Castle Ravenloft AAR

Wizards of the Coast have released a new Dungeons and Dragons board-game called Castle Ravenloft.

The game has scenarios for 1-5 players so prior to playing a game with Sula I decide to tackle one of the solo adventures.  This is my AAR (After Action Report) from Escape The Tomb:

You wake up alone in the depths of Castle Ravenloft.  The last thing you remember was when the man with the piercing eyes and long cane approached you on the dark street outside the Inn.  It had to be Count Strahd, the vampire!  Outside the castle , you know that the sun is high in the sky.  Now you have to find your way out of here before the sun sets and Strahd returns to finish whatever foul plot he began last night.

There are five classes to choose from: a Dwarven Cleric, an Eladrin Mage, a Human Rogue, a Human Ranger, and a Dragonborn Fighter.  I select the Dragonborn fighter.

The Fighter has 17AC, 10 HP, and 5 SPD.  
Powers for this session are:
Precise Strike
Tide of Iron
Dragon's Breath

The treasure item I begin the game with is a Potion of Rejuvenation, which lets me flip over a daily power that I have exhausted so that I may reuse it.

Turn 1

I head south and reveal another crypt.  There's a Skeleton (16AC, 1HP) here looking grumpy.  Since the revealed tile has a black triangle (instead of a white triangle) I must draw an Encounter Card: Prowling Ghost: the ghosts of past adventurers materialize and attack me (+9ATK, 1DMG) - since my fighter has 17AC, and the attack is +9, the ghosts need to roll +8 to hit me...miss (1).  After the attack the Encounter Card tells me to place a new dungeon tile at the unexplored edge closest to my hero, place a new monster on that tile and then move my hero to that tile.  Another crypt, this one with a Kobold Skirmisher (13AC,1HP) waving a spear around.  

Skeleton: moves 1 tile toward me.
Kobold: attacks me (+9ATK, 1DMG)...hit (16), and I am down 1HP to 9.  

Turn 2

I attack the Kobold with Tide of Iron (+8ATK, 1DMG) and...miss (4).  Not wanting to reveal a new tile, and consequently a new monster, I chose not to move to the edge of the tile I'm on.  Because I didn't reveal a new tile I must draw an Encounter Card: Voice of the Master: oh, it's a card that is intended for a game with more than one player. Sometimes I draw a card that, due to the game I’m currently running, has no effect. When that happens I discard and draw another (choose whichever rule you like, just be consistent in its application).  The Encounter Card is Animated Armour: attack each hero on the active hero's tile (+7ATK, 3DMG, miss 1DMG)...hit (11), and I am down to 8HP.

Skeleton: charges to me and attacks with Slice (+9ATK, 2DMG)...miss (4).
Kobold: attacks me...miss (4).

Turn 3

I have a power called Cleave (+6ATK, 1DMG) and if I land a hit with it I can choose another monster on my tile and that monster takes 1DMG.  I elect to Cleave the Kobold...hit (16)... The Kobold is dead and the Skeleton is down a hit point to 1HP.  I find a Potion of Healing (2HP) in the Kobold's pocket.  Handy.  

My speed is 5, and I can move after attacking, but the Skeleton has a weaker adjacent attack, so I don't want to move away from it so it can use it's charging Slice attack.  I also don't want to move to the edge of my tile and reveal another, with incumbent monster.  I stand my ground.  Since I didn't reveal a tile I draw an Encounter: Corner of Your Eye: roll the die, 1-15 a monster rushes you from the darkness (place a new monster on the same tile as your hero), 16-20 a friendly spirit inspires you to fight on (flip up one of your used powers).  [RULES MOMENT: I have no powers that have been used, so half this card is void, but the other half isn't.  I decide to play it]. 11...which triggers a Skeleton, but since a player can only 'control' one of the same type of monster at once I discard that and draw...a Wraith (15AC, 2HP) which materializes from the shadows!  That's bad.  Wraiths hit hard (+6ATK, 3DMG, miss 1DMG) and when they die each hero on the same tile takes 1DMG.

