Drinks & Daggers Overview
Out with the beer pong and in with drunken dragon slaying. Drinks & Daggers is a cooperative card game about smashing things while getting smashed. Literally, characters in the game are stronger when they are smashed.
You can find a video version of this review on my YouTube Channel
Drinks & Daggers is primarily a drinking game, but it does have a sober variant, and that’s what I played. My wimpy stomach hasn’t been able to handle booze since my twenties. Honestly, it’s probably for the best. The last time we played I’m pretty sure my partner would have died from alcohol poisoning. The outlook for a newly single 33-year-old gaming writer with my face is pretty bleak.
That said, if you ever need that one “friend” to check out early from a party, you know the one. Drinks & Daggers has you covered. We were able to pile 24 drink tokens on one player, which would have been real drinks in the drunken version of the game. Depending on the type of drink, that person would go night-night real quick. That’s like a punch from Dave Batista but directly to your liver.
The game is in fact, cooperative. You have to work together to bring down the villain, but getting your friends completely shit-faced is the true spirit of the game.
Drinks & Daggers is based on a table-top roleplaying podcast called Greetings Adventurers. I am not familiar with it, but the characters are all based on it. Given the humorous focus of the card game, it may be worth a listen.
|Gideon’s Bias||Drinks & Daggers Information|
|Review Copy Used: Yes||Publisher: Self Published|
|Number of Plays: 10+||Designer: Michael DiMauro, Carly Shields|
|Player Counts played, 2, 4 and 5||Player Count: 2-6|
|Fan of Genre: No||Genre: Party Game|
|Fan of Weight: No||Weight: Light/Gateway|
|Gaming Groups Thoughts: Meh||Price: $40|
Drinks & Dagger comes with a ton of cards and a bunch of little cardboard tokens that represent damage and drinks. It also comes with some nifty spinner dials for tracking your hero’s health.
The cards are incredibly flimsy, but you were going to sleeve them anyway. At least I hope you were. It’s a drinking game after all. Someone is going to dump beer all over it at some point. Not if, when. That or at some point during the night one of your friends is going to randomly swan dive onto the table in the worst reenactment of a WWE move possible. I have no idea if that’s normal at most parties, but it happened at every one I’ve ever attended.
The spinners are nice quality, and the cardboard tokens are cute. The artwork, however, is absolutely fantastic. There is so much gorgeous art between all the various heroes and villains that it’s sobering to realize that one person did it all. Bridgit Connell brought the game to life in a way that should make other board games envious. It’s seriously stunning.
Considering that you’re expected to play the game drunk, Drinks & Daggers is unsurprisingly simple. At the start of your turn, you draw a villain card and do what it says. Then you may play a card from your hand. It’s that simple.
Each of the 8 characters has a distinct playstyle but remains incredibly easy to pilot with only a handful of different cards spread throughout their deck. Likewise, the 3 villains are equally diverse and range from a tough bruiser, a minion commander, and a powerful dragon.
There are a few small mechanisms that add to the game. Many cards allow you to give a drink to another player. Getting your friends plastered is a reward in itself, but each character also has a special power that triggers when you do it. Jaela for example can take health from one hero, to heal another.
Some cards are also reactions, that allow you to play them out of turn. Luccan’s Crushing Self Doubt can allow a hero to avoid the effects of a card.
The game can be quite tough despite its simplicity. You have to be thoughtful about your actions and use teamwork to succeed. The Villain’s hit pretty hard at times, and I do enjoy the back and forth of reaction cards that allow you to help your teammates. In fact, there’s a lot of synergy between the variety of heroes, and that’s great.
The game retains a comical theme throughout, from Thom’s scale armor to Roz’s Chum Guzzler Ship card. The humor is going to be hit or miss depending on the person, but it’s tongue in cheek through and through.
The sober variant has players passing out drink tokens instead of actual drinks. While players are still working together, the player with the least amount of drink tokens wins, assuming the villain is defeated.
Adding a slight competitive element to the game is interesting but ultimately falls flat. The game’s simplicity actually contributes to its toughness as you don’t have a lot of tactical options. Players making suboptimal moves in an attempt to avoid drinks will just result in the entire group losing to the villain. While we did find it amusing to pile 24 drink tokens onto a single player, no one really made the attempt to have the least drinks, including the player that had 24.
There’s also a deck of cards you can optionally use when playing the Drunk version of the game called Banana Foster. Once per turn a player can draw from the deck which activates the card they drew. These cards are all hilarious party shenanigans that would only grow more amusing the drunker you got.
For example, Everything Checks Out allows you to arrange the top five cards of the villain deck however you like, but players can only communicate in song until their next turn.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has brought a new perspective to things we may not have thought about before. Cards like Merciful Ending definitely make me cringe, as all players pour some of their drink into yours. Or All Thumbs restricting you from using your hands to play cards. Those ideas were honestly not great pre-pandemic as other illnesses exist, but if I ever decide to drink again the Banana Foster cards will definitely remain in the box.
My review was unfairly rigged from the start. I rarely enjoy light games, and I don’t drink. There was no possible way Drinks & Daggers was going to land in my good graces, but that’s okay because I can still acknowledge its strong points beyond my own tastes.
If I had Drinks & Daggers years ago, it would have been the life of the party, and I’m sure more than one of us would have had a date night with a bucket afterward. It’s a great drinking game for people who like games and drinking, who would have guessed it? It’s simple enough to play while inebriated but offers a different style of gameplay from what’s usually on offer at an alcohol-infused get to together. Drinks & Daggers is a really neat idea for a card game, and it plays to its strengths very well.
It’s just not one suited for my shelf.
Drinks & Daggers Verdict
Drinks & Daggers is a great party game for the alcoholically inclined. It’s a fun little romp about teaming up on a bad guy and beating them down with funny attacks while getting your friends plastered.
The sober variant isn’t great, and honestly, it’s when you take away the booze that it ironically begins to stumble. It’s a very light game that expects the cognitive abilities of players to drop as they play while the game grows more and more amusing. If you take out the drinks, you’re just left with daggers.
That’s not a criticism. You could play Beer Pong with water, but why would you? You would be missing the key aspect of playing the game in the first place. I can’t recommend Drinks & Daggers if you don’t drink.
Drinks & Daggers puts a unique spin on the drinking game and could be a great change of pace from the usual Beer Pong or Slap the Bag. Just aim any projectile vomit away from the table, please.
I want to remind you to please drink responsibly. Drinks & Daggers has the potential to get you dangerously drunk. It’s perfectly okay to decide that you have had enough mid-game and cease drinking, regardless of what your friends say. I encourage you to be safe while having a good time, so that you may enjoy many more such occasions. Never under any circumstances get behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence. Doing so endangers others as well as yourself, and that’s not cool.
- Fantastic Artwork
- Simple to Learn and Quick Set-Up
- 8 Unique Heroes and 3 Unique Bosses
- A Great Drinking Game
- Tongue in Cheek Humour is fun
- The Sober Variant Falls Flat
- The Banana Foster Cards are Amusing But Unsanitary
- The Cards are Flimsy
Who Would Like Drinks & Daggers
- Drinkers, Obviously
- People looking for a light-hearted party game
- Anyone who plays TTRPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder will get a kick out of the game
Who Wouldn’t Like Drinks & Daggers
- Non-drinkers may find the game lacking
- The game is steeped in gaming culture and may not appeal to drinkers who aren’t
- Lightweight drinkers may find the consumption excessive and feel pressured to keep playing. Don’t do that.