Today I played the new smash hit board game from the D&D side of Wizards, Castle Ravenloft.  I was an Eladrin Wizard, obviously, and although it was a lot of fun, I’m not sure there are many games I could have played with that group of folk (Aaron, Mike, Doug, Jenna) that would not have been fun due to the group.  I’m still kind of collecting my thoughts about it, but I thought I could give a quick hits and misses on it in a review here.

Hits:

  • I felt like overall it captured some good D&D flavor and mechanics.  Party of adventurers, dungeon crawl, move-attack, random encounters.
  • There were some awesome moments, like when we figured out we could freeze the gargoyle in place by moving far enough away from it.
  • I liked the tile generation for the game board, it really made it feel like we were exploring.
  • Good use of miniatures, probably even better than how regular 4th Edition uses them (since here the game is about the movement, and sometimes in the RPG the figures can get in the way of the RP.)

Misses:

  • Some of the D&D stuff was not well implemented, and it stuck out like a sore thumb to me: leveling up, for example, and the lack of overt incentives to stick together while walking around.
  • It was very odd that when you sprung a trap or found a monster, it would (a) be yours to control, but (b) immediately attack you.  Kind of a “stop hitting yourself” moment, over and over.
  • Each dungeon tile could have had a lot more flavor to it – instead of a generic “encounter” deck, there could have been named places with stuff that triggers when you find the place (like in Betrayal at House on the Hill).
  • Too many fidgety pieces to the game, and like five different decks of cards.
  • Too close to a straight-up representation of D&D’s rules – I feel like this could have been abstracted down for simplicity’s sake and would have made a better game and also a better stepping-stone toward D&D.

I definitely want to play it again sometime.  It’s probably not the best game to pick up for a more casual board game audience.

Overall: B-
Potential as a Substitute Evening for an RPG Group: High
Magic Missile: +8 to hit and 1 damage, pulls enemy if you miss

  • Way, way too many pieces.