Picture of the Day: Castle Ravenloft

A blue elemental makes its way through an ad hoc dungeon.

My Picture of the Day project is continuing — progress has been somewhat haphazard, but I have been taking and posting pictures.

This one’s from Game Day on March 4, 2011. It was a board game week, so we decided to give the Castle Ravenloft boardgame another try. A separate set of Blackrazors had tried it a few weeks earlier and had been underwhelmed. This week’s didn’t fair much better.

The game is essentially a stripped-down version of D&D 4E. That’s not a bad thing (at least for the half of the group that likes 4E) and tt runs well enough. The problem we found was there wasn’t enough emergent story in the game — meaning unlike Arkham Horror’s expansions, there wasn’t much story meat holding the game’s adventure skeleton together.

Sure, you know the reason why you’re in the dungeon (in our case to retrieve a chalice) but it lacks the sort of microstory elements that make Arkham such an enjoyable game. At the same time, there can be a high grind factor as bad stuff happens almost … every … round. This was terribly reminiscent of our Ravenloft 3E campaign, which featured a similar stream of unrelenting evil.

Coming off games of the Innsmouth Horror and Pandemic, the game felt decidedly average. Unfortunately for Ravenloft, in our group that means it likely won’t get played.

I can see how other groups — particularly those who love D&D 4E — would enjoy Ravenloft and its challenges. The game boils down to D&D without the dungeon master, and it’s not hard to envision a temporarily DM-less group unboxing Ravenloft in order to get their weekly game fix.

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