Monday, 13 December 2010

Dungeons & Dragons the boardgame

With the cold weather outside, and being up in the loft anyway, I thought I'd bring down my copy of the Dungeons And Dragons boardgame to try with Arabiansquire.

At first glance it looks very similar to one of his favourites - HeroQuest, which is a hook right there. As expected though there are a few more progressions from the simple HQ gameplay towards a D&D dungeon crawl. Picking up new items (weapons, artifacts, spells or potions) is one, although I know that in some HeroQuest levels there are new items to pick up, but not many! There is also a strange nod towards to old RPG call of "Roll for initiative" where the initiative order changes every time someone opens a door. Also there are specialised dice for different functions such as fighting, looking for traps, dis-arming traps, etc. Having different dice is a bit clumsy, but I suppose removes the need for looking up target values for a d20.

One the "advanced" side there is a bit of item management, with each character only being able to hold a small number of items and carry a couple of others in a knapsack. Also there is a nice bit of spell point management, meaning the magic users won't be standing at the back blasting away with magic missile all game. The character types are more defined in a D&D style as well with a Warrior, Cleric, Wizard and Thief.

On the down side (for the adventurers) in the game itself there seem to be considerably more traps to be caught up in (and they are auto-hit) and the monsters can not only do damage (Arabiansquire lost 2 of his party on the first game) but they also have multiple hit points, giving them a bit of resilience.

The sections of dungeon have a similar set-up to the HeroQuest book, but the board tiles give a greater flexibility in the dungeon layout. The dungeons also have a level attributed to them, so that the character starting statistics and equipment change as the dungeon is set at a higher level, so in theory you can play the more difficult levels without having had to play through the whole campaign adventure, which is quite nice.

Overall the game was enjoyable, given that it was a first trial play with a new set of rules. The wee lad was a bit luke warm at the end, but I think that was probably due to half his party being beaten and missing out on a room full of treasure chests. He enjoyed the variety of weapons in the same level, the unusual dice and the more defined roles of the party.


  1. It sounds very old-school, with all those auto-hit traps and multiple character deaths straight out of the dungeon door, and yet it came out in the 3.5 years, when I'd thought D&D had moved past that level of hostility...

  2. To be fair to the game the deaths came mainly due to my son splitting his party. Like in proper D&D, at 1st level even goblins can be deadly!

  3. It has been a while since I played it but I enjoyed this when it came out. The dice were interesting and made it easy to follow the upgrade process. I have been wondering what the new Ravenloft board game is like. I suspect it is a lighter version of D&D 4th ed.