Castle Ravenloft (the Boardgame)

Do you like boardgames with a lot of pieces?  Do you like D&D?  Do you like Ravenloft?  Then you will probably be pretty pleased with this board game!

In case you don’t know, Castle Ravenloft is a board game produced by Wizards of the Coast, the same guys that bring you Dungeons & Dragons.  The game is loosely based on an old AD&D module of the same name.

To play, you pick a character card and miniature.  Each character is 1st level, and has various cards they can play, representing powers that can be used against the creatures.  There are several scenarios included in the game, with a couple of extra downloadable on the Wizards of the Coast site, but in general they boil down to “you are a group of adventurers travelling to the crypts below Castle Ravenloft to perform some duty or grab some treasure.”

Unlike a traditional D&D game, there is no Dungeon Master; each player plays both his character and each of the monsters on the board.  The board itself is made up of various interlocking tiles, played when a character gets to an edge of an existing tile, generally drawn randomly from a pile.  This means that every time you play, the board will change.

To add a little spice, there are Encounter cards, which represent various random happenstances and they can certainly spice up the game.  Additionally there are Monster cards (and associated miniatures) and Treasure cards.

Castle RavenloftAs you defeat monsters, you gain treasures and XP associated with the creatures.  Once you have a certain number of XP you can spend them to avoid drawing an Encounter card.  Additionally, if you have 5XP and roll a natural 20, you can spend the Xp to level up your character to 2nd level.

When a character runs out of hit points, they must spend a healing surge (you generally get 2 healing surges) and heals that many hp back.  If you run out of healing surges and hp, your character is dead.

The system itself is simple, roll 1d20, add your attack bonus (depending on the power you’re using) and compare to the creature’s AC.  If you meet or exceed AC, you deal the damage listed for the power.  Monsters work similarly, but their tactics are listed on their card.

I’ve played the game a few times now with my two older children (my 14 year old and my 8 year old) as well as one of the solo scenarios and we have yet to successfully win a game.  Monsters are dropped into the game when most tiles are laid down, and additionally some Encounter cards put additional monsters into play.  Expect a TPK.

This board game has a lot of pieces.  In addition to the cards and dungeon tiles, there are miniatures for the creatures and tokens.  Lots and lots and lots of tokens.  I hope you enjoy tokens, because there are a lot of them in here.  Unless you have a good system for organizing the tokens, you will spend a lot of time searching for the ones you need.  This is perhaps my least favorite aspect of the game.

But the most important thing to ask would be is it fun?  The answer is, yes.  Once you get past searching for the tokens, and if you don’t mind losing fairly often, it’s definitely a fun time, full of enough randomness to make sure the same scenario plays differently each time.  Make no mistake, like many games of this time, it’s not cheap, but if you have a crew to play it with, it’s worth it.

[tags]Castle Ravenloft,Board and Card Games,D&D,d20,Dungeons and Dragons,games,gaming,review,reviews,tabletop,rpg[/tags]

2 thoughts on “Castle Ravenloft (the Boardgame)

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  1. As a huge fan of board games with replay value, this one does sort of tempt me. Maybe I can convince one of my friends to pick it up 😉

    Have you played Arkham Horror by chance, and if so, how does it compare as far as the cooperative experience?


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