Review: Dale of Merchants

In Dale of Merchants you try to be among the greatest merchants by being the first to fill your market stall!


Snowdale Design




Game explanation

Dale of Merchants is set in a world full of animals. It is a deckbuilder for 2 to 4 players in which you take on the role of a merchant. Every year the merchants from the town of Dale compete to be the first to build the best market stall. The first player to have a complete market stall of 8 cards wins the game!

In this review, we are reviewing Dale of Merchants 1 and the Dale of Merchants Collection. They are basically the same games and they work the same, but they have different sets of Animalfolk cards. You can also buy and play them separately. The Dale of Merchants Collection accommodates all the games in the Dale of Merchants universe.

In this game explanation, we will cover the basics of a game of Dale of Merchants. Because there are so many different sets of cards available, there are also many different mechanics and options. At the beginning of a game, you choose 3 different sets of Animalfolk cards. There are many different sets of Animalfolk that all have their own play style. With one set you interfere with each other more and with another set more luck comes into play. Snowdale has created a very handy tool for this that chooses the sets based on your preference. From each of these 3 sets each player gets the card with value 1. You then add junk cards to your own deck until you have 10 cards. At the center of the table, you put down the card supply on the market board. You do this by shuffling the remaining cards from the sets and placing 5 cards from this face up with the face down supply next to it.

As is often the case with deck builders, you pick up cards at the beginning of your turn until you have 5 in your hand. Each card has a certain action and a value. You may perform 1 of the following actions during your turn.

Buy a card: You may buy a card from the supply with this action. All cards in the supply have a certain value that you must pay to buy them. Depending on the position on the market board where the card is located, you must also pay extra. Payment is done by discarding cards in your hand with the required value, these cards then go into your discard pile. The card you buy is placed in your hand and can be used on your next turn.

Play card action: Each card, except junk cards, shows a certain action. You may perform this action immediately. Some actions are passive and you perform them when it says you may perform them. When you complete an action on a card you discard it. An example of an action is that you may discard an opponent's card.

Expand your stall: The ultimate goal of the game is to make your stall 8 wide. You can do this by expanding your stall. You lay down cards from left to right which increase in value from 1 to 8. The first card you put down here is of value 1. Next to it you put down cards of total value 2 and so on. If you play more than one card for a value, they must be of the same Animalfolk type. You may not play junk cards here.

The player who is the first to have 8 cards in their stall is the winner of Dale of Merchants and may join the legendary guild!

Our thoughts

We love deckbuilding so we were incredibly curious about Dale of Merchants for some time. In general, deckbuilders never disappoint us because we are big fans of the mechanism. Dale of Merchants did not disappoint us either, on the contrary! We are very surprised by the quality and quantity this game has to offer. As far as we are concerned, this game should be talked about a lot more!

At the moment we have the Dale of Merchants Collection and Dale of Merchants 1. The collection version is a stand-alone game that you can combine with all previous versions. The collection offers new game material such as new animalfolk cards. We are surprised at the large amount of game material that is present in the collection. You have a lot of different types of cards, which allows for countless combinations as you may already know from the popular deckbuilder Dominion. The options you have with Dale of Merchants are endless! We were surprised by the large amount of fun that is hidden in Dale of Merchants collection. So our first impression of the game was very positive right away. 

The combinations you can make in Dale of Merchants are truly endless. You can also tailor the game to your own preferences by putting together your own deck or by using the online deck selection tool. The different types of animalfolk cards all come with unique properties. There are sets that allow you to interfere with your opponent and have a lot of interaction, but there are also sets that allow you to focus more on your own game. In addition, you can make the game easier or more difficult by selecting certain sets. You can adapt each game of Dale of Merchants perfectly to the company you are playing with. This makes it a very versatile game that you can play with both beginners and experienced players.

Dale of Merchants is a very simple game in concept. The rules are clear and quickly explained. However, it is still quite a challenge to master this game. There are also many additional elements such as the character cards that you can add to the game for some extra challenge. Dale of Merchants therefore remains fun to play in the long run even for the experienced player. The game comes with so many possibilities that you can discover something new every time.

We are fans of the theme. The animals are cute and the artwork is beautiful. In addition, we love deckbuilding and Dale of Merchants does this in a very nice way. The game definitely manages to stand out from other deckbuilders like Dominion. Unlike most deckbuilders, you don't play all your cards from your hand and you can take new cards that you buy straight into your hand. These little twists ensure that you really use different tactics than in most deckbuilders. We find this very interesting and after several games we are still curious what we can discover in the world of Dale of Merchants.

Dale of Merchants is a worthy addition to any games collection! Especially if you love deckbuilding then this game should not be missing from your collection. Even if you already have several deckbuilders, Dale of Merchants is still worth it! We will have many hours of fun with this game. 

Playing with 2 players

In the online deck selection tool you can indicate with how many players you are playing. On all animalfolk deck reference cards it is also indicated what the characteristics of certain decks are. So you can adjust everything to your own needs, including the number of players. Some decks have cards that allow you to interfere with multiple players at once. If you play with 2, you can only use this card partly. Therefore we are very curious how it plays with multiple players.

 Pros and cons

+ Fun theme
+ Extremely high replayability 
+ You can adapt the game to your own preference
+ The collection offers enough space to store all versions in an insert

- Some animalfolk decks offer little variation in actions

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This game has been kindly gifted to us for review purposes by Snowdale Design.