Board Games: Dragonmaster (Milton Bradley, 1981)

Dragonmaster 1981

Dragonmaster 1981-2

Dragonmaster 1981-4

Dragonmaster 1981-3

Dragonmaster is a straightforward, trick-taking card game with a sword and sorcery theme. What makes it interesting is the spectacular art, which resembles that of another, better known Milton Bradley game from the same year, Dark Tower. Here’s a shot of the different screens in Dark Tower for comparison:

Dark Tower 1981

The same talented gent, Bob Pepper, illustrated both games. Pepper is probably most famous for his kaleidoscopic cover art for Forever Changes (1967), one of the greatest rock albums of all time. He also did numerous, ultra-stylized sci-fi/fantasy paperback covers from the late 1960s until the early 1980s, including a series of unforgettable Philip K. Dick covers for DAW. Less well known are his beautiful classical album covers—for Bartok, Schubert, Puccini, Bach. I’ll feature more from Pepper soon.

Once again we see the influence of the psychedelic movement of the 1960s on the fantasy renaissance of 1975 – 1985.

You can read a short interview with Pepper at Well of Souls, a Dark Tower fan site.

UPDATE: See a complete set of Pepper’s Dragonmaster cards here.

(Images via Board Game Geek)

18 Responses to “Board Games: <em>Dragonmaster</em> (Milton Bradley, 1981)”

  1. 1 mwschmeer May 6, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Man, I LOVED this game. I used the crystals as gems in my D&D games back in the day.

    • 2 2W2N May 6, 2014 at 4:14 pm

      I tried to nab one on eBay, but it went for over $50. Boo. Someone I know, however, has scanned all the cards. Hopefully he’ll post them at some point!

  2. 3 Tom Beiter May 6, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    I asked for and received this game for Christmas of 1982. I asked for it solely on the basis of the art. I never played the game. I still have it and could get those scans for you if the person you know doesn’t come through for you.

  3. 8 Tom Beiter May 6, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    This also reminded me of another game I had (have) called “Dungeon”. It was actually made by TSR and was a more board-game friendly version of D&D. My brother and I played that for hours. I had this version:

  4. 10 Tom Beiter May 6, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    Sorry, one more comment. I really wanted “Dark Tower” when I was a kid, but it was so expensive, my parents couldn’t afford it. Back in the 90’s I came across it at a garage sale. It was $5 so I passed on it. I could kick myself.

    • 11 2W2N May 6, 2014 at 11:33 pm

      I must’ve got Dark Tower about 1983, after the price had gone down a bit. It was one of the bigger Christmas presents I’ve received, regardless, in size and in price. (That box is huge!) I don’t even bother to look for it today. I know it’s out of my range.

  5. 12 Tony Rowe May 7, 2014 at 5:57 am

    As a kid, I found a near-new copy of Dragonmaster in a thrift store and snatched it up. I never got three other players together to try the game, but the character names and illustrations were great for D&D inspiration. I never had Dark Tower when I was young but made sure to get a copy as an adult. I still want to figure out a good way to tie these two games together.

    Since I figured out Bob Pepper was the artist on both games, I try to pick up books with his illustrations on the covers.

    Say, did anyone watch the special all-LEGO episode of the Simpsons and notice the parody of Pepper’s book cover illustration for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Do Minifigs Dream of Electric Sheep?) The sheep emerging from the head is pure Pepper.

  6. 14 contradextraavenue May 16, 2014 at 2:08 am

    I’ve been a huge Philip Jose Farmer fan for most of my life, and until you posted the link, I never even connected the cover artist from my 1st editions of Flesh and Lord Tyger with Dark Tower. Wow, mind blown…

  7. 15 michaeljpastor March 4, 2022 at 7:51 am

    Does anyone remember another board game that used the same kind of interlocking crystals? I remember that it was science fiction based and not fantasy-based and I think it involved space stations. It was also more of a traditional board game than a card game I believe.

    I loved dragon master and so did my mom cuz she loved card games and it was something that we could play together.

    • 16 Bagelpriest May 20, 2023 at 5:26 am

      You are probably thinking of Milton Bradley’s Laser Attack (1978) (looks like an attack on the Death Star). MB later reused the same pieces in The Goonies board game (1985).

  1. 1 Complete Set of Bob Pepper’s Dragonmaster Cards (1981) | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on May 9, 2014 at 1:55 pm
  2. 2 Christmas Morning, 1983: Dark Tower and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Toys | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on December 1, 2014 at 3:10 pm

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