Card game blends poker and rummy with dragons and goblins
Card game blends poker and rummy with dragons and goblins Boston College professor Darren Kisgen sits for a portrait in his office at Boston College, in Boston, with the game he created called "Dragonwood." Kisgen designed the game purely to entertain his kids, but suddenly the finance professor's creation is winning awards from Mensa and other groups, and gaining a global following. (AP Photo/Steven Senne/Thinkstock)
Card game blends poker and rummy with dragons and goblins
Lexile: 870L

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When Darren Kisgen decided to make a game, his only goal was to entertain his family. But over the past few months, the finance professor at Boston College has seen his game selling thousands of copies around the world.  And it has won a big prize.
"I'm surprised by all of this," said Kisgen.  He is a former Wall Street investment banker who now lives outside Boston. "Frankly, it's been a lot of fun."
Called Dragonwood, the game borrows ideas from poker and rummy. The game blends them into a fantasy world of dragons and goblins. By drawing a strong hand, players can boost their chances of "capturing" mythical creatures in a fictional forest.  That helps players win the game. It's advertised for anyone 8 years old and up.
The idea struck Kisgen two years ago. He had found that most fantasy games were too complicated or violent for his two children.  They were 5 and 7.
"I felt like I was missing a game that I would want to play with them. So I decided to try to come up with that game myself," he said.
He called it Forest Quest.  It was built with ordinary playing cards and dice. But over time, Kisgen thought it would be more fun with colorful cards illustrating the dragons, trolls and ogres. So he sent a prototype to a game publisher, Gamewright.  The company provided art for the cards and began selling it as Dragonwood.
The game has sold more than 20,000 copies since summer, Gamewright said. It is one of the top-selling games from the Massachusetts publisher.
It also won a top gaming prize from Mensa, a society for people with high IQs. Once a year, members of Mensa meet for a weekend to test dozens of new board games. They recognize those seen as original, challenging and well-designed. This year, Kisgen's game was one of five winners out of more than 60 they tested.
Greg Webster is the event's chief judge.  He praised Dragonwood for its simplicity but said it also lets players employ a variety of strategies that can lead to victory.
"It makes it interesting to play when you've got different options and you're not locked in," he said.
In recent years, Webster added, it has become more common to see popular games that started out as a casual idea in someone's living room.
"They say this is the golden age of board gaming, and I think that's true," he said. "There are so many ways for someone who has an idea for a board game to pull it together."
The game is also winning nods as an educational tool.  It can teach kids about arithmetic, number patterns and probability.
Kisgen grew up in Omaha, Nebraska.  He said he remembers devising games for his brother and sister as a kid. But there's little overlap between gaming and his finance career.
"To design a game takes some logic, takes understanding strategy, and this game has a lot of numbers in it," he said. "But that's where it ends."
After hearing feedback from players around the world, Kisgen said he's already thinking of ways to expand the game.  But he still wants to keep it simple.

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What makes this game so popular?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • raymunda-4-bar
    1/07/2016 - 09:17 p.m.

    This game got popular because it is very educational, while showing simplicity and creativeness throughout the whole game. People might just like the idea for kids about a fantasy game combined with education. Along with strategy, it can help build the child's thinking and reasoning. On Paragraph 13, Binkley, stated that, "The game is also winning nods as an educational tool. It can teach kids about arithmetic, number patterns and probability." This means that the game help kids learn about, for example math, because of the patterns and probability, which is a concept in math.
    This article seemed interesting because that board game is really unique of adding poker to the game. I really love poker so I kind of want to try this game. What shocked me the most is that I thought the game would add I ideas of Dungeons and Dragons. I mean, it ha the word "Dragons" in it!

  • gregorys-6-bar
    1/08/2016 - 12:45 a.m.

    This game is so popular because it has elements of familiar games and is pleasing to the eye. The was praised for its simplicity and how players can come up with advanced strategies to win. The creator relates it to poker and rummy, other popular games. With its colorful cards, even kids can get enjoyment. That means it appeals to a wider audience so more copies become sold. I would like to play this game because it's trending and has a fantasy vibe.

  • pipern-2-bar
    1/08/2016 - 03:10 a.m.

    Obviously this is a very popular game. It must be a big hit if it sold over 20,000 copies. The popularity of Dragonwood is rather impressive because a father was just trying to think of a simple game to entertain his children in the first place,but then it was discovered and made a big impact on board gamers with an imagination. The game is so popular because."The game is also winning nods as an educational tool. It can teach kids about arithmetic, number patterns and probability." (Paragraph 13) I liked this article because it shows what could possibly be accomplished for trying to bond with your family.

  • roselyno-612-
    1/08/2016 - 02:14 p.m.

    What makes this game so popular is the way the game is so fun and it can teach kids about arithmetic,and number patterns. The game makes it so interesting because you have many options so that it doesn't make it locked in.

  • graceb-612-
    1/08/2016 - 03:18 p.m.

    This game is popular because of how educational and how it can teach you things and because it is fun to play and it involves poker.

  • sheridanm-6-bar
    1/08/2016 - 04:10 p.m.

    The game is so popular because it helps children with probability skills,arithmetic,and number patterns."It can teach kids about arithmetic, number patterns and probability."(paragraph 13)I like this article because it shows how far someone can come from inventing a simple board game.It sounds like a fun game to play while it is also educational.

  • nanm-wes
    1/11/2016 - 09:17 a.m.

    I think this game is so popular because it was colorful.Most people like colorful things,that why it was a sell.It was education to so most parents will buy the game for there kids.The kids cold learn and see cool colorful colors while there playing.

  • soohyun-cam
    1/11/2016 - 11:06 a.m.

    This game got popular beacause it is really simple and familiar to play, having educational and visual elements.

  • ryanh-1-hol
    1/11/2016 - 04:12 p.m.

    I want this game now made by that guy from a bank

  • jackb-ren
    1/11/2016 - 04:36 p.m.

    This game is popular for various reasons. A) It is very simple. B) It is a complex structure with simple rules. And C) it is new. People love simple games because you can play with younger audiences. Also, it has complex elements such as goblins and dragons. And finally, new games usually hit a spike in the beginning, then it isn't as popular.

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