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Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game - Board Game Box Shot

Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game

The master of Ravenloft is having guests for dinner—and you are invited!

Evil lurks in the towers and dungeons of Castle Ravenloft, and only heroes of exceptional bravery can survive the horrors within. Designed for 1–5 players, this boardgame features multiple scenarios, challenging quests, and cooperative game play.

User Reviews (25)

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8 Beta 1.0 Tester
Mythic Kingdoms Backer 2020
Platinum Supporter
Advanced Reviewer
75 of 82 gamers found this helpful
“I, Strahd... do like this game!”

It’s been some time since my last review… life seems to have that knack for getting in the way of gaming! I’m happy to have some time to write up a review and doubly happy it’s for this game! I’m currently running a 4E campaign with a great bunch of friends, so I’m in full on “D&D” mode. I actually decided to get this game for a couple different reasons… first, being a DM you don’t really get to scratch the dungeon crawl itch yourself since you’re the one pulling the strings behind the curtain. Second, I’ve read some good things about the game here on BG, Lastly, having just recently downloaded Castlevania Adventure Rebirth, I’m infected with the vampire hunting bug which was the ultimate tie breaker for me getting this game versus Wrath of Ashardalon (I will still get that game at some later date!). I was also looking for something “D&D lite” to play with my siblings and wife who enjoy playing games but don’t really have the time to commit to full on 4E campaigning. Thus far, I feel I’ve gotten my money’s worth!

Right out of the gate upon opening up the box, the components are fantastic! The game comes with several decks of cards, sturdy “dungeon tiles” that are printed on thick card stock and interlock nicely, character cards also printed on the same thick stock for both the heavy villains in the game as well as the playable heroes. Plenty of tokens, for various uses in the games multiple scenarios and lastly the miniatures! These miniatures are mostly recasts from the Dungeons and Dragons miniatures game. There are a few original pieces in here, but for the most part Wizards reused their minis, which is perfectly fine considering there are some very nice sculpts presented here… especially the HUGE Dracolich figure! My only issue with them is they’re not painted. Considering Heroscape had fully painted minis for a board game, Wizards could have easily included painted minis for Castle Ravenloft as well. I docked the components rating 1 star for this, but if given the option, I would have only docked it 1/2 a star.

Next we have game play, which thus far after a handful of games under my belt is fun and straight forward. If you’re familiar with 4th Edition combat rules, you’re familiar with this game’s combat rules. If you’re not, it’s easily explained in the rule book. Gone are some of detailed nuances from 4th Edition like Combat Advantage, Flanking, and AOEs, etc… in place is very straight forward combat abilities that work well within the framework of the game. Monsters are controlled by the players and have several “if, then” tactics printed on their combat cards to guide the players when taking monster turns. There are twelve pre-printed scenarios that set up different victory conditions and have scene setting flavor text. With the “shuffle and flip” tile placement, you’ll more than likely never have the same environment twice which makes for some nice replay value. There are also two bonus adventures and a handful of contest winner adventures available on the dungeons and dragons website as well. If you’re feeling creative You can also take the structure of the pre-printed scenarios and design your own new if you’re so inclined. The possibilities and replay value due to this are endless! All in all, I felt the game play was straight forward and enjoyable. There were a few things I couldn’t locate in the rule book like starting number of Healing Surges but the invaluable wealth of knowledge on BG resolved those questions rather quickly. 🙂

All in all, I’m extremely happy with this purchase and have had a lot of fun playing the game thus far. I love that it’s a game that can be played solo as well as with 4 more players. I actually felt a nice wave of nostalgia for the old Milton Bradley game Heroquest while I played this. I’m excited about trying to use some of the game elements in my 4E campaign as well, like a completely random “shifting halls” style dungeon using the tiles and since I enjoy painting minis, the non-painted minis will provide me with some new “canvases” to work with. I’m hopeful this game will be a gateway for my siblings, wife and friends who aren’t D&D players to maybe consider taking the plunge. I’ll be sure to comment on how that goes in the discussion area later on. So if you’re looking for a quick D&D feeling dungeon crawl without having to invest hours of your time creating an immersive world, this game is right up your ally!

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Gamer - Level 1
57 of 64 gamers found this helpful
“Fun Simplified Solo and Co-op D&D with Decent Replay Value”

Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game is a dungeon crawler that follows a simplified version of the 4th edition D&D rules. The box is large and comes with a lot of pieces, including tiles, chits, figures, and cards, as well as a deep storage area for all that.

There are 13 game scenarios in the box, plus 5 more from you can download free from Wizards of the Coast (2 WOTC generated ones and 3 contest winning ones), as well as a myriad of fan-created ones elsewhere online. Some of the basic rules are even adjusted for different scenarios, which provide flexibility to do-it-yourselfers. Maps, treasure and monsters are randomized each time as well. All that leads to a lot of re-playability.

There are scenarios for 1-5 players. The game is cooperative in nature. I love the fact that there are solo scenarios, meaning I can get my fix even when no one is available to join me. The game is mostly fighting oriented, and you generally are thrown right into the thick of things. The challenge level seems normal to high, with one of two scenarios being excruciatingly tough. Be prepared to lose as many as you win, possibly more. “Horror of the Howling Hag” may be one of my favorites. The rules are not overly complicated, and you should be able to get the swing of things after a game or two. Past that, most games can be played in 1-2 hours.

There are a few places where the game falters. Rules are a bit murky at times, almost like there wasn’t enough play testing before release to answer all of the possible questions that could come up. Most times there is not a lot of strategy involved. There can be a lot more reacting than planning, particularly due to the monster spawns possible with a high number of players. This keeps the pace going but may turn off strategy fans. Also, as role-playing is pretty well non-existent (don’t go into it expecting regular D&D from the D&D board game), the scenarios could be expanded for more storytelling. And though it’s a bit nitpicky, I’d have loved to see painted play figures in the set. I’m hoping some of these things are addressed in the Wrath of Ashardalon and Legend of Drizzt follow-up sets, but I haven’t played them yet to tell.

