Organized Play for Castle Ravenloft and other D&D board games

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Castle Ravenloft has the makings of a bona-fide hit, and we've been getting a lot of questions about what sort of support Wizards will be providing to the D&D board game line. Since I'm the D&D Organized Play guy, I have a lot of interest in what you think.

Would you like to see Organized Play support the D&D board game line? What kinds of support would you like to see? Post your thoughts here!

Chris Tulach D&D Program Manager Wizards of the Coast http://community.wizards.com/wotc_tulach http://twitter.com/christulach
I could definitely see a Castle Ravenloft version of encounters with a quest-book covering the season. It fits the time format of about an hour perfectly. And it would be a great way to get some new ongoing Ravenloft lore into the game.
I'd like to reserve judgement on that idea pending a couple of things:

- You've mentioned an upcoming non-Encounters D&D Organized Play program (during the Gen Con seminar, maybe?). I'd like to hear more details about it first.

- My FLGS specifically can't run Encounters because their Wednesdays are tied up with several long-running games. Asking them to move would cause significant ill-will.   An Organized Play for the board games would need to be flexibly scheduled, IMO. (I would like to see this for Encounters, as well, but understand the reasons behind the Wednesday night lock.)
I could see some kind of team/tournament system, with progressively harder scenarios.  You'd have to work out some kind of secondary scoring system.  Going by the bonus scenarios, there will be a lot of randomness in how many turns it takes to reach the goal.

Of course, your community building would be much easier if you'd ship the thing...
Yes. I'd actually be more interested in organized play for the board games than for the main line.
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Please add cards to the game so we can weed people out.  Pretty please

Just to get one thing off my mind – I really think WOTC needs to make a new sub-forum for the board games.  It would be cool if fans have a central place to go and talk about the game. 


As for organized play – I could see all sorts of potential if WOTC decides to throw support behind the game after release.  Expansions?  Yes!  Additional scenarios?  Yes!  An expanded set of rules for more advanced players?  Yes! 


WOTC has a goldmine on its hands with the Ravenloft/Strahd material.  Fans would love the chance for organized play.


Just to get one thing off my mind – I really think WOTC needs to make a new sub-forum for the board games.  It would be cool if fans have a central place to go and talk about the game. 


As for organized play – I could see all sorts of potential if WOTC decides to throw support behind the game after release.  Expansions?  Yes!  Additional scenarios?  Yes!  An expanded set of rules for more advanced players?  Yes! 


WOTC has a goldmine on its hands with the Ravenloft/Strahd material.  Fans would love the chance for organized play.


Agreed in full. I want the Castle Ravenloft equivalents of Kellar's Keep and Return of the Witch Lord. :D Any kind of organized play would be awesome if it led to new materials being added to the game. I would really prefer something that could be done at home. I think the shops have it covered with Encounters and the RPG. I could see putting out new packs of 5 or 10 encounter or treasure cards for participating in a season, or similar rewards.
I agree there should be a subforum for these games.  In fact, that is where I'll hang out most of the time.

New free scenarios that continously get put out for these games would be a great idea.  They will help spur sales and improve fan loyalty.  You could eventually collect these into a nice hardcover/softcover book like you do with the Dragon Magazine annuals.

The games, should be self-contained and cross-compatible like they currently are.  The cards, backs, and art are consistent anyway so you can easily use them together.  Self-contained games will sell better than small-box expansions.  Why?  because they are not dependent on owning anything else.  So this is better for the customer and for Wizards.

Future settings/modules you should explore after Ravenloft and Ashardalon are...

1. Underkdark (explore underdark and menzoberranzen).  Can be cross-sold with Forgotten Realms stuff like the Drizzt novels and campaign setting
2. TOMB of Horrors.  (advanced boardgame with low survival rate 20% to compete with Dungeonquest).  This will help cross-sell your new D&D book as well.
3. Temple of Elemental Evil.  (One of if not thee most beloved module of alltime)
4.  Queen of the Demonweb Pits.  (another classic)
5. Undermountain (perfect for dungeoncrawling)

Other than this, you could aways throw in stat cards that will work in these boardgames with the D&D minis line.  (2 stat cards for every monster.  One for D&D minis one for boardgames with movement tactics etc.)  This evil idea (which I am against because I'd be tempted to by those evil random packs) would would increases sales of D&D minis.  For you this is a win-win situation.  For the gamer, it is temptation to spend more money.

