Today I thought we’d take a minute to discuss three of the board games that have been inspired by Dungeons and Dragons, while they’re not quite the same as running a D&D campaign they’re still fun in their own way and I think they’re worth a look. All three of the games we’ll be looking at today were produced by Wizards of the Coast, and they’re all for one to five players. Whenever I see a game that can be played solo I take a special interest as it’s sometimes not possible to get a group of friends together, so it’s nice to have something that I can play by myself from time to time.
The first in the series takes us to one of the most recognizable D&D settings of all time, the terrifying Castle Ravenloft where the vampire Strahd von Zarovich holds court. Players will have to face the monsters and traps that occupy the castle before coming face to face with the vampire lord himself for a final showdown. Castle Ravenloft was the first premiere of the new adventure system used in all three of the D&D board games and it won the Origins award. There’s something to be said for opening with a strong lead, and referring back to one of the most famous D&D campaigns of all time was definitely a good way to garner some interest in the new games. You and your friends will play at various scenarios included in the scenario book, meaning that no two games need to be identical as you can keep trying out different scenarios until you’ve completed them all. The game contents include: 40 unpainted plastic miniatures, 13 sheets of interlocking cardstock dungeon tiles, decks of encounter and treasure cards, a rulebook, a scenario book, and a 20-sided die. Aside from the heroic characters and a few of the more powerful monsters there are multiples of all of the miniatures, meaning that you’ll always have the minis you need on hand for any given encounter. The players will get to choose from five different heroes: a Dragonborn Fighter, Human Rogue, Dwarf Cleric, Eladrin Wizard, and Human Ranger. Each of these heroes have unique traits and abilities to help them on their quest. It’s probably worth noting that the miniature for the Dragonborn Fighter was the only new figure to be produced for Castle Ravenloft, the rest being recast from previous molds.
Wrath of Ashardalon
The second of the series features a monstrous red dragon as the central threat and finds our heroes wandering in a twisting labyrinth underneath of a mountain. Ashardalon was pulled from adventures in 3rd Edition and as far as dragons go they don’t come much more dangerous than the reds, whose powerful abilities are usually paired with short tempers and an ego as big as a mountain. As with Castle Ravenloft the scenario book allows for players to enjoy different scenarios each time that they play through the game, allowing for enormous replay value. The game contents include: 42 unpainted plastic miniatures, 13 sheets of interlocking cardstock dungeon tiles, decks of encounter and treasure cards, a rulebook, a scenario book, and a 20-sided die. All of the miniatures included in Wrath of Ashardalon are different from those found in Castle Ravenloft. The selection of heroes is also unique this time players can choose from : A Dragonborn Wizard, Half-Orc Rogue, Elf Paladin, Human Cleric, and Dwarf Fighter. Out of all of the games Wrath of Ashardalon is the only one that actually features a dragon as the primary adversary, and it also seems to have the feel of a classic dungeon crawl making it something I’m sure many players would enjoy.
The Legend of Drizzt
The third and final installment in the series featured the famous Drow outcast Dizzt and several other characters from the Forgotten Realms. It is recommended that single players begin by trying out the scenario Escape from the Underdark, which allows them to act out Dizzt’s flight from the Underdark, but there are several different scenarios for players to enjoy. The halls of the Underdark are filled with all manner of unsavory creatures including the spiders of the Drow, trolls, demons, dragons, duergar, driders, and more. The game contents include: 42 unpainted plastic miniatures, 13 sheets of interlocking cardstock dungeon tiles, decks of encounter and treasure cards, a rulebook, a scenario book, and a 20-sided die. Fans of the Forgotten Realms will be pleased to see that they will be able to choose from a number of recognizable characters plucked from the books. Drizzt is one of the choices but the game also features several of his friends and allies including: Bruenor, Artemis, Cattie-Brie, Athrogate, Wulfgar, Jarlaxle, and Regis. I love the Underdark and I think it makes for a fantastic setting for a game, and this is one that fans of Drizzt are sure to want.
So there you have it, three unique games with several common features. You can even combine elements from the games pooling dungeons tiles and monsters together allowing for more expansive games with more challenging foes. The array of miniatures included in them makes for a nice addition to the collection of any dungeon master looking to add to his selection, and with a bit of time and effort you could even paint them up quite nicely.
For some time now I’ve been wanting to try one of these games, but the price tags attached have always scared me off or encouraged me to buy something else instead. I’m thinking of trying to play one as the subject of an upcoming podcast, but I’m not sure which would make for the best choice. So I’m giving our readers a chance to voice their opinions, which should I choose? The sprawling dragon filled dungeons of the Wrath of Ashardalon? Or should I set out for the daunting Castle Ravenloft? Perhaps you’d prefer that I try to escape from the Underdark alongside of Drizzt?