If You Like Dungeon Crawlers, You’ll Love Castle Ravenloft

Posted on March 3, 2011

In our continuing series on tabletop games that are fun for video
gamers, we look at this cooperative fantasy board game of horror and
adventure.

No one reading this website needs to be sold
on the fun of online cooperative play. The ability to shoot your way
through a Covenant army in Halo or tackle a big boss in World of
Warcraft with a bunch of friends is thrilling. But the cooperative
gaming experience isn’t just available in the video game sphere. As we
continue to examine tabletop games that we think are a good fit for the
video gaming crowd, we zero in on a new game from the folks who bring us
the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game.

Castle Ravenloft
strips away much of the complexity inherent to a true D&D game, and
delivers a cooperative dungeon crawl that is perfect for gamers fond of
Diablo, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, or Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, but
uninterested in spending hours bogged down in complicated rules.

Gameplay

Castle Ravenloft is a 1 to 5-player cooperative game of dungeon
exploration and questing. The game uses a dramatically pared down set of
4th edition D&D rules, minus the need for a dungeon master or a
doctorate in the game rules in order to enjoy. Every player takes on the
role of a pre-made hero with a set of special abilities and stats,
mostly represented on a large cardboard card. The group works together
to tackle one of several unique scenarios. In one, the characters need
to escape the dungeon before waves of monsters destroy them. In another,
the adventurers must hunt down the villainous vampire at the heart of
the castle. Each quest has its own special rules and setup, assuring a
variation in the story and objectives. On top of that, the dungeon is
created randomly over the course of the game as the heroes explore, so
the adventure feels unexpected and challenging every time.

Story

Castle Ravenloft carries the Dungeons & Dragons logo on its
front, but don’t be fooled. There’s not much in the way of complex
character interactions or storytelling at play here, unless, of course,
you put them in yourself. Instead, Castle Ravenloft presents a simple
premise. A dangerous castle filled with ghastly undead and their
terrifying vampire master loom over an unfortunate town, and you must
act to save its people. Each scenario offers a little more detail to
flesh out the fiction, but things are kept simple in order to get to
what the game is really about — combat.

Unique Features

Castle Ravenloft is all about exploring a mysterious dungeon and
fighting monsters along the way. You’re fighting monsters at nearly
every turn, and there’s a fantastic terror connected to feeling
overwhelmed by the attacking baddies.

The game does a great job
of keeping the intensity high and the action moving quickly around the
table. Turns occur at a fast pace, with clearly delineated phases for
each turn. Players move and act, then potentially place a new tile, and
finally control designated monsters as they spawn. Every player
participates in “running the board.” The creatures that spawn move by
preset rules on their own monster cards, which usually involve attacking the nearest character to
where the creature appears. The game’s random dungeon tiles keep things
interesting, as do the large number of surprising encounters that arise.
Between unique treasure items, numerous monsters, lots of traps and
other event-based challenges, and customizable characters, there’s
plenty to keep the game feeling fresh and exciting. Even though the game is pretty easy to pick up, don’t mistake that for the game being easy. Your party will be defeated almost as much as it will win the day.

The game also comes with a bunch of great looking unpainted mini figures to help visualize the action.

Up Next: Do I need an advanced degree to play?


Go to Source (Game Informer)

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Categories: Game News, Game Secrets


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