Dragonfire First Impressions

Dragonfire is a cooperative deck builder set in the D&D multiverse. Players take on a one of the races and character classes and fight their way through encounters to finish an adventure. Similar to a legacy game, Dragonfire has you mark up your character sheet with stickers and doing better on an adventure will yield XP and items for next games. The base game has 8 adventures to play though, each with optional scenarios to make it even harder.


When I heard about Dragonfire a few months back, the hype was definitely real. A cooperative D&D deck builder? I knew my game group would be all over that. We managed to get the tutorial adventure played and the excitement continued to increase.  Come the next week and we played the first Evil Arises Adventure.

We got creamed. We had to keep checking the rulebook almost every turn for rule clarifications and keywords. The tutorial did not prepare us for the complexity of this game. Not only that, but we didn’t even know how the easier, less complex Dungeon Crawl standalone adventure. It wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the rulebook to start with that adventure.

So once we epically lost our first adventure, we went on to the Dungeon Crawl, which we thankfully won. But the hype was gone by then. Our group is unsure about Dragonfire and how much grinding each adventure will take, to earn enough XP to move on to higher level adventures.

The mechanics themselves are fine. I do think they added one more layer of complexity than they needed to. I also think our group won’t enjoy doing each adventure 4-5 times just so we can level up. We have so many other board games to play, and this one didn’t sit as well as I’d hoped with the group.

We also found out later that there was an errata to the first Evil Arises adventure, that would’ve made our time much easier. That tells me that they are still essentially playtesting the game and balancing it out. That doesn’t give me a lot of confidence to be honest.

What I will say is the card and component quality are amazing. The artwork, stunning. That’s part of what made me so excited when I opened the box. But to us, the gameplay was lackluster at best and tedious at worst. My game group does plan on giving this game a few more goes, but I think we are going to house rule to add extra XP for the game. They really aren’t interested in grinding through the game.

So, overall, Dragonfire fell flat upon the hype I had for it. I’m hoping later adventures will be more fun, and that with adding more XP that my game group will enjoy it better. If you don’t like grinding style games, Dragonfire is definitely not for you. I think my friend said it best: “I’d rather just play normal D&D.”



Favorite Games in Categories

Facebook may not be my favorite social media, but I really like the “On This Day” feature. Today, it popped up that I had posted my Top 9 Board Games back in 2015. It was really fun seeing what games I liked and still like, and those that have been barely played since 2015.
It’s really hard coming up with a Top 9, because some games I like specifically to play with family or my game group. My Top 9 probably changes even at the time of year, whether we are playing tons of board games on the holidays or I’m doing more solo games because my son is in school.

My Top 9 Board Games in 2015
My Top 9 Board Games in 2015

Instead of a Top 9, I’d rather make a list of my favorite games in certain categories. I made sure there was no overlap, although some could be in two or three categories. My game tastes change every few years for sure!

A few years back, my game group used to be super into heavy euro games. Now, we play our fair share of cooperative, roll n writes, and immersive games. We still get out our euro games, but tend to stick to light-to-medium.

Here’s my list!

Top Games as of Summer 2017

Solo Games
One Deck Dungeon
Deep Space D6

2-Player Games
Star Realms
7 Wonders Duel

Dice Games
Roll Player
Dice Stars

Euro Games
7 Wonders
Lords of Waterdeep

Conflict Games
Small World
Hero Realms

Co-op Games
Pandemic Legacy
Mansions of Madness
Exit: The Game

Immersive Games
Arabian Nights
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game
A Study in Emerald

Card Games
The Game

Party Games


Roll and Write Revolution

What are roll and write games? The simplest example is Yahtzee. You roll dice and write down the set you got such as three of a kind or a full house. While Yahtzee is the first roll and write I played, in the past few years, new and improved roll and writes have been designed. It seems like every month I am finding out about new roll and write games. Gamewright has certainly helped start this revolution with fantastic R&W games such as Qwixx and Rolling America. But other games have surfaced that provide some more complex strategies in such a simple mechanic.



