About a year and a half ago, we covered a cooperative board game called Castle Ravenloft. That game was the first in a series using rules known as the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure System. This system, loosely based on the latest version of the D&D RPG rules, allows all players to play together as a team, with no Dungeon Master required. Castle Ravenloft was quite good, as was the follow-up, Wrath of Ashardalon, in which the heroes invade a giant red dragon's volcanic lair. The third (and perhaps last) game in the series, The Legend of Drizzt, is the topic for Tabletop Co-Op today.
First, let's cover the gameplay elements common to all D&D Adventure System Games. From 1 to 5 players can participate, each controlling a hero, represented by a detailed plastic minature. Heroes have the classic stats you'd expect, like armor class and hit points. Players choose from a set of power cards as the game begins. Some heroes' powers can be used repeatedly, while others only work once; be very careful about using the latter! The board is built as the game progresses, with a modular tile put into place anytime a hero explores an edge.
In most cases, a new tile brings a new monster with it. Players draw a monster from the deck of monster cards, place the corresponding mini on the board, and resolve the actions on the monster card. Wise heroes will balance exploration with keeping the board clear of monsters. The endgame depends on the specific scenario the players picked during setup, which usually include scripted events tied to finding a specific tile or meeting some other condition. The whole system is very flexible, easily to modify, and provides lots of replay value due to different variables that change from game to game.
The Legend of Drizzt, as you no doubt would surmise from the title, is based on characters from the popular R.A. Salvatore books. All of the heroes and villains from the Dark Elf and Icewind Dale trilogies are included in the game, from noble drow Drizzt and barbarian Wulfgar to cunning assassin Artemis Entreri and the demon lord Errtu, who has an especially imposing miniature. For fans of the books, taking on the role of these characters adds greatly to the fun. Even for non-fans, these heroes have much more personality than the generic protagonists of Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon.
Being the third game in the series, you might expect The Legend of Drizzt to just be more of the same. While the second game had a few nifty additions, The Legend of Drizzt really cranks it up a notch. For one, there are more heroes available, a total of eight compared to the five of the others. Three of the heroes use stances, which are powers that have a lasting effect, but can only be used one at a time. Drizzt's scimitar Twinkle is one such ability, and reduces damage, just as it does in the books. In general, the heroes are slightly more complex to use, but I found the meaningful decisions to be made with these characters preferable to the simpler, yet still just as powerful heroes of the first two games.
Perhaps the most striking change is to the modular tiles themselves. Instead of the previous games' manmade dungeon corridors, The Legend of Drizzt has cavern tiles. The look and feel are significantly different; you'll really feel as if you are deep underground where all manner of enemies await. The design of the individual scenarios has improved, too, having reached a point where each one feels drastically different than the others. I was particularly impressed by the mission where you deal with an enclosed area (like that pictured below). It's a great twist on the system, and so is the scenario where a hero turns into a villain!
As with the prior games in the series, the production values of The Legend of Drizzt are excellent. A well designed insert keeps everything organized, the tiles and tokens are sturdy, and then, there are the miniatures. While they are still cast in unpainted (but colored) plastic, the sculpts are amazing. Two giant trolls, a dark-elf/spider hybrid, a purple deep dragon, and clear blue water elementals, in particular, are impressive and incredibly detailed. There are even two new sculpts for this release. You will not be disappointed by what you find in the box, that's for sure.
The Legend of Drizzt is the best game in the series, by a wide margin. Though I've played and enjoyed all three versions, this latest entry has more character appeal, greater replayability, better scenarios, and cooler looking minis by far. All three games are cross compatible, which is certainly a plus, and a new, unrelated miniatures skirmish game upcoming from Wizards of the Coast will come with cards that allow the new minis to be used in Adventure System games. Exciting stuff for fans of the system! If you've ever been interested in D&D at all, The Legend of Drizzt is definitely a board game you should check out.