Yesterday, my group and I got together to celebrate the belated birthday of one of our own. He’s a huge R. A. Salvatore fan so we got him the new Legend of Drizzt board game. I had purchased the Wrath of Ashardalon game some time ago and it had been received well, so I figured this would be an excellent gift. Wrath of Ashardalon is a fun game and makes for a quick D&D-esque experience and is easy to play even after a drinking way too much beer from watching football before sitting down to play a game. Why wouldn’t Drizzt’s own boardgame be any different?
Indeed, it is pretty much the same set-up as Wrath of Ashardalon. And like Wrath of Ashardalon, it is a quick game for bored gamers who can’t decide on what type of campaign to get involved in or what character to make once a campaign has been decided upon. The game designers incorporated some new elements in the Legend of Drizzt that separates the dungeon from the Ashardalon dungeon. I am glad for this because I was afraid that this would be an exact duplicate of Wrath of Ashardalon.
Also, the character powers were custom-made to parallel their counterparts in Mr. Salvatore’s novels. My friend had a huge smile on his face as he summoned Guenhwyvar. You know, the big cat that follows Drizzt around. Yeah, well if you play Drizzt you get to have Guen…
There are, however, plenty of choices so playing Drizzt, Wulfgar, and the team can be different each time you approach the game.
I played Bruenor only because, for reasons beyond my understanding, the game designers decided not to have Thibbldorf Pwent make an appearance. Seriously. Where is the battlerager? While I am not a huge Salvatore fan (I prefer the early years as opposed to the past 10), I thought Thibbldorf was pretty cool. I’m pretty sure most people do to. Why did they not include him? The saving grace (from my perspective) was that Bruenor can take an extra point of damage to inflict another point on a creature he recently attacked. Drizzt, of course, gets to make two attacks…and have a cat…
I got the impression that Drizzt is a little over-powered. But I guess that should be expected as his name is on the box.
We all (generally) enjoyed the game, but not enough to play for too long. I think its fun, but it is not really a substitute for role-playing with your gaming group. A nice distraction, but that is all.
But this latest installment of the Wizard’s 4E board game series led me to ponder the following:
What is it with Wizards of the Coast game designers obsession with so many game components? There are so many pieces to the board games, that Jer, a member of my gaming group and NOT a fan of the board games, basically said he would rather jot down his condition on a piece of paper. (which I responded, “so shouldn’t we be playing D&D?”)
But even the table top version of 4E is littered with too many components to it now (fortune cards, power cards, miniatures, etc.) that I am not exactly sure what I am playing anymore. It has just recently struck me: why, when I print out a character sheet from the character generator, do I get 8 pages of cards? I don’t want to play Magic, I want to play D&D. What is up with the all the cards?
I digress. Legend of Drizzt was a fun game, even if some of the pieces seemed a little superfluous.
First, I got married and I’m really excited because, while my wife thinks my gaming hobby is nerdy, she is totally supportive of my interest in, and writing about, gaming. She does a great job at pretending to be interested in my stories and character ideas. Who could ask for anything more?
Second, winter will be setting in here in Upstate New York which means my group is going to start gaming again. And with the start of the “gaming season”, I have found myself contemplating what I need to do to keep my player’s interested in our games. You see, I have a problem. I love to role-play. I mean, I really love role-playing and I don’t think my players are all that into it. They like the challenge of a fight and the thrill of opening a treasure chest, but when it comes to interacting with my NPCs (or each other for that matter!), it’s like pulling teeth. I have been desperately trying to figure out a way to get these guys serious about role-playing something.
Compounding the issue for me is that I have just discovered George R. R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series. (Yes, I know. I am way behind the times on this one.) I purchased Robert Schwalb’s RPG set in Westeros and it is fantastic! I have always liked the story-teller game system. (It uses a roll and keep system similar to Legend of the Five Rings and Seventh Sea.) But, more importantly, character design is linked to house design. Meaning, in order to make your character, you have to build your character’s family house!
How cool is that!
Anyway. As you can probably guess, I want to play Song of Ice and Fire. But will my players? We shall see. My players have been uncertain and non-comittal about starting up again. The last time we hit a lull in gaming we didn’t return to gaming for quite some time. My great concern is that, indeed, a long winter is around the corner: a winter devoid of gaming.