I will be the first to admit that I was completely charmed by the art and components of Flamecraft when the Kickstarter campaign was running. The game sounded great, but after the campaign was over I was worried that the game would be ‘all looks and no substance’.

Then I saw the game at GEN CON and got to demo it. I was confident at that point, that Flamecraft is not all looks – it is also a solid game! Now, having received the game and played multiple times, I love this game.

Flamecraft is designed by Manny Vega with art by Sandara Tang and published by Cardboard Alchemy. The game plays 1-5 players and each game averages around 60 minutes.

Board game cover standing up on a table.

In Flamecraft, players are trying to be the most successful flamecrafter in town by visiting shops, placing artisan dragons, casting enchantments and trying to achieve secret goals.

Throughout the course of the game, players will earn reputation based on their various actions. At the end of the game, the player with the highest reputation is the winner and declared the best flamecrafter in town.

The insert of a board game showing all the components.

Game Components

The components for Flamecraft are just adorable. Please be aware that these are the deluxe components with some Kickstarter extras.

  • The art is just stunning. The shop cards as well as the artisan and fancy dragons cards draw you into the lovely world of Flamecraft.
  • The deluxe two tone wooden resource tokens are so nice. There are also resource trays which can be placed on the table for quick set up and tear down.
  • The gold coins might just be the best metal coins I own for a board game! They can be used in the game as any resource or save them to the end of the game and each coin is one reputation.
  • The game board of the town has a deluxe rubber quality. Plus the mat rolls up and fits into the game box.
  • The insert is perfect. Made by GameTrayz (who also made the resource trays), the insert holds everything well (even sleeved cards!).

What Stuff Did I Bling? I have sleeved the cards with Gamegenic brand sleeves and three packages of Mini European. Sleeves are a great way to protect the cards. They are especially good with cards that get shuffled or handled a lot during gameplay.

Overhead picture of a board game in the middle of play.

Game Summary

On a players turn they will take their dragon player token and visit one of the shops in town. Once at a shop the player will choose one of two possible actions/activities.

  • Gather – gather resources based on the icons on the shop and artisan dragon cards.
  • Enchant – pay the resource cost of the enchantment card and add it to the shop.

While these are the two action possibilities, as the game progresses, these two actions expand to provide additional supplementary actions.

Dragon token and two meat wooden meat tokens.

Let’s Gather!

If a player chooses to Gather when they visit a shop, they collect resources (bread, potion, meat, iron, plant, diamond and coin) based on the resource icons on the shops and each of the already placed artisan dragons and enchantment cards at the shop.

After the player collects resources, there are a few actions that a play may choose to do:

  • Place an artisan dragon from the players hand to an empty space at the shop and collect bonuses that the card is covering up. Each shop can hold 3 different artisan dragons. If, this new dragon fills the shop, a new shop card is added to the town.
  • Fire up a dragon. Dragons have a special ability described on their cards and the player can use one ability on a card in the shop, including the one placed on the players turn.
  • Use shop special ability. Some shops have special abilities and the player can choose to use that power before the end of their turn. These add some welcome depth to the game and entice people to place their dragon at these shops. Unfortunately, the initial shops in the town do not have special abilities. So, it isn’t until the new shops that get added that these abilities begin to appear in the game.

With these actions, a player is able to perform a powerful turn of collecting resources, placing dragons, firing up abilities. The first time I played this game, I feared it would be too basic with minimal player agency. But, after playing a number of games, I discovered that there is more under the hood of the game than I initially thought. Planning where to go, and what actions to take, so that each turn is as effective as possible is key to victory in Flamecraft.

The gather and secondary actions are simple to understand and typically involve collecting resources, gaining cards, placing or swapping dragons. Strategy is essentially around maximizing how many resource to collect and placing and drawing more dragon cards. While I appreciate the simplicity, to do sometimes wish there was a little more variety in the powers on the artisan dragon cards.

I find that I go back and forth with my feeling of the complexity of Flamecraft. There are times I wish it was a bit of a heavier game with more crunchy decisions to build reputation. But then, I play the game and it is just so fun and it becomes clear that the game knows exactly what it wants to be. There are plenty of heavy euros out there and Flamecraft is not trying to be one more. Instead it is a delightful medium light game

Holding a card above a board game mat.

Time To Enchant!

When I player chooses to perform the enchant action, they pay resource cost of one of the enchantment cards in the face row in town. The enchantment card is then added to the shop. Enchanting a shop needs to be done with the same type of resource on the enchantment card as that on the shop.

Throughout the course of the game, players will use the gather action much more frequently than enchant. Gather allows players to collect resources that they will then use /spend later to enchant. Enchanting is one of the main ways to gain reputation (victory points).

After a player enchants, they are able to fire up any or all of the artisan dragons at the shop. This can allow them to gain more resources, place more dragons and more. So, it is usually much more advantageous to enchant a shop that is full of artisan dragons to maximize the turn.

A purple dragon token on a board game card.

What Is A Fancy Dragon?

Players start the game with a fancy dragon card and have the opportunity to claim more throughout the game. Some are goal cards that are scored at the end of the game. Others are cards players can score during their turn if certain criteria are met. Fancy dragons is one more way to collect reputation and coins.

The end game fancy dragons are the typical goal or objective cards seen in many games (have the most of a resource type for example). The cards that can be used during the game provide more ways to gain reputation through meeting objectives and more. These are a nice addition to the game and I would love even more of them.

End Game Scoring

The game ends when either the deck of artisan dragons or enchantment cards is empty. Score everyone’s end game fancy dragons. The player with the highest reputation is declared the winner.

Conclusion

Flamecraft is full of charm and the game plays very well, even though it is not the most original game out there. One of my favourite aspects of Flamecraft is that, early in the game, you get small amount of resources with each turn. Then, as the game progresses, you get so many resources and have multiple actions each turn. It is super satisfying!

I have taught this at game night to heavy euro games and they had a great time. It has also been taught to people who have played very few games and they both understood the mechanics and enjoyed the experience.

Flamecraft is a gorgeous game, with a fun theme, and it plays well with just enough decision space. I am happy to have this game in my collection.

Flamecraft Rating
  • Score - 8/10
    8/10
8/10

Summary

A chaming worker placement game of collecting resources to be able to purchase victory points and achieve secret goals.

Pros

Art and components are incredible.

Gameplay is simple to understand and easy to teach.

A nice arc in the game 

Plays well at 2 to 5 players.

Cons

Initial shops don’t have special actions.

Some might find it a little too simple.

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