Why Wrath of Ashardalon?

WhyWrathOfAshardalonWhy Wrath of Ashardalon?
It’s the second of the Dungeons and Dragons board game collection modeled after its role playing cousin.  After three and half years, here are a few words and review.

Why did I buy it?
After enjoying Castle Ravenloft, I wanted more.  Being a sucker for the D&D franchise, it wasn’t a difficult decision to pick up the sequel.  Hearing that they cleaned up the rules and made a few exciting tweaks, it was quickly added to the collection.

Describe what’s different, thematically
The dungeon exploration is underneath a volcano and your villain is the red dragon, Ashardalon.  Otherwise, its a new group of five heroes banding together to fight evil in Firestorm Peak.

Describe what’s different, mechanically
Still faithful to player phases, the game offers new ideas such as doors, new types of tiles, and non player characters (NPC) with its own AI.  Of course, it has new sets of monsters, villains, and fresh encounter and treasure cards.

What’s the best part of the game?
With better treasure, somewhat kinder encounter cards, and a rules FAQ, Wrath of Ashardalon is a breath of fresher air and little more optimistic than Castle Ravenloft.  The NPCs are a smart addition giving the game more depth.

What’s the worst part of the game?
The game cleared some of the ambiguous rules from Castle Ravenloft.  It also added new ones.  Even their FAQ couldn’t settle some questions like what will it take to defeat an Engraged Rage Drake.   While the game is more generous with treasure, it makes up with more monsters.  You’ll discover a new monster mechanic, the Legion Devil’s , that spawns 3 at the time.  Many other monsters will daze or poison you making it a challenge making through the tiles to your final destination.   In short, its more frustrating than Castle Ravenloft.

Enough! Is it fun?
The game gets a subdued approval.  Only if you’re into the Dungeons and Dragons board games, will you enjoy it.  And you’ll enjoy the variety; a new set of heroes to experiment, new adventures, and new mechanics.

Replay value?
Medium.  If I had to choose one box it wouldn’t be this one.  Honestly, it would rank fourth of four.   That doesn’t mean its a bad game.  Castle Ravenloft has nostalgia that Ashardalon just doesn’t carry with me.  Legend of Drizzt and Temple of Elemental Evil are boxes of surprises.  After having winning sessions with the other three, I come back to Wrath of Ashardalon sometimes to see if I can find a winning strategy.  I have little luck with that.

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