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  • Barnes on Games- Drakon in Review, Relic redux, Broom Service

Barnes on Games- Drakon in Review, Relic redux, Broom Service

MB Updated
Drakon Boardgame
There Will Be Games

Four editions, three strikes...

In this week's review, posted at, I try really hard to get you interested in buying the fourth edition of Drakon so that my overseers there will buy me a Lamborghini Countach in exchange for helping to sell a $20 game whose fortunes I doubt interest very many people, including FFG. I give the game a low rating of two stars because, let's face, the game just kind of sucks. It's kind of charming in a dull way, and it's not particularly offensive. But it's also releasing (for the fourth time) in an era when you can pick up DungeonQuest or Wiz-War off the same retail shelf. This was not the case when the game first came out.

See what I did there? I tried to lure you into MORE EXPENSIVE purchases at MM with a bad review. That's how us shills operate. Confidence men, all of us.

There is a weird irony, because I've owned Drakon three times now and I've also owned Relic three times now. I wanted to break out Talisman for Gaming by Michael a couple of weeks ago and a couple of my buddies were miffed that I let go of Relic, because they wanted to do that instead. I found a copy for a whopping $12 (in shrink), so I've now owned that game three times. I believe that these are the only two games I've actually owned thrice.

Anyway, we played Relic the other night and it's good. As is the conventional wisdom, it is a mild improvement in some ways over Talisman, but it's also not particularly noteworthy outside of that context. That said, we played a pretty fast three player game (like 90 minutes)...Ultramarine dude, Sister of Battle gal and the ersatz Nazi...I was the Space Marine, and I just tore it the hell up all game. I leveled up stupid fast, got a relic pretty early on (a lame one, but a relic nonetheless). I made a do-or-die roll to avoid the sixth corruption card in the inner tier and waltzed up to Kairos, the Fateweaver and he paid the ultimate price. It was fun. I think I may get the expansions. It's kind of weird how this game just sort of...exists. Nobody really gets excited about it, but it is a really good Talisman game. I actually do think I'd be inclined to reach for it over Talisman next time, and that's saying a lot.

LOVING Broom Service. It is definitely part of this "Classic German Family Games" revivial, and it very much reminds me of those late 1990s, early 2000s titles when they felt fresh and foreign. But this game could never have existed then, it is definitely modern. The central mechanic is brilliant at a "why hasn't someone done this before" level- everyone picks four action cards out of identical decks, and then the lead player plays one and states whether they are going to be Brave or Cowardly. If you're a coward, you take a lesser action right away. But if you're Brave and want the enhanced action, you go to the next player. If they have the card in their four, they MUST play it and declare Brave or Cowardly. If they go Brave, you LOSE every right to take an action on that card, so you're screwed out of a turn in a game that only has 28 total. But then the next player might pre-empt their action if they have the card and choose Brave. It's really a fun mechanic, and I love the whimsical witches setting. I always do. Definitely a Potter/Kiki's Delivery Service/Worst Witch vibe going on. I never played Witches' Brew, so don't ask.

The Knizia project is going strong, I played one the other day that has got to be one of the most unloved and ugliest games I've seen in recent's Ilium, done back in 2008 by Playroom. It's definitely second (or even third) tier Knizia, but for some reason the design just fascinates me. There's almost nothing to it in terms of rules, the distribution of rewards is more complicated than taking an action. It's almost reminiscent of Samurai in some ways and I think the evolutionary thread lies there, with this concept of pieces conveying influence in two or more different areas. But then it has this tricky distribution mechanic. It has something to do with digging up ancient Troy, and there is actually a theme- the first person to dig doesn't always find the best stuff, and someone else can piggyback on your work.

I also played Pickomino for the first time, that's a fun dice game. I wish my kids were just a little older to be able to grasp it.

There Will Be Games
Michael Barnes (He/Him)
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of and as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

Articles by Michael

Michael Barnes
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Articles by Michael

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ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #207521 30 Jul 2015 20:48

I never played Witches' Brew, so don't ask.

At least the basic mechanic of Brave/I Am or Cowardly/So Be It sounds the same. Witches' Brew has been a favorite in my group for a while. Glad others get to play even a similar game.
Frohike's Avatar
Frohike replied the topic: #207525 30 Jul 2015 21:57
Drakon holds its own with other fillers out there, adding just enough with the quasi-programmed-movement to make it more interesting than say Tsuro. It certainly plays quicker than Dungeonquest or Wiz-War.
Hex Sinister's Avatar
Hex Sinister replied the topic: #207536 31 Jul 2015 01:07
and the ersatz Nazi
We've dubbed him M. Bison.

I don't have any of the expansions yet either. They both seem kind of odd. I never had Talisman The City so I'm wondering if Halls of Terra is supposed to be it's counterpart? I'll probably get them when they hit the clearance bin.
Jazzbeaux's Avatar
Jazzbeaux replied the topic: #207540 31 Jul 2015 04:46
HeckMeck is awesome, especially if all players are fully engaged. Played three games on Wednesday, had the 24 (1 worm) piece stolen on eight consecutive turns, just because.

repoman's Avatar
repoman replied the topic: #207542 31 Jul 2015 05:30
Pickomino is a great "push your luck" game. It's a hit every time I break it out. At a bar, at a picknic or a game day. I hate to use the word "filler" but that's what it is. Except that it's fun with just a smidge of "take that"

It's also very portable. I even own the travel edition that comes in a tin container the size of a Skoal tobacco tin.

Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #207547 31 Jul 2015 08:44
Having played 40K for as long as I did, Relic was an autobuy for me. But after playing it a couple times, I remember why I got bored with Talisman and sold it. The greater hindrance for Relic is that there's no PvP, which was always a huge element of our Talisman, 2nd Ed. games. They kinda added it with the first expansion, but it's still not enough for me, so both are on the block. I'm a bit mystified as to why they decided that combat between the "good guys" (such as they are in the grimdark future) was not something they wanted for this game, given that combat between "good guys" and even Imperium forces in 40K happens ALL THE TIME. Whatevs. It's a decent game, but just not worth keeping.
The*Mad*Gamer's Avatar
The*Mad*Gamer replied the topic: #207552 31 Jul 2015 09:50
I've played Witches Brew but I can't find a copy glad to see Broom Service out and that you liked it
Ken B.'s Avatar
Ken B. replied the topic: #207606 31 Jul 2015 15:15
Pickomino is stupid fun. My girls have been playing it since I think they were 6 or 7, with a little guidance back then, of course. Why is it out of print? That's the real question. It is a very, very good dice game. We've played the hell out of it. It even came out the other night as a filler for five other players while we waited for game sessions to synch back up.

Drakon was fun but ultimately forgettable. I dug it in 2006 but as you say Mike, the luster wears off, there's just so many other games that do it better (where that didn't use to be the case.)

I wonder though if they solved the "tiles of sour ass" problem. I broke out my copy a few years ago to play with the kids and the whole fucking inside just REEKED. I mean, like, made your hands stink handling them. I was freaking out, looking for mold inside, nothin'. I finally looked online and found others who'd had the exact same thing happened.

While it was out of print, this guy messaged me and wanted it in trade. I warned him repeatedly that my copy did indeed smell like sour ass/musty balls. He assured me that was ok. I always meant to check in with him to see if he felt the same way down the road, but I did so much trading during that period of time I literally forgot who I traded it to.

I skipped Broom Service at first, but hearing it's a remake of Witch's Brew has my interest now. Fun game of bluffing and pushing your luck. Stealing someone's primary action feels way better than it should when you slap down the card and they just groan and piss and moan and bitch. EVIL CACKLE