Write articles on how to adapt 4E materials to the boardgames.  These should be free .pdf files to ensare us boardgamers into buying your 4E books.  We boardgamers don't subscribe to DDI so you need to make these articles free and widely available to lure us into buying the core D&D books.  This is an easy way to greatly sell more D&D core products.

I can gaurantee you that the first mods for these boardgames will be players trying to adapt D&D minis/stats and D&D core modules/rules to these boardgames.  Just look at all the fanmade material for Descent by FFG.

Just to get one thing off my mind – I really think WOTC needs to make a new sub-forum for the board games.  It would be cool if fans have a central place to go and talk about the game. 


As for organized play – I could see all sorts of potential if WOTC decides to throw support behind the game after release.  Expansions?  Yes!  Additional scenarios?  Yes!  An expanded set of rules for more advanced players?  Yes! 


WOTC has a goldmine on its hands with the Ravenloft/Strahd material.  Fans would love the chance for organized play.




aggreed 100%
Im here cause of that board game im not into D&D cause i cant find people to spend that time in a game, but 1 hour for a board game !?!?! there is MANY that want to try already from my friends.
As you can already say im not close to a shop to buy those thingies (400Km the closest) i really don't like the idea of PROMOS and "Collectible cards/monsters if you are there". I would prefer to see expansions/scenarios/whatever that is for EVERYONE.


P.S. Wish to get it first tho, my pre-order is kinda risky at the moment

The more games get cards the less material I will have to spend money on. That simple.



Thunder, I'm pretty sure you missed the point of the post above yours.  You're the people being weeded out. 

That being said, I'm really excited for this, and would definitely get into some organized play, especially since there's no Encounters game nearby.  
It is not my intent to offend. However, it is also not my concern whether you get offended or not.
This could be interesting. This would be a great way to inject some more scenarios into the Ravenloft game.
I would first and foremost like any other organized play to be balanced with support for RPGA living campaign play. While I realize LFR is volunteer-run soon/now, it is still in everyone's interest to have a balance between RPGA living play and other forms of organized play. Maybe that support is just at conventions, in the form of marketing, and bringing back a Realms gameday, but there should be support.

For board games, I agree that it is appealing if there are new scenarios, if the emphasis is on fun (with an option for challenge), and runs quickly.

I am more than a bit concerned about the next Encounters session being 20 sessions long. Perhaps adding a board game session between each chapter would help keep things interesting?

I should say that the Essentials Encounters season is an ideal season to attract DMs. This will require the adventures providing sufficient tips in each encounter (as compared to the last two sessions which assumed expertise). Having combat and intro sections all together would also help new DMs, as it is confusing to our new judges to have to flip back and forth through the adventure to run one session.

Finally, I really hope that this next season will provide updated characters as they level and that all errata is fixed and new versions available as a download. With the cool retro format, you really don't need glossy cards, so downloading leveled versions or fixed versions would be great and lets fans focus on things other than creating new PC sheets.

Oh, and other than needing some more RPGA living play support, organized play is doing a really fantastic job!

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).


Castle Ravenloft has the makings of a bona-fide hit, and we've been getting a lot of questions about what sort of support Wizards will be providing to the D&D board game line. Since I'm the D&D Organized Play guy, I have a lot of interest in what you think.

Would you like to see Organized Play support the D&D board game line? What kinds of support would you like to see? Post your thoughts here!




I would like it
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I would be interested in organized play as long as it has new scenarios (not the ones included in the box) and had renown rewards. Renown rewards could be in the form of consumables. Maybe some additional creatures/encounters to mix into the decks as well (these double as organizer reward for when its over).

Whenever I get mine (so many delays.. I want it now Cry) I'll probably start taking it to encounters just in case I have time for a game.
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I like the idea of an organized play setup for the board games. Sounds like a good fit.

Also as suggested a D&D Board games forum seems like a good idea.

The new board games seem like a great format to bring back a lot of the old properties.  Tomb of Horrors, Temple of Elemental Evil, Castle Greyhawk, Undermountain, Lost Cavers of Tsojacanth, Barrier Peaks.

Maybe as expansions to Ravenloft Board Game and Ashardalon game.  A smaller box with a few new minis, a scenario booklet and a couple of new tiles.
I think organized play for this, and any other board games, needs to be retail driven, or at least held in public places by a club or some other "sponsor". As for "prize" support, I would rather see participant prizes than a prize for a "winner". After all, if it is supposed to be a cooperative game, shouldn't everybody win. For the actual prizes, Fantasy Flight games had a cool support prize they used that was a nice "bronze" metal figure. Initially, I think you could do that with each of the starting player characters. In the future, I think it would be nice to get new player characters (also "bronze") not available in the box. Eventually, a set of these additional player characters/heros could get released, in plastic form, to retail stores.