What I love about Roll and Writes is how much variety there is in each game. One game of Qwixx can be very short if the dice roll write or can be longer. I also like how I can play them anywhere, because of how small they are. I’ve even played Rolling America on the plane. Most Roll and Writes also have solo variants in the box, which increases their play value. I’ve played Dice Stars and Viva Java Dice so many times solo.


I also like how many Roll and Writes are very easy to teach and set up. It makes playing with kids and casual gamers a breeze. There are also more strategic roll and writes that have many ways to mitigate dice. Roll and Writes aren’t only for filler games but there are some that require more strategy and set up such as No Siesta!

Don’t know what roll and writes to try out? Here’s a list of my R&W games in a few different categories. Enjoy!


Easy To Learn

  1. Qwixx
  2. Rolling America
  3. Qwinto
  4. Dice Stars

R&W with Solo Variants in the Box

  1. Dice Stars
  2. Viva Java Dice
  3. Rolling America
  4. Octodice
  5. No Siesta
  6. Avenue

Strategic Roll and Writes

  1. Octodice
  2. No Siesta
  3. Viva Java Dice

Board Games and Speech Therapy

When I was in speech therapy as a kid, we played Candyland as a reward for doing our pronunciation work. Fast forward to now, and I’m playing board games with my son as part of his speech therapy. Except we aren’t playing Candyland. We’re playing Animal Upon Animal, Qwixx, and Sum Swamp. And board games aren’t just a reward, they are actually part of his speech therapy!IMG_6951

My son’s speech therapist is a huge advocator of board games and oral motor games during speech therapy. Instead of just rote pronunciation, she finds what is behind not talking, not pronouncing. She builds the foundations from the ground up, instead of working on the symptom of speech delays or pronunciation issues. So, board games are a huge part of my son’s speech therapy. It’s part of sequencing, planning, and making logical choices. These all help with speech!IMG_7063 2

So, we play Animal Upon Animal, talking through each turn, then do oral motor exercises in between. Think tongue pops, la-la-la’s, and putting cheerios on the tip of our tongue. It’s so fun, and my son responds really well to it. And we get to play board games daily as part of his speech therapy! How cool is that?IMG_7166

Another thing I love is that his speech therapist is very open to trying new games. I got her hooked on Codenames, and recently she bought No Thank You Evil to try with her students. Board games are more than just entertainment for us, they are a means to get my son talking and talking well.

What’s exciting is my son’s speech delay is gone. He’s talking at the right level for kids his age, now what’s left is to work on his tongue and lip strength so he can get those pesky L’s, F’s, and V’s. Well off to do more oral motor games with my son while we play Space Planets!


The Goonies: Adventure Card Game Review

The Goonies: Adventure Card Game is a fully cooperative board game for 1-4 players using the movie: The Goonies as the setting. The Goonies: ACG is designed by Ben Pinchback and Matt Riddle and published by Albino Dragon. The goal of The Goonies: ACG is to find all paths to One Eye Willy’s ship by clearing obstacles and defeating the criminal family the Fratellis.

My son makes a cameo in set up photo for The Goonies: ACG
My son makes a cameo in set up photo for The Goonies: ACG

At the start of the game, players choose one of the neighborhood kids as their character. Each character has a different power which can be used throughout the game. There are 5 different locations where players have to search for the path to One Eye Willy’s ship. There are also obstacles in each location, which the players have to play cards from their hand to clear.img_3064

What’s most interesting about The Goonies: ACG is that there are no individual turns in the game. Players have four actions as a whole group and have to decide together what to do. This is a great mechanic for groups who make decisions easily together or for players who are newer board games. It is easy to teach as just one experienced player can help the whole group make decisions.img_3061

However, players do get to make some individual decisions as their characters has special abilities they can activate during the game. This helps players to feel important in the game, otherwise, whoever had the strongest personality would just take over the game. The decisions in The Goonies: ACG are pretty basic, you just need to play cards to clear obstacles, and keep track of how many Fratteli cards are in play. While the game itself is not complex, it does provide good fun especially for those who enjoy cooperative games. I also appreciate that there are different difficulty levels and a challenge mode. This will help the game to have good replay value, since the default game is straight forward and easy to win.img_3067

While many of the cards had photos from the movie, other cards had pretty basic object art on them. I wasn’t super impressed with the art, and I wish it had been a little higher quality. To be honest, I think this game would have been better with having its own custom art and not having The Goonies IP. There was nothing inherent to the game that said “The Goonies” other than the photos on the cards. That being said, having The Goonies theme could allow casual gamers to pick this up because of the IP and get more into board gaming.