Overall I really enjoy the Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game. My play sessions have been very fun and it’s one of the better games I’ve gotten in the last few years. However, though your core group of D&D players would probably enjoy this game, they would probably prefer playing regular D&D. Save this one for those who want to be in your core group but don’t have the time or aren’t very good at role-play, or those interested in the fantasy genre but aren’t that familiar with D&D rules.

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I Am What I Am
41 of 46 gamers found this helpful
“Castle Ravenloft - Why It's Justified To Commit A Felony To Fund A Purchase Of This Game”

I’m starting to realize something about myself and my reviews, and it’s quite enlightening. I’ve come to understand that what sets me apart from other reviewers is that I actually play a lot of a game before reviewing it, generally; at least 3 times per game, and almost always with different people. Many other reviewers seem to think that an opinion can be formed by a single play, and many reviews are rife with assumptions and, in many cases, errors. Maybe that’s why I have almost ten thousand reads of my article (that I can track) over the entire internet with all of my syndication partners. I’m truly happy to have you as a reader, and it’s because of you guys and gals that I put my life on hold for 4 to 6 hours every Sunday to review games for you fine folks in order to help you sort the chaff from the wheat.

Let me begin this review by noting that I initially thought this game was mediocre at best, and that it didn’t have much in the way of compelling gameplay. I thought it to be too mechanical, with many other dungeon crawl games being far superior and thus found myself wondering why I would want to purchase a game like this with such other, better, games out there on the market. Then, like a bottle of Smirnoff to the head, it hit me. I had an epiphany of epic proportions regarding Ravenloft that changed my mind entirely, and now I realize that this game system is far superior to almost all of its peers in the genre. It’s not because of the bits, although the bits are tip-top. It’s not because of the mechanics, really, because they are fairly bland and a little wonky at first. It’s because this game has such an amazing host of possibilities in creating scenarios and has such an open architecture that you can create, and are encouraged to, add house rules to it that are scenario-specific.

I don’t know why I didn’t see the beauty of this game in the first 15 plays. I think it’s because, to be fair, the built-in scenarios are really not that interesting, and they do not take advantage of the mechanic that I have discovered in scenario building which really is what makes this game such a ******* gem among the ore that’s out there today. I realized on Saturday night that by stacking the decks in a specific order, you can create an incredibly compelling narrative within the game and create a true D&D-worthy adventure for you and your friends to participate in that evokes strong feelings of fear, terror, and ultimately, supreme satisfaction. My only regret is that I didn’t realize this until so recently.

I know, I’m putting the cart before the horse. You’re asking yourselves, “Pete, what the heck are you talking about? You haven’t told me jack about the game yet, so how can I understand what you’re talking about until you frame the former comments in a context I understand??” Well, let’s get into that, shall we?

The concept of Castle Ravenloft, from a 10,000 foot perspective, is that up to five noble adventurers are compelled to head to the land of Borovia, which is home to Castle Ravenloft, roost of the dread vampire Count Strahd. This “world” was envisioned back in 1983, in an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons module named ‘Ravenloft’. Anyhow, this update of the theme has adventurers roaming the catacombs of Castle Ravenloft in search of adventure and riches beyond imagination, although they generally will find nothing but vile beasts and death.

It’s an atypical dungeon crawl in that it has Space-Hulk style interlocking tiles that are mostly placed in a random order, meaning the game is different every time you play it. Every aspect of the game is set up from the scenario you choose to play, where certain items are listed to be in play or certain tiles pulled from the stack and placed at key locations. Generally, a ‘goal’ tile is placed nine to twelve places deep within the random tile stack, and when the players reach that goal the endgame begins. There’s no scoring in this game, and it’s an Ameritrasher’s dream in that there are only two states the game can end in, which are total victory and the utter destruction of the heroes.

The box is very large in depth but the standard bookshelf design as far as length and width. Inside are a virtually endless sea of chits, unpainted plastic miniatures, a boatload of cards, and a ******** of incredibly well produced interlocking dungeon tiles. Also within is a very, very short rulebook and an equally miniscule adventure guide, which serves as the blueprint to play scenarios which do little more than get you accustomed to the concepts of the game. While not precisely telling you so, you are compelled to want to create your own scenarios, and this is where the game’s true shine emits from. Suffice to say that the art is very nice, and while some people call it bland, it is not so in my humble opinion. The cards themselves do not have much art on them at all, and there are no magical weapons depicted anywhere, really. There’s no shiny armor.

The cards are, in fact, all text-based, with the exception of the monster cards which have a hand-drawn image of whatever creature that the card represents. While some see this as a shortcoming, I think that it leaves things to the imagination, which is par for the course with D&D, so it’s actually quite thematic to have omitted the pictures. Anyhow, everything is of the highest quality regarding construction, and you will certainly not be disappointed.

My only beef with the entire box is that the miniatures are unpainted versions of existing Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures Game minis, and I’d have rather paid 100$ for the game with painted minis than have to try to go out and source them from a singles retailer or paint them myself. That, my friends, was a typical Wizards “F You, Consumer” move that should not be easily forgiven. So, in response to that, “F You, Wizards.” The smart play for them would be to release a “Ravenloft Upgrade” package for $50 that has all of the miniatures for the game in it. I would jump on that like a recently-released inmate on a prostitute. I’ve always liked Wizards, and Ravenloft hasn’t changed that, but this again makes me wonder who the **** is driving the sales force over there.

Anyhow, the setup is completely determined by the scenario you choose to play out of either the book or your head, depending on how much effort you wish to put in. The common factors, though, come down to each player picking a character and selecting the skills they wish to use for this game. The skills are cards from a character-specific deck which have three classes of powers.

Two of the powers, the ‘At-Will’ types, are essentially your hand-to-hand or ranged weapon powers that you can use over and over again. The other cards, though, are generally one-time use powers that may be recovered by winning the ability to do so through a lucky treasure down the road. Each player also gets one Treasure Card at the beginning of your game, which may or may not be helpful. In all cases, though, the “dungeon tile” stack gets placed within reach, and a starting tile of some sort is placed in the play area, with each players miniature put thereon.

There are several stacks of cards which need to be set out and shuffled: the Treasure deck, the Monster deck, and the Encounter deck. There’s another deck as well, the Adventure Deck, but that is generally reserved for cherry-picking certain items out of if certain scenario-based actions happen. Personally, I like to shuffle that deck right into the Treasure deck for general consumption because the Treasure deck is mostly comprised of very small one-time boosts where the Adventure deck is where most of the weapons and “items” that you’d want to actually carry with you are located.

