A Look at Castle Ravenloft Board Game

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Castle Ravenloft Box

Today, we will take a look at the first of the Dungeons & Dragons board games: Castle Ravenloft.

Contents

41 Dungeon tiles

  • 1 starting tile (double sized)
  • 20 normal dungeon tiles
  • 20 named dungeon tiles

200 cards

  • 30 Monster cards (3 each of 10 different monsters)
  • 50 Power cards (10 for each character, generally by class)
  • 45 Treasure cards
  • 10 scenario treasure cards
  • 5 Sequence of Plays cards
  • 60 Encounter cards

5 hero cards and figures

1 large villain card (double-sided)

3 normal villain cards (double-sided)

Many counters

Heroes

This set includes five heroes.

  • Allisa (Human Ranger) – good at scouting tiles
  • Arjhan (Dragonborn Fighter) – adds AC bonus to nearby companions
  • Immeril (Eladrin Wizard) – adds attack bonus to nearby companions
  • Kat (Human Rogue) – good at disabling traps
  • Thorgrim (Dwarf Cleric) – can heal a nearby companion

Villains

There are eight villains that you can face in this game:

  • Strahd (the vampire that owns Castle Ravenloft) – this is the main boss in the game
  • Gravestorm (a dracolich – we need a dragon and an undead one is most appropriate)
  • Zombie dragon (this allows us to have a dragon even when we have a random boss)
  • Young vampire
  • A werewolf
  • A Howling Hag
  • Klak (a kobold sorcerer that oversees Strahd’s arcane experiments)
  • A flesh golem (probably one of Klak’s creations)

Monsters

The monsters in this set fit very well thematically. Five are undead (very appropriate for a castle ruled by a vampire), one is a gargoyle (fitting in any old castle), and two are associated with vampires (rats and wolves). While the spider is not strong thematically, it does fit in a dark castle fitting. That leave just the kobold. These were probably brought by Klak, so they are here for the story line rather than the general nature of the setting.

Unique Mechanics

As Castle Ravenloft was the first game in the series, it is naturally the lightest when it comes to special mechanics. This game’s strength is in flavor and straightforward mechanics.

This set includes a set of monster tokens that can be used to vary the number of monsters when you draw a new tile. These are used in some specific adventures but some players use them for all adventures (sometimes a corridor is quiet and sometimes you have a patrol). The other games in this series have tokens for the villains but this is the only game with a full set of these tokens.

Adventures

There are 13 adventures in the Adventure Book that comes with the game. Below is a quick summary of the adventures that are shipped with the game.

  • Escape the Tomb – This is just in introductory solo adventure. That does not mean that it is an easy adventure.
  • Find the Icon of Ravenloft – This is the introductory group adventure. All you have to do is grab the artifact and kill the guards. Of course, you need to find it first.
  • Klak’s Infernal Artifact – This is Drac’s favorite and will likely be mine. You aim is to get an artifact and kill the kobold that created it (since he could always make another if you fail to kill him). The tricky bit is the tendency for the kobold to call for help, so you have to keep the pressure on him to make sure you complete your objectives quickly.
  • Daylight Assault – This is a simple treasure grab. You go in and try to get as many treasure items as you can get before the sun sets. This adventure can get annoying since you need to avoid using consumables (since your goal is to leave with 12 items). Personally, I think that this adventure would have been more fitting for Wrath of Ashardalon, as all of the treasures in that game represent items (since drawing a Fortune in this adventure is a nuisance).
  • The Final Transformation – This is an escort quest, which probably already leaves a few of you cringing. What’s worse is that the party you are escorting is likely to change sides at a moment’s notice. I highly recommend doing this one with a larger number of heroes.
  • Destroy the Dracolich – When you include an undead dragon in your villains, you certainly need a scenario that features said monster. This adventure includes a means for your heroes to work together even if the party is somehow split.
  • Adventure: Impossible – This is the only multi-boss solo Adventure that I know of in the series. It’s a long adventure (you may need as many as 24 tiles to reach the final boss). The premise is a bit stretched but it’s fun. This is a good adventure if you want an opportunity to test out multi characters in the same adventure while only controlling one at a time. In the photo below, we are at the end game where we are facing our third villain (the young vampire).

Castle Ravenloft Gameplay

  • Horror of the Howling Hag – This adventure wins the alliteration contest. It also wins the contest for the most unusual setup.
  • Gauntlet of Terror – In most of the adventures, you are either on the offensive or attempting to escape. In this adventure, you are trying to defend the exit and the monsters attempt to escape and assault the town. This adventure uses the monster tokens.
  • Blood and Fog – Speaking of escape scenarios, this is the classic. You enter at a trap and must find an alternate exit.
  • Rampaging Golem – This adventure gives you two options: kill or pacify the boss.
  • The Hunt for Strahd – This is a two-part adventure set on two different levels. They are designed to be played separately, as Castle Ravenloft does not include any campaign rules. If you want to link the adventures, you can always just refresh health, healing surges (and keep treasures you have), and turn power cards back face up. The campaigns from Wrath of Ahardalon are more liberal but then those were designed with campaign in mind.

Generally, each adventure has its own flavor. I like that most of the villains are highlighted in one of the adventures.

In addition, Wizards released a bonus adventure PDF that includes two adventures:

  • Zombie Guards of Castle Ravenloft – In this adventure, you will keep spawning zombies in addition to your usual opponents.
  • Search for the Sunsword – This adventure is a prequel to “The Hunt for Strahd,” thus making it a three-part adventure.

Finally, wizards held an adventure writing contest and published the winners in a contest winning adventure PDF, which includes three adventures:

  • Curses! –This adventure gives you a chance to use the werewolf villain card.
  • A Hero Lost – In this adventure, one member of the party is separated from the rest and is suffering from a terrible infection. Can you find the cure?
  • The Skill of Necromancy – This is a “find the artifact” adventure with a few extra challenges. The main one is the tendency for your fallen friends to turn into wraiths.

Conclusions

This game includes villains and monsters that fit thematically, as well as a wide variety of adventures. Yet this is only the first of three (soon to be four) games in the line. Next time, we will take a look at Wrath of Ashardalon, where the local dragon is very much alive.

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