#oneaday Day 906: Drizzle Bizzle

I recently acquired a copy of one of the Dungeons & Dragons boardgames: The Legend of Drizzt, a game based on everyone’s favourite Dark Elf and the one character from D&D lore that most people can remember.

I’ve given the game a couple of goes so far — twice solo and once with Andie. I’ll be playing it with a larger group next week, all being well, too.

If you’ve not seen the game before, here’s the deal. It’s not really a conventional dungeon crawler in the mould of Hero Quest and its various expansions and sequels. It is, however, a challenging cooperative game that I anticipate will require at least a small degree of working together to survive.

Basically the flow of play goes like this. Each hero may move and attack, attack and move or move twice on their turn. If they end their turn on the edge of a dungeon tile, a new one is drawn and a monster appears on the tile more often than not. Some tiles also cause an “encounter” to occur, which more often than not is detrimental to the players. After that, any monsters that the current player “controls” (i.e. revealed on their turn) make their moves and attacks according to the logic on their cards, then play passes to the next player and continues until either the players have completed the objective for their chosen quest or a single hero is defeated without any remaining “healing surges” to restore them.

Combat uses a loose interpretation of D&D 4th Edition’s “Powers”-based system. Each character has a hand of “Powers” to use when they attack — some are “At Will”, meaning they may always be used, some are “Daily” meaning they may only be used once, and some are “Utility”, some of which may only be used once and others of which provide supporting abilities. Combat results are determined by dice rolls with bonuses according to the Power chosen — some have a greater chance to hit, some hit more monsters simultaneously and some do more damage.

It’s a simple, elegant system that keeps the game flowing well at a good pace. It captures the feel of D&D 4e’s excellent combat system without getting bogged down in scenario design — or the requirement to have a human “dungeon master”. And it’s considerably more accessible to non roleplayers than even a basic D&D module. At the same time, it doesn’t have the complexity of a lot of dungeon crawlers, doesn’t take nearly as long to play and encourages cooperation between players.

I’ll be very interested to see what the dynamic is like with more people as I feel it has a lot of potential. As a cooperative game, it looks set to have plenty of the usual brutal difficulty factor without the Byzantine rules of a title like Arkham Horror — much as I love the ol’ Lovecraft-em-up, I think pretty much every time we’ve played we’ve forgotten at least one rule.

It also comes in an absolutely humongous box and is packed with cool figures and lots and lots of cardboard tokens of various kinds. It’s a veritable nerdgasm to open up that box, and closing it makes the best “box fart” I’ve heard for a long time. So kudos for that.

I’ll offer a full report on the game following our play session next Tuesday; for now rest assured that if you’re the slightest but interested in low-maintenance dungeon crawling and monster bashing, you could certainly do far worse than check out any of the three D&D Adventures games.

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Pete Davison

Southampton-based music teacher, writer and enthusiast of Japanese popular culture.

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