Gameplay consists of each player taking their two actions, which are either to move and attack, attack and move, or move twice. Once they’ve done these actions, if they are on a tile that has an open edge and they are standing on that edge, they add a new tile. If they are not standing on an unexplored edge, then they pull and resolve an Encounter card, which are ALWAYS very bad news.

Also, if a player pulls a tile with a black arrow icon on it when they pull a tile, they place that tile and then pull an Encounter card. In all cases, though, when a new tile is pulled, a player must pull a Monster card, place the miniature on the skull pile icon in the newly placed room, and place the Monster card in front of them as they now control that monster. After you’ve resolved the Encounter card, Tile pull and subsequent Monster card, or both, you must then activate any monster types you control, in the order you pulled the card that controls them.

Each monster has a specific script that it follows, and this is simply the most brilliant boardgame AI system I’ve ever seen. It’s far superior to the Dungeon Twister 2 AI method, although it is similar. In short, each monster has its own personality, and the monsters were all done very, very well. This mechanic alone will be copied by all other dungeon crawls, if we’re lucky, because this was the one stand-out design triumph that I noticed from play one to today. It’s, simply put, flawlessly designed and executed.

Another Dirty McNasty aspect of the game is that the Encounter cards almost always attempt to mercilessly curb stomp the players by placing traps into the dungeon, causing very bad events to occur, placing “auras” into play that affect all players and in some cases all monsters, or generally enact some other form of *******. The word “Encounter” doesn’t normally mean “something very bad is about to happen to you” in life; I mean, you could “encounter” a beautiful woman who wishes to perform sexual favors on you, right? Not in Ravenloft. Bad stuff ALWAYS happens when you have an “Encounter”.

Maybe it’s just the fact that stunning, nymphomaniacal women don’t generally hang out in a vampire-haunted crypt, but either way, I dread pulling these cards, to the point of irrational terror while playing the game. In all the failures I’ve had, Encounters were the prime target of my ire postgame because they always seem to just plain ‘hate on you’ at every turn. So, yes, I am man enough to admit that I hate, and I do mean HATE, Encounter cards. Hate them. Oh, do I hate them. Grr.

Traps, as I noted before my minor rant, can come about by the hated Encounters (grr…) and these are generally one of the nastier varieties of nastiness that the Encounters can cause. They’re nasty because they always come into play right where you’re standing, and the fact that you’ve pulled them means you’ve already taken your turn and are about to have to resolve the traps, along with the monsters, so you’re about to get messed up in a major way. These lovely traps are fireballs, spears, crossbows, smashing walls…all kinds of bad stuff. The good news is that on players’ turns, they can attempt to disarm them by a die roll, and if you’ve played the ‘Rogue’ character, you have a 75% chance of success in doing so. Traps are activated just like monsters, luckily, so only one player will activate it, and most traps only affect players on that tile during activation, although a few have a ranged effect.

Combat with monsters is all resolved by playing one of your power cards, and every single aspect of the game is resolved with a D20 roll, so this is no different. The short version is that you roll the D20, add your power’s modifier, add any treasure modifiers, and compare against the enemy’s armor cl***. If you equal or exceed that, you hit him for the set amount of damage listed on the card. If you hit the enemy hard enough to exceed its hit points, it dies. You keep the monster card, which is taken from the controlling player, and it earns the hero team an experience amount as listed on the card. The player who dealt the killing blow also gets a Treasure card for their trouble.

Speaking of Treasure cards, I should explain why I’m not a big fan of them. Most of the treasures in the game are not treasure items, but rather helpful effects that can do things like heal a character a little, or allow you to look at the top three Encounter cards and rearrange them to your liking. There are a few “+1 Sword of Ballbusting” type items, but most of the real goodies in the game are in the Adventure Treasure deck, which is a separate deck altogether that generally isn’t used. My advice to you is to take that deck and mix it into the regular treasures, because it really feels more like an adventure when you find cool stuff. The other aspect is that the Adventure Treasure deck has a different back, so it will be known when a cool treasure is about to be found. What I like to do is take that card and place it under the next monster that is pulled, and when that monster is pulled, the slayer takes that card as his treasure in lieu of pulling from the Advenure deck.

Experience points are of an odd sort in Ravenloft. They can be used, when five are amassed, to cancel an Encounter card or to level up a character. These experience points are shared among the entire team, so they build up fast, and are spent even faster. To level up a character from level one to level two, the player who wishes to level up must roll a natural 20 on any roll they make and may spend five experience to do so. This is the weakest mechanic in the game, and as such you will not see this happening more than five percent of the time, statistically. The bump you get from leveling up is pretty much a one armor cl*** point boost and a couple of hit points, with one additional special power being revealed. The physical difference is that you simply flip your cardboard character sheet over to the opposing side, and now you’re a level two character. There is no level three, so once you’re boosted up, that’s that.

Now that you understand the basics of how to play, let’s explore my initial point about Ravenloft. The magic of the game, in my opinion, is that it is so open ended that it leads you to the proverbial water and lets you drink as much, or as little, as you wish to. You can play an out-of-the-book scenario, or you can craft amazingly intricate, immersive scenarios to play. You can use random tiles, cards, and cookie-cutter rules, or you can have all hundred-and-fifty-or-so cards and all forty tiles in a specific order with scenario-based rules for each tile to make this a true-to-D&D adventure of epic scale. It’s a grand sandbox to spill as much or as little blood into as you wish, and for those of us who are creative enough to see the merit within this system, this game is phenomenal.

I will be publishing a scenario that I came up with on Saturday Morning, which is a 2-part adventure, and even as simple as it is, it’s far more engaging and challenging than the out-of-the-box scenarios which might lead you to believe that the game is less interesting than its potential enjoyability truly is. Keep an eye out for it here or on, if you’re interested.

