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Under the Shadow of the Dragon» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Hmm, didn't quite work as a stand-alone... rss

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Craig Andrews
Wales
Bristol
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Hello All,

Yesterday, in the absence of any Bank Holiday Monday sun, me and my gaming group (my girlfriend) decided to give Under the Shadow of the Dragon a go as we had a great time playing Return of the Heroes (RotH) the day before.

We decided to play it as a stand alone as we thought this might work a bit faster than RotH as it said it was for two players. As the game mechanics are basically the same we quickly set things up and chose our starting characters, I played the Orc and Em's played the Paladin.

We launched into the game with gusto and did indeed find it a lot faster, however we did hit a few small problems along the way. And then one big one.

First of all the small ones; the Paladin is absurdly overpowered in my honest opinion, so much so I want to play it now in every game I play. Having said this I have only played/seen played the Mage and Elf (from RotH) and the Orc, but the ability to heal was of huge benefit to Em's. My Orc's ability was rubbish as what with the Dragon relieving you of three experience counters (ECs), the cursed Doppleganger who takes ECs instead of life and the training being replaced with Cerebrus ability to swap EC's for higher stats, I held onto them as they were indeed a precious commodity.

Secondly we didn't realise that certain locations had special entry requirements as these rules were tucked away in the glossary at the back. We have however learnt our lesson and realise that before playing any of the RotH games/expansions you need to fully read the rules including the glossary before you begin play.

Now then, on to the biggest problem we found; the gameplay was really fast and we burned through loads of tasks and were left with precious little to do. We were forced to trail the countryside fighting the same two defeatable monsters (skeletons & basilisk) in a bid to get more tokens out of the bag in an attempt to start one of the three magic weapon quests. This was a bit tiresome but okay as the Scorpion came out evetually (and all his sub quests had been placed already) so off I went to slay the Scorpion, only to defeat a skeleton on the way and have the Dragon Event card, Fear come out. This made loads of tiles on the board 'flee' into the bag, including the Scorpion. This meant that we were reduced to fighting the same monsters again and again to get more tiles out which became tiresome very quickly, and at one point there were no monsters, just tiles relating to other quests that could not be started as the three magical monsters were not in play. At this point a "magic all seeing eye" (me) got the required tokens out of the bag and put them on thier correct places on the board enabling us to complete the magic quests.

From this point on the end game was brilliant, as me and Em's were both powerful running around the board trying to complete our quests and take on the Dragon. Sadly my ability to move 1 square more each turn didn't help as I had to go all the way home to heal whereas the Paladin stopped outside the Dragon's cave to heal then stormed in killing the Dragon Man and the Dragon itself. Our fun in the last 15 minutes probably saved this game from being condemned to the 'overflow' games cupboard (the inaccesible dark recess in the loft).

We may have got it wrong and the game probably functions really well as an expansion but as a stand alone it definitely needs a bit of work as there seems to be too few monsters (poor monsters without gold too!).

I hope this helps and also wondered if anyone had a better explanation of the Dragon Event, Fear ?

Craig

 
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Werner Bär
Germany
Karlsruhe
Baden
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I usually play with two small modifications, and it works well:
1. The starting monsters for the quests start on the map
2. Remove the dragon event "Fear" from the game

I played a game against my nephew (8 years) a few days ago. He won with the Orc against my Paladin. Early in the game, his melee ability of 6 is a nice advantage (i needed much longer to gain 2 experience cubes in a skill), and his movement ability of 4 was another big boon. He beat me by about 4-5 turns, although we (should say: i) completely forgot about the extra move ability of his camel.

If you're accustomed to Return of the Heroes, note that the dragons are weaker than the Nameless Ones, so you don't need to power up that much. My nephew trained once, had the weapon from the Yeti, 4 dice, and killed the dragon without any problems.
 
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Greg Nichols
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Werbaer wrote:
I usually play with two small modifications, and it works well:
1. The starting monsters for the quests start on the map
2. Remove the dragon event "Fear" from the game


Number 2 cited above is crucial to making this game fun. Even the designer has stated that after many plays, he believes the Dragon Fear token to be an error in the system and that it shouldn't be used.

Another thing about bringing out tokens from the bag is to make sure that:

1) You don't put the thing you killed into the bag until AFTER you pull a new token.

2) That you bring tokens out of the bag at every opportunity that the game affords you and not just when you slay a monster.

The boards in this game are very cleverly laid out and you mentioned the requirements for entry or for exit as being missed initially. That's definitely important as you need to know how the desert board works as well as the Labyrinth.

I find this game very tight. Though the area is smaller, it forces you into encounters where the larger game allows you a lot of wiggle room to avoid things. Characters came very close to dying for the first 1/3 of the game and needed to visit either home or the Seer character a couple of times to heal up until they reached a certain strength threshold. I like this game and I think it makes a good two player game. Unfortunately, it will grow stale after maybe a dozen plays because the tokens are limited and some repetition will begin to erode a player's enjoyment. But there's always meshing it into the larger game...
 
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