Skeleton:  the Skeleton swings it's scimitar (+7ATK, 1DMG)...miss (6).
Wraith: the Wraith rears up, fills it's insubstantial form with energy and forces it's will toward me...miss (8) but I still take 1DMG from its noxious body odour (I am down to 7/10HP).

Turn 4

So, this is unpleasant.  I decide to use Precise Strike (+11ATK, 2DMG) on the Wraith...hit (19), the Wraith is dead and I take another point of DMG (6/10).  Killing the Wraith fills me with adrenaline and until the end of my next hero phase I get an ATK bonus equal to the number of heroes on my tile.  

Again, I don't move (this time because I'm too scared) which triggers an encounter: Overrun: each hero takes damage equal to the number off monsters they control: Ouch! Down another 2HP (4/10).

Skeleton: the skeleton swings it's scimitar (a bit wildly, I might add, displaying very poor form there)...and hits (12)...down another HP (3/10).

Turn 5

I chug my Potion Of Healing (2HP) and am back to half (5/10).  I decide to, again, remain where I am (i really hate this smelly Skeleton now and want it to fall down a lot) which triggers an encounter: oh balls!  King Tomescu's Portal: I fall through a portal and hit my head and shoulder on the way down (attack the active hero 3 times (+8ATK, 1DMG)...miss (8)...hit (12)...hit (14)... I am down another 2HP (3/10).  I wonder where this portal leads?

Turn 6

I land hard on a stone slab back in a crypt I wandered through earlier.  Nothing broken, but I am leaking blood.  My potion is gone and my adrenaline depleted, which means my blessing was wasted.  What to do?  I'm going back for that skeleton.  I did move, but I didn't place a tile, so I draw another Encounter, maybe it will be raining candy this time?  Eww.  Grey Ooze: a pseudopod attacks me (+8ATK, 3DMG, miss 1DMG)...hit (19)...for 3HP which puts me at 0/10...I drift into oblivion, the last thing I remember thinking is, "Oh, grey ooze; better not step in that..."

Turn 7

I come around and pop a Healing Surge (I was given 2 when I began) which puts me back to half health (5/10).  I'm too woozy to walk far, so since I don't reveal a tile I trigger an Encounter: blast!  A Trap!  Oh, beru fend!  It's an Alarm: the clatter of distant bells starts up somewhere in the complex.  Place the alarm marker on the hero's tile, trigger the trap during the villain phase, place a new monster on the unexplored edge that is closest to the alarm marker.  The Alarm has roused a Wolf (14AC, 1HP).  I can try to disable the alarm instead of attacking (+10, a Rogue gets +5) but I'm a bit worried about this place rapidly filling up with monsters and that Skeleton (remember it from Turn 1?) is still half dead.  I move onto the skeleton's tile and attack it with Tide of Iron (+8ATK, 1DMG)... hit (16), the skeleton is dead and I must have hit it really hard because it's bones snap and break, manipulated by some unseen hand, and reform into a Glyph of Warding (the first monster that moves to, or is placed on this tile, takes 1DMG).

Again, since I didn't reveal a tile I trigger an encounter: Spider Webs: attack the active hero (+4 IMMOBILIZED, miss SLOWED)...miss (3) but I am slowed (2SPD).

The Alarm keeps up it's keening racket and draws a Wraith to the room.
Wolf: the wolf lopes toward me, it's jaws open and drooling spittle, on the edge of the room it tenses to pounce, muscles bunching in its legs and along its back, it leaps at me and...triggers the Glyph of Warding, which explodes as the wolf is in mid-air, jagged pieces of splintered bone pierce it's left side killing it instantly.  Phew.  The Glyph is used up.  Boo.
The Wraith moves to me with impossible speed and swipes it's nails across my face...hit (18)...I am down to 2HP.  