For anyone who has seen The Goonies movie, this will be a highly nostalgic board game. The cards have photos from the movie, which bring back some of the characters and famous scenes. The Goonies: ACG is on the lighter end of cooperative games and can be a great gateway to heavier games. I’m excited that there is a solo mode, which works incredibly well since players don’t have individual turns anyways. While the theme doesn’t mesh completely with the mechanics, it can bring people to play the game where they otherwise might have been intimidated by a different theme. Overall, The Goonies: ACG is a good cooperative game especially for families and casual gamers.


2016 Board Game Year in Review

I can’t believe how quickly 2016 went for us here at Board Game Duel. It was a busy year, with tons of family time, the start of preschool for our son, and lot of volunteering in our church and community. We also got in so many board games and video games with family and friends!

We got Arabian Nights for Christmas and after one play we instantly fell in love with it. We'll be playing it on New Year's Eve!
We got Arabian Nights for Christmas and after one play we instantly fell in love with it. We’ll be playing it on New Year’s Eve!

Favorite Games We Obtained in 2016:

Mansions of Madness, Star Wars Destiny, Tickets to Ride Rails and Sails, Small World Realms, Codenames Pictures, Qwinto, Nimmt Card games, Carcassonne: Gold West, Pathfinder: Skulls and Shackles, The Game, Mysterium, Arabian Nights

What we discovered about our gaming style in 2016:

We have started enjoying more thematic games, like Mansions of Madness and Arabian Nights. Because we’ve gotten so involved doing Dungeons and Dragons, it’s allowed us to see past euro games and see that storytelling is extremely fun too. I’ve really enjoyed doing more immersion in gaming, like having color changing lights and music. We’ve also been playing some lighter games like Qwinto and Codenames because that’s easier to do with family and with our son, who started playing more games this year. While we still play euro games (7 Wonders and Concordia are still favorites), we also play many thematic games where the mechanics play well into the theme. We still don’t like overly random games, but we do enjoy games that mesh theme and mechanics well.

Our Game Groups in 2016

Our main weekly game group is usually between 3-5 people and always a fun time. We’ve been playing lots of Mansions of Madness lately, has that’s been a favorite. We also enjoyed playing through Pandemic: Legacy during the beginning of the year. We haven’t done as many game groups at my husband’s work just due to scheduling. But we have been playing more board games with friends and family lately. We usually get to play board games 2-3 times a week and even more when there’s an extended holiday break. It also helps that our son is getting into board gaming and can easily play games like Carcassonne, 6 Nimmt, and Qwinto.

Favorite Kickstarter of 2016:

I would definitely say Hero Realms. It came just about on time and it’s excellent. I really need to play it more, but I love the fantasy theme and the gameplay is quite fun. We also loved the ABCs of RPGs Kickstarter, because my son loves the alphabet! I was highly impressed by that Kickstarter and I believe it came on time as well!

What we are looking forward to in 2017

I’m definitely excited to play more games with our son as he gets older and better at games. I also want to start playing role playing games with him as his speech catches up. While we aren’t planning on doing any conventions this year, we are excited to play more games with family and friends, and play games while on vacation. We also look forward to playing more and more thematic games and D&D!


Star Wars Destiny: First Impressions

I was on vacation last week and almost missed out on getting the first print run on Star Wars Destiny. Thankfully, my FLGS, Cloud Cap Games, saved the day by saving a copy of Rey’s Starter Set for me. And they easily convinced me to also get a booster box of 36.


Upon opening the starter set and boosters, I was immediately impressed by the dice and card quality. With superior packaging, they ensured no cards would get bent. The dice are a thing of beauty. Printed on photos and big, these are fun to roll and very easily to read.


The art of the cards is very good, with some art of Star Wars The Card Game showing up, but also some new art showcasing all parts of the Star Wars saga. I was pleased to see some Star Wars Rebels art, as well as plenty from Force Awakens.