Other than miniatures, perhaps new powers could be made available to participants.  One new power for each hero, with a set for the "DM" as well, could be sent. Then who ever plays that hero could go home with his new power card after playing it.

New scenarios are a good idea as well. Perhaps even using them as previews of a future expansion/scenario book.

Another possibility would be additional tiles to extend the board. Or to replace a terrain type in the box set.

No matter what is decided for prize support, I really feel that it should be per participant rather than a prize for a winner. 
I think organized play for this, and any other board games, needs to be retail driven, or at least held in public places by a club or some other "sponsor". As for "prize" support, I would rather see participant prizes than a prize for a "winner". After all, if it is supposed to be a cooperative game, shouldn't everybody win. For the actual prizes, Fantasy Flight games had a cool support prize they used that was a nice "bronze" metal figure. Initially, I think you could do that with each of the starting player characters. In the future, I think it would be nice to get new player characters (also "bronze") not available in the box. Eventually, a set of these additional player characters/heros could get released, in plastic form, to retail stores.

Other than miniatures, perhaps new powers could be made available to participants.  One new power for each hero, with a set for the "DM" as well, could be sent. Then who ever plays that hero could go home with his new power card after playing it.

New scenarios are a good idea as well. Perhaps even using them as previews of a future expansion/scenario book.

Another possibility would be additional tiles to extend the board. Or to replace a terrain type in the box set.

No matter what is decided for prize support, I really feel that it should be per participant rather than a prize for a winner. 



There is no winner for Castle Ravenloft.  The group either wins or loses.  We're talking Renown like for D&D Encounters.  As in you showed up, congrats you get 1 point, your group successfully completed the scenario get 2 points, you revived an ally who was dying get 1 point, etc...  They're points tracked per session, until you reach x points to get a reward.

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If I try to step back and be objective, a game like Ravenloft is less geeky. It really is a board game and has wider appeal. I could play it with my non-nerd-adult friends on one of our couples board game nights. I can't do that with LFR, D&D Encounters, etc.

This means that the need for organized play for board games is lessened. Obviously, you want to promote the game so that cool WotC board games get attention and high sales... but do enough people that would buy the Ravenloft set need to have organized play for it? I'm not sure. Now, we may want it because it is cool - this is more likely if it has extra stuff, as others mentioned. Otherwise, the typical WotC customer needs to look at their available playing time and think "what do I want to do?". For some demographics (student, unemployed, not married), the answer may be that they can play everything organized play offers. But, for myself I would need to choose between LFR and Encounters and board games, board games will be my last priority.

For Gamma World, it is a bit different. This is more like D&D and I would welcome a periodic gameday. New scenarios, new rules, all of these could actually be enhanced by a gameday.

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I am realy curious to know how many times we will be able to play this game before we get tied of it. If it's less then 3, why would we have a forum about it?



Well go over to board game geek forums.  Ravenloft board game is getting about 20 posts per day.  I would think WOTC would want to provide a common forum on their own website.
Chris, i think, as you think, the potential is huge.  I wouldn't go the route of reward cards like LFR and Encounters gives.  For something similar, but unique to organized board game play, consider having the players receive power cards for new cool powers that you can only get by playing in organized play.

As for bonuses for the organizers of such events, perhaps exclusive new scenarios that include new monsters and their corresponding monster cards (like the Grey Hag monster card that was mailed out as the most recent activity reward).
The game is brand new. What about it in a year?



By this time next year, there will be at least 3 D&D board games. Castle Ravenloft is probably the first of many to come. So any support would wind up rolling into new board games as well.
Chris Tulach D&D Program Manager Wizards of the Coast http://community.wizards.com/wotc_tulach http://twitter.com/christulach
A resounding "no."

I'm looking forward to Castle Ravenloft.  But no.  I plan on whipping out Castle Ravenloft when there's not enough time or people for an actual D&D game.  I'll buy it at launch from the FLGS.  But no.

I'd like organized play to concentrate of organized play of D&D - not a mutated form of it.  This includes chopping up games into 90 minutes.

I don't really have a problem with the Encounters program either - hell, I've organized and DM'd for it over here.  But that's not my issue.

The issue is organized play abandoning LFR, while the equivalent organized play system the competitors offer is growing.

