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
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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, 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 but 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, which helps them 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, who 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, 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 and 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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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What makes this game so popular?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (14)
  • lilyg-2-bar
    1/06/2016 - 06:24 p.m.

    What makes this game so popular is that it combines poker and rummy with dragons and goblins. It, also gives so many options that other games do not offer. This is explained it the article. "It makes it interesting to play when you've got different options and you're not locked in." This is interesting because I never knew how many people got excited over this new game being created.

  • collinf-2-bar
    1/06/2016 - 10:34 p.m.

    The game is so popular because it's "interesting to play [because] you've got different options and you're not locked in." It is also popular because it is simple, but still involves strategy. The game is also educational. It can "teach kids about arithmetic, number patterns and probability."

    I am interested in the article because I am interested in playing the game.

  • yuaw-3-bar
    1/07/2016 - 09:23 p.m.

    This game, Dragonwood is so popular because it "combines the ideas of poker and rummy, but also blends in dragons and goblins"(paragraph3) to make the make into a thrilling fantasy. It's also very popular because unlike most fantasy games that were "too complicated or violent"(paragraph four), this game is recommended for children 8 and up.
    I thought this was very interesting because Kisgen made this game for his family and unexpectedly sold thousands, which mean that anyone else could think of an amazing game and could become very popular.

  • seans-2-bar
    1/07/2016 - 10:40 p.m.

    What makes this game so intriguing is the simplicity, so it can be played by young children. However as you begin to become more experienced it contains techniques and strategies that older people can associate with. Another aspect of this game is that "it borrows ideas from poker and rummy but blends them into a fantasy world of dragons and goblins". It appeals to people who like poker and rummy but appeals to those who are into fantasy. I enjoyed this article because of it's relation to board and card games, both of which I like.

  • josepht-2-bar
    1/07/2016 - 11:14 p.m.

    The game is popular because it is a mix between poker and mythical creatures. Called Dragonwood, the game borrows ideas from POKER and rummy but 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, which helps them win the game. It's advertised for anyone 8 years old and up. I think it is interesting because it was created by a parent, who wanted someting him and his kids can play.

  • chloecoms-
    1/08/2016 - 08:51 a.m.

    I have no clue I have never heard of it.

  • bradleyl-
    1/08/2016 - 08:51 a.m.

    the game is popular because of its name and the way its played

  • keithg-wes
    1/11/2016 - 02:42 p.m.

    The games popular because it mixes poker and rummy with dragons and goblins. So people have different options or choices to pick in this game.

  • alexanderc-6-bar
    1/11/2016 - 06:31 p.m.

    The game is popular because it is a mix between poker and mythical creatures. Called Dragonwood, the game borrows ideas from POKER and rummy but 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, which helps them win the game. It's advertised for anyone 8 years old and up. I think it is interesting because it was created by a parent, who wanted someting him and his kids can play.

  • calebt472-
    1/12/2016 - 09:53 a.m.

    its mythical tales and its combineation of card

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