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I purchased WoA a week or so ago and now have a few games under my belt, both solo and in mixed company and wanted to offer some thoughts.

After experiencing this game it made me sad that the top posted review was "Please Don't Buy This Game." Surely Wrath of Ashardalon deserves better than that. There are plenty of reviews that offer in depth coverage of the rules and components. I always suggest reading the rulebook before purchasing a game to know what your getting into. If you are considering this game, what you probably want to know is "is it for me?" This is a review to help you with that.

I have never played Castle Ravenloft,but understand that the cards and monsters in WoA had a bit more variety. So I bought Wrath instead.

Wrath of Ashardalon is designed to look good, play fast, and be easily accessible both for newcomers to D&D, as well as old farts like me who don't have a lot of time to play games. Gameplay has a move, roll to attack, draw a card rhythm to it that puts it closer to the casual/family game category than most other games with this much theme. The designers were successful in creating a game with lots of great looking components, and yet it never feels fiddly to play and the whole thing is a breeze to set up and pack away. I feel a great balance was struck here. The game also, as advertised, plays in around an hour.

The game offers several different scenarios for flavor, however the core of the game play boils down to surviving long enough in the dungeon to achieve the objective. While there is heavy luck involved, savvy players can carefully utilize various character abilities and experience points to maximize their chance for success. Despite the endless onslaught of traps and monsters, the game offers you many ways to help minimize the harm they will most certainly do to your adventurers. An example of this is the ability to use experience points to cancel a particularly nasty card draw. Furthermore, killing monsters often gives you treasure that is a bonus to AC, giving you a better chance to avoid those nasty traps. While your HP WILL go down, your party does gain strength as you progress in the ways stated above.

Despite this, its best not to stick around longer than you have too. Time is of the essence. There is great incentive to keep moving and pushing to the objective before all hit points have been whittled away. Fight or flee is one of the biggest decisions you can make in this game. I firmly believe that those who say the game has no important decisions have not given the game enough honest plays.

As it comes in the box, I assert that this is a simple, fun board game to play with friends and family. It goes down especially well with your son or nephew, or your friends who want to play, and drink, and not have to think too much. Why? Because killing monsters and getting melted by lava in a dungeon is fun.

I have read posts that say this game is nothing more than a board game kit with half baked rules. I felt the rules of this game were pretty clear. The game as written totally enraptured my 7 year old, who I have always wanted to introduce D&D too. It was a success.
While I enjoyed playing Wrath of Ashardalon by the rules there IS a sense that this game is meant to evolve. To really give the game legs and keep it from getting stale, it really does benefit from relaxing and eventually 'playing your own way." There are lots of monsters, bosses, and tokens to create your own campaigns with. Its also easy to adjust some of the movement rules and stats to make the game more tactical. In other words, it allows you to use your imagination to increase the enjoyment of the game, and maximize your investment in the game system. Wait a minute.. isn't that was D&D has always been about?













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K.Y. Wong
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Amberhawk wrote:
In other words, it allows you to use your imagination to increase the enjoyment of the game, and maximize your investment in the game system. Wait a minute.. isn't that what D&D has always been about?

So true, these D&D games have stirred my imagination the same way as the classic red-box D&D did an age ago. This game system really is the "Lego" of dungeoncrawls - a system with endless possibilities despite (or should I say due to) its extremely simple concept.

ps. Wrath of Ashardalon largely managed to escape the problem of buyers with different expectations. You should go see the Castle Ravenloft forums. Oh, the memories of those early days...
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Diz Hooper
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Keep the positive reviews coming. I'm fully enjoying my copy of Wrath of Ashardalon.
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Caleb
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I don't know about hate. I dislike the game and find it long, tedious, and extremely dull. I can't really muster up enough emotion to 'hate' it, but I don't ever want to play it again.

I found it to be very random, with decisions that were either painfully obvious or a simple 50/50 guess, and the random events were uniformly annoying and served to dramatically increase the length of the game by causing wounds to the characters, which then makes them too careful about fighting....

The various items all felt the same, like it didn't matter what I had, it all boiled down to a die roll modifier. Things that force you to move a certain distance, or restrict your movement serve to simply reduce you choices.