I'd like to see organized play focus on convention play (not just the big four), and building gaming communities.  Let's say someone tries encounters and likes D&D - that's where they should be moved to something like LFR... and we've done that relatively successfully in my area.  Only now, WotC's marketing wants to concentrate on board games?!?

wth, WotC?  Seriously.... wth?
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Chris, you want me to spend more of my time playing board games?

Well, ok then. It's a tough ask, but I'm up for it! ;)

After running four demo games last weekend of Castle Ravenloft, I'd think it'd be a fascinating game to use as the centrepiece of some Organised Play events. The exact form would be interesting: certainly "beat the new scenario" comes to mind. Have you looked at what Fantasy Flight Games does with its seasons of Arkham Horror? Co-operative games need something more than "Win the game to...", especially as the game has a fair swag of luck involved.

(Dream prize: "I conquered Castle Ravenloft and all I got was this lousy t-shirt!")

Speaking as someone who doesn't live in the biggest D&D centre in the world, I think we'll probably have more combined D&D Game Day + Board Game side event days going on. One really nice thing about the Castle is its play time: if you're early (or late) for a game of the RPG, you can play a game of Castle Ravenloft before the next slot opens up.

(Of course, I'm also eager to see what the new haunts of Betrayal at House on the Hill are like...)

Cheers,
Merric 

Merric Blackman

Blog: Merric's Musings; On Twitter: MerricB

Castle Ravenloft has the makings of a bona-fide hit, and we've been getting a lot of questions about what sort of support Wizards will be providing to the D&D board game line. Since I'm the D&D Organized Play guy, I have a lot of interest in what you think.

Would you like to see Organized Play support the D&D board game line? What kinds of support would you like to see? Post your thoughts here!


I think that organized play support for the boardgames is a GREAT idea!

I know that the students at my institution would be very eager to get involved. Especially if there were incentives along the lines of new player options, new monster minis, new board expansions, and continuing support for new delves. We've had a few student organizations try and forge a D&D group but class schedules, study hours and personal funds always seem to get in the way.

I see these boardgames as the new gateway drug to the Essential D&D experience! (pun intended)

Danny

I think that organized play support for the boardgames is a GREAT idea! I know that the students at my institution would be very eager to get involved. Especially if there were incentives along the lines of new player options, new monster minis, new board expansions, and continuing support for new delves. We've had a few student organizations try and forge a D&D group but class schedules, study hours and personal funds always seem to get in the way. I see these boardgames as the new gateway drug to the Essential D&D experience! (pun intended)

...which raises the question, would WotC do organized play support outside of game stores?
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Arkham Horror (fantasy flight games) has/had a league system.  They put out a set of exclusive scenarios that told a story and had a scoring system.  You can play through them as you will and if you wanted to, you could send in your scores to compete, leaderboard style.  Anyway, I think it's a good system.

www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_minisite... 

In general, what I like about it, moreso than anything else, is that it's free content that is provided no strings attached.  I really don't like the fact that organized play currently 'hoards' its scenarios and rules, only doling them to people who conform to their ideals of play.  Let people play along 'off the record' if they want to.
There are a lot of examples of organized play. Shadowrun and Battletech have used different systems to organize volunteers and promote in-store play, for example. However, when you take a look at these other examples I don't think you will really see a vastly superior system. You might see one for a very brief window of time, but a lot of small companies have serious trouble even coming remotely close to RPGA levels of organization/support due to their limited resources and lack of time/leadership.

WotC does a great job. They do. That doesn't mean there aren't improvement areas or lessons to be learned from other systems. If you want improvements help make them happen with real feedback that has a positive angle. Describe in clear even-tempered ways what you don't like about organized play and provide constructive feedback that helps show what you would like to see.

Hatsuma, I think your feedback is excellent and it is an interesting concept to consider a Ravenloft or similar leader board. It could even be the basis of a campaign... unleash a series of scenarios (could work for Gamma World too) with scoring and see which stores and which teams do really well.

Scenarios seem to work well for Ravenloft... it is a board game. You could have minor story links or not have any. For something like GW, I think you want solid story links between scenarios, or a few short multi-week scenarios and then provide varied experiences. I think delve systems where each week is completely unrelated can be a bit lacking... RP is inhibited. It seems better to have RP connections. At the same time, very long seasons can be too much for players. D&D Encounters and especially GW should probably be shorter and sweeter. Players and DMs wanting a longer campaign should be led to Living Forgotten Realms where you really get that long sense of story.