The long and short, in closing, is that this game that I initially thought was a short-sighted epic failure turned out to be one of the best, most immersive, dungeon crawls I’ve played to date, and I’ve played a ******** of them. Don’t let your first couple “learning” plays dissuade you, and once you’ve got ten games in and really, really understand the game’s core concepts, pace, and flow, try to come up with some bad-*** scenarios on your own that fit your expectations and group’s style. That’s what makes this game magnificent, really. I just wish I hadn’t publicly scorned the game so much, because now I look a little bit like an asshat for it. Honestly, though, that’s what makes me a decent reviewer: I play the subject game a lot, and I’m not set on an opinion until I feel I know the game well enough to review it. And sometimes, I need to have an epiphany.

What Makes Castle Ravenloft An Amazing Summer Home:
* Theme drips from this game like urine from a kid who has seen a vampire
* The simple core rule set makes this approachable and learnable in a very short amount of time
* The art, while not DaVinci, is quite nice and appealing
* The sandbox architecture of the game makes this an amazingly agile game system

What Makes Castle Ravenloft Look Like A Poop-Filled Outhouse:
* ***, Wizards? You already had the molds and small Chinese hands to do the painting…why are the minis unpainted???
* There has not been an AEG/Alderac-style aftermarket “painted miniatures” pack released to fix the aforementioned oversight
* The Treasure deck is mostly loaded with worthless items and one-time-use ****


What a great game! I wish I’d seen the light earlier, but I had been so indoctrinated by other dungeon crawls that I overlooked the sandbox aspect. The only downside, which really isn’t that big of a deal, is that the game ships with unpainted miniatures, which it should not have. This game should be an auto-buy for anyone who even thinks they MAY like dungeon crawls. It can actually appeal to a person who only likes Euro games as well, because the mechanics are so simple that even a Container disciple could get the game without blowing a circuit and having to chant “Tikal, Tikal, Tikal” to save them from flipping the light switch on and off seven times in a row to save the planet from imploding.

4.5/5 Stars


It’s a home-brew scenario that retains ALL of the rules in the rulebook while creating a narrative, almost RPG-style, adventure.

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Intermediate Reviewer
Mask of Agamemnon
Novice Advisor
83 of 94 gamers found this helpful
“Intro to D&D”

Recently my lady expressed interest in learning how to play Dungeons & Dragons, so that she could join us for one of our bi-monthly marathon gaming sessions. She’s a natural actress and there’s not a lot you can “teach” about the role-playing aspect of role-playing games, but rules and combat systems can be hard for a brand new gamer to wrap their head around.

Enter: Castle Ravenloft. We sat down on a lazy Sunday with some snacks, and music playing on iTunes, and played through a few quests.

Setup Time
There is much shuffling of cards and pondering over which character to play, and learning the powers of each character to start, but dungeons are built as you progress through an adventure (minus selecting a few quest-specific rooms and a number of tiles that will be in your Dungeon Stack). Monsters and encounters hit the table when you move into new areas.

Learning the Rules
This is a combat dungeon crawl based on the D&D 4th Edition rules, sans skills. It’s great for teaching someone the very basics of Dungeons & Dragons combat for any recent edition — 3rd, 4th, or Next — but has been simplified with fixed numbers and limited advancement. Each player’s turn consists of a few simple steps: movement, exploration, combat actions, and then monster activation. Monsters have very simple to follow rules that determine how and where they move, and who and how they attack.

The lady had played very few board games and not a single role-playing game in her life before we broke this game out. Despite the rules indicating that if one player dies, and cannot be restored due to lack of Healing Surges, the heroes lose, she insisted that she be allowed to carry on with the quest alone in true RPG adventurer style after my dwarven cleric bit the dust. It was great to watch someone with zero experience or knowledge of this type of game really get into the spirit and start making tactical decisions and suggestions within hours of dipping her toes into the genre.

If you’re looking to introduce a novice gamer into role-playing games for the first time and want to ease them into it gently, I’d recommend one of the D&D Adventure System games. The miniatures, heavy card stock character cards, poetically-named powers, and dungeon tiles make it very thematically appealing and tactile for beginners, and can introduce them to Dungeons & Dragons without the lengthy pre-game steps of rolling characters or learning a volume of rules.

Not really for experienced D&D players, though, unless you’re nostalgic about ol’ Count Strahd and his maze-like castle of horrors.

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Viscount / Viscountess
Advocate Beta 1.0 Tester
40 of 46 gamers found this helpful
“Good mini coop, *great* for solo.”

Castle Ravenloft is a game set in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy universe.

The first thing you will notice is the box is *heavy*. Inside you will find nearly one billion bits for various things. Chits, tiles, minis, cards, and an insert with a few large compartments for storing it all.

The bits in this game are fantastic. The heavy cardboard tiles you will use for constructing your ‘dungeon’ are of the highest quality, the artwork is good and thematic, everything is well written and polished. The instructions are fairly well written – not the best ever, but fairly well written – and there are a few scenarios included to guide your play.

Each player controls a hero going through the dungeon. The players take turns taking some action with their respective heroes, fighting a monster and/or exploring the dungeon, and then taking a turn with whatever monster(s) are also running loose and often revealing some trap or other unpleasant effect. Each hero and each monster is represtented by a high quality (unpainted, but high quality) miniature from the D&D line of miniatures.

The different missions have different goals. The first mission, easily played solo with just one hero, calls for the hero to escape from deep within the dungeon before the evil vampire Strahd catches up to him. Other missions call for the hero(es) to get certain magic items, or guide villagers through the dungeon, or defeat certain monsters. The internet is, of course, loaded with fan-made scenarios as well.

This is my favorite solo game. The mechanic requiring the player to physically take the role of the dungeon – drawing trap and encounter cards, manipulating the monsters according to the instructions in the rulebook – almost makes me feel like there is another player at the table, in a way that adding blocks to the map in Pandemic does not.

As a coop game, again with the opportunity each player has to fight *as* the monsters, to *be* the dungeon with its traps and controlling the minis, this game allows some ‘gotcha’ resistance to the Alpha Male Menace that can occur when one strong personality is playing with others in a coop game.

I do wish the minis were painted but I understand that’s not realistic. Still, without paint, some of them look quite a bit like some of the others. And there are areas in which the rulebook is unclear, specifically when dealing with how the player controls the monsters, but Google Is Your Friend and the clear answers are out there.

