Michael Off The Shelf Board Game Reviews
Dungeons and Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt, by Peter Lee – Published by Wizards of the Coast
“Because of the friends I have known, the honorable people I have met, I know I am no solitary hero of unique causes. I know now that when I die, I will live on. That which is important will live on. This is my Legacy; and by the grace of the gods, I am not alone.”
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“Change is not always growth, but growth is often rooted in change. Drizzt Do'Urden”. The more things change the more they remain the same, Legend of Drizzt is the 3rd in the series of Dungeons and Dragons board games based on a Rules Lite ™ version of the D&D 4.0 ruleset. Legend of Drizzt is a mostly cooperative, mission based, randomizing dungeon crawler that pits 1-5 players against the games AI on a quest whose ultimate goal changes depending on which scenario is chosen. Each player takes on the role of one of the iconic heroes (and anti-heroes) from the R. A. Salvatore series of books that began over 20 years ago. Unlike the prior 2 games in the series, Legend of Drizzt adds in team based missions, new player abilities, a hidden traitor mission, and other unique circumstances drawn from encounters that occurred in the books.
What's In The Box
Legend of Drizzt comes in a fairly large (but not quite coffin sized) game box that includes 40 detailed (but unpainted) miniatures, 200 standard sized cards, 8 cardboard double sided hero cards, 4 double sided villain cards, 1 rulebook, 1 scenario book, 32 interlocking cavern tiles, 4 double sized interlocking tiles, 22 interlocking cavern edge tiles, 1 20 sided Die, and enough cardboard bits to keep the logging industry in business. All this gaming goodness ships in a nice, form fitting, compartmentalized, plastic tray and can be yours for the MSRP of $64.99.
Description of Components
Legend of Drizzt ships with 40 detailed but unpainted plastic miniatures. While the sculpts might be rehashed from other games, the feral troll for example is almost the exact same sculpt used in the Heroscape D&D boxed set, they are finely detailed and worth the price of admission alone.
At first I was ready to berate Wizards of the Coast for just rehashing sculpts but upon closer inspection I did realize they are not perfect duplicates and instead made lemonade/saw the glass as half full/the cake is a lie… and saved myself many hours of painting time. This works decently for the Drow and Illithid sized figures but Heroscape uses a none-standard shaped base for all the large figures (like the Feral Troll for example). If you do decide to paint them they will require a good base coat primer but do end up painting fairly nicely. As a nice side note, these miniatures make a fantastic addition to D&D 4.0 game play sessions at a very reasonable price. I would almost be bold enough to say that for the price, the game is worth buying for the miniatures alone if you play D&D 4.0.
Legend of Drizzt like the prior games in the series comes with some great quality cardboard. The tiles are thick, interlock well, and actually have an improved look. Wizards took the time to actually make the caverns look less sterile. There are flourishes like bridges, pits, narrow passages, and rubble strewn about which are definitely a nice upgrade. Yet having said that, we are still stuck in the same drab, gray, dungeon we have been adventuring into for 3 games now. This series desperately needs to branch out to new tile sets.
The rest of the cardboard components keep with the high quality trend. All the tokens are durable and thick, the same can be said for the hero and villain cards. A decent portion of the components are full color with nice multi-colored images. The hero cards are still using mono–colored artwork but the artwork is nice and evokes the theme of the books very well. The artwork on the villain cards takes a back seat to the hero cards though being more reminiscent of a penciled sketch but still, it is passable and has been grumbled about in every version of these board games.
There is an extremely minimal amount of artwork on the cards for the most part and what artwork there is, is mono colored or simply sketched. The card quality itself seems to be on the thinner side, not to the point of feeling cheap, but definitely enough that I would suggest sleeving these cards to reduce wear and tear. To be fair the cards in this game are not excessively shuffled like a deck building game so you could get by without sleeving the cards if you wanted to.
