The dreaded red dragon Ashardalon has returned, and your party of adventurers has to defeat him and his minions in Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon! Return to the fantasy world of Dungeons & Dragons in this second installment of the board game series. Play as a fighter, cleric, rogue, wizard or paladin and seek out powerful magic items. Use your special abilities and spells to fight dragons, orcs, bears, demons and many more dangerous creatures in this strategy board game.
Wrath of Ashardalon is the second board game in the Dungeons & Dragons board game series, after the first game Castle Ravenloft. It is a standalone game and can be played on its own, but you can combine its components with those of Castle Ravenloft to create your own grand adventures. This review will cover the new mechanics and concepts that are introduced in Wrath of Ashardalon. For more information about the basic Dungeons and Dragons board game system and how to play the game, please see our Castle Ravenloft review.
The story and setting of Wrath of Ashardalon revolve around the eponymous dragon who is causing all sorts of trouble. Ashardalon is a great red dragon, ancient and powerful even by dragon standards. The game features a dozen adventures that involve your party of heroes completing quests that usually involve killing his minions, ranging from the lowly bear and orc to powerful fantasy creatures like the dragonlord and otyugh. You will slowly work your way up to facing the red dragon himself. It isn’t all about altruism and saving defenseless villagers though; an ancient red dragon usually has lots of powerful magical treasure in his horde…
In an adventure game like this, the first thing players are usually interested in is what kind of characters they get to play. Wrath of Ashardalon doesn’t disappoint, giving us 5 new quirky characters. There are the dwarf fighter, the human cleric, the dragonborn wizard and the half-orc rogue; giving us new versions of the classes we’ve seen before in Castle Ravenloft, but with different new abilities and powers. We also get an elf paladin, a brand new class! She is a highly-armored melee defender that can take damage with the best of them, but can also provide healing to her allies as well.
One major improvement added to the game is the rules to run campaigns. In Castle Ravenloft, each adventure is basically separate, and everything resets when a new adventure begins. This time, there are campaign rules that spell out what happens between adventures in an epic story. You can heal up and use your hard-earned treasure to buy powerful magic items. This continuity where you feel like your characters are actually growing and improving as the campaign progresses is so important for adventure games, especially one with the Dungeons & Dragons name attached to it.
Publisher Wizards of the Coast have also outdone themselves this time, providing lots of nice goodies in the box. There are plenty of new markers and cards, and lots of beautifully-carved miniatures. Unfortunately, the miniatures aren’t pre-painted. But they still look pretty good in their existing monochromatic state, and painting the minis just gives us another fun thing to do with the game! These minis include those for various types of orcs, bears, dwarves, aberrant creatures and epic monsters such as the dragonlord, otyugh and the great red dragon himself. While the monsters in Castle Ravenloft have an undead and crypt theme, the creatures here have more of a cave and underground lair theme.
The other nicely designed markers and cards also introduce interesting new concepts to the game. While the adventures in Castle Ravenloft were limited to tight corridors and small confined rooms, you get to fight in huge rooms and lairs in Wrath of Ashardalon. New chamber rules instruct you how to set up these large spaces, and your tactics will now have to change to accommodate this new environment. There are also markers that add fixtures to rooms, such as altars, traps and doors. The doors add another dimension to the adventure. A door could be locked or trapped. And what’s behind the closed door? What’s so interesting in there that requires a locked door to keep others out? Or is it trying to keep something in…
There are plenty of other new things introduced in this game. There are now rules where you can escort or protect Non-Player Characters (NPCs) as they travel through the dungeon. There are also new event and adventure cards including beneficial boons and dangerous traps, curses and hazards. And of course there are new powerful game-changing magical treasure cards too.
It is surprising but encouraging to see so many new things introduced in Wrath of Ashardalon. There’s so much you can do in this game, and you aren’t limited to the dozen adventures included in the box as well. The beauty of this system (and Dungeons and Dragons in general) is that you can use the game rules and create your own campaign and story. Just let your imagination run wild, and the game system will be able to support your ideas and help you create your dream campaign. And if you also own Castle Ravenloft, you can combine the heroes, monsters and events in both games for an even more epic adventure!
This is a great game that successfully blends a strategy board game with an adventure game. You will enjoy it whether your aim is to experience the story, beat up monsters or acquire powerful loot. You will like Wrath of Ashardalon if you liked similar adventure board games such as HeroQuest or DungeonQuest.
Playing Time: ~ 1 hour
Number of Players: 1 to 5 players
Check out the other games in this series!
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