What an eventful turn.

Turn 8

I am no longer slowed.
What can I do about this Wraith.  Let's do the same thing I did to the last one.  I pop my Potion of Rejuvenation, which lets me flip my daily Precise Strike (+11ATK, 2DMG) back over again.  I drop into an offensive stance and attack the Wraith...hit (19)...the Wraith is dead but I opened myself up to make the attack and the Wraith's defensive swing caught me across the ribs, I am down another HP (4/10).  I notice the Wraith is wearing a Necklace of Fireballs (+5ATK, 1DMG, attack each monster on a tile 1 tile away from you) so I take that and slip it over my helm. 

I don't reveal a tile which triggers an Encounter: Hands of the Dead: attack each hero on the active hero's tile (+6ATK, 2DMG, miss 1DMG)...hit (18) and I am down 2HP (2/10).

The Alarm has drawn a Zombie (+11AC, 1HP) into the room.  (That alarm is starting to give me a sinus headache.)

Turn 9

I use a Utility Power, Unstoppable, which gives me a boost of adrenaline (+2HP).  I move to the alarm and try to disable is beyond my meagre fighter's brain (4).  Since I didn't reveal a tile I trigger an encounter: Patrina Veliokovna: a ghost materializes and attacks me (+7ATK, 2DMG, miss 1DMG)...but I spend 5XP from the 9 I have earned thus far to negate the encounter.  (Each monster is worth an XP value which goes into a pot that the group uses to either negate an encounter or to level up.  If you roll a natural 20, and have 5XP to spend, you can go up to level 2 which increases AC and HP and makes you a bit of a bighead). 

The Alarm has drawn a Spider (15AC, 1HP).  
The Zombie attacks me (+5ATK, 1DMG for each monster not the zombie's tile)...miss (10).

Turn 10

I use Cleave on the Zombie...oh my...I rolled a natural 20 which means a few things... 1) the zombie is dead (Treasure: Moment's Respite: place this card on the monster of encounter deck and negate the next card drawn from that deck.  I put it on the encounter deck). 2) Cleave kills the spider as well (only 1 treasure item per turn, alas), and 3) my hero levels up.  I spend 5XP from my pool of 7 (the Zombie and Spider were worth a total of 3) and flip my hero card over to level 2.  My AC rises by 1 (to 18), my HP rise by 2 (to 12), and my Surge Value (the amount a healing surge heals me for) rises to 6.  Nifty keen.  The only sad element is that my health isn't fully replenished.  But I am sitting at 4/12.  Oh, also, if I roll any more 20s they crit for +1DMG.

Since I didn't reveal a tile an encounter is triggered, but it is negated (or delayed, rather, since I just flipped the treasure card off the encounter pile) by Moment's Respite.    

The alarm brings a Kobold Skirmisher (13AC, 1HP) into the fray.

Turn 11

I try to clear my head, focus my thoughts, and disable that bloody alarm...oh Hood’s Balls! a 5...

Since I don't move (the disable attempt replaced my attack phase) an encounter is triggered: Mists of Terror, lovely: roll a die for each hero, on a 1-5 each hero takes 1DMG and is IMMOBILIZED...the mist missed (19).

The alarm draws a Ghoul (16AC,1HP).
The Kobold swings it spear at me (+9ATK, 1DMG)...miss (4).

Turn 12

I take a deep breath...I close my eyes...I can feel a trickle of sweat running down between my shoulder-blades...I exhale and examine the defeats me again (8) and in frustration I whack it with my 2-handed axe.  It skips a bell but resumes with no other ill effects.

Not drawing a tile means an Encounter: Frenzy: each monster you control activates twice during the villain phase.  /gulp. I only have 2XP in the pot, so cannot negate this encounter.  

The alarm draws a Wolf and a Spider.
The Kobold attacks...hit (11)... -1HP...
The Ghoul bites me (+9ATK, 3DMG)...ouch 18...I vomit and fall, hitting my head on the flagstones.  I pass out.