The rulebook and the adventure book are both well done. They are nicely organized and laid out with full color images and examples. Additionally (and Wizards of the Coast needs to be applauded here) you can download a copy of the rulebook online from dungeonsanddragons.com with embedded videos that help explain the rules (it is a 140 MB download though). The rules break down the cards and components explaining everything in detail. I might be a little biased since this is the 3rd rendition of nearly the same ruleset but I tried to re-read the rules with an open mind and finished fully confident in the rules.
Finally we have the 20 sided die. This is your standard 20 sided die, it has a decent heft to it and rolls pretty well. It even has a dark purple hue to it matching the games theme.
Components And Presentation Verdict:8.75/10The components are well done. The cardboard is thick and will last a long time. The miniatures are also detailed and cast in different color plastics. My only complaint is the rather drab minimalistic artwork and the thinner quality paper used to manufacture the cards.
How Does It Play?
Let’s take a moment to peruse the components of the game and what there uses are shall we?
The Adventure Counters (pictured) and Encounter Counters (not pictured but very similar) are either unique to a scenario, such as the Crystal Prison, or represent Event Card effects, such as The Juicer Trap. Generally when they enter play they will remain on a tile as a reminder of their effect(s).
The Cavern Edge Tiles are a great addition to the game. They are used to create dead ends, scenario specific purposes, or to make pregenerated adventures with slightly more logical layouts and a feeling of an actual room or cavern. The pregenerated adventures are a fantastic addition to the game. Each scenario that uses them requires you to randomly set out a set amount of tiles in a certain pattern then to close off all the open cavern tile edges with these counters.
Each player gets one character card representing the Hero they will control during the adventure. Each card is double sided, with one side representing the level 1 version of the Hero, and the flip side listing the statistics for the slightly more powerful level 2 version of the Hero. Each Hero card lists the Heroes name, race, and class with a small thematic blurb about that specific Hero. Below that are the Heroes statistics including AC (what needs to be rolled on a D20 plus bonuses to hit the Hero), HP (how much damage the Hero can take before falling), Speed (how many squares the Hero can move with a move action), and finally Surge Value (how many HPs they heal when they use a Healing Surge or any ability that says to heal their Surge Value). Beyond that each Hero card lists a power and how many Power cards of each type that Hero gets to choose if using those rules.
Various encounters can trigger conditions on the Heroes and these are represented with Condition Markers to set on your Hero as a gentle reminder of any negative effects the Hero may be suffering. They are pretty self explanatory and have the gameplay effects printed on them.
For anyone who has played the earliest editions of the venerable Advanced Dungeons and Dragons RPG, think of Event Cards as those moments your DM would get that devious grin on his or her face, roll some dice, and then announce some random pain that was about to befall your intrepid party. Event cards add a random element to the game spawning traps, curses, and various other impediments to our Heroes journey. An Event card will be drawn any time a tile is drawn with a black arrow on it or any time a Hero fails to reveal a new tile on their turn. This adds a sense of urgency to exploration and helps keep the game moving and prevents a slow cautious methodology of exploration.
Monster cards represent the various denizens of the Underdark our Heroes will face on the adventure. Each card lists the AC (roll on a D20 plus bonuses needed to hit the monster), HP (amount of damage needed to slay the beast), Tactics (discussed above), Attack bonus (what is added to the D20 roll when the monster attacks and is compared to the targets AC), Damage (how much damage each attempted hit causes, yes sometimes even misses hurt the Heroes), and finally the experience reward for killing a monster. Experience serves a few purposes in the game and is saved in a communal pile accessible to all Heroes at all times. Experience is generally used to level up Heroes and to cancel Event Cards.
Hero powers come in three varieties At-Will (useable every turn), Daily (useable once then flipped over until an event allows you to refresh them), and Utility Powers (useable once then flipped over until an event allows you to refresh them). Additionally Legend of Drizzt introduces a new Utility Power called Stances.
