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B. L.
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First off, I should probably start with an equally overzealous and inauthentic quote (if comp classes didn't drill this into your head I don't know what will).

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you
 
.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Well that's all the pictures you get. You're in luck if you prefer walls of text though.

This review will only be over what I think of the full mode, the bread and butter of the game if you will. And why not? Bread and butter is delicious.

THOUGHTS ON GAME PLAY

Flash Duel is the most simple game in my collection. It has less than two pages of rules for the full mode. You might think that such a game can't have any real depth to it but I am here to tell you otherwise. While Flash Duel isn't a brain burner, head scratcher, or let me squint my eyes so it looks like I'm planning the move of the century type of game, it doesn't disappoint in the amount of tactical decisions it offers. Once you play a few games, the basic strategies should become apparent - like trying to build up a set of cards to attack with and knowing that if your opponent has all the fours to avoid being four spaces away from him. All common sense things that leave you wondering what more the game has to offer.

The best thing about Flash Duel by far is taking calculated risks. Although you may know what cards have been played that doesn't mean you know what cards your opponent has in his hand. This can lead to interesting decisions and boy I hope he doesn't have the last three or I'm toast. Also a big part of the strategy is knowing when to be aggressive and knowing when to just try to advance one space further than your opponent.

Another good thing about Flash Duel is that it's quick. You can get in a game in under fifteen. This leads to the "just one more game..." Although I would classify this game as a filler, it's not hard to find yourself playing matches over and over. The game is also extremely portable if that is something you are looking for.

I wasn't sure how well Flash Duel would actually feel like a fighting game. It actually does it better than I thought. The positioning is the most important aspect of the game like in most if not all fighting games. You also you get that feeling of dread when your opponent dashing strikes you until kingdom come. Imagine fighting some type of battle axe wielding, roid enhanced killer and all you have is a toothpick. While taking some devastating hits you know that if you can poke him in just the right place (I will leave where that place is up to you) then you still have a chance of winning. This leads me to another point- being down behind 2-0 is nothing. In fact, my last two games were won by someone winning the last three rounds in a row. One thing I think a real fighting game has over Flash Duel is that the fighters don't feel too different. But that has more to do with the fact that each character only has three cards. While it keeps the game simple, it doesn't compare to games like BattleCON or Yomi where every character has a wide variety of abilities. This isn't really a complaint but don't expect the same variability in powers as in other fighting games. Having said that there are 20 unique characters all with abilities that change the game just enough to make it interesting. My favorite is Lum the Panda who can really use bluffing and can win with a bit of luck. One thing I would say is that some of the abilities won't be used often. For instance, if you know your opponent is unblockable at range one an experienced opponent shouldn't ever get within that range. That means that while the ability isn't explicitly used, it has a persistent effect throughout the round.

THE COMPONENTS

The components for this game are somewhat of a toss up. The art is fantastic but the movement cards are dull and don't fit in with the style of the character cards. The movement cards also have black edges and feel like they would get marked easily. This made me buy sleeves for the first and hopefully last time. This is my only complaint about the game - the price. I spent $40 total on this game and I feel for what I got component wise it was definitely on the expensive side. If I didn't have a gift card i probably wouldn't have bought it (at least at that price). Although there are seven modes, I feel I won't play most of them. The simple mode is too simple, the solo mode seems weak compared to other solo games I could play, the traitor mode seems like a variant rather than a new play mode. I think the best mode would be the 2 v 2 match up or raid on deathstrike because they allow for additional moves and abilities. I got this game for the full game mode only though and am not too interested in the other six. Also I'm not sure why the dragon cards are so big. They do have cool artwork but I don't think they are cooler just because they are bigger. Maybe it was for the Texans who knows.

IS IT A RIP OFF OF EN GARDE?

Yes and no. Obviously the game is extremely similar to En Garde but I think it is better in almost every way. One of my other favorite two player games is Battle Line so I definitely respect and enjoy Knizia's work. The thing is though that being the first person to do something is not always the easiest thing - especially when others improve your work sometimes even making your contributions obsolete. I feel like Flash Duel really wouldn't hurt En Gardes sales anyways as En Garde wouldn't have made a ton of sales on it's own. While the changes to movement and board length I think anyone could do, the real genius comes on balancing the characters. While I wouldn't say the characters are perfectly balanced (Quince I'm looking at you), all the match ups I have played so far seem to suggest any character can win a match. Some might require more luck to win but I haven't seen any character inherently weaker than the others. I still have a lot of the characters to explore yet and look forward to playing any chance I get. So back to the great debate. I think Sirlin took a pretty cool idea and made it immeasurably better with the added character abilities. There is something appealing about a game with asymmetric abilities. I wouldn't want to play En Garde repeatedly as it would feel like doing the same thing over and over again. Sure the cards provide different outcomes but so does Yahtzee and I wouldn't say I would want to play that repeatedly just because of the different rolls. The character abilities keep the game from feeling the same.

