The Red Dragon Inn: Gambling? I’m In! - Board Game Box Shot

The Red Dragon Inn: Gambling? I’m In!

| Published: 2010
Expansion for The Red Dragon Inn
30 4

Anyone for a rousing game of chance? Here are nine new card games that are all the rage at the Red Dragon Inn!

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Overview

The Gambling? I’m in! expansion details the games of chance that Gog, Zot, Fiona, Erin of even Pooky might play while carousing at our favorite medieval Inn!
Not only can they games be played as a stand alone set of cards games, but most of the games a can be inserted into an actual game of Red Dragon Inn (RDI) when a Gambling round starts – creating a true game within a game experience. Let’s take a look at what’s inside…

What’s inside…

Gambling? I’m in! utilizes a 90 card deck called the “Rogues and Warriors” deck, (R&W for short). It’s made up of 6 sets of 15 cards. Each set includes 1 Warrior, 2 Ladies, 3 Bards, 4 Merchants, and 5 Rogues. These are the cards’ “rank” and the lower the rank the better. (So, a Warrior is more powerful than a Rogue.. duh.) The six sets are divided by animal “suit” and these animals are also divided by color: Hawk, Wolf (red), Owl, Horse (green), and Wren, Hare (blue).

In addition to the deck, are also 3 Dragon cards and 5 Grey cards that are used in a few specific games. The game includes 10 player reference cards. Some of the games also require the use of up to 5 six sided dice. But they aren’t included. If you play the games as a stand alone, players will also need betting chips or other markers. If used as an insert into a game of RDI, players use their characters’ Gold pieces.

The Gambling? I’m in! rule book is titled simply: “Games of Chance,” and that is just what they are. It lists nine different card games that have varying Complexity ratings: four of the games are of Simple complexity, three are of Medium complexity and two are of Complex… um complexity. Each game also lists rules for variants of the same game, so the total listing of all games including variants that could possibly be played is 29! How’s that for value in a box! The variants always include rules for inserting the 3 Dragon cards into the deck and often times includes alternate scoring possibilities.

A Game within a game?

Gambling? I’m in! is amazing as an insert into a session of Red Dragon Inn. There are some special rules for this.

If played as an insert into RDI, when the “betting” rounds would occur, players don’t bet! Instead, they may play one Gambling, Cheating, Sometimes or Anytime cards that would normally be played during the round of Gambling from their character’s hand. Each card’s instructions are followed except that players do not gain control of the gambling round. Play simply resumes after all players have played or passed. But each of the aforementioned Gambling card now has a special effect that the player can utilize:

  • Gambling Cards: Choose one effect: Reroll all your dice OR Replace a card in your hand with the top card from the R&W deck.
  • Cheating Cards: Change the value of one of your dice OR look at the top 3 cards from the R&W deck and replace a card in your hand with one of these cards.
  • Winning Hand Cards: Same as Cheating – but this card is immune to counter-cheat cards.

The Games!

Rogues and Warriors (Simple)
After an ante, players are dealt two cards face-down. After looking at them, there is a betting round. They then choose and reveal one of their cards, then another betting round occurs. Any remaining players reveal their other face-down card and who ever has the highest pair wins. Pairs of Rogues are the lowest rank and pairs of Warriors are the highest. With 15 different possibilities, a ranking chart is included on each player reference card.

Threes (Simple)
In this game only dice are used! The object of Threes is to have the lowest total on 5 dice at the end of the game. Players roll 5 dice, choose one value on one of the dice and add all the dice of that value to their “Keep.” Dice placed in the Keep are not rolled again. A betting round ensues after which, players roll their remaining dice repeating the process above. This continues until all players have 5 dice in their Keep. The player with the lowest total wins. Any 3’s in a player’s Keep are worth no points.

King’s Council (Simple)
In this game, players are dealt 5 cards from the R&W deck. Then the top card from the deck is turned up. This card becomes the “King.” (or Queen if it’s the Lady). Players will look at their hands and try to score the most points by matching several aspects of the King or Queen. After a betting round, players can discard and redraw up to 2 cards. This happens twice, after which players must score their hands: A Card of the same rank scores 2 points. A card of the same color scores 1 point. A card of the same animal type (bird or mammal) scores 1 point. Thus it becomes possible for one card to score in more than one category. Highest scoring hand wins!

