Saturday, January 7, 2012

Board Game Review - Flash Duel

A long time ago, in a galaxy - well, actually, in this galaxy. And really, not that long ago. Like maybe a year or two. OK, so not all that long ago in our galaxy, Dave Sirlin started a game company to publish a bunch of games simulating fighting video games. The first of these games was called Flash Duel, and it was pretty damned cool. It was not original, or anything, because it was basically Reiner Knizia's En Garde with special powers, but it was better than that game and quite a bit more fun. It also came in a semi-crappy wooden box and had ten different guys you could play. It really wasn't much game, but what it was, was pretty cool.

Then Sirlin made more games. Puzzle Strike took Dominion and made it competitive (and a lot more interesting) and then Yomi did the same thing for Rock-Scissors-Paper. Puzzle Strike was a big hit, because of how much better than Dominion it was, and then Yomi made a huge splash by being a very cool game.

But in the meantime, people kind of forgot about Flash Duel, because it was almost just an experimental game that didn't really have enough substance to enjoy a lot of staying power. And since Dave Sirlin wasn't really of a mind to have his games fade into obscurity, he reinvented Flash Duel and turned it up to 11.

The new Flash Duel is not just a reboot of the original. Where the first version had a simple format and a limited selection of characters, the new one doubles the guys you can play and has no less than seven different game modes. You can still play the original, head-to-head duel, but now you can also play in teams, solo, or in a huge four-on-one battle royale against a very angry purple dragon (he is angry because he is sick of people calling him cute).

The regular game of Flash Duel is still just as engaging, light and entertaining as it ever was. You maneuver, plan, manipulate your hand and gamble in an attempt to get a hit on your opponent before he can smack you. It's fast and fun, and you can finish a whole game in about ten minutes. There are even ten new characters to use, that add all kinds of interesting strategies and stuff to avoid.

The new game modes for Flash Duel really do add a lot to the game. The solo game has three levels of difficulty, from playing against an idiot drone to battling the dragon by yourself. You can also play the medium mode where you fight the stone golem who trains the fighters. All are interesting, though I think the game is better when you're playing against someone else. There are achievements you can gain as you play, as if you were playing on your Xbox, but while they may seem like a cool way to make a board game feel like a video game, they're actually pretty dumb.

The best new thing in Flash Duel is the dragon mode, where four players take on the dragon. Now the game gets really interesting, because while the dragon is basically just a skinny purple guy with a cute lizard head, he is also a total bad-ass who will beat the bejeezus out all comers. That's why it will take you four people to bring him down. He'll maul you retarded.

Sooner or later, though, you may get so good at killing the dragon that the dragon decides he needs to recruit help. Then you can play the dragon mode, but add in a traitor who actively works to hose the other players. Now the game has an element of Battlestar Galactica, which Dave Sirlin doesn't think is a good game because he is wrong.

If you liked the original Flash Duel, you're going to love the new version. If you thought it was a nice diversion, but weren't too crazy about the lack of meat on its bones, the new Flash Duel will offer a whole lot of reasons to like it and give you something to sink your teeth into. And if you thought the original was stupid and trite, then you were wrong, but you're still not going to like the new one. Me, I think it's awesome, but I really liked the original, and I like this one at least twice as much. Maybe a little more - my accounting is sometimes a bit suspect.


2-5 players

Everything you loved about the original, plus a LOT
Ten new characters
Several new game modes allow for some very interesting game possibilities
You can play this over and over and over

Still essentially a light game, even with the heavier modes

As much as I would love to tell you where you can save a few bucks on the new Flash Duel, it's one of those Game Salute games that you can only get for full retail. But if you decide you want to pay full price for it, you can find it at the Game Salute page.

I had a hell of a time getting this review posted at all. We haven't had actual internet for a week, and it's made posting a serious ordeal. We're working with a cell phone set up for tethering, which fails every third time I hit a link, and on top of that, this week has been an absolute Charlie Foxtrot, what with moving into a rent house and what-not. So there are only two reviews this week, and what's more, this one doesn't have an image or a link, because I don't have enough 'net access to go get 'em. Bear with me - I played some great games this weekend, and will have my regular dose of three reviews next week. Thanks for your patience.

1 comment:

Sirlin said...

Flash Duel 2nd Edition is available at (ships anywhere in the world), (for US customers), and at local game stores around the world (list at Thanks!