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

Players and DMs wanting a longer campaign should be led to Living Forgotten Realms where you really get that long sense of story.



The only problem with this is LFR is going by the wayside. It will no longer be supported. Why, I missed that part. There is a rumored organised replacement, but that's not till after encounters season 3 is done. which is a 20 week season. All we have are rumors at this point.


I can't think of anything more destructive to LFR than proliferating rumors, to be honest. I haven't heard anything, for what it is worth. If anyone official is cooking up a replacement, they should really discuss it with the global admins for LFR.

I could see a lot of people arguing that LFR is actually about to really become better. The Gen Con offerings were very good. But, I do think there need to be growth strategies to increase LFR play.

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

Players and DMs wanting a longer campaign should be led to Living Forgotten Realms where you really get that long sense of story.



The only problem with this is LFR is going by the wayside. It will no longer be supported. Why, I missed that part. There is a rumored organised replacement, but that's not till after encounters season 3 is done. which is a 20 week season. All we have are rumors at this point.



What you've heard is untrue.

What's happening is that the Global Admins have been given full creative and administrative control of Living Forgotten Realms.  WotC (via Chris Tulach) is still supporting the campaign (you'll note we have our Official Group here), but will be acting more as "advisors" than as authorities in the campaign. 

This does have some other changes that are going into effect as part-and-parcel.  Adventures will be direct downloads, no more need to sanction/report them - for example.  But LFR isn't slinking away into some forgotten corner.

In fact we've just announced our new volunteer staff (myself included).

I encourage you to stop by the LFR Group, and read up on what's going on if you're worried about the changes.   
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

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Castle Ravenloft has the makings of a bona-fide hit, and we've been getting a lot of questions about what sort of support Wizards will be providing to the D&D board game line. Since I'm the D&D Organized Play guy, I have a lot of interest in what you think.

Would you like to see Organized Play support the D&D board game line? What kinds of support would you like to see? Post your thoughts here!


Is that why the price point is so high?  My wife liked the idea (we have some friends that won't try D&D but like board games), so we went right out to buy it, saw '65 bucks,'  and decided to wait.   If there were an organized play event, that'd give us a chance to try it out.  If it is, as it would have to be to justify the price, better than 'Pandemic' (one of the best board games in recent years, and 35 bucks), then we'd actually buy it.  Otherwise, 65 bucks is about twice what hardbound D&D rule books go for - and I thought you were having trouble moving those?

 

 

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The $65 price point seems pretty reasonable to me.  I remember paying $35 or so for Talisman in 1990.  That was 20 years ago when minimum wage was $3.35, and you got a lot less than Castle Ravenloft.  A video game for the PS3 or 360 is $59.  So $65 won't scare off a whole lotta folks.

But it is a significant amount of money.  Not an impulse buy if you're on a budget.  If price is a concern, there are several discount retailers on the internet offering a lower price.
 Is that why the price point is so high?  My wife liked the idea (we have some friends that won't try D&D but like board games), so we went right out to buy it, saw '65 bucks,'  and decided to wait.   If there were an organized play event, that'd give us a chance to try it out.  If it is, as it would have to be to justify the price, better than 'Pandemic' (one of the best board games in recent years, and 35 bucks), then we'd actually buy it.  Otherwise, 65 bucks is about twice what hardbound D&D rule books go for - and I thought you were having trouble moving those?



I think you're out of touch with how much stuff is in the box and how much boardgames go for. Pandemic is a great game, but component-wise doesn't come close to having as much stuff as Castle Ravenloft.

PANDEMIC: 1 board, 1 8-page rulebook, 5 wooden pawns, 6 wooden houses, 96 wooden blocks, 111 cards.

CASTLE RAVENLOFT: 1 16-page rulebook, 1 16-page scenario book, 41 dungeon tiles, 192 markers and tokens, 42 plastic miniatures, 200 cards, and a d20.

Consider also Agricola... very popular boardgame, and it retails for us$70. Castle Ravenloft is at US$65. 

DESCENT - perhaps the closest to Ravenloft in stuff - $90.
Rulebook, Quest Guide, 20 Hero Sheets, 20 Plastic Heroes, 60 Plastic Monsters, 12 Custom Dice, 180 Cards, 1 Town Marker, 61 Map Pieces, 10 Door Markers, Hundreds of tokens and markers
to fill your Descent toolbox!

Descent is like Ravenloft x1.5, and the price is about that.

