Krzych Kowalczyk
Poland
Warsaw
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So I'm waiting for Ashardalon to hit the store shelves here in Poland (not long now from what I hear) and I've been toying with ways to utilize the components of both games (Ash & Ravenloft) to create a more competitive and more tactical game. So far I've got two major ideas.

Dungeon Race (working title) - basically two players get to race around the dungeon. Each player selects a party of five (or whatever number suits you) characters. You lay out a large dungeon using tiles from both games (probably will need some kind of preset setup guidelines or premade dungeon maps to make things fair) with a dire chamber in the middle and the two parties starting in opposite corners. The objective is to be the first party to get into the chamber, draw a chamber card and beat it. The two parties can fight each other if they meet along the way, plus each player gets his own allotment of monsters and encounter cards to ruin the other player's day. The monster spawning rules will need tweaking obviously, since the board will be preset and there won't be any exploration. This could be done by assigning a 'playing cost' to each encounter and monster card to be thrown by a player against the other party. Players would accumulate a kind of 'resource' for playing these 'evil cards' against their opponent. If you ever played the Dungeoneer series, that's pretty much how I imagine that to work. The monsters would be directly controlled by the player who spawned them, no AI involved. Insted of getting treasures for beating up monsters, you could have face down treasure tokens scattered across the dungeon, making for an interesting choice - do you rush to the central chamber and hope you can achieve the chamber card's goal, or do you spend time wandering around and collecting items to make your task easier, hoping you can catch up with your opponent later? If you have more heroes available (some custom ones perhaps) you could even play a four player game, with each player controlling a party of three or four heroes. Or you could have multiple players per party, each controlling one hero. All in all I think this would make for a more tactical and involving game and make movement and manuvering around the dungeon more important than in the base co-op game.

D&D Journeys in the Dark (working title) - does what it says on the tin. Basically taking the Descent idea of the Overlord player and transplanting it into D&D. The Overlord player would have a hand of cards drawn from a deck including both the monster and encounter cards, and would play them against the heroes every time they explore a new tile. Again a 'play cost' for cards (akin to the Descent threat mechanic) could be used. The Overlord would also have direct control over the monsters he spawns. The thing is that he would have to manage his cards and play the right combinations in the right time to screw with the heroes. A campaign system akin to Road to Legend could also be used - you could choose a 6xp villain as your Overlord character and get different themed monster/encounter decks based on your selection (eg. Strahd would have more undead in his deck, Ashardalon would get kobolds and duergar, you could make up a Beholder villain and have his deck full of aberrations and magical beasts, or some kind of evil druid with a deck of animals and monstrous humanoids). The campaign goal for the heroes would be to go through the chamber quests one adventure at a time and finally kill the Overlord's avatar at the end. There wouldn't be levelling as presented in the base rules, instead in between adventures the heroes would shop for items as described in the Ashardalon campaign scenario, but could also use XP to increase their stats/buy extra surges (eg. 2xp to inrease HP by 2 or AC by 1, 3xp for a new daily power, 5xp for an extra healing surge, etc). Consequently the Overlord would accumulate XP (via wounding/killing heroes) and would upgrade his stuff, for example buying new monsters and encounters for his deck or upgrading his villains or his final avatar. He could also have thematic upgrades available, for example Strahd could have an option of buying a global buff for all undead monsters.

I realize these are very rough sketches and I still need to flesh out the details, but I must say in my mind these variants seem like a fun way to play the game differently.I'd aprreciate feedback - do you think these variant ways to play would be fun, why/why not, what rule/gameplay difficulties do you anticipate etc.
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Alberto Crosara
Italy
Montecchio Maggiore (VI)
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While i don't know if i would be able to find someone willing to play as overlord, i think your "Dungeon Race" idea is nice. Never thought about a player vs player version. You 've just woke up the little hamster in my head who is now spinning fast on its little wheel..

Why not a D&D Arena? (with big disappointment to all co-op fans)
2 player (or more) each controlling a Hero (or a group of 2-3 heroes as you said) , but the only fixed part of the map is the center tile (like the CR adventure for the howling hag..) . Each Hero start from a different corner, random tiles draw as usual, random monster draw, random encounter as usual, goal is to reach the center of the dungeon , pick up the winner prize (whatever object you want) and then run for the exit (maybe mix in the dungeon tile stack an exit tile?). The only difference from a normal game is that Heroes can attack each other..

very simple, very fast.. also very enjoyable? have to try that.. maybe throwing inside also a villain? or maybe as you said, the center tile is a chamber? hmm....nice.
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I like both ideas particularly the second one. Very creative use of the box contents.
 
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