At the start of a players turn, if they have a Stance Utility Power, they may place a Stance Token on that power card. This grants the player a temporary bonus and these Stances are useable once a turn. For example Cattibrie has a Stance power: At the beginning of your turn place a Stance Token on this card. While this Stance token is on this card Hero gains +4 to attack rolls and knocks monsters back one tile.
Treasures are gained when a Hero defeats a monster but only one may be gained per turn even if you manage to slay multiple foes. There are two types of Treasures, Fortunes which are played immediately, and Items which are held in a Heroes inventory and either continue to give a bonus or can be activated for a 1 time use.
The villains are pretty much just like the monsters except much more powerful. Villains are usually the ultimate goal of an adventure and are meant to be a challenge to defeat.
Rulebook turn Summary.
Players select one of the adventures from the Adventure book, making sure to follow any special set up instructions for that adventure.
*Each of the game play decks are shuffled and put within easy reach of every player.
*Unless the Adventure says otherwise, place the Start Tile in the center of the table and place two Healing Surge tokens within easy reach of all the players. These are the group’s healing surges for this Adventure.
*Each player selects from one of the eight 1st-level Heroes and decides which Power Cards to use for that Hero.
*Each hero is placed on the start tile, unless of course the adventure states otherwise.
*Each Hero draws a Treasure Card, drawing and discarding until they obtain a Treasure Card with an item on it.
*Set up the Cavern Tile stack (the deck of tiles) using the setup instructions in the Adventure you have selected. The Adventure will advise of any additional rules you need in the “Special Adventure Rules” section, or any rules that change the core game rules.
Each game turn is broken down into 3 specific phases that must be fully completed in order before the next player can begin their turn.
* Hero Phase
1. If your Hero has 0 Hit Points, use a Healing Surge token if
one is available.
2. Perform one of the following actions:
✦ Move and then make an Attack.
✦ Attack and then Move.
✦ Make two Moves.
Once this phase is completed move on to the next phase.
* Exploration Phase
1. If your Hero occupies a square along an unexplored edge, go on to Step 2. If your Hero doesn’t occupy a square along an unexplored edge, go on to the Villain Phase.
2. Draw a Dungeon Tile and place it with its triangle pointing to the unexplored edge of the tile your Hero is exploring from.
3. Place a Monster on the new tile.
Once this phase is completed move on to the next phase.
* Villain Phase
1. If you didn’t place a Dungeon Tile in your Exploration Phase, or if you placed a Dungeon Tile with a black triangle, draw and play an Encounter Card.
2. If the Villain is in play, activate the Villain.
3. Activate each Monster and Trap Card, in turn, in the order you drew them making sure to follow the tactics on each respective card.
Play then moves on to the next players turn.
A sample game might look something like this:
A game turn is pretty simple, lets take a sample round using Drizzt Do’Urden. Player A starts their turn by placing a Stance Token on the utility power “Dancing Serpent”. Now Drizzt can move 2 squares before or after an attack as long as this stance remains in effect. Drizzt moves 2 squares ending adjacent to a soon to be skewered Drow Duelist (16 AC, 1 HP). Drizzt then uses the at will power “Twinkle” which allows an attack for 1 damage at +6. Drizzt rolls a fantastic 20 making his total attack roll 26 which easily hits the Drow Duelist for 1 point of damage and slays the pitiful Drow. The next part of the “Twinkle” at will power says to move your stance token on to this card. Drizzt now has the ability to shrug off 1 point of damage thanks to his new stance! Also since Drizzt rolled a natural 20 he may spend 5 experience points to level up if they communal experience pile has enough points.
Drizzt now takes his move action moving 3 squares to an unexplored tile edge this ends the Hero phase. A tile is drawn revealing a new tile with a black triangle (an Event Card trigger!). A new monster is drawn to occupy the new tile revealing a Drow Wizard which is placed on the new tiles mushroom patch square. This ends the Exploration Phase and begins the Villain Phase.