This game is fantastic for those who want a mini fantasy solo/coop game. Plays fairly quickly once you understand the rules (and depending on the scenario) and scales well from one to four players. It may be able to handle more; I won’t hazard a guess.

I only wish my kid had some interest in coops… *sigh*

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Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
76 of 88 gamers found this helpful
“Looks pretty, but not for everyone”

People who have been a part of the Dungeons & Dragons experience throughout all of its incarnations know that the general formula pretty much remains untouched throughout history. You design a character based on a set of rules (usually rolling dice to determine stats), get some adventuring gear, and wander through a dungeon or other hazardous terrain fighting monsters and completing quests for rewards. You roll a 20-sided die to see if you can attack monsters or make saves against certain types of attacks, and if you’re good enough, you can gain levels of experience that can make you stronger and more able to handle tougher adversaries.

Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft is a result of taking the standard D & D formula and tweaking it a bit with 4th edition rules, and converting the game to a board game format rather than playing D & D free-form and having to design dungeons and manage monster stats and characteristics. In particular, Castle Ravenloft is designed around a crypt where monsters and traps are waiting for adventurers to encounter, and possibly a potent and nasty vampire named Strahd who is lord of Castle Raveloft. Players select a variety of characters with special abilities and talents, and challenge the dungeons to try and accomplish their set task while also trying to keep themselves (and their partners) alive.

I tried this game out with a good background of Dungeons & Dragons lore and experience at my back, but I still didn’t know what to expect from the game. Still, I like board games in general, and I do enjoy a good session of roleplay as well, so I was optimistic going on. What I experienced was basically a session of Dungeons and Dragons, but in such a rigid and constricting fashion that it didn’t really feel like it at all. I will get into my personal thoughts on the game later on. But first, let me break down how the game is played.

Players will choose characters based on the D & D: 4th edition base classes: Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard, and Ranger. Each of these characters will have statistics prepared beforehand (Armor Class, Hit Points, Speed, and Healing Surge value), so there is no stat rolling to generate a character. Each character will have special abilities tied in to them; for instance, the fighter grants a +1 bonus to AC (Armor Class) to an allied character when he is next to them. In addition, each character has a number of powers that they select at the start of the game from a card pool; these powers are At Will powers (they can be used over and over again), Utility powers (situational), and Daily powers (once per game, though some treasures can restore the use of a Daily power). This sets up a character to begin the game.

Quick Overview:

Armor Class: Reflects how hard you are to hit, or how hard your enemies are to hit. The number featured must be equaled or beaten on a roll of a 20-sided die.
Hit Points: Reflects how much damage you can take before dying. Once your hit points are reduced to zero, you die, unless you have a healing surge token handy.
Speed: Reflects how many squares you can move across the game board. A speed value of five means you can move five squares on a tile before stopping.
Healing Surge Value: If you are forced to use a healing surge, the value indicates how many hit points you get back for that surge.

Once you have your characters, you begin the game at the entrance to the dungeon. Each player can take two actions: Move and attack, Attack then move, or Move and move (known as a double move). The dungeon itself is made up of tiles that map out the terrain in which you can move on, and places that you can’t. As you explore the edge of the board, you can reveal new tiles which help to flesh out the dungeon that you’re in. It’s in this way that you can eventually locate your objective to beat the game. Problem is, as you explore the dungeon, nasty things are going to be happening. Each tile has a colored arrow on it (either black or white) which indicates which way it gets attached to the board. The color of the arrow will indicate if you encounter something nasty upon exploring the new tile. More often than not, you will reveal a monster, and that monster will be placed on the board. Whoever drew the monster has control of that monster, so during each player’s respective turns, things will be happening if more than one player controls a monster.

If you think that your party can just handle monsters as a group and take things slow, well, that’s where you’re mistaken. If you don’t explore a new location each turn, then you will have to draw from the encounter deck. Nasty things await in the encounter deck, like traps that get activated, environments that plague the adventurers, or events that the heroes will have to deal with. Players will often have to decide between letting that skeleton roam around or taking it out and having to deal with the encounter deck instead.

Combat with monsters is pretty straight-forward; you roll a 20-sided die when you attack something, or when the monster is attacking a player. If the roll equals or beats the target’s AC, then the attack is a hit, and damage is dealt accordingly (the powers that you select for your attacks will tell you how much damage you can deal; some powerful attacks can deal damage even on a miss). If the damage dealt is enough to take out a monster, it dies, and the experience value of the monster is given to the hero. If the damage dealth is enough to take out a hero, that hero is out for the turn, and a healing surge can be expended to revive that character (if there are any left) when the next turn comes around. If there are no healing surges left, that character dies, and the game is over; you win as a group, or you lose as a group in Castle Ravenloft.

Through the course of your adventure, you will receive opportunities for treasure (given as treasure cards). Some of the treasure cards can be really powerful, such as a magical weapon to make striking and killing monsters easier. Other treasure cards will provide useful items like healing potions or items that will give you additional daily power usage. Use of the treasure cards you gain is critical, as they can provide a much needed edge with everything is falling to pieces around you.

Once a character has amassed a certain amount of experience, they can level up. This can only be done once, and cannot be activated at will; a character ready to level up must roll a natural 20 on a 20-sided dice during combat to be able to accomplish this. When a character levels up, they flip their character to the reverse side, which has improved statistics and abilities.

Ultimately, heroes must survive the gauntlet of Castle Ravenloft on their way to complete their current quest. There are multiple scenarios to play, and each plays out differently, but some of them feature a boss character; take, for instance, Strahd the Vampire. These boss monsters are unlike the normal monsters you encounter; they are much more difficult to defeat, and often have some very tricky powers that they can use in the middle of combat. However, usually, when you beat the boss, the game is over; no worries about getting out of the dungeon intact.

So what do I think about this game? It is possible that my past experiences with D & D have jaded me with what to expect, but I didn’t think that this game had much to offer me as a player. It is true that I like difficult games, and Castle Ravenloft played as it is with the current ruleset IS difficult, but when I compare it to the other cooperative games I have played, it suffers in a lot of ways.