Jack of All Trades (Simple)
A worker placement game using cards and dice? That’s just what this is. Players take 5 dice, which represent their “workers,” and roll them. Then the top card is revealed from the R&W deck. This is a “job.” If players have any workers (dice) that match the value of the card (job) they may place the worker on the job. If the players have no workers that match the job, they may place a 6 – or the Jack-of-all-Trades. There is a betting round, then the steps are repeated so there are a total of 4 jobs on the table. The winner is the player with the lowest total on their remaining dice.

Three Kingdoms (Medium)
In this unique game, players try to match the cards in their hand with groups of shared “War Cards” that are dealt face up to the center of the table. Players are dealt 7 cards from the R&W deck. Then 3 cards are turned face up and sorted by rank (The lower the number the higher the rank). These are the War cards and are arranged by color in ascending order of rank. A Betting round occurs, then players may choose and replace up to 2 cards from their hands. 2 more cards are revealed and added to the war cards face up on the table. After another betting round and another chance to discard and redraw, one final War Card is drawn and added to the table. After one final betting round, scoring occurs.

To score a hand in Three Kingdoms, you must first determine the “War Value” of each Kingdom (or color). Take the rarest card’s value (the General) and reduce it by one for each other card of the same color in his army. Players will score 2 points for each color card in their hand that matches the color with the lowest War Value, 1 point for each card that matches the next highest War value, and zero points for each card that matches the highest War value. If two armies have the same War Value then the color with a Warrior becomes the lowest. The player with the highest points wins.

Den of Thieves (Medium)
In this game, players act as inn keepers (ironic?) and try to gather the best scoring hand as possible This game is all about who’s in your inn (hand) after several rounds of drawing and betting. Players are dealt 7 cards. Then there is a betting round. Players get to discard and redraw up to 2 cards. Repeat the draw and betting round and players count their score. Here’s what your looking for…

Each Bard is worth 1 point. Ladies are worth 1 point + one point for each Bard in hand. Merchants are worth more for every Merchant you have. The first Merchant is worth 1 point. Your second and third Merchants are worth 2 points each, fourth and fifth are worth 3 points. Sixth and seventh are worth 4 points each. (Merchants = good!) Warriors kill Rogues. Before scoring, a Warrior in hand can kill up to 2 Rogues in hand. A Warrior is then worth 3 points +1 for each Rogue he kills. Rogues kill other patrons. If not killed, each Rogue will kill another non-Rogue card in your hand. They kill the Merchants first, then Ladies (hey!) then Bards – basically reducing your scoring capabilities. Unless…you declare your hand a “Den of Thieves!” In this case, Warriors become Rogues! Each Warrior or Rogue that does not kill another patron is worth 2 points. Player with the highest score wins!

Den of Thieves also has a great variant using the Dragon cards. If a Dragon shows up in your Inn it will kill all the other patrons, unless you slay the Dragon. To do so, you must have either 2 Warriors, or 4 Rogues, or 1 Warrior and 2 Rogues. Any cards used to slay the Dragon are worth 12 points + other cards in your hands. Two Dragons in hand, both must be slain! If you have three Dragon cards in your hand then you score 19 points. These cards add that extra level of risk and reward that make the game more intense!

Dragon Hordes (Medium)
This is a game of prediction! There are no betting rounds. In this game you bet each turn you know the next cards that will be revealed from the draw deck. First, a set of “Horde” cards are set out (these are the grey cards matching the ranks in the game and the three dragon cards). An initial card draw places money on the Horde cards matching the rank and color of that card. The first player rolls two d6. If a player rolls doubles, they take all the money accumulated on the Dragon cards thus far. If doubles are not rolled, one money piece is placed on the Horde cards matching the numbers rolled. Then that player may pass or make a prediction. The player chooses a color, rank or a color and rank of the next card on the draw deck. The card is flipped, and the player takes money from the Horde card(s) if their prediction was correct in any of these ways. If they are wrong in their prediction, that player must pay that Horde card. The game ends immediately when no Horde card has money on them or when a player rolls doubles and there is no money on the Dragon cards. Player with the most cash wins!

