Patrick Reynolds
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My wife and I sat down to try out my shiny new copy of Castle Ravenloft tonight. We played the first multiplayer scenario, a quest to find the Icon of Ravenloft. She chose the Dwarf Cleric and I played the Dragonborn Fighter.

The game started out okay. We advanced and explored a couple of tiles, battling a wraith and a skeleton. We were quickly cut off from exploration in one direction when Encounter cards put three nasty traps in our way. So we decided to both head in the other direction and hope for the best.

Unfortunately, the dungeon had other plans. As we laid tiles from exploration, it quickly became apparent that we were in a long, winding hallway with no branches. There was always only one open end leading forward, and my fighter was hanging back to deal with monsters, leaving the exploration to the Cleric. Also, we had a nasty environment effect in play that caused the active Hero to take 1 damage whenever he ended his activation on the same tile as another Hero.

Our slow progress was taking a toll. For every turn that I didn't reveal a new tile, we had to play an Encounter card, and this lead to direct damage and more lethal traps. We were also unlucky in tiles, with almost all of them also requiring an Encounter card in addition to the requisite new monster.

As we moved further into the seemingly never-ending passageway, my Fighter took a devastating round of attacks from a pair of traps and a pair of monsters - a skeleton and rat swarm - and fell.

Meanwhile, the Cleric was hanging tough, but his Healing Strike was barely keeping him alive as he faced down an attacking wolf and kobold, as well as a second rat swarm.

We decided to try to regroup as best as we could, being mindful of staying just one tile away from each other to avoid the damage from the environment effect. A pair of spiders showed up and tried to kill the Cleric, but my Fighter stepped in thanks to a Utility ability called Bodyguard, that forced a miss result and swapped the Fighter with the Cleric. Unfortunately, a crossbow trap put a bolt into the Dwarf and he dropped.

With no Healing Surges left and still no sign of the Chapel containing the Icon, we trudged forward and had a bit of luck - a treasure card let my Fighter instantly level up, replenishing his HP and making him quite a bit sturdier. Now he took the lead, soaking up damage and keeping the Cleric protected as much as possible.

Alas, it was to no avail. A combination of traps and monsters overwhelmed our Heroic team before they even caught sight of their goal.

Considering the outcome of this game, I'm forced to admit that there is one aspect of this game that I'm not sure I like. While it is a co-operative game, it certainly does everything it can to ensure that the Heroes split up and stay away from each other a lot. There are so many traps and monster attacks that hit every Hero on the same tile, it often seems like a bad idea to act like a team. In addition, Encounter cards can be very bad, and you have to draw one if you don't explore on your turn. But for all of the Heroes to explore, they have to split up and head off in separate directions pretty early on.

It's certainly not a game-killer, and I think that we made some mistakes in our game that could have prevented the bad ending. We did not play with the recommended Hero abilities, instead choosing our own, and so our Cleric didn't have his big one-time healing ability that might have kept him up just long enough to see us through to the Chapel. We also got unlucky with the tiles and traps, and ended up running an amazingly cruel gauntlet of pain and agony.

I'm happy with the game, and that it can put up a good fight (although it might have been more the combination of walled-in tiles and poor dice rolling). I'd be worried if the game didn't demonstrate an ability to kick some Heroic butt. I am thinking that with just two Heroes, adding in a third Healing Surge might not be a bad idea, but I think I'll play a few more two-player games before making that a permanent change.
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Merric Blackman
Australia
Waubra
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The game's randomness can be quite hard, sometimes. As you play more, you get used to the flow.

Mike Mearls posted elsewhere on how it was designed so that some cards punished characters who stay together whilst other punish those who split up.

Mike Mearls wrote:
Obviously I'm biased, but I've found that the combination of card draws, die rolling, and so many other random events allows for a narrative of sorts to emerge from the game.

One of my design theories is that if you design your random elements correctly, you can set up a number of potential cascading scenarios. For instance, that's why you activate all copies of a monster when you activate a card. The game where you randomly draw 3 ghouls in a row is much more memorable.

By the same token, the game alternatively punishes you for grouping together and for spreading apart. The random draws within a game might tend to punish one tactic more than the other. That's another area where one session might feel much different from the next.

My experiences playtesting the game and watching others play it have borne out that theory. One of my favorites happened at GenCon. The characters all gathered on one tile to finish a quest. They needed one more turn to win the game.

Of course, the active player drew the Strahd Attacks card and fried half the party. With the group at zero healing surges, it was game over.


Your wandering down a long (black) corridor was unlikely, but it does happen, as I discovered in one of my recent solo games.

Cheers,
Merric
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Patrick Reynolds
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I think that another mistake was that we didn't take a ranged Hero. Having two Heroes who needed to get into melee range limited our options somewhat (although I did make use of Trapping Strike with the Warrior quite a lot).
 
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Matt Sanderson
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Thornhill
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When you leveled up, you said it replenished your HP? Is that what it says to do on the Treasure Card? Because, otherwise, I don't believe you're suppose to replenish your HP when you level up.
 
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Tor Sverre Lund
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dystopialand wrote:
When you leveled up, you said it replenished your HP? Is that what it says to do on the Treasure Card? Because, otherwise, I don't believe you're suppose to replenish your HP when you level up.
I was wondering the exact same thing. The Level Up card I've seen does not remove any wounds taken.
 
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Patrick Reynolds
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Hmm.. Yeah, looks like we played that wrong. I had an extensive demo at GenCon and the guy running it was playing that way. But taking a closer look at the rule book it seems like that is not the case. It would have ended our game even sooner.
 
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Patrick Reynolds
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Played it again tonight with three players (Fighter, Cleric and Rogue) and we squeaked out a win on the same scenario. It was still pretty rough going, and we burned both healing surges and almost lost the rogue a couple times (Cleric used Healing Word, a healing potion and his special ability a couple of times to keep her alive.

We got a nasty environment effect where whenever we drew a new monster, we had to draw two and play the one with the higher XP value (i.e. the tougher monster) so we were taking quite a beating.

Strangely, in both games so far we have yet to see a Blazing Skeleton.
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pkreynolds wrote:
I think that another mistake was that we didn't take a ranged Hero. Having two Heroes who needed to get into melee range limited our options somewhat (although I did make use of Trapping Strike with the Warrior quite a lot).


The Cleric has Lance of Faith which is a powerful ranegd attack against undead.
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Patrick Reynolds
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Yeah, I was silly and did not choose that one in our game. In the game we played tonight I didn't repeat the mistake and yes, it did come in quite handy.
 
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