Moving the monsters is a ridiculous exercise in having them make the dumbest moves allowable by the rules.

You know, maybe I do hate this game after all!

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I don't like WoA because, like cannoneer, I found the decisions to be obvious. The gameplay didn't challenge me.

I will say that it is quick to play - for a dungeon crawl. I kind of like the treasure system (though I think it'd be more elegant if 3 XP monsters just always dropped a treasure card, rather than all monsters drop treasure or you have to draw a treasure token), and I think Doom: the Boardgame might have benefited from something similar, since it would reduce the set-up time. But quick to play for a dungeon crawl still means that the game lasts a half hour or hour longer than I would like.

Maybe an enterprising soul will come up with a variant that makes the gameplay a lively and challenging experience, until then, WoA will stay on my shelf.
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David Culp
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I think the rules to this game and its sister game Castle Ravenloft are fine and well written. My beef with the games are they are boring and the gameplay is mechanical and predictable.
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Brian
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I find Ravenloft to be excellent. For the folks that aren't enjoying it, I wonder if it's the group you play with. I find my experience varies depending on who's participating. With my cousin and my 12yr old son, it was a fantastic experience and we played for probably 5-6 hours into the night (my cousin also RPG's a good deal). With two other friends, it was also excellent, but not quite as much. With another set of friends, it was very flat.

Because we own Ravenloft, we haven't picked up Ashardalon yet, but we do plan on getting Drizzt. Great game. I have much love for it. Nice job, Wizards of the Coast.

(Yes, we also play Descent. ;-)

meeple
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It's not even a dungeon crawl. It's a bunch of commandos being hit left and right by strafing fire as they run like he** and yell, "GET TO THE CHOPPAAAAAHHH" (then blow something up).

Nice mini's tho. Now where are my !@$!@%@ goblins so I can use 'em for my D&D 4e Starter Set adventure???
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blair lafferty

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I love Wrath of Ashardalon. in fact, i think its one of the best game/products Wizards of the Coast has released in *years*.

this also happens to be the general consensus of my (28+, all adults) game society here in florida. whenever someone brings WoA its always a rush to get to the table first.

Personally, i feel Descent (vanilla) is the best dungeon-delve board game available, but lets be honest: the five-to-seven hour average of Descent isn't always possible. and in cases where time is of the essence, WoA fits the bill perfectly.

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MARIOS CHRISTAKIS
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Hi,
of course there is no need to compare wrath... with descent. I really believe and support that descent IS the best dungeon crawling game.
I purchased wrath of ashardalon and I like the artistic style of it, but IS really unballanced and with BIG lucky factor. I believe that its game mechanic has good "core" but many problems. For example, at my games : I walk with my hero, explore (and I don't draw event card-except if I open tile with black arrow), monster attacked me. I decide to stay at the same place or at least not to explore and only fight-attack because I don't want to find more monsters. I draw event card (because I didn't explore) OHHH, lava goes out of the wall (what great atmosphere), at the next turn I kill the monster and I explore, BLACK arrow-tile, I draw event card, OOOOHHH orcs goes on my way event,+ the monster that ALWAYS appears with each tile, at my next turn I can not try to explore because things will go very bad. I try to kill a monster, bad luck, bad dice (only one d20, very week and antithematic way to hit, at contrast with GREAT descent or GREAT earth reborn dice system). So I tryied to be careful. OHHH another event card (beacause I didn't explore) ohhhh another bad thing........
The thing that I want to say is that this game does not help you to control it even a little and If you try to be careful things will go really bad, If you try to be the HERO of the day, you will die...Only the good luck is the GOD of the game and the true core of the game system....BAD, BAD , BAD and lets say the truth, is really antithematic that too many things (from event cards) are goes on and changes between so little time.
BUT I understand that someone should like the game and of course has many things and emotions to give but it is not the dungeon crawling game that shall take the best possition at your colection. This is a good game but you can try dungeoneer that is more ballanced (these are not same games but you can easy compare them and find that dungeoneer do better what is do than wrath...).
As someone say before, if you know what you buy is a good game, but I can say that it had to be better.
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ciyrvr wrote:
This is a good game but you can try dungeoneer that is more ballanced (these are not same games but you can easy compare them and find that dungeoneer do better what is do than wrath...)