Cheers,
Merric

Merric Blackman

Blog: Merric's Musings; On Twitter: MerricB

All I had heard was "D&D Boardgame."  The quantity of cardboard and plastic really doesn't say much about how it plays, which is what really matters. (though, are those 42 D&D minis, or 42 'bag o zombies' type minis?)  I guess I don't have high expectations when it comes to boardgames, so I don't think of them as being worth a lot.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, content-wise, but I definitely wasn't expecting to pay more than for a hardcover core book.    I guess all the talk of Essentials, boxed sets, and lower price points gave me the wrong impression about WotC's general direction with the line. 

The difference it's made to me is just between "run right out and buy it"  and "try it first to see if it's any good."

 

 

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I'd really like OP support for the D&D boardgames. More importantly, it would be cool if you'd tie in the minis line to the boardgame line. Nobody freaking plays DDM anymore, so instead of providing useless cards with the minis you could make Monster cards that are compatible with the boardgame line.
I'd really like OP support for the D&D boardgames. More importantly, it would be cool if you'd tie in the minis line to the boardgame line. Nobody freaking plays DDM anymore, so instead of providing useless cards with the minis you could make Monster cards that are compatible with the boardgame line.




This. I would be way more likely to buy packs of minis instead of singles on the secondary market if they supported the board game product.
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Personally I would like to see more online support for the games etc. The two new scenarios are very good so more of the dame please.

Not everyone has a Game store near by that supports the Encounters (which is extremely frustrating) so I have to rely on postal ordering and playing with friends. I miss enough D&D without being discriminated with my board-game as well!!!

Excellent game and in my opnion the proce is spot-on. Looking forward to the next release.....
So, I got to look at - but sadly not play - Castle Ravenloft.

The minis are plain unpainted plastic, like in Zombies, but they are at least struck from a different mold for each kind of critter.  The detail is comparable to the standard D&D platic minis - I'm sure some are the same but for being cast in a different plastic and not painted.  That stands out a bit.

Nothing else particularly does, not to the tune of the price tag, anyway.  The game could still be worth it if it's a great game of course.  So I'm still looking forward to trying it out.

 

 

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So, I got to look at - but sadly not play - Castle Ravenloft.

The minis are plain unpainted plastic, like in Zombies, but they are at least struck from a different mold for each kind of critter.  The detail is comparable to the standard D&D platic minis - I'm sure some are the same but for being cast in a different plastic and not painted.  That stands out a bit.

Nothing else particularly does, not to the tune of the price tag, anyway.  The game could still be worth it if it's a great game of course.  So I'm still looking forward to trying it out.

I ordered it yesterday and am hoping to the priority mail deities that it arrives before our Thursday game night. I've read tons of reviews, watched videos, read the rulebook and pretty much taken in every bit of preview info I've been able to find. I've heard nothing but great things--not just good, but great things from people who have played it. I got it for $46 total with 2-day shipping from Troll and Toad. The unpainted minis remind me of HeroQuest, so I'm willing to forgive them. I'll post my thoughts on it after I clock some hours on it this weekend.
I played Castle Ravenloft at PAX and reviewed it on my blog (see sig). I found it to be a lot of fun. I came in very curious as to whether I would like it. I think for the average D&D fan it may be more fun than Pandemic because of the resemblance to 4E. It is a great way to sort of play D&D with non-gamer friends. I will be bringing it to my couples' board game night, for example.

The quality is very high. While I would love for the minis to be fully painted, they work great for a board game and I know people that are buying the set for the minis and will paint them. The tiles and other components are of a very high quality.

It is a fun game with a legitimate chance at losing. The various elements give you a chance and are very fun.

Having now played GW and Ravenloft, I can see organized play for them, but in limited fashion. Two players at my Encounters night were saying it would have been cool if the upcoming 20-week 3rd Encounters season were just 12 weeks but was broken up by an interlude where you play GW or Ravenloft for a couple of weeks just so everyone can get a feel for the game. I agree. I think it would keep Encounters fresh and reduce burnout.

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I would love anything to do with Castle Ravenloft. It is SUPER fun. I am VERY happy with that purchase. Great fun! It also has great mini's. Although, the game does have one downside... the hero minis are butt ugly. The monster minis all look great! Really good quality (although they are unpainted, but that doesn't bother me. WotC paint jobs are so bad, they look better unpainted. If I want to paint them up I can do that myself, and make them look a good sight better than WotC does). But the hero sculpts are just REALLY not good looking. Well, except for the dwarf. The dwarf looks good.