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Raine's been gaming for as long as he can remember. It all started back with his video gaming roots, and as he got older he transitioned into tabletop. A lover of all games, some of his favorites include Pathfinder, Battlestar Galactica, Magic: the Gathering, D&D Attack Wing, Regnum Angelica, and Warmachine/Hordes. Raine's been writing for many years, and loves being a part of the gaming industry.

Guest Post: The Plan – Part 9: Great Expectations

Due to the amazing weather we had in the area on Tuesday, I decided to skip out on gaming and go to an IU baseball game.  To make the time crunch even worse, I was running a Steamroller tournament (for Warmachine/Hordes) this weekend which I had to get ready for (thanks to Meghan for helping me).  All told, that still allowed me to finish two games from the list.  That puts me at 40 games completed.

The first was Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon. This board game has each player taking the role of a powerful adventurer working together to stop the forces of evil.   In any order, players can move and perform a single action (which can be a second move).  Each player has a number of character cards that dictate what actions that character can perform. Next, the exploration phase occurs – if a player ends their turn next to an unexplored edge, you draw a tile and place it with a monster (an encounter card awaits you if you didn’t explore).  Finally the villain (if active), ‘your’ creatures and traps go in the order that you drew them. Each monster card gives you all the needed information for the creature including its tactics. Some of the rules are a bit counter intuitive (for example since exploring happens after the Hero phase, you can’t attack the monster that will be showing up – it always gets the drop on the heroes), but that doesn’t really bother me.  It’s an enjoyable game, but due to the random nature of the cards, tiles and the like, the game can end pretty quickly.  I can safety say that I can count the number of times won on a single hand.  I think there is something to be said for having the maximum numbers of players for most scenarios, but I can’t prove that honestly.

Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon - The mission's a success as soon as the cleric moves to the secure exit stairs!

Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon – The mission’s a success as soon as the cleric moves to the secure exit stairs!

The second game funny enough was Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft. Everything above still applies except that since this was the first game of the series the rule questions/issues are even more pronounced.  The games actually play different due to the heroes, monsters and encounter cards included though the basics are the same.  There isn’t much to say about this one that hasn’t been talked about in the previous paragraph except if you haven’t read the book that the Ravenloft story is based off of – namely I, Strahd: Memoirs of a Vampire by P.N. Elrod, I recommend.

Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft - As a solo game, a player takes a single hero at a time into the dungeon attempting to defeat three of Strahd's henchmen. The heroes were defeated trying to kill the hag.

Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft – As a solo game, a player takes a single hero at a time into the dungeon attempting to defeat three of Strahd’s henchmen. The heroes were defeated trying to kill the hag.

When the first Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) board game came out, I was really excited.  I played D&D as a RPG when I was a kid for years (and years).  I moved to 4th edition when my gaming group at the time decided to change to the new system. The games are definitely based on the 4th edition rules and really work (The rules are amazing for board games although met with a lot of flak in the RPG community – a lot of flak).  After playing each of them (and I still own all three) a number of times, I can’t help feel that they could have been much better.  You see, when I think of D&D, there are two things that jump out at me.

Number 1: The fact that you gain experience from monsters/traps leveling up you character with new and greater powers.

Number 2: The fact that you gain better (read magical) weapons, items and armor that allow you to defeat bigger and tougher monsters.

But neither of these things is in the games.  The treasure is completely random and for the most part just for a single scenario and the characters have a mere two levels (and leveling up can only happen on a natural roll of 20 and only if you have enough group experience).  If this game doesn’t scream for a LCG like format, I don’t know what does (I guess that’s why I like the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game so much – character advance and gain new cards). Don’t get me wrong, the Dungeons & Dragons Board Games are good games in their own right, but with a bit of polish and a re-imagining, they could be great – even amazing!

It is also for this reason, I Kickstarted Shadows of Brimstone and will more than likely purchase Myth when it comes out (I completely missed on the Kickstarter campaign).

Until next time – Play a Game!

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