The Dragon & Flagon (Game Review)




  • Designers: Geoff, Brian & Sydney Englestein
  • Publishers: Stronghold Games
  • Players: 2-8
  • Time: 60-90 minutes
  • Ages: 12+
  • Times Played:7 (with review copy provided by Stronghold Games)


Hail and well met, young adventurer! Sit, grab a pint and let me tell you a tale of long ago, of the times of yore… back when Avalon Hill was still its own sovereign kingdom and the only European games any of us knew were Clue and Risk. (Truth be told, we didn’t even know those games were European – we pretty much thought that the Parker Brothers invented them.)

It was the Year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and eighty… the year of the Miracle on Ice, the release of Pac-Man, and the summer that the Empire finally struck back. Those were heady times, my young friend – because it was during that same span of 365 days that many of us stumbled into our friendly local game stores to find a game shaped like a double album. (Ah, double albums – I remember them fondly: Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, ELO’s “Out of the Blue” and the soundtrack from a little film called “Star Wars” were the background soundscape for many an afternoon AD&D session. But I digress…)

yaquintoswashbucklercoverNow, this wasn’t the first game that Yaquinto released in the album format – but it certainly is the first that I remember. It was called Swashbuckler – and it was a plotted simov game of Three Musketeer-ish bar fighting.

What? You didn’t understand the word “simov”? You thought I was name-checking Viktor Simov, Russian painter? Bah, youngling, I am referring to the great pre-personal computer tradition of simultaneous movement in board games, usually done by plotting movement and attacks on paper and then resolving them with the other players. (Examples include Diplomacy, Wooden Ships & Iron Men, Sniper!, Dreadnought, and Gladiator.)

The game was, even with the plodding nature of simov plotting, riotous fun. You could swing from chandeliers, tip over tables, and wave your plumed hat to distract your foes. The double album format even offered two boards – one was a bar straight from the set of “The Three Musketeers” (the 1973 version, of course… though the ‘93 version has certain charms and nobody will ever choreograph sword fights like Gene Kelly in the 1948 film.) The other board was, of course, two ships close enough for boarding to begin, a la “Captain Blood.”

Continue reading

Posted in Essen 2016, Reviews | Tagged , , | 2 Comments


Design by Nicholas Trahan
Published by Mayfair Games
2 – 4 Players, 90 minutes
Review by Greg J. Schloesser


Superheroes are all the rage, with seemingly an endless array of television series and movies focusing on even minor characters.  That is just fine with me, as I have always been a superhero fan, with a strong favoritism towards the DC world.  I am still waiting on the ultimate superhero game to be produced.  Some have been good, but most have been sorely lacking punch (heh, heh!).  So, it was natural that I would be attracted to Villainy by designer Nicholas Trahan.

Villainy, however, is set in the opposite world.  Players are not superheroes, but rather assume the roles of minor villains hoping to make it to the big time.  To accomplish this, they must commit a series of crimes, from the petty to the severe, in order to increase their infamy and recruit henchmen to their cause.  Like any good villain, a player must complete his master plan, but first must deal with the pesky do-gooder Fantastiman.  Defeat Fantastiman and one becomes a villain worthy of notice.

Villainy has a 1960s cartoonish style that will either attract or repel you. This isn’t the dark and gritty atmosphere evoked by The Dark Knight or Batman vs. Superman.  Rather, it would be more on par with the Super Friends cartoon series.  Players begin with a villain wannabe, and can even give them clever names by choosing from over 100 villainous name tiles.  Fancy the name Dark Walrus, or perhaps Lord Commander Sloth?  How about Pain Head?  Or, you can take the lazy approach and simply keep the original name on the villain card (I kinda like the name “Rat Lady”!).

