One of my very first reviews (I believe it was actually my second overall review) was of Castle Ravenloft. I enjoyed the game, but felt like it had limited replayability. Now that Wizards of the Coast has made two more Dungeons & Dragons titles, I was willing to try again - this time with Legend of Drizzt.
In Legend of Drizzt (just like in Castle Ravenloft), you are playing Dungeons and Dragons as a board game. This means that the scenarios and monsters are preset, but it gives you the opportunity to play with all of your friends without any of them having to run the game as the GM. Each player takes on the role of a hero and the players collectively attempt to accomplish the goal of the scenario (beat the big dragon, recover the treasure - you know, something heroic). Each turn, the players are able to move twice, or move and attack (or attack and then move). After doing this, if they are adjacent to an unexplored edge of the board, they can reveal a new dungeon tile (and a monster). If they don't explore, then they have an encounter (which never ends well, especially if you are near volcanic vents). Finally, the active player must move all of the monsters that he controls. Play continues like this until one of the heroes has died or until the heroes have accomplished their mission.
The first thing that I like about Legend of Drizzt is the same thing that attracted me initially to Castle Ravenloft - I enjoy that I am able to take part in a nice role-playing adventure without all of the setup time. Compared to a normal campaign of Dungeons and Dragons, you can very quickly start (and play) a game of Drizzt. And yet, though the game is brief compared to a normal campaign, the scenarios are very well done and I did not feel like the lack of a GM made the game any less enjoyable.
The next thing that I like about Drizzt is that you can customize your character, and that there are several characters to choose from - including some characters that are villains in some scenarios and heroes in others (I thought that this was a nice touch). There are significantly more heroes than players allowed in a game, which means that if you play the game repeatedly, you can use different characters each time. In addition, you are able to customize the attacks and "powers" that your character has each game, which allows you to even play the same character differently and tailor him to the scenario that you are playing.
A third pro that I think is interesting about Legend of Drizzt is how monster control works. On a player's turn, he controls all of the monsters that he has revealed on previous turns. However, so that you don't have to keep track of which instance of a given monster each player revealed, if there are several copies of a monster on the board (such as a Spider Swarm), the player controlling that monster will have to activate each copy of it on the board. So, if you are not paying attention to some of the smaller monsters, you must be careful that you don't allow too many copies of them out on the table, or else they will start activating very quickly! Whereas this is a fairly minor rule, I thought that it was a nice touch to the game.
The final pro that I will mention about Drizzt relates to the replayability issue that I had in Castle Ravenloft - I really like that they have added different kinds of scenarios. Now, instead of each scenario being strictly cooperative, some scenarios are team based, some are cooperative, and some are even competitive! The monsters that are encountered are still the same, but these different scenario types completely change the strategy with which you play the game - thus allowing the playing experience to stay a bit more fresh.
However, with that said, I still felt that the replayability of the game was a bit lacking. My biggest problem with Drizzt was that you are experiencing the same encounters and monsters every time through the game. Yes, there will be some games where you don't encounter one specific type of monster, but in essentially every game that we played, we ran into the same Feral Troll, Spider Swarm, and Hunting Drake. The scenarios are nice, and I do honestly like them, but the problem is that every scenario involves fighting through the same handful of monsters until you either die or get to whatever aspect of the scenario sets it apart from all of the others. Either way, 75% of the game deals with fighting the same grunts as in every other scenario.
The only other real con that I had for Drizzt was the opposite of the first pro that I mentioned. I really like that you can quickly pick up and play a short scenario of Dungeons and Dragons - but the cost in terms of gameplay is that your character will not really develop very much. None of the heroes are able to level up beyond level 2 (and often don't even get that far). This means that you won't have the satisfaction of the character truly becoming "yours." He will still feel like the out of the box character that he was at the beginning of the game.
Overall, I give Legend of Drizzt a 7.0/10. Adding the different kinds of scenarios helped address my largest problem with Ravenloft, and so it helped my score to go up a full point over what I gave to Castle Ravenloft! If you enjoyed the previous games in this series, then I fully believe that you will enjoy Drizzt as well. If you have been curious about the series, then I would recommend that you play them - they are definitely worth playing! I would simply recommend that (if possible) you play them a couple times before deciding whether you want to invest the money into purchasing your own copy.
For a second take, check out this Review of Legend of Drizzt on Play Board Games. And, if Legend of Drizzt sounds interesting, you might also want to check out Talisman Revised 4th Edition, Mage Wars, and Game of Thrones Living Card Game.
I would like to thank Wizards of the Coast for providing me with a review copy of Legend of Drizzt.