A few weeks ago I received a review copy of the "Legend of Drizzt" board game. I had been anticipating the release of this game for awhile since it sounded really captivating and I had not had a chance to play any of the other Dungeons & Dragons board games yet. I wanted to share with you my gaming group’s experience with this new release.
First off, there were mixed reports from my group after running through our first session. I and one of the other players really enjoyed the game and definitely want to add it to our rotation of board games – which we play when not enough people are available for D&D. A third memeber of our group liked "Legend of Drizzt", but was not as thrilled with at as we were. Another player had said that they did not have enough experience with it after only playing one game to decide how they felt about it; since all of the missions are different, a player may like one mission and dislike another. The final person did not enjoy the game at all. However, they conceded that they were having a bad day, had worked through lunch, was having computer issues, and – because of these factors – may not have enjoyed anything that we had decided to play. This player wants to give "Legend of Drizzt" another chance when they are in a better mood. So, to recap, most of our group likes the game to differing degrees, one was undecided, and the last one is not sure whether they did not like "Legend of Drizzt" or the world in general that day.
The miniatures are, in my opinion, the best and worst aspect of the game. The minis are high quality, intricately detailed, durable plastic that should last a long time before showing wear (unless your pet worg gets a hold of them). However, they are also solid colored. I realize that prepainted miniatures could increase the price of the game, but I think that many D&D players have come to expect that offical minis are pre-painted. That being said, they are color-coded by type (i.e. all player characters are blue) making it easy to locate the mini that you are looking for quickly, if you know the color for that type.
The dungeon tiles, as with the rest of the materials, are high-quality and likely to last a long time. Besides the intended purpose of using the tiles with this game, I could definitely see builiding your own dungeon maps with them. Likewise, the miniatures could be used in your normal game if you need another drow elf, swarm of spiders, etc.. So, not only is this a great game on its own, but you can use it to extend your own Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
The variability of the game makes it infiinitely replayable. Besides having a number of missions, the randomness of dungeon tiles drawn, where they are placed, what monsters randomly appear on them, what treasure is found, etc. make every adventure different. Compounding these possibilities is the fact that there are five characters to choose from, so you could have different abilities from game to game.
The rules are pretty simple and straight-forward allowing people new to D&D to jump in quickly. For instance, instead of rolling for damage, each PC and monster do a set amount each time (typically 1 or 2 points). While this does remove a lot of randomness from the game, it means that players do not need a variety of dice, knowledge of the standard game, and sessions go quicker due to less rolling.
There was only One mechanic of the game that I felt was problematic. There are many instances where monsters will attack the closest character (this makes sense logically and logistically), and there are other monsters that attack the character with the lowest number of hit points. Taken together, the player that discovers a new monster may quickly drop down to the lowest number of hit point, provoking other attacks in the future, creating a spiral effect. This did actually happen to one of the characters.
I have not had a chance to play the solo version of the game, but I had wished that Wizards of the Coast would release a new single-player D&D system for years. I have a single-player module from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition titled "Midnight on Dagger Alley" (MV1) that I played a lot in junior high school. None of my friends at the time were into D&D so all of my adventuring had to be solo. Since I had not encountered any solo products since then, I have lamented often during the years that today’s young nerds cannot easily play D&D by themselves. "Legend of Drizzt" fills this role and ensures that a new generation of geeks with non-geek friends can still enjoy Dungeons & Dragons. Also, they rest of us can now play D&D if – gods forbid – game night is cancelled.
In summary, "Legend of Drizzt" is very replayable game. It allows players new to the game – or D&D in general – to quickly learn to play. And its resources can be used in standard Dungeons & Dragons campaigns since the scale is the same. I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting to introduce their board-gaming friends to D&D (or friends trying to introduce their D&D-playing friends to board games ), fans of R. A. Salvatore’s writings, or anyone looking for a new game to play.