Drizzt placed a tile with a black arrow so he must draw an Encounter Card and gets “Baruchie Colony”. Each Hero on the same tile as Drizzt is attacked at +11 and anyone hit will become poisoned! Everyone starting with Drizzt rolls a D20 to see if they are poisoned adding a poison condition marker onto their hero if they roll over their AC on a D20 + 11 attack bonus from the Event Card. Since the Villain is not in play Drizzt carries out the Drow Wizards tactics which states it teleports to the tile with the most Heroes and then attacks each Hero on that tile with a blast of fire at +8 attack that does 2 damage (1 on a miss).
Simplicity of The Rules: 9/10 - To be fair this is the 3rd game in the series and the rules have not changed much. Having said that though honestly it really isn’t a complex game as long as you remember to perform each players turn in the correct order there shouldn’t be any major rule confusions. There is even a turn summary card provided in the game for each player to use.
Daddy Why's This Guy Got A Sword In His Belly?
As a father of 2 future board gamers, a large concern of mine is how secure am I in letting my eldest son play and or rummage through a game box. Granted, BGG and board games themselves very clearly tell you a minimum age, they don't tell you exactly why that minimum age was chosen. My hope is to arbitrarily tell you why I think this age range was chosen for this game and then hopefully give a few ideas I might have for a game to make it easier on the young ones. Finally I will close with what seems to be the "sweet spot" for number of players and if the game has solo rules I'll comment on those too.
Legend of Drizzt is a Dungeon Crawler for 1-5 players ages 12+. The rulebook and adventure book are devoid of overly gory or bloody images. The miniature sculpts themselves are fairly well detailed with monster roll call including Drow (dark elves), Drider (Drow males cursed by the goddess Llolth to be mindless centaur like creatures with a spiders lower body), Trolls, Goblins, Undead Spirits, drakes, spider swarms, water elementals, and a Balor (a fire denizen from the nether realms reminiscent of the creature Gandalf fought on the bridge).
The rules themselves are fairly straight forward. On a players turn, they simply complete steps A, B, and C in order, then the next player repeats the same process. Monster AI is also very basic and understandable by anyone who can follow basic if/then directions. For example the Feral Troll if within 1 tile of a Hero, it moves adjacent to the nearest Hero and attacks. Otherwise the Feral Troll regains all lost hit points and then moves 1 tile closer to the closest Hero. Honestly as long as you were not offended by the inclusion of some creatures in the game an 8 or 9 year old could easily grasp the concepts and rules of the game quite handily. Again this assumes the parent is OK with the theme of the game.
Family Friendliness Verdict:8.5/10 – This is actually a great family game for 9-10 year olds and up. Cooperative games reduce the antagonistic feel that younger players may not appreciate. It scales very well from 1 all the way up to 5 players allowing the entire family to get in on the fun. The only caveat is that Errtu is a fairly dark looking character.
A typical game should take anywhere from 60 - 75 minutes from opening the box through the end of the game, assuming of course the players don’t have a run of bad luck and suffer a crushingly early defeat. Usually games will take about 15 or so turns of play. In an average 3-5 player game each player will play through about 4 or 5 full turns. During a solo game a player will play through 15 – 20 turns depending on luck of the draw and combat results before winning a scenario. Most turns are fairly quick taking less than a few minutes per player (30 second turns are not unheard of), which is a bonus since on off turns there is little for a player to do beyond suggest minimal strategic movement suggestions to the current player. For the impatient, fewer players will be better but the game is most enjoyable with 4-5 players thanks to player interaction and the feel of a “party adventuring into a dungeon and reliving events from the Dark Elf Series of books.”
* Admittedly this is ripped directly from Chez’ Geek Quarterly, but come on it’s Drizzt and company.
* Does a good job of including the highlights and major players from the books
* The miniatures are well detailed and look fantastic painted
* Rules are simple to grasp
* The AI is still fairly top notch for a boardgame
* Finally we get more than the standard cooperative style scenarios; hidden traitor is definitely a breath of fresh air!