Strongly disagree with this, couldn't disagree more in fact - the D&D games do everything better than Dungeoneer.
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I'd also like to say that while WoA may succeed at being quick to play, I think some of that comes from the ease of the decisions you have to make. If you had to debate what you were going to do each turn to avoid getting stomped, it'd make it a longer (and IMO, better) game.
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Matt Sanderson
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I still think people are suffering from some misconceptions about what this game system really is, just like when Castle Ravenloft was first released. Yes, it's simpler than a game like Descent, and it's not even close to being anything like an RPG, but it was never meant to be. Playing it with the mindset of blasting through a couple of adventures with constant action and minimal decision-making CAN be fun, as long as you buy into it being just those things. My girlfriend and I love deeper, more complicated games than CR and WoA, but we still pull Ravenloft out from time to time to hack some monsters and get pulverized by a dungeon that wants to kill you as quickly as possible. Some of the game elements annoy me (mostly I have a problem with the make-up of the Encounter deck in Ravenloft -- I haven't played Ashardalon yet), but for the most parts, I like it for what it is.

That being said, I don't think Castle Ravenloft should have won any awards. I just don't think it's good enough for that, even while I still do enjoy the game. Maybe it's just because I don't care about creating my own content for it.
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Todd Kadrie
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Watching the pattern of negative reviews and attacks over time, you consistently see the same folks taking time to wade in and slag the games (WoA and Ravenloft). These seem to be folks with sizable axes to grind even months later. There seems to be more at work here than just a negative review of a game (which actually, in terms of components has pretty stellar value to price).

Aside from holding these games to standards that few would expect from any other game vendor, the real problem with the negative reviews is that they don't appear to have had much impact on the popularity of the games. Page after page of 'don't buy this game'-type propaganda has been posted. But the results appear to have been pretty ineffective at actually changing hearts & minds. And when you get down to it, they don't really reflect the actual consensus on the games (WoA & CR).

As of today:
Wrath has a 7.73/10 Avg Rating for 692 ratings, and is owned by 1653 users.
CR has a 7.27/10 Avg Rating for 2572 ratings, and is owned by 3722 users.

Clearly the on-going screeds and repetitive negative reviews from a fairly small but vocal minority, aren't really suppressing broad opinions on the games. The vast majority of voters not only like the games, but like them quite a bit.

To give the above a sense of scale: BGG's got a lot of good comparative info available. If you look at the range of games released for a similar time period and numbers of reviews:
For Ravenloft's peers, that would be games released 2010-2011, rated 7.1 and up with more than 2500 reviews. Run the above through Advanced Search and you get a pretty short list:

(excuse the format, trying to approximate tables here)

Title Geek Rating Avg Rating Num Voters
7 Wonders, 7.841-Geekrating, 7.97-AvgRating, 7507-votes
Sid Meier's Civ, 7.616-geekrating, 7.92-AvgRating, 2644-votes
Fresco, 7.241-Geekrating, 7.47-AvgRating, 2617-Votes
Castle Ravenloft, 7.01-Geekrating, 7.27-AvgRating, 2572-votes
Forbidden Island, 6.984-Geekrating, 7.14Avg-Rating,4051-votes

For Wrath of Ashardalon's peers, Games released 2011, rated 7.7 and up with more than 650 reviews, you get another pretty solid shortlist of five games:

The Lord of the Rings:TCG, 7.444-Geekrating,7.96-AvgRating,1484-votes
Yomi, 7.168-GeekRating,7.91-AvgRating,912-votes
WoA , 6.942-GeekRating,7.73-AvgRating,692-votes
Mansions of Madness, 7.27-GeekRating, 7.72-AvgRating, 1546-votes
Letters from Whitechapel,6.955-Geekrating, 7.71-AvgRating,710-votes.

They may be drawing a lot of heat, but on balance I'd say Wrath & CR are doing pretty well. Especially when you look at the company they keep at similar rating levels.
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Anders Pedersen
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tin0men wrote:
Watching the pattern of negative reviews and attacks over time, you consistently see the same folks taking time to wade in and slag the games (WoA and Ravenloft). These seem to be folks with sizable axes to grind even months later. There seems to be more at work here than just a negative review of a game (which actually, in terms of components has pretty stellar value to price).