City Square (Complex)
Player have 4 turns to place nine cards into a 3×3 grid of cards and build their “City Square.” Each space in the grid is a district. Up to two cards can be placed in each district and players score points based on the relative position of each card in their City Square. There are specific rules in how a player can place their cards but essentially after 4 rounds of betting and placing 3 cards each round, players score their cities. The scoring seems a bit complicated but basically, each rank represents a specific area of the city: Merchants are “Markets,” Ladies are “Estates,” Warriors are Barracks,” Rogues are “Slums,” and Bards are “Taverns.” Each card (District) scores based on the Districts that are adjacent to it.

Merchant cards (Markets) for example, score only if they are connected to the largest collection of Markets. Non-adjacent Markets don’t score. Ladies (Estates) score 1 point for each unique type of district adjacent to it, and so forth. The placement of he cards is key of course but still dependant on the cards drawn each turn. But just like all the games in this collection, players can fold at any time during a betting round. The player with the highest scoring City after 4 turns is the winner!”

The Wheel (Complex)
In this game, players play cards to a wheel and the cards form the spokes of that wheel. Players will score points at the end of the game depending on if the cards in their hand match the rank of the highest valued “spoke” on the wheel. Cards also score if they match the rank of the two adjacent spokes to the highest valued spoke. The game has a timer as well. Three cards are dealt face down next to the wheel. This is called the “Clock.” After each round, of each player playing a card to the wheel the next card on the Clock is turned over and added to the wheel. After the last betting round and when no more cards remain on the “clock,” hands are revealed and the player with the most points wins.

Components

The art on the cards is classy and not too overbearing. This is positive because each card has several informational icons on them and because these are basically parlor games of chance, its important to be able to read the cards and familiarize yourself with them easily and quickly. So, kudos to Kennon James for the art and Jeff Morrow and Cliff Bohm for the layout and graphics. The rule book well laid out and easy to read.

Final Thoughts

There are two ways to use the Gambling? I’m In!” expansion. As a stand alone these games are just fine. The card art and theme is unique enough to interest most fantasy gamers. And the games themselves are quality – though most center on a draw / discard / count your points system. As stand alone games they have to compete with other card games in the hobby and well – that’s stiff competition.

If you have played Red Dragon Inn (and we hope you have or will very soon!) you are familiar with the “Gambling? I’m in!” rounds. Because losing all one’s Gold in the Inn is a condition for defeat, they have to be taken seriously, and let’s face it, many characters have their own unique ways of interacting with the internal gambling mechanic. (Hello Dimli.) All that said, there are three basic cards that are most prevalent in the game, “Gambling, I’m in!”, “I Raise!” and “Winning Hand.” Since these are the majority of any characters deck (usually up to three of each) some gambling rounds can be… well… lackluster.

In walks Ed and the folks at Slugfest and seeing a possible lull in the normally exciting game play of their best selling game, injects some nitro into the gambling aspect of the experience. Games within games are not easy to pull off. They must be balanced in complexity so as to not distract from the base game. But also be entertaining enough to be worth the effort. This expansion is a perfect fit. The base game play of RDI is easy so there is no chance to “lose ones place” when veering off in another direction. How these two games intersect is even more fun. The use of the character’s Gambling and Cheating cards – endowed with special effects that affect the round – is inspired. Yes, if a player takes the gambling round too seriously (or anything in the RDI series for that matter) then they may get their feathers ruffled. Truly competitive card players may simply want to play the games as a stand-alone or stick with their normal games of Euchre and Pinochle.

Each game must be tried in and out of a round of RDI to be truly appreciated. The more complex of the games (City Square and The Wheel) should probably be avoided unless the players are all familiar with them. The easier games can be learned and played by anyone instantly. This variety and versatility is the mark of a well thought out and wonderfully executed expansion set. Gambling? I’m in! is unique and in a world of expansions, that’s saying a lot. As a game within a game, its stellar, and as a separate entity: 9 stand alone cards games – it can provide hours of enjoyment. Even if you don’t play RDI, pick this up and play as some fun filler games that have that special “medieval” feel. If you do play RDI well, what are you waiting for?

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