Review: “DragonForge” by Matthew Stewart, Cobble Hill — 7.75/10

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Publisher: Cobble Hill (Canada), 2016

Title:  “Dragonforge” by Matthew Stewart  1000 pieces, 19.25″ x 26.625″

Review by Jane

OUR RATING: 7.75/10

Box Quality:  (8/10)
The box is shown above and below. It’s an attractive rectangular box similar in size to Ravensburger and Jumbo, but it has a nice linen finish. The front does not show the artist or image name.

Back:

The back is a generic Cobble Hill back. There’s nothing specific about the artist or puzzle image here.

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The sides:

The sides have a nice close-up detail from the image, the Cobble Hill logo, piece count, puzzle dimensions, and puzzle name. The name of the artist is shown in small print on all four sides. The Cobble Hill boxes all have a similar design but the color is unique to coordinate with each puzzle. The boxes look nice arranged together on a shelf.

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Inside the box:

There’s nothing inside the box except the bag of puzzle pieces and a small warranty sheet.

The Image: 8/10

Cobble Hill came out with two dragon puzzles by Matthew Stewart in Jan 2016. I was excited to see these puzzles, because there are far fewer fantasy puzzles than other genres, so it’s nice to see brand new images hit the market. You can see the second new dragon puzzle at the end of this review.

This image was appealing to me based on the image shown for this puzzle from Cobble Hill. You can see it below.

dragonforge

I knew it would be a challenging puzzle because of all the blue and darker areas in the scene. But there appeared to be a good amount of detail with the dwarf and priestess figures, the crystals in the cave, the pond and the lighting. It’s a very pretty image and I decided to give it a try. If you like fantasy, or dragons, you’ll probably find this scene very appealing too.

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Above: The completed puzzle. Click for closer view.

Puzzle Quality: 8/10

You can see our full brand comparison on Cobble Hill here.

The quality of this puzzle is good. As you can see in the detail close-up below, the puzzle is randomly cut with a large variety of piece shapes. The pieces aren’t as thick as some (Gibsons, Ravensburger), but are not so thin as to be annoying. The pieces interlock well and there’s no confusion about where a piece goes.

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The Cobble Hill pieces have a linen finish, which helps reduce glare (I can’t say ‘eliminate’ in this case, because the puzzle has quite dark areas which still get some glare under overhead lights).

Assembly: 7/10

As expected, assembly on this puzzle is a challenge. I’d put it in the ‘difficult’ category.  This is mainly due to so much dark area and so much blue.

I assembled the frame first, and then the purple areas (mostly the crystals in the cave). It wasn’t difficult to pull the pieces for the white areas of the dragon and the priestesses and stairs. The light areas of the cave and pond were done next and the bright light blues. At this point the puzzle looked like this:

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Unfortunately, at this point, all of the remaining pieces seemed very dark. All the dwarf figures (the “forge” area) in the bottom of the puzzle are comprised of quite dark pieces when you look at them individually. The figures are very ‘soft’ here, a combination of brush strokes and perhaps a bit of blur  and darkening on the image reproduction. So the figures don’t jump out at you until they are assembled.

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There’s so much blue! The light and purpley areas of blue weren’t too difficult, but there’s a lot of very dark blue-to-black as well.

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Many of the details, like the dogs, feel very small compared to the overall puzzle size, taking up only a piece or two.

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The reptile skin of the dragon is pretty easy to discern as well as his ‘armor’.

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Overall, it felt like the image reproduction was darker, and less clear, than it was in the photo that advertises the puzzle. Which makes the puzzle even more difficult than you’d think it would be, just looking at the photo.  It’s certainly not an impossible puzzle, and I didn’t find it frustrating per se, but it was more time consuming and had more dark/indistinct areas than I prefer.

More Images:

The best part of the puzzle is this central scene with the priestesses. (click for a closer view)

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Summary

This is a challenging fantasy puzzle from Matthew Stewart and Cobble Hill. The Cobble Hill quality is good and the pieces are randomly cut in a fun and interesting pattern. The bright central portion of this image is not too difficult to assemble, but the rest is filled with shades of blue and darker areas that will challenge your puzzling ability. The image you assemble is slightly darker than the image at it appears in the photograph. If you love dragons or fantasy puzzles in general, and appreciate a puzzle which tests your skill, you’ll enjoy this lovely puzzle from Cobble Hill

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Where to find:

You can grab this puzzle on sale for the next three days at Puzzle Warehouse.   REVIEW DISCOUNT: 15% off for 3 days (ends 6/12/2016).

PWLOGO

Another new dragon puzzle from Matthew Stewart and Cobble Hill (this one looks lighter in color):

WaterfallDragon

Jane

2 responses to Review: “DragonForge” by Matthew Stewart, Cobble Hill — 7.75/10

  1. SteveM says:

    I am familiar with this art and disappointed that they cropped the bottom and eliminated a dwarf and some additional detail that helps bring that foreground scene together. Not a deal breaker though.

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