game for what it is, and want to see more games that, instead of relying on complex and mechanically sound rules, help me reconnect with whatever part Dorfromantik managed to awaken within me.

FAQ

  1. What is the point of Dorfromantik?

    The point of Dorfromantik is to create beautiful, connected landscapes using hexagonal tiles while completing specific tasks and goals required to progress the campaign or set your new high score.

  2. Is Dorfromantik infinite?

    Dorfromantik isn’t infinite due to the finite number of tiles it provides (unlike its video game counterpart), but it offers infinite replay value since no two games will ever be the same.

  3. Is Dorfromantik a legacy game?

    Yes, Dorfromantik is technically a legacy game. Just like in other legacy board games, as you progress through the game, you’ll unlock new components and tasks, though there is no permanent campaign aspect to the game, so you’ll be able to play it over and over.

Milos Djurovic

Milos Djurovic

Milos started his RPG journey with live-action role-playing, and his geeky hobbies escalated quickly from there. He’s a grizzled Imperial Guard general and still wages an ongoing war against unpainted grey miniatures. Having an active board gaming crew doesn’t help with finding free time, but he doesn’t mind.