After our somewhat lackluster time with Talisman, we still had about an hour or so left before we had to call it a night. Rick was still in the mood for something “D&D-like,” but I wasn’t up for Descent at that point. I had completely forgotten about the D&D adventure series sitting on my shelf! I grabbed Castle Ravenloft, figuring it would be a good, light, hour-long dungeon-crawling romp. (Wrath of Ashardalon would’ve been another option, but I still haven’t punched anything out of that one, my CR minis are already painted, and I don’t know the rules changes to WoA implements to the system off the top of my head… so that dance-fight was decided right there.)
I picked out the Dracolich mission, as I couldn’t think of anything cooler than taking on an undead dragon. I was Kat the Rogue, as always. Steve the Blonde was the Ranger, and Rick was the Dragonborn Fighter.
I became the weak link early on, getting downed by monsters and traps just a few turns in. I had used up two of our… ahem… three healing surges by my fifth turn or so. We were able to clear out some initial spiders and monsters, but soon we found ourselves facing a skeleton, two gargoyles, and a wraith. The Alarm trap was quite annoying, popping up several extraneous monsters. We also had the something-music environment in play for a while, which made us choose the worse of two baddies every time we drew one. OUCH. The encounters in this game are just awful. We did have some luck in leveling up, as least Steve the Blonde and I did. Rick couldn’t seem to roll above a 7 to save his life tonight, rolling “1”’s on multiple occasions. “Why can’t you roll like that when you’re DM’ing?!”
After regrouping back on the stairs due to an encounter, we revised our “strategy” a bit. We knew the Arcane Circle must be coming up in the tile deck, though we did mis-count due to having drawn several tiles from the bottom of the deck due to… sigh… encounter cards. Steve the Blonde tried exploring the “neglected” passage off the stairway, but he was stymied by a flaming skeleton and then ran away (well, tactically retreated) from a kobold once Rick did draw the Dracolich himself. That thing is nasty. 20 hp of badass. We were lucky and smart enough to avoid his stronger attacks at first. We did have a sound plan, as we placed the Laboratory containing the creatures phylactery quite close to my character. Unfortunately, my character ended up being Immobilized for two turns; I could SEE the damned thing, but couldn’t reach it. Several breath weapons, bites, and lightning bolts later, both Steve and Rick were down, and I was still stuck around the corner, simply hearing the screams of my comrades as the beast tore them to pieces. With lightning. Even with a few cheats and 3 healing surges, we didn’t get more than 2 hp off the Dracolich before being utterly defeated.
Man, as holey and fiddly as the rules are to this game, and as random and unfairly difficult as it can be, this game definitely has a FUN factor to it. Even around midnight, I was tempted to just reset the game and play solo (kawa wookie!) to have another crack at it. It’s not as elegant or polished as Descent, but it does have a lot of the same elements. It is FAR quicker to play, learn, and set-up, and the programmed monsters means that no one has to be the odd-man out as the OL. I think that Descent is a better game overall, for sure, but if I just want to open a box and play a quick dungeon crawl without thinking too much… WotC really hit the mark here, even with their crappy rules, second-rate story, and random random random play. And the minis, while different and overall not as well-sculpted imo as Descent, are still super-cool. Even when the Dracolich was off the board, Steve the Blonde was looking over at it saying, “Man, that thing is SCARY.” Uh-yuh!
Rick was a bit down at his Dragonborn fighter sucking so badly. Indeed, I was surprised at his lack of abilities causing more than one damage, and his support ability didn’t seem to help us much, though I will say we did “go it alone” more than we should have, especially me. I did notice upon clean-up last night there were several other ability cards that Rick probably could and should have chosen to do more damage. Also, if he could have rolled maybe more than ONE success all game, that might have changed his opinion. Hey, it doesn’t matter what your skills are if you continually roll fuck-all-bullshit. Still, the lack of ranged attacks is brutal for him, as it limits his tactics quite a bit. Steve’s character was pretty awesome, I will say.
2 ranged attacks, exploring from a non-edge space, running attacks. Very cool. My rogue kind of let me down. I really should have kept my distance from the monsters and focused on exploring and supporting the warriors. I think I have an overly inflated sense of rogue survival abilities in close combat. This might be due to my initial play of the game years ago, when I continually used Kat to chase after Steve the Bald’s wander-lusting character, saving him from peril at every turn as he continually strayed from the group. I seem to recall more damage-y attacks with the Rogue, but I guess the haunting melody bringing out the more powerful monsters did impede our ability to one-hit kill most things.
As I said before, this is not the most elegant or polished game, but where it fails in style and elegance, it hits the mark in the overall fun and “one more game” categories. (For my full review: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/615391/cobra-kai-inspired-review) I definitely want to play this again, and soon.