Since its inception in the mid 1970s, Dungeons & Dragons set the bar for RPGs (Role Playing Games), creativity and nerdiness in general. It since spawned millions of copy cats and clones in the RPG world, and continues strong to this day. So much so it carries a stigma to the main stream world that can prevent new players from trying it. Let’s face it. Putting all that work into combining the right stats, abilities and equipment can feel daunting at times. Now from Wizards of the Coast, D&D Adventure Begins makes a fun, fast paced introduction to the world’s most famous fantasy realm where young and old can start their gaming addiction.
D&D Adventure Begins – Introduction For the Timid
Like many properties that stretch decades, they can become quite intimidating for new players. Between filling out stat sheets and reading the epically thick rule/campaign books, D&D scares many people away simply by looking enormous. This new game by Wizards makes the D&D world fun and easy to learn. It teaches the most basic of mechanics and how the D&D world works in a simplified form.
The game states 2-4 players may play, but in all honestly a single person can play this by running 2 or more characters at once. If you find you have a fifth or sixth player, these too can be accommodated. This game randomly passes the job of DM (Dungeon Master) around the table as you play, but one player can serve as the DM to keep everyone busy. Also, the four base characters can be finagled into a few more if desired.
This game suggests ages 10+, but honestly any age can play it so long as one person can DM and guide those that cannot read simple sentences. We had a great time introducing our first grader to the game. We simply asked which weapon he wanted to use and let him roll the D20 (die/dice).
D&D Adventure Begins – A Great Game in a Great Box
When you first unbox D&D Adventure Begins, you need to unwrap a lot of plastic wrapped cards, but once its done the box becomes a fantastic storage box for the game. Instead of jumbling around and making a huge mess, the box contains compartments for all of the cards, dice and stands it comes with. It really helps keep the box organized and makes for super fast deployment when setting the game up every time.
The game consists of several stands, a few different decks, some characters building cards, dice and a four-part modular map. For hobbyists there are four miniatures that can be painted if you so choose. Otherwise they are base colors of green, yellow, blue and red. Each represents a different hero race in the world of D&D (elf, dwarf, human and dragonborn).
The quality of the rest of the pieces are all top notch. The main monsters and board are thick cardboard, and the individual decks are on solid paper stock. All of the clips and bases the game uses fit well on the cards and do not damage them. You will find this game will last through many years of playing and both assemble and store nicely.
D&D Adventure Begins – Quick and Easy Set-Up
Set-up for this game stays quite basic and set-up/tears down quickly. You will find four land tiles that make up the map you will adventure on (Gauntlgrym, Neverwinter, Neverwinter Wood, and Mount Hotenow). Each tile has a symbol which helps find the designated monster and deck of cards used while adventuring. The fact each tile uses a different deck of adventure cards helps keep the game fresh and changing.
Choose a monster you wish to face as your big-baddie (beholder, green dragon, kraken or fire giant). Set that monster’s tile and deck on the table. That will be your final destination. randomly shuffle and place the other three tiles. They can connect in a wavy line or in a semi circle if you choose. under the end of each of the three tiles you will tuck one of the three sub-bosses linked to the monster you chose. You will face these sub-bosses at the end of each tile as they prepare you to face the final boss.
Set each adventure deck next to the appropriate tile so they can be easily swapped out as you journey from one tile to the next. Load the first deck into the DM’s tray along with the black D10 and your board is now ready to go. The DM position normally rotates players every space, but one player can play the DM the whole game if you like (as well as a character). This all depends on age of the players and flare! The more drama and intrigue the DM can put into each encounter the more fun the game becomes.
D&D Adventure Begins – Creating Your Character
The game comes with four base characters, one from four races as mentioned above. Each one comes color coded so it’s very easy to see what cards an die go with each character. The four classes represented are the dragonborn rogue, elf bard, dwarf fighter, and human sorcerer. Each tile has a male and female side so you can choose whichever you wish to be.
Each character then chooses one of four (2 2-sides tiles) personality tiles. For instance the dwarf can be a gambler, enforcer, fixer or genius. The tile you choose grants your character a special power based on the personality. Then players choose one of two combat tiles. These define your attacks and can later be leveled up for more powerful attacks. After players create their character they can place their tiles in a plastic strip that also has a slide marker on its bottom. This slide marker helps you keep track of your health as you play.
There are also two stacks of cards called backpack and items. The backpack cards give you a satchel of items to help make your adventure more unique while the item cards are used in combat to help you hit harder or not get hit. Grab your color coded D20 (or your lucky D20 if you have one) and you are set to take on the world of D&D!
D&D Adventure Begins – Adventurers Go!
You are now ready to begin your exploration into the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Each tile contains three space types (core, monster, gatekeeper). Players simply travel down the tiles, choosing to either move to the next core space or take a side mission and see what monster lurks there. the best part is each player can choose where to go. If the party goes straight, everyone moves up a space, but if any of the party decides to hunt monsters, those not helping have to wait until their monster encounter is over before everyone goes to the next core space.
Watch out! Players can make their own choices, but if one player decides they really want a trophy, the rest of the group may be forced to help. Either that or they might be down a character going into the final boss. Monsters give gold and treasure, but you still need to reach the end alive! Monster spaces guarantee players will face the next monster in the DM deck, but encounter spaces have no such guarantees. The card may be a scenario, or it could be another monster. Choose your monster spaces carefully or you may find more than you bargained for.
D&D Adventure Begins – Time to Battle!
When attacking, players chooses one of their attacks/abilities and attack the monster. as long as they meet or beat the required number of the attack, the attack hits. Either way the DM then rolls the black D10 to see if the monster attack hits or misses. Continue to go around the circle until either you or the monster finally dies. Keep in mind unless someone is running a dedicated healer, the only way to heal in this game is to spend 5 gold and switch your abilities from level 1 to level 2.
When players reach the end of a tile, they face the Gatekeeper. One of three cards associated with the main boss must be overcome to continue. This could be a mini-boss (stronger than the earlier monsters but weaker than the boss), or possibly a scenario where a choice must be made. When the mini-boss is defeated, players continue to the next tile.
When you reach the Gatekeeper space on the final tile, you face the big baddie of the game, chosen at the beginning. This creature will be big and have LOTS of hit points. Hopefully items you picked up along the way can help you deal with the boss faster, but it still takes some lucky die rolling to win the day. When the boss is finally defeated, the DM reads the final text and players may celebrate with refreshments of their choosing (not included).
D&D Adventure Begins – Final Thoughts
This game is incredibly fun! It gives you everything players want from D&D while remaining light, fast and fun. The different decks that match each tile keep the replay factor quite high. It needs someone who can read and run the DM deck, but other than that ANYONE can play this game. Younger kids just need to know what weapon they can attack with (Flail, axe or head to the groin!), and reluctant spouse/significant others will not be bogged down by hours of rules and definitions. My first grader loves playing this game.
The backpack cards can be thrown out as far as general gameplay goes, but for the creative players they are quite fun. Anytime you see a backpack icon on a monster you are supposed to use items from your backpack in the attack. Frying pan anyone??
So is this some Kickstarter that will take months to arrive? NOPE! Sprint on down to your local retail store or check online and you will have it in time for Holiday fun!