Flamecraft is the cutest game I think I’ve ever seen, but under that cuteness is a really good game. The game takes place in a town where dragons and humans live side-by-side. Each turn, players will visit a different store and either gather materials or enchant the store — in either case they usually leave the shop better off for the next player who visits.
In the solo version, you try to do better than a target score to unlock characters and shops for future plays. Below I describe the game play changes and how it worked for me, but I don’t go in-depth into the basic game play. For that, check out one of the many reviews or play throughs on YouTube.
The game is set-up like it would be for a 3-player game, so you’ll lay out the starter shops and dragons, shuffle the deck of enchantments, and remove one artisan dragon of each type before shuffling and laying out five in the park. The big difference in the solo game is that the fancy dragon deck only has selected dragons and the shop deck uses specific shops.
As usual, you’ll start with three artisan dragons. And you’ll look at two fancy dragons, choose one, and return the other to the bottom of that deck. You’ll choose a player color and put your your score marker near the score track. You’ll also keep the other player markers nearby.
The turns play out the same as the multi-player game, except for the clean up steps. At the end of each turn you’ll follow a few steps in order.
- First refill the park dragons.
- Then draw the top of the artisan dragon deck and find the first open shop slot that matches the dragon’s type.
- Next, place the player token matching the dragon type on that same shop, unless it matches YOUR player token on the score track, in which case you’ll skip that step.
- Then you’ll see if there’s an enchantment that matches the type of the placed dragon, and you’ll add that to a shop that can take that type of enchantment.
- Finally you’ll refill the enchantments and reveal any new shops (which could have been triggered by your own artisan dragon placement or the placement of the one at the end of the round).
On your turn, if you move to a shop with one or more player tokens, you’ll need to pay one resource to the supply for each, mimicking how you would need to give your opponents resources when they’re on a shop you’d like to visit.
The game end is triggered as usual – when the last card of the artisan dragon or enchantment deck is drawn, the current turn is finished and then you get one final turn. Then you’ll tally up your score as usual, getting points for each coin and scoring any moon fancy dragons in your hand.
The goal is to get at least 75 points, and with a stretch goal of 90+. If you manage one of these goals, you can unlock new things for future games — you unlock up to one thing if you score 75-89, two things if you get 90+. The things you’ll unlock will be additional fancy dragons and/or shops that will either replace ones in the base solo game or will add to the game. However, to unlock these achievements, you also need to meet certain requirements like having all 12 shops out or having six artisan dragons of one type.
How did it work?
The gameplay itself was fairly easy — you draw a card, place it on the first open slot, move the associated player marker to that shop and, possibly, place an enchantment. I really liked how easy that part was, and that the town was getting better and better fairly quickly. It also kept the clock of the game moving, since it kept using cards in both the artisan dragon and enchantments deck.
The big annoyance of the solo mode for me was in the set-up. Because you used only specific fancy dragons, you need to search the deck for them, which takes a bit of time. However, once you’ve got that deck ready, the rest of the set up is the same as the multi-player game.
I enjoyed the challenge of figuring out how to maximize my points. The allure of the shop with two enchantments and three artisan dragons is almost too much, but I know that I also could get a lot of points enchanting a different shop. At the same time, I found myself trying to work on some of the achievements so that I could unlock them if I made a high-enough score.
Despite the slightly longer set-up time, Flamecraft was a lot of fun as a solo game. I’m looking forward to trying to unlock more of the solo achievements.