You guys ever play DragonStrike? It was Hero Quest’s less famous little brother, and these days it’s probably most famous for the VHS tape that came in the box. (Seriously, you should watch this ridiculousness. It still cracks my shit up.) Like it says in my bio, this was the game that got me into the hobby in the first place. I still remember badgering my poor beleaguered mom into playing the part of the Dragon Master (DM), and even more clearly I remember getting my butt kicked by the game.

I lost my copy of DragonStrike somewhere in the depths of time…probably when we moved to North Carolina in the summer between 3rd and 4th grade. I’ve always pined for a replacement, and last X-mas Laurel actually tracked one down. I tore into the paper, beheld the glorious box art, and felt an extremely nerdy nostalgia-tear forming in my eye. There were the boards! The character cards! The fondly remembered plastic minis! We set up, sat down, and I got ready to get my butt kicked. After a quick refresher of the rules (huh…turns out there was a “talk to the monster” option in there. Weird.) it was off to the castle.

First round of the first encounter. There’s a drawbridge with a gargoyle standing guard.

“Hi!” says the thief player. “Would you mind letting us past?”

“Sure,” says the gargoyle, who promptly wings away.

Meanwhile I’m sitting there with my warrior (wait a minute…Malibu!?) with my mouth agape. Did that just happen? Laurel reads the DM instructions aloud and assures me that yeah, that’s exactly what happens. Too bad 3rd grader Colin never figured that out. It would have made my mom a much less conceited DM.

We plowed through the rest of the adventure with nary a problem, and even managed to beat up on the “very difficult” scenario in the next round. I’m sure that my current gaming group has better tactics than my long-ago little kid pals, but I honestly think that whole “try talking to the monster” trick was the real key to our success.

How about the rest of you guys? When did you learn that there are solutions to gaming conflicts beyond “kick down the door and stab the monster?” Share your cleverest tactics in the comments!