If you are looking for a whimsical fantasy game with the cutest of dragons, look no farther than Flamecraft. This board game was designed by Manny Vega and the art is done by Sandra Tang. This game is for 1-5 players and takes about 60 minutes to complete. The recommended age is 10 or older and I agree that as cute as this game is it takes more brain power and strategy and is better suited for the older kiddos & the kids at heart (adults). This game you are helping the dragons find their ideal homes as they each are artisans and crafters that can work in the shops.
You, the Flamekeeper, must visit the different shops, collect resources and cast enchantments to gain hearts. The Flamekeeper with the highest reputation (heart) count at the end wins. The game ends when the last card of either the artisan or enchantment decks are drawn. Each player (including the person who triggered the end of game) gets one more turn which was a nice touch. I like that this game is competitive for the most reputation/hearts but the content and game play has such wholesome characters and locations to visit. The bright colors and whimsical look to everything also bring joy.
Set up takes a little bit of time but the way the board is designed everything has a place and the set up makes sense. I love the whimsical dragons, the fantastic art and how visually stunning this game is. The fact that the board has a space for everything and that the layout is well thought out. I also like that it is a neoprene & cloth mat vs a traditional cardboard board. The dragons hanging out in the park, to a well for your coins to be stacked on, and even having shops along the border just complete the overall aesthetic and show the thought and care that went into its creation. Even the stepping stones in the middle of the board track your reputation using the matching heart token to your dragon pawn. It's easy to say that this is one on my favorite boards for a game, everything just made so much sense.
Game play was made easier with cards to help remind you of the actions that can be taken. You can decide to either gather or enchant each round and you need to think strategy as you collect different goods from different shops/dragons. There are six types of artisian dragons: iron, bread, crystal, plant, potion and meat. The fancy dragons include moon and sun categories. Each type gives you different boons so it's important to plan where you want to put them in your shops. Also you need to collect money, because sometimes your friends will go to shops so you have to pay them gold.
This game features a large “Rules of Play” book that is colored, is really easy to navigate and is filled with all the vital information. The book features how to play examples that were helpful to reference, as a visual learner this game did well in the sense of teaching the game. I also like that there are additional play options for the game which includes dragon companions and a solo play adventure. The rules do a really good job explaining the rules with 2-4 pages with the examples and even side notes of clarifications from the creators to go over important information.
I overall enjoyed the game and have it on my list of something I want to purchase for my game shelf. Flamecraft is definitely on the side of more complex to learn as this is the first of its kind game and takes a few turns to get a hang of. The rule book was accessed for clarifications as we played and the game was quite fun even if it was a lot to take in at first. I believe playing the game numerous times will be much easier and faster to play. The players do get a playing card that has base rules to help navigate turns and help with common symbol identification which I found quite handy. As a forever Gm I also appreciate that solo play is available with this game. If you are interested in getting your own copy of Flamecraft there are a variety of places (including the Bezos Bazar) and prices about $40. I encourage you to go to Cardboard Alchemy's website here or check out your local game store to see if they have a copy available. The bonus of going to Cardboard Alchemy's website is there are also the dragon's in plushie form, sticker sheets and other awesome accessories to enhance your game (who doesn't want metal coins to clink around). I was able to borrow the copy that was photographed and played here through our local library board game collection.
As a player and game enthusiast I really think Cardboard Alchemy did a great job giving everyone who had a part in the project credit, and I really think they deserve the recognition for this amazing game.
The board game comes with many components from wooden player dragon tokens, to multiple cards in large and small sizes to hundreds of small tokens. Everything fits inside of the box but it was handy to have multiple rubber bands and plastic baggies to help keep all of the pieces organized and sorted.
It is the opinion of this author that this game was worth the price of purchase if you can afford it. You definitely get the "bang for your buck" when it comes to the amount of pieces you get, and the neoprene mat is something that will last a lot longer than traditional cardboard boards. One of my friends backed the Kickstarter and is how I originally became interested in this game.