Aside from holding these games to standards that few would expect from any other game vendor, the real problem with the negative reviews is that they don't appear to have had much impact on the popularity of the games. Page after page of 'don't buy this game'-type propaganda has been posted. But the results appear to have been pretty ineffective at actually changing hearts & minds. And when you get down to it, they don't really reflect the actual consensus on the games (WoA & CR).

"SNIP"

They may be drawing a lot of heat, but on balance I'd say Wrath & CR are doing pretty well. Especially when you look at the company they keep at similar rating levels.


Now don't be silly!
This is not a contest to make people buy, or not buy, these games.
There is no crusade to try and hurt them either.
Some of us are simply doing, in the positive reviews, what the fan-boys are doing in the negative reviews - providing a counter point to the original post.
These types of comments are far more useful, for those considering buying the game, than 10 posts just padding the OP on the back!

I personally find there are a lot of clever mechanics, in this series of games. But as a whole they are not put well together.
For this reason I keep coming back to these forums, on a regular basis, in the hopes someone has come up with some variant that is going to make the game more enjoyable.
Ninjadorg and other creative people have made some interesting changes and additions. But for me the game is just still not there.
It does not feel like an adventure game, for me, as it relies heavily on combat and generally lacks pictures on the cards to draw me in.
Yet as a miniature battle game it is terribly simple, with very few tough choices to make during a session.
For me it just falls short on all accounts, while leaving me with a feeling it is soo close to being great.
This dilemma is what makes me come back and discuss the game - I really want to like this game, but it just doesn't deliver, yet.
The game sits alone in a niche that has, surprisingly, not previously been explored. I consider it a stong starting point for a new line of games. But it is not stellar, or even close.

And if you read the negative comments more closely, you will find this is actually the general feeling among those "vocal" people you talk about!
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tin0men wrote:

Aside from holding these games to standards that few would expect from any other game vendor, the real problem with the negative reviews is that they don't appear to have had much impact on the popularity of the games.


The unreasonable standard of "fun?"

Either way, I clearly need to work harder if my evil scheme is to reach fruition. I won't rest until WoA is ranked alongside Monopoly, nay! Lower than Monopoly!

Minion whispers in Jackal's ear

I know my rating for Wrath is currently a 5 you insolent fool!


It's hard to find good help these days.
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David Culp
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I dont have any sort of vendetta against the games, or an evil organized plan to bring about the down fall of either game or Wizards of the Coast. I just feel the games did not deliver. They are VERY well produced with great components, WoC did a great job in that respect. However, to me the game play is shallow and uninspiring with limited choices and the are just boring, plain and simple.
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blair lafferty

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as a psych major i agree to a certain extent: the act of visiting a game profile of a game that you really don't like simply to add 'counter-point' to anything positive written by those who visit the profile because they enjoy the game is indicative of a certain mind-set.

it must be noted however that this curious (curious being a polite term here) behavior is endemic to BGG.

ie; there are people here who are interested/delighted in telling you your favorite game sucks and kid themselves that they are simply providing 'counter-point'.
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GreatGodPan wrote:
as a psych major i agree to a certain extent: the act of visiting a game profile of a game that you really don't like simply to add 'counter-point' to anything positive written by those who visit the profile because they enjoy the game is indicative of a certain mind-set.


I own the game, and since I have yet to sell it, I'm interested if something can make it enjoyable for me.

Just today I was tinkering with a Descent like Overlord mechanic - I didn't put much effort into it, but I have browsed the "variants" subsection to see if anyone has any clever ideas.

I complain because I think Wrath could be awesome (and I own it.)

Finally, every game should have negative reviews. I love negative reviews. They stop me from spending money.
 
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Uwe Heilmann
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If you are looking for a "better" WoA, please, take a look at "WoA and CR unlimited".

And maybe you even select to provide some answers to the questions asked there as I tried to make it an interactive thread, or something like that.


Cheers
U.L.H.

 
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Ben Bosmans
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Wrath of Ashardalon is a great game, just like its sister game Castle Ravenloft.

It has a 1.5 hour playing time, is a co op game, can be played solo with 2 characters and is a real challenge when you dare to play with a non healing class.