* 8 Heroes included in the game
* New unique hero mechanics, stances used by 3 of the heroes and the ability to attack during the villain phase are two good examples
* Prebuilt dungeons are a really refreshing change of pace to the sometimes chaotic dungeon layouts that can plague this game (do note only some scenarios use this feature)
* New monster tactics and abilities
* The dungeon setting is getting a little tiresome. Where is my Village of Hommlet? Anything that isn’t a dungeon would really be nice at this point.
* For better or worse the cards are still pretty devoid of artwork
* Different text on the back of the tiles can hamper combining them with prior games in the series
* The new heroes are more powerful than the heroes from the other 2 games and therefore will not retroactively “play nice” with those scenarios
* A noticeable power creep
* The hidden traitor scenario, while entertaining, is in need of some balancing tweaks
But Is It Fun?
The 3rd time really is a charm here. Wizards of the Coast has done a fantastic job of evolving the Dungeons and Dragons board games without making them overly complex. As a light cooperative dungeon run style game Legend of Drizzt really delivers. The hero powers are finally evolving, we now have alternate ways to play thanks to a Horde style scenario, a hidden betrayer scenario, and some other interesting ideas that I don’t want to spoil.
There are 8 heroes to choose from and all feel different and fun to play and the scenarios do a great job of bringing the encounters from the books to the table top in an entertaining way.
There are a few minor issues though. Bruenor has an error on the back of his Hero card telling the player to pick a new Daily Power for him (impossible since he only has Utility powers) and there is definitely power creek going on here. Heroes now have abilities like Stances and the ability to gain multiple attacks including attacks during the Villain phase. While in the contained Legend of Drizzt environment this is fine it does limit cross compatibility with the other 2 games. The backs of the tiles now say “Cavern Tile” making them stand out in a stack if for some crazy reason you wanted to combine tiles from all the games. Finally, yes the artwork is still very sparse in this game, all the eye candy is in the miniatures.
I also have two minor nitpicks. I would like them to modify the exploration rules some. Right now when exploring, a character with a speed 7 has no inherent advantages over someone with a speed of 4. It’s almost worth play testing and house ruling that placing a new tile requires Speed points to be “spent”. For example to reveal a tile it costs 2 speed, so a player like Drizzt who is fast can cross a tile and then discover a new tile, while a slow player like a dwarf is hampered some. I am also getting rather tired of seeing dungeons and caverns. I would really like to see the next game introduce some variety. Give me a swamp, a jungle, heck, give me the Village of Hommlet, just give me new tile sets.
Overall Final Game Verdict: 8.5/10 Wizards of the Coast has done a fine job evolving this series of games with Legend of Drizzt being the best of the bunch so far. They have broken the pure cooperative mold some offering alternate modes of play and evolved the powers of the Heroes. This isn’t a Descent Killer because its not in the same competition. This is dungeon crawling without a DM and if that is what you want then this is your game.
This post was originally posted at 2D6.org
- Last edited Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:36 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Apr 9, 2012 3:43 pm
Nice review! This game series has become a favorite for my D&D group. Have an hour to kill before or after a session of D&D? Keep this nearby, and it will become a favorite!
Great review for a great game! As I get older it becomes harder and harder to get the group together for a session but this one seems to make everyone try a little harder to get together. Always a sign of a fun game!
They'll tell you black is really white The moon is just the sun at night
And when you walk in golden halls You get to keep the gold that falls It's Heaven and Hell
Great job and a very thorough review. Gives me good sense of what the game is like.
Michael Off The Shelf Board Game Reviews
Thank you. Legend of Drizzt in my mind has fixed all the minor issues that in some way or another plagued the prior two games.
The only problem I have now is The Jones Theory (tm). I honestly do not see myself pulling the other 2 games out as often, yet the miniatures are too nice to give up easily...
Good work on the post Nice review.
Michael Off The Shelf Board Game Reviews
Good work on the post Nice review.