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D&D: Wrath of Ashardalon
List Price: $64.99
Your Price: $51.99
(Worth 5,199 Funagain Points!)
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A cooperative game of adventure for 1–5 players set in the world of Dungeons & Dragons.
A heavy shadow falls across the land, cast by a dark spire that belches smoke and oozes fiery lava. A cave mouth leads to a maze of tunnels and chambers, and deep within this monster-infested labyrinth lurks the most terrifying creature of all: a red dragon!
Designed for 1–5 players, this boardgame features multiple scenarios, challenging quests, and cooperative game play.
- 42 plastic heroes and monsters
- 13 sheets of interlocking cardstock dungeon tiles
- 200 encounter cards and treasure cards
- Scenario book
- 20-sided die
Average Rating: 4 in 1 review
The Wrath of Ashardalon is the second of three D and D cooperative adventure games. In short, it is a simple, brutal dungeon crawl that can be played solo or cooperatively.
First, I would like to talk about the components, which are top notch by the way.
The game includes several tokens, cards, dungeon tiles, and miniatures, all of which are of excellent quality. The miniatures, while not painted, are very detailed (especially Ashardalon himself, the hulking red dragon).
The dungeon tiles are on thick stock, and they feel very sturdy. I also like the fact that they are put together like puzzle pieces with notches, so they don't slide away from eachother while you play the game.
You begin this game by picking one of five characters (fighter, paladin, rogue, cleric, wizard). You then acquire that character's character card, which provides you with options regarding what kinds of powers that player can use (daily, at-will, utility...you know, D and D 4th edition stuff). After this is done, you choose a scenario (out of 12 options in the book) or you can make your own if you want.
From there the game plays out in a series of phases, which include moving your character, revealing new dungeon tiles as you progress deeper into the dungeon, revealing event cards (which usually mean something bad happens to your heroes), reveal monsters, and then control the monsters via monster tactics displayed on that monster's card. This game is different from other dungeon crawlers, like Descent, because each player controls the monsters that came out on his/her turn by following given tactics. This means it is you versus the game, rather than versus an overlord or dungeon master.
Combat is simple, using only a D20 and your various powers (daily powers can only be used once per game). As you battle monsters you gain experience, which is used to either thwart events or level your character up to 2nd level, which provides a few more perks for your character.
The game is frantic as you are constantly being bombarded with events, traps and monsters each turn as you progress towards your goal, whatever that may be.
If a character dies then you have the option of using Healing Surges (2 per game for the entire party to use). If you are out of Healing Surges and you die, well--you're dead.
Games usually last for about 60 minutes, so there is not a lot of time investment here, unless you decide to go on the Ashardalon campaign, which is a series of scenarios leading to the final battle with the red dragon himself. And let me tell you, he's pretty tough.
Overall, this is a very fun cooperative game. It utilizes light D and D elements, taking from 4th Edition, which, in my opinion, works better for a board game than an RPG.
This game does not feel like an RPG, however, I don't think it is trying to be one. It almost feels like a Roguelike board game (just get rid of the Healing Surges and that's basically what it is).
So what's my major gripe for Wrath of Ashardalon?
It left me wanting more in the character department. I love the choices, and I love the customization as far as powers go, but there is little to no sense of progression. Yes you can obtain items throughout your adventure, which is a nice touch, and yes you can reach level two, but everything feels very restricted, and there is no level three, or level four, or level anything after two. It's a glaring flaw when compared to games such as Descent and the new Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords.
Still, for what it is, this is a very high quality game that I recommend to any dungeon crawler fan, just don't expect to feel very invested in your adventure or in your characters.
If you are looking for that investment then I recommend Pathfinder Adventure Card Game and/or Descent.
Even with these negatives, however, I do feel this game deserves a 4 out of 5 because it is still a very fun and rewarding experience.
4D20 out of 5D20.