As promised at some point in the near past, we got to play The Legend of Drizzt as a larger group tonight, and it was fun.
The thing with a lot of dungeon-crawlers is that they often take a long time to set up, a long time to play and only tend to become especially rewarding if you have a group of players who can commit to a long-term campaign with player characters gradually increasing in strength through acquired treasures and levelling up.
The thing with The Legend of Drizzt is that it ignores all that, creating an experience very friendly to a board game group more normally accustomed to self-contained experiences. Each adventure in the Legend of Drizzt book is playable within an hour or two (less if you mess up particularly badly!) and is constantly moving forward thanks to mechanics that minimise “downtime” and help prevent the age-old Advanced Heroquest problem of a randomly-generated dungeon becoming so sprawling it covers the entire table.
Play is much more strategic than I was expecting, too. With multiple players, positioning and turn order becomes much more important as you carefully consider how to tackle the situations you face. Do you kill every monster you come across? Do you spread out and push “forward” in as many directions as possible or focus your efforts? When victory is in sight, do you race for the goal or play it safe?
The high level of difficulty in the game helps matters enormously. Because it’s highly likely you’ll get to each scenario’s “endgame” with a sliver of health and a selection of depleted abilities, securing victory becomes a matter of making some very difficult choices as a team and determining whether or not taking big risks is going to pay off. In the case of the adventure we played this evening, we scraped victory by the narrowest of margins — one of our number was down for the count, and if the turns had come around to him one more time, we would have lost with the finish line in sight. Fortunately, we prevailed.
I’m very pleased with how the play session went this evening and look forward to playing it again in the near future. It’s a great game that I can highly recommend to anyone who enjoys the dungeon-crawling experience but who doesn’t have the time (or inclination) to commit to a lengthy campaign. I’m curious to try the other two games in the series — Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon — and see how it’s possible to link the games’ various components together, as the core system seems very much designed to be expanded and experimented with.
For now, though, bed, and dreams of being able to play games with friends on a more regular basis in the near future…