1-5 players, Cooperative/Competitive, Quest-Based, Exploration
Designer: Peter Lee
Artwork: Jason Engle, Steve Prescott
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Overview of Gameplay
So playing this game you whip open the adventure guide and start at the beginning. It gives you detailed instructions on how to set up the game playing area. For every adventure you basically lay down the starting tile and put your player mini on it. Set up the three decks of cards to the side, the Encounter, Monster and Treasure decks and the stack of facedown dungeon tiles go to the side as well. As you adventure you move/attack, reveal new tiles and lock them into place on existing tiles, draw encounter cards and monster cards, battle and collect treasure! It’s all rather simple actually. The gameplay itself is always the same, the different flavor you get with each game really resides in the different stories you choose to play.
The game is set up to be played from story 1 then 2 then 3 and so on. The very first story is a solo adventure with you playing as Drizzt himself trying to escape the underdark. This is meant to be more of a tutorial adventure to kinda show you the ropes. Not only that but it is really fun! As you progress in the adventures that the game has included, more cards are unlocked that you can add to your characters starting hand of ability cards. These cards basically make up your specific characters abilities and weapons they normally use in the books. For example Drizzt utilizes Twinkle and Icingdeath as his main 2 weapons plus a fat batch of other ability cards that you can utilize. There are more cards for each character that they can take on a single journey so you can mix and match depending on what abilities would benefit the group more or what would benefit you more. The included adventures are mostly cooperative from 1-5 players but they mix it up a tad and have a couple competitive adventures in there as well so you get a nice mix of playstyles.
As far as components are concerned they are all a pretty high quality. The minis look great however the plastic they used to mold them is pretty flimsy and there are a few that are bent in weird positions. Not a deal breaker for me though. I mean I am a HUGE fan of the source material they used for the game so just having a mini of Drizzt and team is amazing and they are begging to be painted. The tokens are a thicker cardboard and the game board pieces are all of a high quality thick cardboard. The cards they use are of a decent quality as well, somewhere in the middle.
The game board is made up of interlocking tile pieces that all connect together as you travel around. These are pretty cool and are interesting in the fact that so much can be done with them, especially concerning replayability (which I’ll get into more later).
The box has an insert so you can store everything but there is still about 2 inches of space left in the box for storage….which isn’t exactly a great thing. When stored on its side the cards and some components will spill out of the insert and mix up making a small mess of things. If stored lying flat then it’s not a problem. However, as it stands this basically defeats the purpose of having a nice organizer if everything becomes unorganized as soon as you store the game on a shelf.
Visual Appeal /Theme
The artwork is outstanding and I would expect no less coming from the source material. I think even those who have no interest in Drizzt and the like can still appreciate that. That said, the theme is HIGHLY targeted toward those who are familiar with Drizzt. Fans of the source material will understand more of the stuff going on in this game such as the names of weapons and enemies alike. The playable characters are all in the Legend of Drizzt books and familiar to those who have read them, so players who have not will more than likely not get as much a thrill out of seeing them. For me this game is a real treat as I adore the Legend of Drizzt books so getting to play as Drizzt using his famous weapons is just magical.
The game comes with 2 booklets, one instruction manual and one adventure guide. I have to say the instructions are fairly easy to learn and pick up. Also the game comes with those handy dandy reference cards you can keep next to you showing the steps you can take on your turn. Those help tremendously when learning the game. The adventure guide has all the adventures you can partake in during your games with setup and story bits.
Player Interaction/Fun Factor
As far as the fun factor goes I did have a lot of fun playing the couple solo games but I could sense the fun was lagging big time the second solo game I played. The 2 player games were kind of the same. However the 4 player game I played was a blast and I feel like those will always be fun. I think it is due to the vast difference of each character and what each brings to the party. If playing as just Drizzt for example you just see him and have to take care of everything yourself. But playing as Drizzt and having others play as Wulfgar, Regis, Bruneor or Cattie Bre and seeing all the abilities coming out while taking down hordes of enemies, well something about that just oozes excitement. It can be said that you could technically play this game solo and just play multiple characters and indeed the very first adventure is solo. However you would be missing out on that awesome table talk strategizing on how you want to handle situations.
Playing with more players does include a ton of player interaction as well. As more and more enemies start popping up you will want to discuss how could get to them the fastest and what powers they have available to use and the most efficient way of taking them down. On top of that the other things that could be going on such as who might be able to get to a chest to collect the loot hidden inside.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
I mentioned this above a bit but I think 4 player is the best way to play. Not that much downtime and the player interaction is a blast with all the different characters bringing all their different abilities to the party.
Replayability is decent with just the base game. There are a number of stories you can play that are interesting and follow the books pretty well utilizing the proper miniatures. Once you get through all the adventures it just more of the same going forward though. Which leads me to where the game truly gets the replayability….the game is part of a larger system of games that can be combined. So you can play this game just fine by itself but there are like 4 more Dungeon and Dragons board games of this style that can be purchased and those pieces and tiles and minis can be combined to form a much larger dungeon experience. Now granted you don’t get all this with just the base game BUT each game can be played individually focusing on a specific segment of the overall Dungeons and Dragons universe and also combined to incorporate everything.
Positive Final Thoughts
So if you are a Drizzt fan then I HIGHLY recommend this one. The theme is excellent and the game play is pretty good if not a bit simple. The fact that it can be combined with other games is pretty awesome and adds to its life. It’s really easy to learn and play and I highly recommend it with more players.
Negative Final Thoughts
The gameplay itself can get fairly repetitious after a bit which lures you into buying the other games to add more elements to it. The miniature quality is only so-so and the insert is good BUT spills everywhere when the box is stored on its side.