i’ll be the first to admit that Trickerion is an excercise in excess. It has a pile of different game mechanics, an overwhelming number of bits, and a setup process that takes about half an hour before the first round even begins! But for all that, i must confess: i like excess. i thrive on overcomplication. And now, the game gets its first “big” expansion in Dahlgaard’s Academy (after the not-really-an-expansion Kickstarter peel-off Dahlgaard’s Gifts, and the oops-our-game-is-too-complicated same-box “expansion” nerf The Dark Alley). Anyway, here’s how to play:
Hi! It’s Ryan from Nights Around a Table, and this is the Trickerion Collector’s Edition, which includes the first big expansion for the game, called Dahlgaard’s Academy. You might own this box, or you might have the separate retail version of Dahlgaard’s Academy. Either way, let me show you how to play!
In Dahlgaard’s Academy, somebody won the base game of Trickerion and has inherited the magical Trickerion stone from Magoria’s formerly greatest magician, Dahlgaard, and as a consequence, Dahlgaard is dying. So, like, way to go, winner. Focusing on his legacy, Dahlgaard tasks his heir with converting his massive manor house into a school of magic, and invites Magoria’s various magicians to teach there. That’s you!
So what we have is a game where people who can’t make a proper living in the arts have to fall back on getting teaching jobs at the local community college. Fantasy!
Dahlgaard’s Academy adds a new location to the game. You’ve got Downtown, Market Row, your Workshop, the Dark Alley, the Theatre, and now The Academy. If you have the Collector’s edition and are having trouble sorting it all out, the icon for this expansion is a scroll, and its identifying colour is blue. Your assignment card deck gains a new, blue Academy assignment card so that you can send a worker disc there.
Just like the other locations, the Academy has four worker placement slots where you can send your workers, and they offer the standard plus 2, plus 1, plus 1, and plus 0 action points depending on who gets there first and which spots they choose.
There’s a suite of new actions available in the Academy. Here’s what they do.
You can spend 2 action points to renovate a room in the building. The left side is for classrooms, and the right side is for practice rooms. We’ll look at the differences between those two types of rooms in a sec.
Some of the spaces in the building begin the game blocked off, depending on the number of players. They become available as the game progresses.
When you spend 2 action points to take this renovate action, you choose an available empty room slot. Then, you choose one of the three coin-to-fame ratios listed. Pay the coins, get the fame. Careful, though – not all slots are created equal! Some of them give you a much better coin-to-fame ratio than others. As usual, you can’t do level 2 and 3 stuff unless your score marker has passed 16 and 36 points respectively… but if you’re dying to renovate a room that’s higher than your score level, you can pay the difference in coins. You can only choose a renovation that you can afford.
Next, you fish through the corresponding pile of room tiles matching the level you chose, and pick one to place on your chosen slot in the Academy. Of course, the tiles are all different, and we’ll learn why you’d choose one over when we learn about what the rooms actually do.
Finally, you get to place a certain number of your Academy banners outside the room you just renovated. You get to place more banners the earlier in the game that you renovate. This chart depicts how many banners you can place depending on which round of the game you’re on. At the end of the game, whoever has the most banners in the Academy gets bonus points, followed by second and third place players. The number of points this area control mechanic is worth differs depending on player count.
You can only renovate if you have at least 1 banner left in your supply. And if you use your last banner, every other player has to return one of their unplaced banners to the box.
Okay, so you’ve built either a classroom or a practice room in the Academy. What’s the difference? What’s the point?
Well, when you place a worker in the Academy, you can pay a certain number of action points to either practice one of your tricks in a practice room, or teach it to aspiring student magicians in a classroom. No! Get out now! Go study biochemical engineering for God’s sake! Broadly speaking, practicing a trick makes it more valuable when you perform it in the Theatre, while teaching a trick means you can no longer perform your trick in the Theatre because everyone knows how it’s done, but you earn residual income on that trick every single round that you teach it.
The two actions that assign tricks to rooms – teach and practice – each cost action points according to the level of the trick you want to teach or practice. So if you teach or practice a level 1 trick, you need to spend 1 action point, 2 action points for a level 2 trick, and 3 action points for a level 3 trick. Then, you choose a blank slot in a practice room or classroom to place one of your small Academy markers that match one of your tricks. You don’t have to meet the component requirements for a trick if you’re just practicing it, but you do have to meet the requirements of a trick you’re trying to teach. That, or you have to have at least one marker on the trick you want to teach. How is that even possible? Well, certain cards and powers elsewhere in the game enable you to gain markers on a trick even if you don’t meet the trick’s requirements, and that makes the trick eligible for you to teach at the Academy.
So if you wanted to practice this level 1 Linking Rings trick, you would take the practice action and spend 1 action point for your level 1 trick to place a matching Academy marker here, in this practice room. By doing so, your Linking Rings trick will yield one extra coin whenever it gets performed in the Theatre. It’s okay that you don’t have all the components required to prepare the trick – you’re just carving out space to practice it. When you take the practice action, you can alternatively bump one of your own Academy markers out of a slot and replace it with another trick you want to practice, but you can’t bump out other players’ markers. You could also move your Academy marker from its current slot to an empty slot when you take the Practice action.