Continue reading

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Review – Evolution: Climate

Evolution: Climate

Designers: Dominic Crapuchettes, Dmitry Knorre, and Sergey Machin

Artists: Ben Goldman, Catherine Hamilton, and Jacoby O’Connor

Publisher: NorthStar Games

2 – 6 players

60 – 75 minutes

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Jonathan Franklin

Source: Official photo from NorthStar Games

I played the old Russian version of Evolution long ago and thought it would be fun to review the latest iteration from NorthStar Games, Evolution: Climate. Wow.  Game reviewers sit around wishing for more innovation in games – well, here it is.  This is not really like anything else I’ve ever encountered.

This won’t be one of those rules rehash reviews.  Instead, I’m going for a Monet-style Impressionist view of this work.  The short version of the rules is that you a. draw cards, b. discard a card to the watering hole, c. affect your species by playing a card to increase the population of one of your species, increase the size of the species, or give one of your species new traits.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Dale Yu: Quick Essen 2016 Recap – and the reveal of the Haul

Well, back safely from Essen, and with two grueling workdays behind me, time to catch my breath and review the trip.  As usual, we had a great time in Europe, and it was a wonderful 8-day experience.  I did manage to sneak in a visit to Bremen, a city which I had never seen before, and I managed to find a new favorite German sweet, the Bremer kluten.  Which looks like a domino and is the best peppermint patty tasting thing I’ve ever had!

Anyways, on to the games… Here is the pictoral version of the OG 2016 Essen Haul.



The full list follows:

Continue reading

Posted in Convention Report, Essen 2016 | 5 Comments

Circuit Maze – Review

Circuit Maze

  • Designers:  David Yakos, Wei-Hwa Huang, Tyler Somer
  • Publisher:Thinkfun
  • Players:1
  • Ages: 8 and Up
  • Times Played: > 5
  • Review By Eric Edens (Nerd E)


Circuit Maze from ThinkFun is a puzzle game using real electrical currents and circuit logic. In a time when science careers are on the rise, the need for skilled engineers, and the desire for more science knowledge in the new generation is high, ThinkFun is on a mission to be a source for that knowledge growth. The gamification of learning in apps and in classrooms leads to a new crop of board games as well. Circuit Maze is one of these games but is it fun and can it teach?


How does it play?

Circuit Maze is a purely single player game in which you will place pieces in a grid board. The crux of the game is that these pieces include a circuit battery pack and close circuit piece. By adding pieces in the grid in areas between these two points you can crest various circuits. The goal is to match the requirements of the puzzle card using the same pieces and locations as specified on the card. In other words, the puzzle may be to use a specific 6 pieces and the end completion must have a green light lit up and the red light not lit up. All pieces must be integrated and touching so you can’t just toss the red piece off in the corner. There isn’t a time limit or limit to the amount of attempts but these of course can be house ruled to create a leaderboard style element for multiple players. The challenge cards range from beginner to expert in many different levels of difficulty in between and total 60 cards. Of course the solution is always on the back of the card should you get stuck but once you see it you really have spoiled that puzzle for the time being. With that being the case there isn’t a hint system or anything which in the harder puzzles may lead to frustration and quitting the puzzle altogether. The instruction book delves into the science of electrical currents and really helps to lead you along in the logic of what may work in each puzzle but can at times read like a school textbook rather than a game.

My opinion

I have to say I actually did learn a little bit while playing. There were circuit logic puzzles in which I got stuck, had to read the rule book to see how that might work, and even feel smart when I solved them. For a child interested in science this is a great game.  Learning and fun combine for a great way to understand electrical currents but remember the puzzles aren’t unlimited. There are some component issues when you try to place or remove pieces they might pop out too easily or otherwise be nearly impossible to pry out. A small child might need an adult to help as well as an adult to supervise the first few plays in order to prevent any potential mildly dangerous issues like a short circuit. It also requires 3 AAA batteries which are not included and a small screwdriver for their installation which isn’t referred to on the box. But otherwise I like the component quality. I also had fun. And really for an educational game, if I can have even the slightest fun I see it as a success and it was fun.  If you want to see more on this game, find my on YouTube on my channel NerdEVideos.


Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Eric Edens
  •  Neutral
  • Not for me…



Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment


Design by Martin Kallenborn & Matthias Prinz
Published by Hans im Gluck
2 – 4 Players, 60 – 90
Review by Greg J. Schloesser


In a land far, far away …

That would be Helios by designers Martin Kallenborn and Matthias Prinz.  Players are high priests forming and developing their lands, hoping to secure a virtuous place in the history of their people.  Success is dependent upon the movement of the sun god Ahau, for the sun is necessary for the land to produce the resources needed to construct the fabulous cities.  Will Ahau be merciful?

Players will construct their world on their personal circular board by acquiring and placing hexes representing different types of terrain (redwood, granite, bamboo, obsidian or springs) and temples.  They will take actions to move the sun, which produces resources on the lands upon which it shines.  They will then use these resources to construct buildings, which will give them various abilities, mana stones (used primarily to recruit characters) and victory points.

In each of the four turns, one of each of the five types of terrain are made available, plus one random terrain tile.  Three rows of six action tiles are revealed.  These action tiles will allow the player to perform the major actions of the game:  create land, add a building or temple, or move the sun.  A player’s turn consists of taking the bottom tile of one of the three rows and performing the corresponding action.

Continue reading

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Essen Day Four: A Summary of Spiel 2016, What Was Hot, and What I Played (Chris Wray)


Spiel 2016 is in the history books!  By this afternoon the halls were emptying out, and the fair was drawing to an end.

This posts covers four topics: (1) my general thoughts on Essen 2016, including publishers/designers that stood out, (2) my final analysis of what was hot this year, (3) a few more scenes from the Messe, and (4) snap reviews of the games I played.  Today was a short day at the Messe for me, filled mostly with last-minute shopping, but I have snap reviews of The Game Extreme, Inis, and Pandemic Iberia. Continue reading

Posted in Convention Report, Essen 2016 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Essen by proxy – Sunday (Melissa Rogerson)

I was late for the feed because I was busy baking communist gingerbread with the Bigster. In a moment of gaming continuity, I realised that I blogged about baking gingerbread with her sister just over ten years ago, at Gone Gaming. Same recipe, probably different cutters (we weren’t making a Tikal board this time).

That delay meant I missed the first four games. Fortunately, chatters are happy to fill in the gaps, when they’re not punning about Putin the communist gingerbread in the oven. Continue reading

Posted in Essen 2016 | 1 Comment

Father in the Messe: day 2 – morning

I’m quite sure this post will get a lot of hits: Dale Yu, Potatos and a well known designer in the first page (he is Vlaada Chvatil of course!) is something gamers are not used to resist (something like video with cats on facebook). For not well prepared reader: I’m then one on the left, Dale is in the middle and Vlaada on the right with the potatoes.


The friday in Essen is for me both a day of games and the opportunity to meet friends at the usual IGA ceremony at the BGG booth at lunchtime. Unluckily I have not ready to post pictures of the awards since Caterina and Francesco decided it was much more better going to eat something instead of looking old gamers talking about games (I really don’t know why). Anyway the ceriomony was great: Ferdinand de Cassan, our speaker, was brilliant and Bauza and Cathala took time to get pictures with fans.

Continue reading

Posted in Essen 2016 | 2 Comments

Essen Day Three: What’s Hot, and What I Played, Plus Other Updates (Chris Wray)


Day Three was the most crowded yet, as is seemingly always the case, because German families come out en masse to participate in the fair.  This posts covers three topics: (1) what’s hot, (2) scenes from the Messe, including another jumbo game, and (3) snap reviews of the games I played.  I cover five games today, including Colony, Dice Stars, Dixit: Revelations, H.M.S. Dolores, and Ominoes. Continue reading

Posted in Convention Report, Essen 2016 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments