The year is 2000, the season summer, and my freetime plentiful. My brother had previously picked up the PC adventure game Baldur’s Gate and I had watched him play it some but had yet to dabble much myself. I decided it was time. The world of Faerun instantly pulled me in and hasn’t let me go since.
Baldur’s gate lead me down the path that would eventually lead me to meet the dark elf ranger Drizzt Do’Urdan. When I learned Drizzt was going to get his own game in the tabletop space following the novels I was excited; even so it was not until a couple years after the games release that I finally had the joy of picking up a copy and bringing it to the table. Before I jump into the game’s vitals, play, and review let me once again pull back the curtain. I had initially scheduled Legend of Drizzt for a review in a couple of weeks but in a recent release by Wizards of the Coast it was announced another game is joining the Adventure System family in Temple of Elemental Evil. I was so excited at the announcement I had to move up this post to today.
Designer: Peter Lee
EPT: 60 minutes
In The Legend of Drizzt players don the personas of popular characters from the Drizzt saga including Drizzt himself, Bruenor, Wulfgar, Catti-Brie, and Regis as they delve into dungeons in the search of treasure, aiding the people, and fighting off the evils of the lands. The game comes with an adventure book that the players use to run the game; each adventure detailing the number of players it runs, the way to set up the dungeon, how to set up the dungeon tile stack, and what the missions win conditions are. In most games players are seeking to claim a specific treasure or slay a specific foe; if ever a character dies and the party lacks healing surges the players fail the adventure thus losing the game.
Along with setting up the dungeon tile stack and the adventure start conditions; each player designs their character as they desire to play them. Each character has a selection of daily powers, encounter powers, and at will powers to choose from so they can tune the character to their play style. During play a character can spend 5XP upon rolling a natural 20 to level up in which case they get additional powers and HP. Once players have set up the dungeon tile stack as specified in the adventure book and their character to their liking, they place their miniatures on the start tile and begin the game. My group often decides play order by high roll; with play then progressing clockwise.
On a player’s turn they have three phases; their hero phase, their exploration phase and finally their villain phase. On a player’s hero phase they have 2 actions available a move action and a second action that can be used for an extra move or as an attack; the order the actions are taken is decided by the player. If a player ends their turn on an unexplored edge of a tile they enter their exploration phase where they draw the top tile from the dungeon tile deck and place it on the edge they are exploring; with the arrow facing the player’s miniature. The player then draws the top card from the monster deck placing it on the mushroom icon on the new tile. Once that has been completed the players enter their villain phase; this phase essentially acts as the DM in the traditional adventure since. If the player did not place a new tile or if the tile they placed had a black triangle the player draws and plays the top encounter card; once the card has been resolved the active player’s monsters all follow their tactical actions; often attacking the nearest character or moving closer to the players as they do so.
When a player attacks a monster; if the monster is defeated the card is set in the party XP pile then the player draws a treasure card. All XP being split among the party, the cards in the pile can be used when at 5XP to level up, on a natural 20 roll, or to discard an encounter card and void the encounter for that turn. If ever a player dies due to a trap, monster, or encounter they begin their next hero phase spending a healing surge to return at half HP; if they can not do so the game ends as the heroes fail the adventure.
This is of course a very bare boned explanation but the game changes so much with the various encounters that to go far into detail would take an additional 10 blogs… not that I am opposed to that…
When Legend of Drizzt first met my table I was quite excited as it enabled me to partake as an adventurer in the D&D world without the need of a DM; which at the time I lacked. The miniatures are well designed though run the risk of bending where they are thin and require panting (presuming you don’t want them bland; a task i have yet to undertake). The art on the cards is fun and meets the quality you would expect from Wizards. The game paces equally well though it can succumb to the alpha gamer problem; which my group solved with the co-op advice ban rule… I need a better name for it… tweet me your name ideas – the rule is “you can offer advice to the other players if prompted but never can you just tell them what they should do.”
One of the reasons this game makes it to my Favorite Friday list, however, is the theme. The game is heavily reliant on the game’s theme (which I would argue is a good thing) and that theme being exploration; the dungeon aspect is variable they used the same mechanics in Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, and soon the Temple of Elemental Evil – but in every game exploration is key. The games within the adventure system also work as a collaboration of awesome; with bits being interchangable – my preferred way of doing so is playing the adventures as written with each game being its independent own and just merging the characters; but I can see and understand why some people love mixing the monsters and encounters for more unique experiences.
With all these elements I give the Legend of Drizzt a 9 out of 10; definitely a game I don’t get to the table as often as I wish I did.
Visuals – 1.75 // 2
Skill/Luck – .75 // 1
Pacing – 1.75 // 2
Theme/Immersion – 2 // 2
Mechanics – .75 // 1
Fun Factor 2 // 2
Visit again Monday as we look at the mechanic of Co-Op play; until then you can find us on social media!