Played the new Castle Ravenloft Board Game over the weekend, unlike previous attempts at new games, I managed to get together a cadre of friends for two different nights of play, and we played through the first 4 scenarios of the game.


In  way it was like playing a diet version of Dungeons and Dragons, with all the feeling but none of the rules. The game is based upon a party of adventurers entering into Castle Ravenloft  to achieve a certain objective, which can be as diverse as stopping the chaos magic leaking out of the castle or seeking to acquire twelve magical items. The castle is composed of a tremendous amount of modular tiles that are drawn at random while exploring. Monsters and Random Encounters bar your way and make up the bulk of the challenge in the cooperative game. The first time we didn’t quite play correctly and only ended up drawing a new Encounter card ever time we placed a new tile, which is how random and often live destroy affects occur. This made things quite easy, and we were feeling very proud of ourselves for so easily defeating the first 2 scenarios of the game.  This left us with a surprise when we learned to play the game correctly for scenarios 3 and 4, where you’re supposed to draw an Encounter every turn even if a dungeon tile isn’t played. Needless to say those last two scenarios were quite a bit harder.

During the game play we did encounter a few odd parts to the game. Although they make sense in terms of playability and simplified rules, they just came out as being unusual when taken from a character perspective or from players who are used to regular DnD rules.

Magic Gets Around 20100921c

1) I Can’t Attack You When You’re Diagonal. Character’s powers work on attacking a monster that is either standing right beside them or that is so many tiles away. Many powers have a range of 1 adjacent tile, however a diagonal tile is not counted as adjacent. So even though your mighty warrior may be 5 feet from that vicious kobold scum who insulted your momma, you still can’t attack him.  It’s like your diagonally challenged or something.

2) Coffin, What Coffin? On the modular dungeon tiles are many pictures of items in the dungeon, particularly a lot of coffins. They help set the feeling of a dank and dangerous labyrinth of monster laden rooms and dangerous traps. However these items do nothing to stop either your arrows of death or your stinky feet. They don’t stop you from walking over them, through them, or around them. Better yet, they must be made of glass, cause you can see through them as well.

3) My Magic Gets Around. The mighty wizard, with a magic missile spell that has a range of 3 tiles is a fearsome opponent, especially since there is no required line of site (LoS). Those smart-missiles can wrap right around a wall and hit the enemy on the other side. This is mighty different from the rigorous DnD rules that scream LoS as a requirement and takes some getting used to. They do balance it out by having the target get pulled 1 tile closer to you, so the surprised Kobold is at least going to go check out where that magic came from.

Overall the game is a blast, so don’t less the oddness above influence your decision to play or buy the game. It’s quick and fun pick-up game of DnD, packaged in a single box. We even had one RPG newbie who played, and came back the second night because she enjoyed it so much.


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