Designer Diary

Alexandre Emerit

Troll & Dragon: a push-your-luck game for kids ages 7 and up

Who are you?
I’ve been designing games since the birth of my son in 2015. That’s when I took the plunge, I don’t know how else to describe it. His sister was older and I started adapting rules of games that already existed to be able to play with her. One day, I woke up with an idea and I wanted to see if I was capable of doing something with it. That was the first step… the next ones came naturally.

Tell us about your game

The idea for the game came to me during a nap, during which I never really fell asleep. The first mechanic was derived from feelings I connected to games from my childhood.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve played games. My grandmother loved to play. She made us play all sorts of things: card games (belote, tarot), board games, and dice games.

I clearly remember a push-your-luck game with 3 dice, a pencil, and a pad of paper. It’s thanks to this game that I’ve wanted to create a push-your-luck game using dice. The original prototype was called Dragon’s Lair, and kept its name until recently. It was changed to Troll & Dragon to be simpler internationally.

The theme was obvious: from the very beginning, the goal was for players to gather as much gold as possible without being caught by the monsters in the cave. The stress involved when other players are rolling the Dragon dice quickly makes your heart race, and when you manage to haul a huge sack of gold and diamonds out from under the Dragon’s nose, the game is sincerely fun. You can explain the rules in 3 minutes and the game is accessible to kids ages 7 and up. Since all players play at the same time thanks to the Dragon dice, players are involved for the duration of the game. This way it’s a game that is as enjoyable for kids as it is for adults (even games with only adults!).

What changed during development?

During development, we reworked the components to improve the gaming experience and make end-game scoring easier. The pencil and paper were replaced by diamonds and gold nuggets. It was a simple and efficient way to avoid having players count points while rolling dice. The hardest part was balancing the different die faces to make sure there was still tension for players in both rooms. If it was too difficult, players wouldn’t take any risks. Too easy and the game would lose its tension and players would be bored.

I think Troll & Dragon was selected for the LOKI brand because it’s very accessible to kids, but everyone still has fun. Also, the theme allowed the team to develop a world that had both really great art and components. Finally, no one really ever feels left behind in terms of their score, since all it takes is one good turn in the Diamond Grotto to come back ahead!

Designing games and being able to play them with one’s kids is a huge pleasure.

Games always teach something. In Troll & Dragon, the game teaches you how to take risks and introduces concepts of probability.

Anything else?

I want to thank the entire LOKI team for the work they did, but most of all Aurélie (Note : project manager). First because she really involves the designer in the development of the game, but also for the incredible work she did organizing the artwork and contents. I would have never dreamed that the finished product would be so amazing. I feel incredibly lucky. I also want to thank everyone who was a part of this adventure (they know who they are, if not they just need to look at the back of the rulebook).