Monday 4 July 2011

Musings on the D&D aventure system games

As you know I recently got myself both Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Asharldalon board games. I got all nostalgic over the D&D logo:

Look at it, is it not splendid? I knew there would be a few people who'd spit blood and fly off into a furious rage over it, mainly because of Wizards of the Coasts involvement. However I've had people tell me that I'm giving money to the bigger Satan, even worse than Games Workshop one person told me (not that I think either are anything other than companies trying to sell me product for profit). Yet in the same breath I'm told that they're even more evil for selling the game at a loss, using it as a loss leader to lure poor unsuspecting gamers into their lair and trap them!!!

Well lets examine that a bit closer. Have Wizards of the Coast done stuff to deserve such ire of gamers? Yes possibly, just like Games Workshop deserve some of the bad press for the crap they get up to. However they're trying to sell us games and nobody is forcing us to buy them, or not that I've noticed. If you don't like what either of them are selling then pick somebody else's poison has always been my philosophy. However to clarify I can totally understand some of the RPGers I know having a little bit of hatred for them.

The next claim is about the D&D Adventure System Games being a portal into the hobby like its something bad and evil, well erm, its not. Our hobby is bewildering to newcomers, we might all be used to criticals, D20's and know the difference between a Kobold and a Half Orc. But to newbies that's the biggest pile of gobbledygook ever, and what's more it is an effective barrier to newcomers into the hobby, and boy does our hobby need fresh blood. Why? Because for every single person I know who rage quits any given game system for one reason or another, there are 3 or 4 who apathy quit. Those rage quitters still care, that's why they're in a rage, they'll find something else to play. Its those apathy quitters I worry about...

They won't go out to find the next best thing or search 'teh internetz 4 da bestest game eva'. They just pack up and leave and then maybe 10 years later while cleaning out their attic find a huge box of dusty mini's and go 'God remember when I used to waste my life on this stuff?' so Wizards of the Coast aiming a product at casual gamers or newbies is not only a wise business decision, its vital for our hobby. Its the same reason I think Dwarf Kings Hold from Mantic is a good little product. So you won't hear me knocking them for it.

So what about this 'loss leader' idea. I often hear this banded around the hobby to describe certain products, normally like its a bad thing. Well lets tackle that! Firstly if Wizards of the Coast or anyone else want to sell me a product that they're losing £10 on then I say thank you very much for giving me £10 of stuff free. However here's the nonsense of that statement, a loss leader only works if it 'leads' on to other purchases. In the case of the D&D adventure games they don't have costly add on's and expansion packs, so the argument diminishes somewhat in light of this fact.

Then there's the fact that they've released two D&D Adventure System games and there is a third on the way (The Legend of the Drizzt), so why have three costly loss leaders into the hobby that are so similar? It doesn't make sense. Then lets assume that the they are making a £10 loss per box like so many people have claimed, lets assume they've sold 100,000 copies worldwide. Lets be honest its probably loads more, but even that figure would mean a loss of £1,000,000, sorry that's just not likely. Because if there is one thing Wizards of the Coast know how to do its make money.

So what do I think so far of the game? Its not bad, I've played the single player missions on both multiple times now and I'm surprised at how much replay they both have. I've also had a two player game of each and again enjoyed it for what it was, a board game. Its not a complex RPG or serious dungeon crawler its a board game, and so far a fun one at that. Will it be to everyone's tastes? No. However I'd just like to say regardless of how 'evil' Wizards of the Coast might be, so far its not a bad product. Peace out!


  1. Really enjoyed playing this, I thought it was no thinking but trying to kill that last boss monster and escape the dungeon became quite frantic! Was fun for my first dungeon crawler

  2. Yeah it wasn't bad, however your cursed luck started ruining it for everyone!!! The encounter cards you pulled were dire, not sure I'll let you come along next time as I swear you're a double agent.