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More co-op, DM-less, dungeon crawling adventures from the makers of D&D: Castle Ravenloft. If you have played Castle Ravenloft, than you know much of what to expect from this game, which can be played as a standalone, or combined with the previous game. It adds more of everything, more heroes, monsters, traps, and treasures.

For those of you not familiar with Castle Ravenloft, I direct you to my thoughts on it here: A Year with D&D: Castle Ravenloft. I will be doing some comparisons between the two, so that will help you get started. This game offers up some improvements over the previous iteration, but has a few minor setbacks as well.

Over the past year, I have played Wrath of Ashardalon 25 times. These plays include a few solo trials as well as using the included campaign rules to continue the ongoing adventures from the first game.

The Premise:
The village of Longbridge sits at the edge of Firestorm Peak, a volcano that houses tribes of kobolds and orcs (as well as some more dangerous and otherworldly monsters). The village has been constantly hit by these tribes, and now that the red dragon, Ashardalon, has made the volcano its home, the tribes have become even more dangerous.

Numerous brave warriors and adventurers have gone into the dungeons below Firestorm Peak to destroy the dragon and other inhabitants, but none have returned. A new band of adventurers enters the village in search of evil. Perhaps these new heroes can succeed where the others have failed.

Components:
Just like the first game, this larger than normal sized box is filled with cards, tokens, tiles, and plastic minis. The insert is well made to store everything in an organized manner, although the card slots are not big enough if you use sleeves.

A complaint many had in the first game is the lack of art on the cards, tiles, and many of the tokens, and this game does not change that for the better. This is basically a recreation of Castle Ravenloft in every way, they just changed everything to fit the new setting and to give you different monsters to fight and treasures to find using different characters.

The Gameplay:
The gameplay is also unchanged from the first game. In turn order, a player will move and attack, explore a new tile if near an unexplored edge, take an encounter if they didn't explore a tile with a white arrow, and then activate the monsters (and traps) that are under their control.

Turns continue like this until the party has either met the quests goal in order to win, or loses by heroes dying enough to use up all the healing surges.

There are some gameplay changes that this iteration of the game introduces. The first one is a simple addition of adding doors to some of the tiles. When a tile with a door is drawn, a random door tile is placed on the tile. A hero has to be next to the door to open it, and the tile is flipped over. The door can be unlocked and removed from the board, which represents the door being opened and able to travel through. If the door is locked, a hero must spend their turn trying to open it (instead of attacking). Sometimes the door is trapped and will cause damage to any adjacent heroes.

The door mechanic is simple, and looking at the tiles, may feel unnecessary since there are almost always paths without doors on the same tile, but in practice, there will be times where escape through the doors is quicker or necessary. It may not be used too often, but having them there certainly doesn't hurt, and sometimes gives you an extra decision to risk an exploding door or taking the longer route.

Another new addition to the gameplay is the chamber mechanic. Oftentimes, the final boss or goal of the quest will be found in a chamber. The chamber entrance is mixed in with the regular tiles, and when placed, a separate set of chamber tiles are drawn and added to each unexplored edge of the entrance tile to make one huge room that is 4-6 tiles large (space permitting). Then oftentimes monsters are placed on many of the chamber tiles to accompany the boss.

New chamber cards work with these tiles, as the card will have the boss used and the rules for adding monsters to the chamber. Most of the quests will specify the exact chamber card used, but the campaign quest will have you draw the chamber card at random, so you don't know who you will be facing until you get to the chamber, so you must be prepared for anything.

Speaking of the campaign rules, these are also a welcome addition. These rules allow you to use the same character over multiple quests, slowly gaining more items and power as you go. During a quest, instead of drawing a treasure card for each monster slain, you draw a treasure token, which has a gold value on it (a few of the tokens will give you a treasure outright). All the treasure cards in this game are actual items to be carried by the heroes (no more immediate benefit treasure cards) which include a price on them. In between quests, you add up the gold, and draw three treasure cards which you can purchase and use in future quests of this campaign.

So while the character progression isn't great since you can only achieve level 2 using experience, you can slowly get more powerful by buying treasure cards in between the quests until you defeat the final boss of the campaign.

Other than these additions/options, everything plays out much like it did in Castle Ravenloft.

Final Thoughts:
The campaign rules and treasure tokens made this version of the game a must have for me, despite already owning Castle Ravenloft. I love having an ongoing campaign system which I used beyond the campaign quest from Wrath of Ashardalon and used it across all quests of both games. Despite the characters retaining their level two status once they achieved it and slowly gaining the best items the games had to offer, this game especially still retained its difficulty.

This game includes the same amount of monsters as Castle Ravenloft, but more of them have 2 hit points, which means they often need to be hit twice before being destroyed with the normal daily powers. So not only do more monsters stick around a little longer, but this game makes sure there are more monsters than normal on the board more often. Some tiles are long hallways, which when found will force another tile to be drawn, which means a second monster. Also, some of the monsters explore on their own, which means another tile and another monster. In a lot of my games, we were often swarmed with monsters and the best tactic is too pick them off when you can but to keep on moving.

As I mentioned earlier, all the treasures are now items. In a normal one-quest game, when you draw a treasure card with every kill, the heroes can become very powerful by the end due to the number of treasure cards they will have obtained. It could be why they increased the overall power and number of monsters appearing, but it still makes the quest pretty easy by the end. A good idea to keep some of the challenge when not playing a campaign, and if you have Castle Ravenloft, is to mix the treasure cards of both games together. This will help dilute the number of treasure items with a good (but not overwhelming) number of one-time immediate benefit cards.

The monster overall are varied in their tactics, and I have no complaints there. Archers will stand back and fire arrows, others will charge forward, and others still will search for more help. Poison and Dazed conditions will replace the Slowed and Immobilized conditions of the first game. Also new are Curses which are mixed in with the encounters. A Curse will give your hero some sort of penalty until a conditions is met to remove it, or if you roll high enough on the die.

My one complaint with this game is in the variety of quest goals, which I feel is lacking. Mostly every goal makes use of the new chamber tiles and cards, in which you often face different and varied bosses, but otherwise, it's always the same routine. Find the 9-12th tile, face the boss and/or other monsters. I just found the variety much greater in Castle Ravenloft. Of course, with the multitude of player created quests available, there will always be plenty to do.

Overall, I think this is a fun and difficult co-op game. But I think this is even better as a companion game to Castle Ravenloft. Between the two, there is a lot of variety between all the heroes, monsters, and everything else the games offer. I treat this game as an expansion to the first one, and with that, I rate this game an 8.5. Even on its own, I would rate this game a solid 8.

Thanks for reading, and see all my other reviews at A Year With My Games.
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Dan Conley
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Thanks for a good review! Am hoping to pick up this one and R'Loft at some point. I have the Drizzt title and really enjoy it!
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Thanks! I just finished the final Wrath adventures, and we'll be starting Drizzt out in about 2 weeks. I can't wait to try out those new tiles!
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Bob
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Nice work!

Here's a little

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Ashitaka wrote:
Nice work!

Here's a little



Thanks!
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EnderWizard
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Great review, Doom. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Legend of Drizzt
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Tristan Hall
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LIFEFORM - LIVE NOW ON KICKSTARTER!!!
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Nice work mate, good review. I like your "A Year With..." style as it gives you plenty of time to digest the game and get over the new game hype effect and give a balanced judgement. thumbsup
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