Legacy of Brutality

Dungeons & Dragons Wrath of Ashardalon Box

Being in a gaming group is hard. Between work, school, kids, conflicting schedules (and sometimes lack of interest in the current edition of an RPG), it is often nigh-impossible to get your friends together and on the same page long enough to run an encounter or two, much less an ongoing campaign.

And for me, a guy who loves to play Dungeons & Dragons with his buddies, this is a bummer to say the least.

So as of late I have been looking for new outlets for tabletop adventuring and although I may have been at first apprehensive of playing a “board game” I decided to give Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon a go. 

I was more than surprised and immediately pleased with the result.

I would even go as far to say that calling Ashardalon a “board game” is almost insulting.

Candy Land is a board game. Wrath of Ashardalon is an exercise in brutality.

Wrath of Ashardalon is a nonstop shoot first and hope there is a later to ask questions game for 1-5 players in a dungeon that develops as you move your characters through it. There is no set “board” so no two adventures will ever be the same. Victory is attainable; however, the threat of defeat is always constant and breathing down your neck. This is a dungeon crawl in all its glory in which the environment is almost as deadly, if not even more, so than the Red Dragon Ashardalon itself.

The encounters unfold as you explore each tile in which monsters spawn and encounter cards are drawn, unleashing disastrous effects and conditions. Each player moves the monsters on their turn, so all the players will finally experience  the zeal of being a half-drunk with power Dungeon Master, attempting to lay waste to all who dare oppose them! Just keep in mind it is only yourself and your teammates you are hurting so I would suggest pulling punches if possible.

Everybody starts at first level and if you have gained enough experience killing monsters, you can level when you roll a Natural 20. You can also cash in your experience to disable traps or cancel encounters. This is, in some ways, more effective than one player leveling up. You unfortunately can’t use experience to cancel out the arrival of Ashardalon which can actually happen on the first turn if you don’t shuffle the encounter deck well enough. In all seriousness though, you should hope you summon Ashardalon within the first few cards because later in the game his arrival doesn’t bode well for anybody. You have at least got a fighting chance against him with a party at full HP.

Ashardalon arrives

Wrath of Ashardalon comes with 42 miniatures and 13 sheets of Dungeon Tiles, which is great for quick encounters for veterans, or a first time DM looking to get his or her feet wet. The Heroes included are your typical adventuring party (Fighter/Rogue/Paladin/Cleric/Wizard) and the monsters are all the classics from your monster manual (Kobolds/Gibbering Mouthers/ Grells/Legion Devils etc.) plus some mini-bosses that I don’t want to spoil for you and of course Ashardalon.

This game is a perfect introduction to Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons with streamlined rules and pure combat. It may not be good for those who long for a deep involved role-playing experience but for anybody who wants a good old-fashioned smash and grab with their buddies on a Friday night this is the game for you.

Just do yourself a favor and READ THE GODDAMNED RULEBOOK! It will be really confusing and not at all fun if you choose not to. Above all else, always make sure you have a Cleric in your party. You’ll need him.

~
When he’s not wishing he had picked less flammable clothes before entering Ashardalon’s dungeon, he’s on Twitter lamenting the three beers he had before he did. Follow him at @johnmiserable.

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  • Cock Diesel

    Ha,

    We just killed this guy in my 3rd edition rules campaign, no lie!

  • John McGuire

    Nice!!! What level were you at/what level was Ashardalon??? He is surprisingly tough in this game, my buddy Quigley drew his card on the fourth turn and we still had a rough go of it. Nothing more satisfying than killing a Dragon!

  • Cock Diesel

    I'd have to ask my DM what level Ashardalon was but we were level 19 and afterwards were level 20. We fought him at level 8 first as a red dragon and then my DM modified him to be an insane undead dragon that we fought at the end. We have one session left to kill the God who resurrected him so we can become epic. I'm a full elf rogue.

  • Cock Diesel's D

    I think these guys were around 12th level when they fought Ashardalon the red dragon – I pulled him from the Temple of the Dragon Cult module from Dungeon Crawl Classics. The dragon's death was a required component for a spell to tear a rift between the Prime Material and Negative Material planes, and as a reward for the sacrifice, an evil god granted Ashardalon unlife as a dracolich. The party faced him again at 19th level, and he was a CR 23 encounter. Actually, he was Dragotha from "Into the Wormcrawl Fissure" in Dungeon Magazine. I just fit it into the existing storyline.

    I can't wait to get this board game.

  • Cock Diesel's D

    Well, we played it. Sadly, I think this game is too difficult, too metagame, and too complicated to enjoy. Every player sets off a trap every damned round unless they explore a new room on the grid (which at the very least spawns a new monster, plus a 50% chance of also triggering a trap). Maybe we would get better if we kept playing, but it's not a fun game. Even the old "Dungeon" board game had more soul to it.

  • rob

    ya i found the constant encounters annoying. a great solution is to find a random alarm app which i did for my android phone. i set it to go off once randomly every 10 minutes and whoever happens to be playing when the alarm rings draw a card. u could also roll a dice to simulate random encounters. they also use the term "tile" on cards for both a dungeon tile AND what should be a square within the tile used for movement.