Castle Ravenloft has some good things going for it; the variable board is always good to help keep an experience fresh and new. In addition, having multiple scenarios helps to ensure that a group can do something other than the same old game every time. The minatures are a plus; they are well-designed and really stand out. But where the game really suffers is in the way that it’s played. I don’t like the idea of a party not being able to take the time to regroup; with Castle Ravenloft, if you sit still, something bad is bound to happen to you. That takes a lot of the tactical feel of Dungeons and Dragons out of the game, in my opinion; players shouldn’t be punished for making smart decisions. Also, the reliance on luck to level up just doesn’t feel right to me. Players can amass all the experience in the world, but if they never roll that magical 20, they lose out on the benefits they can reap. The instruction booklet, while it makes an effort to explains the rules in an easy fashion, still has a couple of gray areas which are open to interpretation. And this is just a personal view of mine and not necessarily a detriment to the game itself: The characters are just too generic. Dungeons & Dragons as a role-playing game allows players to give depth to their characters to really make them well-rounded individuals. But while the characters differ in their stats and various powers, there is very little in the way of individual talents, weaknesses, or depth. In any other board game, this is fine, but Dungeons & Dragons built their reputation on those traits, and I miss those here.

I have played this game several times with my friends, and Castle Ravenloft often fails to resurface at our game group because it doesn’t appeal to a lot of people there. It’s not a horrible game and it does have its good points, but it’s not for everyone. I would say that casual board gamers may enjoy this game, but fans of standard Dungeons & Dragons would rather play the role-playing game Dungeon & Dragons instead.

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57 of 66 gamers found this helpful
“This game is not for D&D roll players”

This game is for people who appreciate D&D and fantasy themes but just don’t want to invest the time, or don’t have a good Dungeon Master to run a role playing campaign.

You can get a good D&D fantasy fix with this game. I enjoy the aspect of exploring as you go. Cooperating with your friends to accomplish a goal. I also enjoy the fact that you can play the game solo because the adventures and monsters run themselves. It’s easy to learn and fast to setup. You also get a lot of game for the money.

The downsides to this game, for one, is that it’s a challenge to store this game. There are many components of different sizes and shapes. Second, it’s a bummer, for me at least, that the miniatures are not painted. I’ve never done miniature painting and thinking about painting all these figures is daunting.

Overall, I really enjoy getting my D&D fix with this game. I also have Wrath of Ashardalon and mix these 2 games together for some extra adventures.

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63 of 73 gamers found this helpful
“Working together to grab some loot”

Castle Ravenloft is a cooperative board game based on the 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons role-playing rules. It does a good job of a “dungeon crawl” without bogging down too much in the role-playing aspects of D&D which may turn off some players.

In other words, I would call it D&D Lite

Depending on your mood, your group and your time constraints, Ravenloft may or may not be what you are looking for. If you just want to dive into a dungeon, kill some monsters and grab some loot – then this game is likely a great fit. If however, you want to negotiate with the Necromancer before resorting to violence, or if you want to discover the reason people have been going missing in the town of Shallowood – then don’t bother with this game.

In Castle Ravenloft the players take on the role of a pre-generated character – either a Human Rogue, a Dwarven Cleric, an Eladrin Wizard, a Dragonborn Fighter or a Human Ranger. Each character has – of course – special abilities and actions available to them, along with a set of power cards specific to their race and class.

The game presents the players with a scenario (there are over 10 in the game as it stands – with others available on the ‘net) detailing a “mission” presented along with some special rules. You step into the depth of Castle Ravenloft and the mayhem begins.

Each player in-turn can move and attack, then has to either expose new areas of the dungeon or have a random encounter. The game encourages you to continue moving forward at a somewhat rapid pace – hence revealing new dungeon tiles and more monsters to fight. The monsters move via a set of “tactics” which determine their actions – and allow the players to cooperatively best them. Although the monsters do move on specific player’s turns, their actions are determined by the game.

Overall I think Castle Ravenloft does a good job fulfilling the dungeon crawl niche of games. Although the D&D license may at first seem like a hook to get players to try the game, Castle Ravenloft does introduce key D&D concepts like player actions, abilities, ranged vs. melee combat, etc. It is certainly a good fit for players unfamiliar with RPGs in general or D&D specifically.

The component quality is top notch – with tons of plastic miniatures, many dungeon tiles and a lot of cardboard counters to keep track of many different things. My only negative component-wise is the box insert is a little useless for keeping things sorted – some “snack-sized” baggies will do wonders for clean-up and organization.

Finally, being cooperative is a nice change of pace compared to a game like Descent where the players are working against a game-master. The game scales well based on the number of players, and it is easy to handicap for new or younger adventurers.

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40 of 48 gamers found this helpful
“Fun dungeon crawl if a little repetitious.”

I bought Wrath of Ashardalon first and this second. Overall the former is much better with slightly more refined mechanics and balancing. I’ve played several games with this and it has always been a good time. It doesn’t give any real chance for role playing but then again, I don’t think it was designed to.

The stories are fun and the random tile system is a good way to add replay value though it seems to fall a bit short. It doesn’t quite come out random enough each time to truly feel like a different adventure. In the end, it does get a little old to be going into the same castle over and over again, even if you have a different objective each time.

The minis are neat and have been useful in my D&D4E adventures. None of the pieces of this game really feel too cheap but they certainly aren’t of the best quality. Just the sheer number of minis you get was awesome, though I’ve never gotten another game with minis (except WoA) so it might just be par for the course.

I have played this many times with D&D vets when no one feels like DMing and it has always been fun if a little bland next to D&D proper. I have also played it a few times with people that know nothing about D&D and they picked it up surprisingly fast.

If you like the combat of D&D4E and you want to spend the evening killing monster hoards, this game is for you.

If you are looking for a game that will simulate D&D, I suggest you look elsewhere.

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44 of 53 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“The Dungeons & Dragons, Fourth Edition Starter Set”

To gamers of a certain age, the mention of Castle Ravenloft will strike fear into their hearts and invoke strong memories. Originally published in 1983 for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, First Edition, the legendary I6: Ravenloft was a gothic horror adventure that pitted the heroes against the feared vampire, Count Strahd von Zarovich. Drawing upon Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the heroes braved the Count’s beautifully mapped castle and the crypts below, to save a young woman that the Count believed to be his long lost love. As they explored, danger was never far away as numerous undead attacked and the Count constantly toyed with them. I6: Ravenloft received a campaign setting, two roleplaying sequels, and a board game sequel.

The Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game is a co-operative board game in which adventurers venture into the catacombs under Castle Ravenloft to thwart the Count’s evil plans. It uses a simplified version of the Dungeons & Dragons, Fourth Edition rules, but everyone takes turns being the Dungeon Master (or referee), so the danger never lets up!

The game comes crammed full of components—forty Dungeon Tiles, forty Hero, Villain, and Monster figures with cards each, plus Encounter, Power, and Treasure cards. Plus a Rulebook and a mission or Adventure Book. The miniatures are unpainted, but nicely sculpted and each has its own card. The monster cards just give combat details—Armour Class, Hit Points—most monsters have one, whilst the Count has twelve, its Tactics, its Attacks and Damage inflicted, and the Experience awarded for killing it. The Tactics are generally simple, for example, a Skeleton can attack an adjacent Hero or if within a tile of the Hero, charge for extra damage. The villains have multiple options, whilst the Hero cards are more detailed—Race, Name, Class (Wizard, Fighter, etcetera), some background, and special ability like Thorgrim, the Dwarf Cleric’s Aid Ability (heal another Hero one Hit Point if Thorgrim did not attack that turn). Plus they are double-sided as Heroes can go from First to Second Level. All Heroes have Utility, At-Will, and Daily Power Cards to choose and use during a game.

The game is played out the Dungeon Tiles which are laid out as the adventurers explore. Their objective is hold off the random monsters whilst trying to reach the ‘Quest Tiles’, target locations described in the missions given in the Adventure Book. Together they form the corridors and rooms of the crypts below Castle Ravenloft. The Adventure Book contains thirteen missions, two of which are designed to be played solo.

A player’s turn consists of three phases. During the Hero Phase, a Hero moves twice or moves and attacks. Defeating Monsters grants Experience towards Leveling Up and Treasure Cards. If the Hero is next to an unexplored edge, then in the Exploration Phase a new Dungeon Tile is drawn and added to the dungeon. The new Dungeon Tile is also populated with a new monster which is controlled by the Hero’s player until it is destroyed. The third and final phase is the Villain Phase is the most interesting. If no new Dungeon Tile was added in the Exploration Phase or the newly added Dungeon Tile has a black triangle, then an Encounter Card is drawn. This takes effect immediately can add an Environment (for example, ‘Bat Swarm’ makes attacking adjacent Dungeon Tiles difficult); an Event, such as ‘Strahd Attacks’, when the vampire lord appears suddenly, attacks everyone, and disappears; and Traps, such as a ‘Crossbow Turret’.)

Once any Encounter Card has been resolved, any Villains, Monsters, and Traps controlled by the current player activate, attacking and moving as their Cards dictate. Where the Villain Phase gets truly villainous is if there are two or more monsters of single type in play. If a player controls one of these monsters, he activates that monster, plus any controlled by the other players—and this happens every turn! So if you control a Spider during your Villain Phase, you control its movement and attack, plus that of every other Spider in play. This multiple monster rule forces the players to try and keep the number of monsters in play down to a minimum of one of each type.

Play has a certain rhythm, A Hero advancing to reveal more Dungeon Tiles and Monsters; Encounters occurring, then Monsters moving and attacking, before the next Hero can move and attack, trying to defeat Monsters before they can often all attack again. Encounter Cards add a weird, strange randomness, echoing the original I6: Ravenloft’s crypts.

Winning at the Castle Ravenloft Board Game means achieving the objectives listed for each mission, but the game is lost if the Heroes run out of Healing Surges. These are the game’s primary means of healing Heroes and usually only two available in a standard game.

The game never lets up on the Heroes, with new Monsters appearing and Encounters occurring almost every turn. They are relentlessly confronted with evil and the undead, which makes it challenging and tactical. Possibly dispiritingly difficult for younger players, but for older players this is light, tactical co-operative game, one that slightly echoes the original I6: Ravenloft scenario whilst modeling the best features of Dungeons & Dragons, Fourth Edition. Indeed, it can be seen as a roleplaying game minus the roleplaying.

On its own, Castle Ravenloft Board Game offers hard play against a relentless foe. Yet it also serves as a basic introduction to Dungeons & Dragons, Fourth Edition. Which leaves me with an interesting thought. For just a little time, before the release of Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Red Box, the fact is that Castle Ravenloft Board Game was the best introduction to Dungeons & Dragons, Fourth Edition. Perhaps it still is…?

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Count / Countess Beta 1.0 Tester
52 of 65 gamers found this helpful
“Unsatisfying Dungeon Crawl”

I just had the opportunity to play the Dungeons and Dragons Castle Ravenloft game, and I have to say that I am disappointed. Reviews I have read implied that the game was somewhat of a cross between D&D 4th edition and Betrayal at House on the Hill (an excellent cooperative game with multiple scenarios). I really wanted to like this game. Though not a fan of D&D 4th edition, I did consider that ruleset would make a great boardgame. Sadly, I found this game to be severely lacking.

The way the game is structured, you have a scenario with a win condition known at the start of the game (the sessions I played were an escort mission, and a quest to kill a dracolich). Players then take turns moving and exploring, with player turns working much like D&D turns. The exploration system is my primary problem with the game. You go to the edge of the board, and lay down a random tile. Every tile has a monster, and every monster immediately attacks the character. There is no opportunity for reaction, tactics, etc. There are several reasons why this is problematic.

D&D characters have strengths and weaknesses. Take, for example, the wizard. A wizard’s strength is being able to attacks enemies from afar, often multiple ones. Their weakness is typically lack of ability to take damage, represented by a low hit point total. Castle Ravenloft’s Exploration/Encounter system heavily penalizes the wizard character for having fewer hit points than the other characters. We came to realize that this character was just not viable for playing.

Another weakness is the Exploration/Encounter system, as I mentioned before. Every exploration reveals an enemy. And while it is nice that all players cooperate, the tactics they use largely make them feel the same.

