A buddy and I picked up RDI at Gen Con 2008. He picked up RDI 1, and I went for RDI 2. Back then it was the "best game we randomly decided to play." Nowadays it is a staple of our gaming group. Needless to say, WE LOVE IT. We often combine RDI 1 and 2, but if we're going to play only one box (on the rare occasion we have four or less players who want to play) we usually default to RDI 2.
The premise is simple. Drink everyone else under the table and still have money to pick up the tab. This is accomplished by gambling, spiking already potent drinks, stealing gold from people, and making Gog angry. Basically, you begin the game with your alcohol at 0 and your fortitude at 20. As you drink more, your alcohol naturally increases. As you get into bar brawls, dance with Gog, or other assorted mishaps happen to you, your fortitude drops. When your alcohol equals your fortitude, you're out. The other method of losing is by losing all your gold, whether to gambling or having some seductive illusionist steal it from you, you like your gold.
The game comes with four decks, each one representing a different character. The first RDI comes with the classic RPG archetypes, fighter, rogue, priest, and wizard. RDI 2 spices things up with a more...interesting bunch.
(image uploaded by crobledo)
You have an illusionist, a dwarf (yay race as class!), the bard, and the half-ogre. Each deck has a different playstyle so if you should get bored play musical decks and see what entertainment happens.
When I first played this game I think I walked away with tears in my eyes from all the laughing I was doing. Every card has an amusing title, "Dance with Gog?" that leads to an interesting and linked effect, (lose 4 fortitude if Gog dances with you...) We have house ruled it where you actually read the card's title as you play it, and found it's entirely possible to have entire conversations just using the cards. It's hilarious to us. Geek references abound, humor left and right, absolutely fantastic. Plus getting a chain of "I don't think so" is very amusing as well.
Speed of Play
This is the perfect light weight game to me. A wee bit of double think to figure out if someone is gunning for your coins or your liver and a lot of card slamming fun. I never find this game suffers from AP ever largely because no matter what you do your character is going to get more and more drunk as the game goes on.
Variety of Play
With four different decks there is quite a bit of things to see and learn in the game. Each deck plays very different as well. Eve, as every good illusionist should, is more about controlling the state of the game. Dimli, like every good dwarf, is all about getting gold, proving how hardy you are, and holding your liquor. Fleck, like any good bard, is constantly singing the praises of the party...and raking in the gold hand over fist. Gog, like any good half-ogre, ...erm...well...what are half-ogres good at? Or yes...smashing things. There is definitely a wide range of play styles to be find here. In our group everyone tends to gravitate towards a favorite (Gog is very popular but rarely wins) but no one is really opposed to playing any one person.
As strange as it sounds, with four unique decks, this game is pretty balanced. One game one strategy will win, and then another game that same strategy will fail miserably. Now keep in mind, this is not GO, or Chess, or Checkers. All things are not equal and the human element will create impromptu alliances to beat someone into a bloody pulp. What I'm saying is that no one character has a distinct advantage and there is no one "best" character.
The Gut-Rotting Bad
It is the nature of the beast, but someone will be out long before the game is done. And to me, this is a game like golf or bass fishing, much more fun to play than to watch.
The Poorly Mixed
Gambling is, in my opinion, strange. It breaks the flow of the game a wee bit, can be tactically disadvantageous, and tends to paint a giant target on the head of the winner. They are making gambling more interesting in an expansion and we shall see if that accomplishes what we want it to.
I have a hard time recommending this game to little folks because, well, let's be honest, it's a drinking game. In my group, not a problem at all. However it would be less than ideal for many other groups.
Seeing as how this game tends to hit the game with actual beverages...I recommend lamination and sleeves.
I firmly believe Red Dragon Inn, is one of the best games you aren't playing. Red Dragon Inn 2 is more interesting to me because the characters are more diverse and the drinks themselves are more interesting. I absolutely love the game and find iti hits the table over and over and over again. Slugfest has plans to continue expanding the game, (RDI 3 is in the works along with the gambling expansion) and I hope the quality is maintained. In the meantime, cheers and bottoms up! Hope to see you at the Red Dragon Inn!
This is a game that should be a must buy! We play with both games constantly. Definitely one of the best games I have ever played.