And this is coming from someone with 500+ wargames and has games like Advanced Squad leader, 3Reich high on his list.

These new dungeon crawlers are perfect for a fix in adventuring without getting a headache in rule questions and stats.

They ARE EXTREMELY GOOD games - even for the hardcore - as they are tense and fun to play.

For the general casual gaming public they are MUCH better than 99% of the family board games and most Lore less Eurogames.

Castle Ravenloft gave me more fun than 99% of the games gathering dust on my attic.

If you don't like them, well WOW gathers hate too, But I think it is simply silly to hate games anyway.
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dear friends

im looking to expand my BG collection by buying castle ravenloft and wrath of ashardalon (also LOTR:LCG but thats another story) . im looking for advice from people here, any advice good or bad is fine with me as long as there is explanation for the love/hate..

my background :
recently i play Arkham horror and enjoyed it immensly. Arkham horror i love the setting ,the pressure and the relentless bad stuff that the game throw at you.. even playing solo is enjoyable in AH..

i love wow:ag too, the simple play and combat rules and the pressure to do quest while also hindering your opponent like placing bad stuff on opponent's quest location .. this game is hilarious in 4 players setting..

i also love Spacehulk 2nd edition and SPacehulk card game. but i dont like WH40K box game with their open space and combat/movement rules

i dont like euro-style games.

from Marco's video review im planning to get Hornet Leader because the light RPG aspect and the theme suits me (modern military aviation)

basically i love LOTR setting, Lovecraft Setting and WH/WH40K setting.

and i read and read and read BGG's forum review and i got the feeling that CR & WOA got the right 'fun' stuff.. but the bad review confused me..

***

So, with my little explanation about my background, would the game system of CR and WOA suits me ?

regards
 
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Christopher Boat
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hi denny. not sure if i can help you, but it looks like you've been waiting long enough for an answer.

I'm a HUGE Arkham fan. Love a good RPG style cooperative game with lots of theme. (the occasional euro too, but that's besides the point). I haven't put a lot of time into Castle Ravenloft or Ashardalon but I didn't find them to reach the same levels of fun as Arkham. They're very different games though.

Ravenloft/Ashardalon will NEVER give you a moment to breathe. It's a mad dash for the goal every time. For me, it felt very mechanical and dry. Combat was fun for about half of a game session, but we all got tired of the same monsters in every room and fighting them the same way every time.

Don't get me wrong- i'm not calling these games bad. I just wouldn't put them in the same genre as Arkham/Descent/etc. They feel more like a puzzle than a dungeon adventure. That's just my two cents.
 
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No No No Sheep
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RhodesN7 wrote:
hi denny. not sure if i can help you, but it looks like you've been waiting long enough for an answer.

I'm a HUGE Arkham fan. Love a good RPG style cooperative game with lots of theme. (the occasional euro too, but that's besides the point). I haven't put a lot of time into Castle Ravenloft or Ashardalon but I didn't find them to reach the same levels of fun as Arkham. They're very different games though.

Ravenloft/Ashardalon will NEVER give you a moment to breathe. It's a mad dash for the goal every time. For me, it felt very mechanical and dry. Combat was fun for about half of a game session, but we all got tired of the same monsters in every room and fighting them the same way every time.

Don't get me wrong- i'm not calling these games bad. I just wouldn't put them in the same genre as Arkham/Descent/etc. They feel more like a puzzle than a dungeon adventure. That's just my two cents.


thanks chris..

maybe you got the point here.. in arkham, even in its darkest hour.. i still have strategic control on who attack and who get to buy stuff and other stuff..

i guess COR and WOA is a very light type of game that requires no thinking , only combatt.

regareds
 
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they definitely both have their fair share of luck, but I would say Arkham is a little more controlled. You can see the whole map laid out in front of you. You know what each location's ability is. You know exactly what your enemy is and what you can work on to defeat it.

When I see the words "Dungeons & Dragons" on a box, I expect a dungeon crawl. There was something very odd about the way turns worked in COR/WOA, where if I even spent one turn standing in place or didn't reveal the next tile on the map there were dire consequences. That's nice for keeping the game short, but i'd rather have a long fun game dripping with atmosphere than a short fun game that felt mechanical. To each their own.
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