Many folks have asked how this is any different than Dice Masters. To start off, it’s a deck builder, not a dice builder. You build your deck of 30 cards before you start the game, following some basic customization rules. The customization rules are less restricted than Star Wars the Card Game, which I really appreciated. Also, not every card you put in your deck has a dice attached to it. So, it’s very much more like a deck builder than a dice game. There are dice, sure, but they aren’t the only part of the game.


As someone who has played very little collectible games, I cannot speak to the price point that much. So far I’ve spent 115 bucks and can build 4-5 decks. I’ve only built 2 so far, since my main focus is casual play with my husband, James. I also ordered the Kylo Ren starter set, which I will get next week. We were a bit low on villains from my booster pulls.


After just 2 games, I’m very happy with Star Wars Destiny. It has the pace of Star Realms, with the deck builder aspect of Star Wars the Card Game. It’s way more strategic than Dice Masters, and the dice and cards are much higher quality. I’m looking forward to many more games of this, and I’m excited to tweak my decks more and more as I get better at the game. May the Force (and dice) be with you!



Morocco Review

Morocco is an area control/resource management board game set in the market square of Marrakech. Morocco works for 2-5 players, and takes about 45 minutes to play. It is designed by Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback, published by Eagle Gryphon Games. In Morocco, players take on the role of artisan families who are trying to claim the best stalls in the market by attracting customers to sample their wares. Each turn, players gain information cubes, then spend those cubes on putting their workers into the stalls. Players vie for majority in these stalls, and score points accordingly when the stall gets full. The game ends once there are only 5 open stalls left on the board, in which case, players finish out the round, then calculate end game points. Whoever has the most points, wins!img_0271

At its heart, Morocco is an area control euro game. Players are trying to get majority in each stall, or at least, getting 2nd in majority. Players get points based on if they are 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in majority in the stall as well as getting extra perks such as bodyguards. What’s interesting about Morocco is that each stall space costs information cubes, but the cubes they need to spend are based on the row and column the stall is in. For example, one stall may cost a green and a brown cube in order to place a worker into that stall. The stalls are laid out as a grid with the information cubes randomly put at the end of each row and column at the setup. This determines the cost of placing a worker into that stall. However, this can change throughout the game, as players obtain gold coins that they can spend to swap information cubes in a row and column.img_0274

In Morocco players start out with a very strategic way of playing, then have to switch to a tactical way of playing, as opponents get the gold coins and bodyguards (counts as 2 assistants in the stall). Players also have cousins and tourists they can use throughout the game, which allows players to add extra assistants to the board. In this way, Morocco is a tactical game, as players must always adjust their plan based on how the board changes by their next turn.img_0272

My group was very intrigued by Morocco, some of them never having playing any other game like it. We enjoyed the initial rounds of planning, where the board does not change too drastically. A few in my group thought it got chaotic at the end, but I believe you just have to go with the flow and do what’s best on your turn. You cannot plan for all the contingencies in this game, which makes it more of a tactical game then a strategy. I also liked how the game kept short, our first four player game took about an hour.img_0270

We did appreciate how Morocco had minimal colorblind issues. There were a few times our colorblind player mixed up the brown and orange, but otherwise, it didn’t affect his gameplay. I did find the scoring text on the board to be a bit small, as players could not read the text from across the table. Otherwise, Morocco had quality components and a board that made sense with the mechanics.

Morocco is a good medium weight euro that is a good introduction to heavier area control games. I would recommend Morocco to anyone who enjoys area control euro games.

2 Player Experience: 6/10
Slow start as it takes awhile for stalls to fill up
Bodyguards are much more prevalent because almost always there was a 2nd place award.
It was easier to gain the information cubes you needed
Game dragged on at the end, it was hard to get to five open stalls left. Felt 2 rounds too long

4 Player Experience: 7/10
Pace felt much faster than in 2 player since the board changed a lot per round
Bodyguards were harder to get, as players usually tied for 1st.
Some players got stuck with no gold coins, making them lose turns since they didn’t have the right information cubes needed.
Gameplay was much more tactical, players had to adjust every turn their plan
Just the right amount of rounds, didn’t feel too long.