Turn 13

Well, what a grueling session.  I have used my final Healing Surge (and am back to 6HP) but haven't done much exploring and really have no idea where the exit is.  On the plus side, there’s been no sign of Count Strahd.  (Revealing a tile with a black triangle on it triggers an Encounter.  Revealing a tile with a white triangle on it moves the sun token one step along the time track.  Once 5 steps have been triggered the sun sets and Count Strahd wakes up and comes looking for me.)

As I stagger back to my feet I feel something swinging against my Necklace of Fireballs!  I have four monsters in the room with me and that damn alarm is still yelling for attention.  First though, I have a daily, Dragon's Breath (+4ATK, 1DMG), that hits everyone in the room and doesn't count as an action.  I try that first...16!  It kills every monster in the room and I slice off the right hand of the ghoul to act as a Lucky Charm (re-roll any die roll).  

Renewed, filled with optimism, I return my attention to the alarm...2... I use my Lucky Charm... Oh, thank Hood...I manage to crack the casing open and rip out it's innards (13).  The alarm fades away and silence returns to the dungeon.  I am alone again.  I catch my breath and push on to the next room, west...

An arcane circle with a Gargoyle (16AC, 2HP).  Because the revealed tile has a black triangle on it I draw an Encounter card: lovely, a Fire Trap: trigger the trap during the villain phase, each hero on the tile takes 2DMG.  Well, at least I can outrun that.

The Gargoyle flies across the room to me and attacks (+8ATK, 2DMG, miss 1DMG)...hit (13) and I'm down to 4/12HP.  Oh, and I guess I take 2DMG from the fire trap.  2/12HP. I am in a bad way.

Turn 14

I need to escape from that Fire Trap, so leg it into the next room west.  A tile with a white triangle which moves the sun token one step along the time track.  3 more white triangle tiles and Count Strahd will wake up and being pursuing me.  I'm not worried, though.  I’ll be dead long before then.  Oh, and look there's a Ghoul here.  

Wow.  Because I revealed a tile and it wasn't a black triangle tile there's no encounter card drawn.  

The Gargoyle flies to me and attacks: ...ouch...13.  And that, as they say in pathology, is that.  I stare into the gargoyle's depthless red eyes as I feel consciousness fading from me...I wonder briefly what might have been if I knew how to use a screwdriver and could have disabled that bloody alarm earlier...then nothing...oblivion.

After Thoughts

That was a bit of a weird game.  Because I spent so much time fighting that damn alarm I didn't reveal very much of the dungeon, and since I avoided pulling out 5 tiles with white triangles on them, the boss never woke up.  However, it was a good illustration of the combat mechanics, and I did get to level up.  

I played two other solo games and lost one and won the other.  The game I won was a nail biter; I won on what would have been my final turn, with four monsters chasing me through the dungeon and a fifth on the same tile as my hero.  I've been pleasantly surprised at how varied the three solo games were.  Obviously, the dungeons are randomly generated, which helps enormously with replay value, but also there is so much uncertainty with the order the monsters are going to come out in and how the die is going to behave.  

I also played two multiplayer games (3 players total) and they were also interesting and varied (we went 1-1).  The game comes with 15 scenarios (plus two which can be downloaded from the Wizards website) and there are more being generated but even so, there is tremendous replay value in the adventures that come in the box.  

I like this game very much.  It feels like a good way to get a hit of D&D without the need for a Dungeon Master, plus the a game can be played in about an hour, which is terrific (my regular gaming group likes to play a variety of games during each session and we tend to get antsy if we play the same game for longer than a few hours).  Obviously, it's a dungeon crawl, and the only opportunity for roleplaying is the one you make yourself, but even so, this is a game with surprising depth and interesting mechanics.  I expect it will be folded into our rotation and we'll be playing it for a while.