The practice rooms introduce some new icons to Trickerion that confer never-before-seen benefits.
This icon means that when you prep this trick, you get an extra marker on it.
This one reduces the number of action points it costs to prep this trick, to a minimum of zero.
This one means that when you set up this trick in the theatre, you can rotate it any way you like, breaking the rule where you have to line up the trick’s type icon with one of the circles.
This icon lets you place up to two of this trick’s markers on the same theatre card.
This icon means you don’t have to remove this trick’s marker from the theatre card after you perform it. If you used some other power to place multiple markers from the same trick on the theatre card, you have to get rid of all but one of them when the performance is over.
This closed eyeball icon means that you can lower this trick’s component requirements by one simple or advanced component, or one component from any tier, or two components from any tier. So, like, you could pull a rabbit out of a hat with no actual rabbit and somehow still become a famous magician.
If you decide instead to teach your Linking Rings trick, you have to wait until you meet its component requirements. Once you do, you place a worker in the Academy and spend 1 action point, since it’s a level 1 trick, to place the corresponding Academy marker into one of the available classroom spots. If the level of the trick you’re teaching matches the level of the classroom, you earn this one-time bonus, which differs on each tile. Once you teach a trick, you’ve essentially burned it. Everyone knows how it’s done, so you can’t ever perform it in the Theatre again. But after the round-end performance phase comes the new Academy phase, where you earn the trick’s money, fame, and shard yield every round that you teach it, plus whatever modifier is listed next to the slot the marker is sitting in… which sometimes reduces your trick’s payout.
One exception is if you manage to get this trick performed during the Performance phase, before the Academy phase at the end of the round. Then the trick can exist simultaneously in an Academy classroom… and in the Theatre. But once the Performance phase is over, the new Academy phase activates. All teachers get paid for their tricks, and any matching trick markers for that trick that are still in the theatre or your workshop get cleared out!
When you teach, you can move an Academy marker from a practice room into a classroom, but you can never move a classroom marker anywhere. It’s stuck there for the rest of the game. The only way a trick gets removed from a classroom is if you return the trick… to Dahlgaard’s residence Downtown. If you’re moving a marker from one of these practice rooms that reduces the trick’s component requirements, you need to fully meet the trick’s prerequisites to move it into a classroom, since that benefit no longer applies.
Dahlgaard’s Academy adds a new worker type to the game: the protégé. In addition to their chosen specialist, everyone begins the game with a protégé board and a matching double-sided character disc that starts with 1 action point. The protégé is customizable and upgradable. Watch:
In the Academy, you can spend 2 action points to help your protégé learn one of dirty old Dahlgaard’s closely-guarded secrets that he’s stuffed away in his mansion. Two secret tiles get randomly dealt to the Academy in these slots. 2 action points gets you a secret of your choice, which you place into the lowest secret slot on your protégé’s board.
Now your protégé knows how to do something cool, and you can use that secret immediately when you place your protégé’s disc somewhere. That’s why you don’t really want to send your protégé to the Academy to learn the secret; send someone else, and your protégé can use the new secret in the same round. If you want to learn more than one secret, you have to send more than one worker; you can’t snap up multiple secrets in a single placement.
As your protégé learns secrets, the number of action points he or she has gets upgraded. When you place a secret here, flip the protégé disc to its 2 action points side, and when you place a secret here, replace the 2-point disc with this 3-point disc. Learning secrets, however, increases your protégé’s salary demands. Your upgraded protégé costs more and more money as the game goes on.
There’s a whole slew of secrets that your protégé can learn, and they’re all detailed in a new player guide that everyone gets at the start of the game. i won’t cover all of them, but here’s what a few of them do:
This secret lets your protégé go shopping for trick components that aren’t even available in Market Row for one extra coin per component.
This secret gets you a coin for each trick marker you prepare when your protégé takes the Prepare Trick action.
And this secret reduces your protégé’s salary to zero, no matter how many other secrets he or she has learned.
When protégés learn secrets, the stock is not replenished for the next player – the slot stays empty. If you take this action for 1 point, you deal a new secret eout to a blank slot. This action is only available if there is a blank slot. During the new Academy phase at the end of the round, all unlearned secrets are discarded, and two new secrets get dealt to the board.
THE DARK ALLEY
There’s a whole new set of special assignment cards for the Dark Alley that you can use at the Academy, along with two new special assignment cards for each deck. If you buy the standalone expansion, you get a sticker you can place on your board to accommodate the new cards. Since you can only learn one secret per worker at the Academy, and you only have one Academy assignment card, that means you’ll have to visit the Dark Alley to buy Academy special assignment cards if you want to learn multiple secrets in a single round.
