Updated: Jun 6, 2020
Great Fun for Anyone Looking for Adventure!
You don’t have to be a D&D fan to appreciate the gameplay in Castle Ravenloft. This is a fun family board game that brings the spirit of Dungeons & Dragons to life without having to become an expert in D&D rules or having a Dungeon Master run the game. And, if you are a D&D fan, you’ll like how the game incorporates core D&D concepts into play.
There is a lot to this game, which can be overwhelming at first. It’s packed with all sorts of goodies: a d20, multiple miniatures, game cards, dungeon tiles, and a ton of tokens that represent all sorts of things, such as traps, treasures and more. It’s tempting to jump in and play, but I highly suggest you take some time to thoroughly read the instructions (twice), including the FAQ.
If I had to gripe about this game, it comes down to the instructions. Side note: writing game instructions is hard. It’s an art and science, and not enough credit is given to game developers who write excellent instructions. Here, the instructions are okay. Some things in the game are not super intuitive; unfortunately, the instructions don’t address particular circumstances, and they are laid out in a manner that requires you to jump around the instruction booklet, searching for answers.
Instructions gripe aside, the game is great fun. There are several things that I really like about Castle Ravenloft:
You win or lose as a team. Cooperation matters, which keeps everyone interested and invested in each player’s turn.
1 to 5 players can play. This is HUGE if you want to solo your own adventure.
Multiple scenarios. Thirteen different adventures can be run, each being unique and each never playing the same way twice.
Different villains and objectives. The diversity of the scenarios gives players fresh challenges each time they play the game.
Basically, the game starts with you in the land of Barovia where you and your team encounter challenges within Castle Ravenloft and its inhabitant, Count Strahd.
You get to choose what type of hero to be: a Fighter, Cleric, Rogue, Ranger or Wizard, and what’s really cool is that you can choose different abilities for your hero, giving you a lot of flexibility and control over how your hero plays.
As you “explore” the Castle, you play down dungeon tiles and move your characters through traps and battle random monsters. This dynamic combination of random tiles, traps and monsters ensures that no two adventures are the same.
Be aware, this game can be challenging. The first time I played with friends, we got wiped at the very end. But, even in losing we had a great time and wanted to play it again.
Game set up is relatively easy and quick; it all depends on the adventure being played. You’ll probably spend more time figuring out what Hero to play, and what abilities your Hero should use/have ready.
Game play is pretty straight forward, and once you get the feel for how the tiles and cards interact with your Hero, it moves along at a good pace.
Overall, Castle Ravenloft is a great family game, especially for those wanting a Dungeons & Dragons like experience without the D&D complexity.
And, should you want to expand on your Castle Ravenloft experience, I highly suggest looking into Legend of Drizzt or Wrath of Ashardalon… both have similar game mechanics and play style as Castle Ravenloft.