Review: The Legend of Drizz’t board game

Sections: Reviews, Role-Playing, Strategy, Tabletop

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TitleThe Legend of Drizz’t Board Game
Price: $64.99
Release Date: October 2011
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Recommended Age:12 and up
Playing Time: 1 to 3 hours (depends on scenario)
Pros:  Random games, fast pace and great miniatures.
Cons: Noncompetitive (mostly) and too-familiar rules.
Overall Score: One thumb up; 80/100; B-; * * * 1/2 out of 5.

The Legend of Drizz’t Board Game is the latest adventure board game from Wizards of the Coast (WotC), the third in the series. Much like Wrath of Ashardalon and Castle Ravenloft, it’s not really fair to call this a board game as it’s really a rules-light version of Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). No Dungeon Master is required. Instead, players (from one to five, and the game plays fine solo) pick a quest from an adventure book and explore a randomly built dungeon. Monsters spawn and attack based on clearly defined rules, although the players move the monsters around and roll dice for them.

Drizz’t is an iconic D&D character, a good-natured ranger that kicks serious butt while wielding a pair of brutal magical scimitars. The book series, starting with Homeland in 1990, is almost certainly R.A. Salvatore’s finest work as an author, although nowadays he’s writing for computer games like Kingdoms of Amalur. This board game covers many of Drizz’t’s finest adventures from the books and a player can take the role of Drizz’t or other characters including Bruenor and Catti-brie.

Administering beats on beasts

The game is very fast paced. A typical player turn is to move his character to an edge of an unexplored dungeon tile and explore. This reveals a new tile, and, often, a monster. The player then takes control of the monster, usually using it to attack his own character (even in multiplayer games, as monsters usually attack the closest, and the character who just explored will usually be the closest). The next player generally crushes the monster – most die in a hit – and then explores, bringing in another monster. As monsters get slaughtered, group experience is gained.

There’s a slight role-playing element here as characters can advance from level 1 all the way up to level 2 (!), but otherwise experience points are usually cashed in to negate Event cards.

Event cards are what keeps the game moving. If a player doesn’t explore on his turn, an “Event” card is drawn. These are usually bad news, causing damage to one or more characters, often more damage than a monster would cause. If a character is brought to zero hit points and can’t be healed, it’s game over. Healing is quite limited in the game, so you generally want to avoid drawing Event cards whenever you can.

Most adventures come to an end after ten or so random tiles are drawn, with usually some special rule for ending the adventure, like “reach the stairs out” or “grab the crown.” Games are generally tight, with few easy wins and many close calls where one or two more turns would be the death of the players.

The components are awesome, the artwork is sweet and key rules are easy to find. The miniatures, while unpainted and the same sculpts as from the out-of-print Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures game, are nice, almost excessively so. You get 42 of them but monsters get bashed into the ground so fast it makes Whack-a-Mole seem as sedate as Chess by comparison.

I have not had this feeling since…

While The Legend of Drizz’t is very solid, it’s also little different than the other games in the series. While some might view this as a bonus, since you can interchange characters from one game to the other with ease (although there’s a bit of power creep as each game comes out), I really want some new rules with my new games. At least the miniatures readily adapt to my tabletop D&D campaign. I can always use more trolls, and I’ll find a use for the balor (pictured) eventually.

This leads to my other issue: These games are great for solitaire but they feel like solitaire games even when you’re playing with friends. You move, you play a monster, you attack yourself, then the next player repeats the process. As I see it, since this series uses basically D&D rules, if you’ve got a group over, you may as well play D&D.

If you love the other games in the series and play them often, you’ll love this one as well, and if you didn’t like the others, you might still want to get this game for the figures – 42 figures for $65 is a pretty good deal, even unpainted (the painted balor, for example, sells for $30 on E-bay).

Product Page [Wizards] Read [BoardGameGeek]

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