CONCLUSIONS

Flash Duel is a game I have been on the fence about for years. I remember the watchitplayed series and thought it looked like a fun little game. I never could justify the price though until recently when I wanted a short two player game with asymmetric abilities. The thing is Flash Duel doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is. If you want a portable, short, primarily two player game, then Flash Duel offers you that. It isn't anything other than that so don't go into the game with unrealistic expectations. If the above qualities sound appealing then Flash Duel is certainly a game I would recommend.
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Aaron White
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Thanks for the review. I do encourage trying the solo mode, you might think it looks like a simple system at first, but then you lose a few games and realise simple does not mean easy.

Balance is really good, but I would like Gwen revisited. Shadow Plague has too huge a drawback to make her worthwhile to play. I have been trying to do more with her in online matches but cannot egg the results.

Thanks again for sharing.
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Sky Zero
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I still don't get the holier than though people who say its a rip-off of En Garde. Almost EVERY game has blatantly ripped off something else, changed some art, a few rules and then claim it to be original. It's not, really. Flash Duel is a fine game for what it is and doesn't try to be. Good review!
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B. L.
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skyzero wrote:
I still don't get the holier than though people who say its a rip-off of En Garde. Almost EVERY game has blatantly ripped off something else, changed some art, a few rules and then claim it to be original. It's not, really. Flash Duel is a fine game for what it is and doesn't try to be. Good review!


I wouldn't necessarily agree that most games blatantly rip off other games. Nor would I say Flash Duel blatantly rips off En Garde. Without the characters, Flash Duel would be almost identical to En Garde. I think this is where most people have a problem. Although Sirlin improved on the base mechanics I wish he would have added something in the rule book giving credit to Knizia.

And Thanks for reading.
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B. L.
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Rook96 wrote:
Thanks for the review. I do encourage trying the solo mode, you might think it looks like a simple system at first, but then you lose a few games and realise simple does not mean easy.

Balance is really good, but I would like Gwen revisited. Shadow Plague has too huge a drawback to make her worthwhile to play. I have been trying to do more with her in online matches but cannot egg the results.

Thanks again for sharing.


I will give the solo game a try this weekend and update my review.

I haven't played Gwen yet but will try her next game. I don't mind having a weaker character among the bunch as a more experienced player can play her when teaching a new player.
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David Sirlin
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Unfortunately it's legally dangerous to give credit like that. I *did* give it, as you can read about here: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/8768310#8768310

The problem is that doing so, even in cases where there's nothing wrong going on at all, it helps people sue you. Even when there's no actual basis for it. More than one lawyer has strongly advised against this kind of legal exposure. I think it's stupid that's how law works, but that's not up to me. Also, it's hard to thank people after they legally threatened you.

Incidentally, it's strange that in the video game world, even though there are actual clones that are real ripoffs, that there are plenty of things way closer than En Garde and Flash Duel are to each other (without being clones) that no one even gives a second thought to. Building on ideas is generally seen as good in that industry, and it would downright bizarre for a game like Tomb Raider to officially list Mario64 in the credits.
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B. L.
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Sirlin wrote:
Unfortunately it's legally dangerous to give credit like that. I *did* give it, as you can read about here: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/8768310#8768310

The problem is that doing so, even in cases where there's nothing wrong going on at all, it helps people sue you. Even when there's no actual basis for it. More than one lawyer has strongly advised against this kind of legal exposure. I think it's stupid that's how law works, but that's not up to me. Also, it's hard to thank people after they legally threatened you.

Incidentally, it's strange that in the video game world, even though there are actual clones that are real ripoffs, that there are plenty of things way closer than En Garde and Flash Duel are to each other (without being clones) that no one even gives a second thought to. Building on ideas is generally seen as good in that industry, and it would downright bizarre for a game like Tomb Raider to officially list Mario64 in the credits.


I knew that you gave some credit to Knizia in one of the rule books but didn't know why I couldn't find it in mine. And I agree it's silly that you improved an existing design and some people took it the wrong way. I think most people are with me in that we are glad you made such a cool game.
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Kevin
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We are enjoying this game and discovering the nuances with the characters. Lots of game in a little box with 1v1, 2v2, solo and team play options.
 
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