We were given a review copy.


Carcassonne Gold Rush Review

Carcassonne Gold Rush is a standalone Carcassonne game with a Wild West theme. Players who are familiar with Carcassonne will learn the new rules fairly quickly. Each player starts with 4 cowboy meeples and a tent. Gameplay is simple, players draw a tile, lay down the tile in accordance with the rules, and score any points if applicable. Players continue drawing and placing tiles until the last tile is placed. Whoever has the most points in the end, is the winner!97afb7dd-1e31-497e-9250-426d05fb51c6

Carcassonne Gold Rush is part of the Around the World series of standalone Carcassonne games. Each of these standalone games add some different mechanics to Carcassonne. Gold Rush adds a few notable differences. For one, cities are now mountains, and players can collect mining tokens on these mountains if they pitch a tent in the mountain. A player does not need to have a meeple to play a tent in the mountain. This way, players can effectively steal mining tokens from players who own the mountain with their meeples. While this seems cutthroat, in our experience, players receive around equal mining tokens at the end of the game.


Also, instead of roads, Gold Rush has railroads. The main difference is that if there is one and only one locomotive on the road, then that player receives double points for the road. It definitely makes roads more viable than in the base game of Carcassonne. I also like that the “farms” are simplified in Gold Rush. The farms are called prairies and instead of scoring for completed cities in the farm, players score points based on how many tipi camps and wild horses are in that prairie. I really like this way of scoring because often farms are hard to visualize in the base game.


Lastly, in place of monasteries, we have named cities (Carson City, Nashville etc). Players get points based on how many completed roads come out of the city (3 points per completed road out of the city). This is surprisingly easy, and players can rack up easy points if they draw a few city tokens.

These differences, along with the cool Western art and theme, make Carcassonne Gold Rush a refreshing take on the classic of Carcassonne. We didn’t find Carcassonne Gold Rush to be any more cutthroat than the base game, because our group tends to play Carcassonne very aggressively.


I found that Carcassonne Gold Rush was very fun and so far my favorite of the standalone Carcassonne expansions. I enjoy the Wild West theme and the new mechanics keep the Carcassonne line fresh and exciting. I highly recommend Carcassonne Gold Rush to any Carcassonne fan, and even new players to the game can jump in and learn without any issues.

Carcassonne Gold Rush is for 2-5 players and takes about 35 minutes.


Game Like A Pirate Day

Talk Like A Pirate Day is every year on September 19th. One of my favorite themes is pirates, so I celebrate Pirate Day each year by having a board game party. While I don’t have nearly as many pirate themed games as I wish I did, I do try to get in a few pirate themed games.


One of last year’s additions to our pirate day gaming was Libertalia. It’s an interesting card game where you try to play just the right number of pirate to get the right loot and points. While it is very fun, it did seem a bit too long with 6 players, so we’ll likely skip Libertalia this year. We also usually play Liar’s Dice, but my group doesn’t tend to like that game so instead, we’ll be doing some pirate variants of games we do like.

We do plan on playing Codenames, but print out our own cards with pirate themed words. Words like Doubloons, Matey, Davy Jones, and more. It should be really fun, especially considering Codenames already has quite a few pirate words already in the game.


One of my favorite pirate games we’ve recently bought is Pathfinder: Skulls and Shackles. We’ve only played a couple games of it, but hoping to teach it to our game group tomorrow. I absolutely loved the “Rum Punch” scenario, and we definitely drank Rum Punch while playing it.

Lastly, I’ll be playing Jump Ship and Friday solo if I get time tomorrow afternoon. Jump Ship is a choose your own adventure card game designed by Gamewright, and it’s loads of fun. You all know that Friday is my favorite solo game and one of my favorite games ever. I hope I can beat the pirates on level 4!

I’m so excited to drink some rum, play some games, and talk like a pirate tomorrow!


Games I own that work for a pirate day:

  • Libertalia
  • Jump Ship
  • Survive
  • Pathfinder: Skulls and Shackles
  • Harbour
  • Friday
  • Lucky Pirate
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse (Captain Scarlet Villain)