Over the holiday some of us in our gaming group got together and played WOTC's Castle Ravenloft. It's a dungeon crawl adventure board-game based on the D&D 4th ed. rule-set.
First of all I have to say that it's a very well packaged game. Tons of plastic minis, nice dungeon pieces that fit together quite well. Once the game gets moving it has a good pace to it.
The players choose from your standard cache of adventurers; rogue, cleric, wizard, fighter (dragon-kind) to explore this Castle Ravenloft which changes with every play. Each of the character roles has a number of 'powers' and daily powers that can be used throughout the session which you use during this combat heavy game. The party survives best if they use their powers together, something which seems to be the core of 4th ed. adventuring.
The dungeon tiles are quite nicely done and fit together well - like a puzzle! There are also a number of different quests so the game can be a new excitement for quite some time. Over all it reminds me of a more complicated version of the original Dungeon! game from TSR.
I think this board game translates very nicely with the 4ed. base concept of all these crazy powers. To me, 4e seemed very combat heavy with not much room for adventuring or role-playing. Castle Ravenloft fits this concept like a glove! In fact, it's a better fit for 4th edition rules than fitting 4th edition into the role-playing game genre. Something for WOTC to think about. Of course you can only advance up to a second level character; not much there for the Hasbro bean counters to look forward to.
The only other thing that I would mention is that the rules for this game seemed to be poorly written. All of us are veteran gamers and we still had trouble interpreting what the rules were tying to get at. Maybe it was that giant ham sandwich we all ate before we started to play but I don't think so. We had to tweak things to get the game moving and we still weren't sure if we played it totally correctly.
Overall it was a fun time and we all looked forward to giving it another go. If you're looking for an afternoon of relaxed dungeon crawling adventure, Castle Ravenloft would fit the bill. Of course, with the $50 + price tag it's a bit of an investment but I guess that's better than having to buy all the 4e crap that WOTC markets to it's client-base. I hate that manipulative crap! Remember the good ol' days where you can dish out just a few bucks for a game? Progress I guess.
Oh, and keep the party together.
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