Castle Ravenloft Review
This review will be of Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game (I ran out of catchy intro's). I thought this game looked pretty neat and I was excited when I got to play it a couple of times.
Castle Ravenloft is a dungeon crawler that uses the Dungeons & Dragons 4.0 rules and can be played with 1-5 players. The main difference is that the scenario is setup for you so that you don't need a Dungeon Master, and you also don't have to worry about keeping up with stat sheets, etc, as the game takes care of a lot of the paper & pencil part of D&D.
As with any role playing game, in Ravenloft you represent a hero that is trying to save the world, kill the evil bad guy, rescue a princess, get piles of treasure, etc. I don't know what all the scenarios are in Ravenloft as I only played a couple, but I know that there are several that can be played through. Specifically, you have to do all of these things before your character dies off and, true to form, this is the case with Castle Ravenloft. You lose by getting your character killed off (you have a few revives but once you're out, you're out).
When playing Ravenloft, I was very impressed. I thought that the dungeon crawling experience went well, and I enjoyed the cooperative nature of the game. There were traps that we encountered, monsters that we had to kill, and the game was very engaging and challenging. The game was so much fun that we immediately decided that we needed to play again using a different scenario. This leads to the biggest drawback for Castle Ravenloft...
Ravenloft really only needs to be played once. Once you have played the game, you should be happy and put the game back down and move on. Maybe play it again next year. It plays essentially the exact same way the 2nd time through because all of the monsters are the same until you get to whatever the final monster or challenge is (this part does vary based on scenario). In most cooperative games when the players are going up against the board there is an element of change each time through and so you feel like you are playing a different game (though similar). This is not the case in Ravenloft, and it feels more like deja vu than anything else.
With that all said, I have to give Ravenloft an overall score of 6.0/10. If I had played it once, it probably would have gotten in the 8.5-9.0 range, but when a game is only fun to play through once and has an MSRP of $60, it is hard for me to give it a great score. My recommendation to you is find a copy of it that you can try out and play it through - you'll probably like it, but then never play it again.