A Look at The Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game

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Ashardalon Box

Today, we will take a look at the second game in the Dungeons & Dragons Board Game series: Wrath of Ashardalon.

Contents

41 Dungeon tiles

  • 1 starting tile (double sized)
  • 22 standard dungeon tiles
  • 18 special tiles
    • 6 Dire Chamber tiles
    • 6 Horrid Chamber tiles
    • 3 Alternate start tiles
    • 2 Exit tiles
    • Vault tile

200 cards

  • 30 Monster cards (3 each of 10 different monsters)
  • 50 Power cards (10 for each character, generally by class)
  • 33 Treasure cards
  • 5 Sequence of Plays cards
  • 53 standard Encounter cards
  • 4 Adventure-specific encounter cards
  • 5 Adventure cards (these represent villagers in one of the adventures)
  • 14 Chamber cards
  • 6 Boon 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.

  • Heskan (Dragonborn Wizard) – Good at opening doors
  • Keyleth (Elf Paladin) – Improves life restored with healing surges
  • Quinn (Human Cleric) – Allows heroes to remove conditions when they are healed
  • Tarak (Half-orc Rogue) – Has utility to add +1 damage that can be flipped back on a roll of 20.
  • Vistra (Dwarf Fighter) – Recovers from poisoned conditions more easily

Villains

There are seven villains that you can face in this game.

  • Ashardalon (The title red dragon) – this is the main boss in the game
  • Rage Drake – This drake has two stages – it gets nastier after taking damage
  • Bellax (Gauth) – Well, at least it’s not a full-blown beholder
  • Otyugh
  • Meerak (Kobold dragonlord) – The first boss you meet when you try to flee
  • Karash (Orc shaman)
  • Margrath (Duergar captain)

 

Monsters

The monsters in this game do not fit as well together as they do in Castle Ravenloft. This is in fact highlighted in some of the encounter cards. This game represents one of those old-school dungeons where you have numerous monsters that seem to have only one thing in common: they don’t like the adventurers.

Unique Mechanics

Wrath of Ashardalon introduces three significant mechanics to the system:

Doors

While it seems you would more likely find a door in a castle than in a volcano, the opposite is actually true in this series.

Chambers

When you are dealing with a powerful dragon, you naturally need a great deal of space. As such, this game features large chambers that are formed from multiple tiles. There are two sets of chamber tiles to allow some adventures to include two chambers.

Campaigns

This is probably the most significant addition. Two of the adventures in this set are designed as campaigns rather than stand-alone adventures. In these campaigns, you run the adventure multiple times while varying the inhabitants of the chamber.

In addition to the campaigns included in the adventure book, Wizards has published a three-adventure campaign that uses components from Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon.

Adventures

There are 13 adventures in the Adventure Book that comes with the game. Two of these adventures are actually campaigns that require you to play the Adventure more than once.

  • A Day in the Life of a Hero – This is just in introductory solo adventure. You fall into a crack that drops you unexpectedly into a dungeon – a typical event in the life of a hero. This does differ from the intro scenario in the other games in two ways: you find the objective tile earlier and you are required to kill a villain before you exit.
  • Monster Hunt – This is the introductory group adventure. As the name implies, the object is to hunt and kill 12 monsters. This adventure is a bit easier than its counterpart in Castle Ravenloft, since you only need to kill 12 monsters rather than collect 12 treasures from them. You should be able to use this adventure in any of the games in this series, though it is intended as an introduction to the system rather than a serious challenge.
  • Roghar’s Gear – This is the simple item recovery adventure for this set, similar to the Icon of Ravenloft quest.
  • The Mysterious Chamber – This adventure introduces the chamber rules, which you will also see in every adventure after this. In this adventure, you are to find a mysterious chamber and determine what is in it. What is nice about this adventure is that you are not sure what you will be facing until you reach the chamber (there are 14 variations to the chamber setup). Many of the subsequent adventures feel like variations of this adventure.
  • The Closed Doors – This adventure adds the door rules. You must find what is behind the doors to the Horrid Chamber. This adventure works quite well thematically. After playing this as written, you may consider playing it with a random chamber card. This may kill the thematic quality a little, so you may just mix the chamber cards that could represent a nasty secret.

Ashardalon Closed Doors

  • Campaign against the Clans – This adventure introduces the campaign rules. You run this adventure three times to go against three different clans populating the area. You do not know which clan you will face until you reach the central chamber (though it should be obvious when you run the third adventure, since there’d only be one choice left).
  • Find the Secret Tunnel – This time, you must not only kill the chamber occupants but you must also use the exit that is within the chamber. This just adds a little extra challenge to your standard chamber quest. Once again, you can vary this by using a random chamber setting.
  • Free the Captives – The duergar have taken some villagers captive. Can you kill the captors to free the villagers? The presence of the villagers adds a bit of flavor and challenge.
  • Sneaky Endeavor – Here you need to steal treasure from a dragon’s lair. You can be sure that the dragon will not be happy. This is certainly one of the more thematic adventures.
  • The Vast Gate Ritual – The cultists are up to something and in this adventure you are attempting to stop them.
  • The Vast Gate Opens – This adventure is unusual in that it works best thematically if you lose the previous adventure. It is designed to be run either standalone or after failing to stop the gate ritual.
  • The Wrath of Ashardalon – In the title adventure, you will face both a boss as well as the great dragon himself. It is thus similar to the first part of the “Hunt for Strahd.”
  • Assault on Firestorm Peak Campaign – This campaign is pretty much a series of “The Mysterious Chamber” runs. To win, you must kill Ashardalon, who will appear at some point between the 11th and 14th runs. This campaign includes several special rules to increase the challenge as you go along (since your characters will also be getting more powerful through leveling and gaining additional items).

Generally, the theme in these adventures are weaker than in Castle Ravenloft. I also find the variety in the various adventures to be less than in the other games in this series (as many of the adventures seem to be simple variations of Adventure 4). The strength is in the campaign rules as well as the variety represented through the chamber cards.

If you wish to see how this game is played, head over to Watch It Played, where they tell you how the game is played and then play through an adventure.

Conclusions

Wrath of Ashardalon represents one of the old-school dungeons with several different areas populated with different people. Alas, I think this just doesn’t quite work right and I feel things clash rather than work together.

This appears to be the most challenging of the games in this series, as the encounter cards tend to be quite brutal. There are two points to balance this. First, the two intro adventures are a little easier than in the other games. Second, the treasures cards universally represent items, so the players can gather a more impressive array of items (if you can survive the first few turns).

Next time, we will take a look at The Legend of Drizzt, where we head into the Underdark.

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