It’s Day 3 of my Holiday Game Recommendations, and after two card games, I feel like doing a board game. And I’m on a self-imposed deadline so let’s skip the preamble: Today’s/yesterday’s game is The Dragon & Flagon, by Stronghold Games.
The Dragon & Flagon is a massive bar fight simulator set in a Dungeons & Dragons-style tavern. Two to eight players pick a character from a roster that includes the likes of a paladin, a monk, a pirate, and a druid. Each player gets a deck of cards, cardboard pawn, player board, and tokens unique to their character. The tavern board is set up using 3D tokens representing tables, chairs, flagons, barrels, and rugs. (The game has a suggested format for the first few games, but players can customize the board however they want once they have a some playtime under their belts.) The game’s maguffin—the bar’s signature Dragon beverage—is set up in the middle of the board. The goal of the game is to have the most Reputation at the end.
Then the chaos of a bar fight can begin! The Dragon & Flagon use a time-track system for turn order; a checkerboard-style grid system for character movement; and players use their cards to program their character’s moves. Players put a token representing their character on the first space of the time track. When the “current round” token is on the same space as their token, it’s that player’s turn. (In the event of a tie, all of the tokens on that space are shuffled and drawn one at a time to determine order. This means the first turn is once giant tie!) Player actions are chosen in secret by selecting from their deck of cards, and placing two of them face down on their board. The first card is then turned face up, revealing the action, and how many spaces along the time track the player’s token must be advanced. The second card stays face down, and is moved to the first space on of the player’s board; it will be their action their next turn. (This is an action system very similar to the game Flag Dash, which I reviewed two years ago and still highly recommend.)
“Wait, James” you may be thinking. “I thought you said ‘chaos of a bar fight’. That sounds like Robo Rally, which isn’t that chaotic.” First off; it’s like Flag Dash. Didn’t you read the last sentence of the previous paragraph? And yes, I said chaotic. And this is where all those nifty 3D tokens I mentioned come into play because everything on the board can be used by the characters. EVERYTHING. Flagons can be used either to make a drunk boast from the top of a table, or as makeshift throwing weapons. Chairs are great for smacking opponents with. A kicked barrel will roll across the floor, plowing over everything in its path. A pulled rug will knock over anyone unfortunate enough to be standing on it. And of course characters can swing from the tavern’s chandeliers. Each time a player successfully hits someone else’s character, they take renown from that person’s supply and add it to their own.
The cleverness in the design of The Dragon & Flagon is how the tokens and the programed actions interact. To swing from the rafters, for example, a player must first spend one action to move their pawn onto a table, then a second action later to perform the swing. This means another player could—upon seeing a tempting target atop a table—decide to program their action to throw a flagon to where they think that target will be swinging to. Or shove a third character in the way of the swing. Success hinges on anticipating what ones opponents are doing, and planning around that.
I strongly recommend The Dragon & Flagon to any groups who like their gaming silly, a bit unpredictable, and very competitive. Rules options like team play, and two pirate ships on the other side of the tavern board, give the game an expanded lifespan beyond the bar.
About the Author
James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.
James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.