Another game that occupies this same conceptual space is Descent. Also a dungeon crawl game, Descent has one player operate as the Overlord, controlling the monsters. Its gameplay is smoother and more satisfying, but it does not play so quickly. A better horror exploration game that plays in a similar amount of time is Betrayal at House on the Hill (mentioned earlier). Primarily cooperative, it uses a traitor mechanic that causes one player to unexpectedly betray the party, which sets into motion a story-driven scenario, where both the traitor and the rest of the players have distinct win conditions.

To sum up, this is not a good game. There are planty of other good cooperative games to measure this against. The poorly-conceived systems diminish its playability, and its small number of scenarios limit its replayability. I would seriously consider either of the games previously mentioned above this.

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Intermediate Reviewer
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39 of 50 gamers found this helpful
“Cooperative Players vs. the System Tactical Role Playing Board Game”

This is a players vs. the system cooperative game of dungeon crawling and combat. Players choose from 5 different characters each granting a unique ability to the group. Players will select a scenario to play through which will determine the starting position of the board and set out the victory conditions. The map is randomly determined by using a set of square tiles, ensuring that each tome the game is played the experience will be different.

When monsters are revealed a card is drawn and a figure is placed on the board. The monster’s card determines how they act when activated, by listing their tactics. Players who found the monster “own” the monster and only activate them at the end of their turn, or if another player has an identical monster. The players lose if anyone dies, and with only 2 healing surges available that is a likely outcome. The game is challenging but not insurmountable nor formulaic.

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Gamer - Level 2
39 of 50 gamers found this helpful
“Great components; Would rather just play D&D”

First off I just want to say this game blew me away with it’s components. It’s practically worth the price tag alone for the dungeon tiles and minis that come with the game. Many times I’ve said that I would consider buying the game if I ran more D&D and fantasy role playing games.

The game itself is a very stripped down 4th edition mechanics. It’s so stripped down that it comes across as being very boring for experienced role players such as myself, and particularly if you have played a lot of 4th edition.

There’s not a whole lot of replay value to the game after you have completed all the different quests that are included. This of course leads itself to expansion, but the few scenarios that come with the game will only last you a few sessions before you have to start repeating them.

With that said, the game is also particularly hard and can be VICIOUS if the dice are against you.

Overall the game is great for a few sit downs and if you can use the components afterward. Otherwise I would pass on it and find a friend who has a copy of Descent or just break out the D&D books and run a dungeon crawl.

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51 of 72 gamers found this helpful
“This is not a Dungeon Crawl, but a Tactical Co-op game..”

If you would like to play this, or the other games in the series, thinking it’s like “Descent: Journeys into the dark”, then you are going to be dissapointed.

Make no mistake: This game is great! But even if it seem like a Dungeon Crawl, it is more like a Tactical Co-op game. If you are expecting it to be such a game, then you are in for a treat.

This game is about survival. The idea behind spawning monsters in the end of your round and activating them after you move, makes the challenge of placing the heroes critical. A lot of interesting tactical solutions can be made, where each hero and their abilities are important. The missions will get harder, but clever play and good planing, can make the day.

The monsters are quite diverse and the ability to combine all of the games in the series, interchanging both characters and monsters alike, makes the replay value even greater.

So my advice is this: Think of this game as a challenging tactical co-op game and not a dungeon crawl, then you will have a great game in your hands.

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39 of 61 gamers found this helpful
“Quer jogar RPG mas não tem tempo?”

Dizem que o D&D 4.0 transformou o RPG num Jogo de Tabuleiro. O que dizer de um jogo de tabuleiro criado em cima do D&D 4.0?

Eu acho que o D&D 4.0 ficou muito bom, muito dinâmico, simplifica a vida do mestre e dos jogadores, abrindo espaço para o verdadeiro RPG.

Agora, se você não tem tempo de montar uma boa aventura, esse jogo cai como uma luva em qualquer grupo de RPG.

O jogo traz todos os elementos necessários para uma boa diversão explorando masmorras e derrotando monstros.

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Gamer - Level 2
39 of 64 gamers found this helpful
“Great components.... so-so game”

This game showed so much promise. Awesome minis, beautiful dungeon tiles, and a great theme. Unfortunately, the game mechanics leave a lot to be desired… It feels like you are playing against a system, and against time, always reacting to events and monsters, rather than formulating a plan and/or strategy. Fun at first, but quickly loses its appeal. That said, the game is still almost worth buying just for the components.

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5 Beta 1.0 Tester
Professional Grader
I Love Playin' Games
40 of 69 gamers found this helpful
“Think I'm missing something.”

I had heard that this was an alright game and being a fan of the Ravenloft series since I was a kid, picking this up was a no brainer. The only thing this game seemed to have going for it was the figured. Lots of neat miniatures. The game board tiles, cards, and other components were a bit lackluster. The rules, maybe I over thought them, were confusing to me. There was so little in the rule book I was not quite sure what was going on. I also found the game very difficult. Like I said maybe I missed something critical somewhere, but for me this game was a pretty big miss.

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Advanced Reviewer
It's All About Me
I'm a Real Person
I'm Completely Obsessed
39 of 68 gamers found this helpful
“Try Wrath of Ashardalon instead.”

WotC has done some interesting things with this series of dumbed-down-4E board games, but their first installment didn’t quite get all the way into the perfectly playable category. Fortunately, they quickly fixed their mistakes with the sequel, Wrath of Ashardalon.

In Wrath, the treasure cards are better (say, useful?), and the game itself is a little nicer. You will find yourself enjoying the game all the way to the end, and while it will still be a challenge, it won’t be the depressing and endless pile of suffering you face in Castle Ravenloft.

Did I just review Wrath instead of Ravenloft? Yes, I did. Why? Because it’s the version you should actually be playing.

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Rated 25 Games
39 of 74 gamers found this helpful
“Fun for what it is.”

Not a bad game. It’s sequel is much better. (Wrath of Ashardalon)

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Rated 50 Games
39 of 79 gamers found this helpful
“Very fast co-op dungeon crawler”

Love it very much. Very simple rules. Quick game. Random tiles, so every game is different! Almost all scenarios are playable in 1 hour and it not depends on player’s number.


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