It’s also worth noting that there’s been a small rules change from the first edition: instead of starting with the special assignment cards face up, they all start face-down, to decrease information overload in an already complex game. When you take these actions to acquire special assignment cards, you draw the top two cards from any stack, choose one, and sink the other to the bottom of the deck.
You also get a small stack of blue Dark Alley prophecies that you shuffle into the regular stack, that can show up at any time if they get dealt out randomly to the board. I won’t go over what they all do, but they’re also detailed in the Dahlgaard’s Academy workbook that each player gets at the start of the game.
In addition to Dahlgaard’s Academy, the expansion adds new character art for all of the original magicians, and four new playable magicians, one from each school of magic. Here are the unique powers of the four new magicians:
When he renovates the Academy, Geert van Augustin is allowed to choose a coin-to-fame ratio one level higher than he’s achieved on the score track. If he spends 6 or more coins when renovating, he gets to advertise for free, if he hasn’t already.
While preparing her assignment cards, Anjali can place a single coin on any or all of the secrets her protégé has learned. When she places a worker disc, she can cash in the coin from a single secret so that whichever character she’s placing can use the secret too. At the end of the round, the coins go back to the bank, so it’s use it or lose it.
Professor Bernard has a set of special Academy markers. After receiving payment for one of the tricks he’s taught at the Academy, the Professor can remove the associated trick from his workshop to make room, but he can keep earning income on that trick for the rest of the game. He has enough markers to do this with two of his tricks.
Lumenia the Radiant gets an additional fame or coin for each link she creates in the theatre. No bonus shards, though.
The expansion also changes the magician powers of two of the original magicians because they were… weak sauce.
At the end of the round, the Priestess of Mysticism can now pay 1 shard to recall one of the special assignment cards she used instead of discarding it.
The Master of Chains now earns 2 fame from any trick links involving his own trick markers on the theatre card he performs.
Finally, Dahlgaard’s Academy includes an automated robot player, Dahlgaard’s Heir, so you can play Trickerion solo. Dahlgaard’s Heir is complex enough to warrant its own video, so we’ll look at those rules another time.
A new rule change has capped the number of fame points you can earn in the various scoring categories to 20. So maximum 20 points per category for leftover shards, coins, special assignment cards, and meta-points earned from level 3 tricks. Similar to the classroom rule, you can cash in meta points on a level 3 trick if you either meet its component requirements, or have at least 1 trick marker on it.
Then you score the Academy bonus, which changes based on the number of players: in a 2-player game, whoever has the most banners at the school earns 8 points. In a 3-player game, first place gets 12 points, and the runner-up gets 6. In a 4-player game, the prizes are 15, 10, and 5 points – but you only get points if you’ve placed at least 1 banner at the school.
To set up the game, follow the standard setup rules for Trickerion, including the Dark Alley setup, which is required if you want to play with Dahlgaard’s Academy. You can watch my How to Set Up Trickerion video for a refresher, but remember to shuffle the special assignment cards face-down in the Dark Alley, and include the new Academy special assignment cards in their own pile, as well as the two extra special assignment cards in each deck. Knock out 7 prophecies at random, and shuffle in the 7 new blue Academy prophecies before dealing out the three pending prophecies at random.
In addition to choosing their starting specialist, each player takes a protégé board and their protégé character disc, flipped to its 1 action point side. Everyone gains an Academy assignment card into their assignment card deck. You should have one card for each location, plus an extra assignment card for the theatre, for a total of 2 theatre cards.
Put the Academy board next to the main game board, using whichever side of the board matches your player count. In a 2 or 4 player game, block off the rooms marked A and B. In a 3-player game, block off just the A rooms.
Put the open room tokens on rounds IV and VI in a 2 or 4 player game, or on round V in a 3 player game. When the round marker reaches these tokens, you’ll remove the room blockers so those spaces can be renovated.
Shuffle the secrets and deal 2 to the Academy board. Everyone starts with 3 fame instead of 5.
Everyone gets an additional marker per trick, for a total of 5 markers in each suit. Dahlgaard’s Academy gives everyone an extra 2 starting coins, so pass out 12/14/16/18 coins in initiative order.
If you want the game to go a little faster… and i mean a little faster… you can use the new quick start setup. Start on turn II. Flip one of the theatre cards into the rightmost empty slot. Have everyone draw 1 random Special Assignment card from a deck of their choice, in reverse initiative order. Everyone starts with 6 fame, or 8 fame if you’re playing with the Academy expansion. Everyone gets 1 additional Trickerion shard for a total of 2, and after everyone has chosen their starting components for a value of 2, and prepped their starting trick if they’ve met the requirements, they get to grab an additional pile of components worth up to 3 bucks. If you choose the Assistant as your specialist, you get a bonus 2 bucks.
And now, you’re ready to play Trickerion: Dahlgaard’s Academy!
At 13:58, i claim that Anjali’s workers can copy the protégé secrets she’s peppered with coins. Only Anjali’s apprentices (the 1-point “hand” workers) can mimic a paid-down secret. Thanks to YouTuber Matthew Robinson for noticing the error!