D&D General Adventure Begins - first impressions


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I received my copy of the Dungeons & Dragons: Adventure Begins game yesterday and played it with my two sons (ages 13 and 10) tonight.

I thought I would share some quick first impressions and hopefully strike up a conversation with others who have played it.
  • We were laughing almost the entire time. Rib-hurting, hard-to-breath, better-not-be-drinking laughs. It was the most fun we had with a board game that I can remember off hand. The only thing that has come close recently are video party games like some of the JackBox Party Games.
  • This is the first truly general audience, family game based on D&D that WotC has put out for 5e.
  • It is a great game for kid's birthdays and x-mas. The rules are simple, the components are fun, and you don't have to know anything about D&D or even be a fantasy fan to enjoy it
  • At the same time it manages to capture a lot of the flavor of D&D. More on the beer & pretzels (or soda and chips), railroady quest style of D&D
  • They did a good job building in "role playing" without having to call it that or even explain what it is. For example:
    • Each player selects a backpack card as part of setting up his or her character. The backpack card list the contents of the backpack that are meant as items to use as "props" for using a your characters special ability that depends on improvising a scenario to activate the action. It works very well, my 10 year old used his special action almost every single turn because he loved coming up with crazy actions other than "I hit it with my sword." It may not have always been the most tactical choice, but it was fun.
    • Many of the encounter cards involve having to improvise and act out. E.g., a confused sphinx who remembers the answer but not the riddle and the players must come up with a riddle for the answer, or a dance competition, or the party has to work together to come up with a group solution to an issue. There are also some choose your own adventure type cards where an encounter is explained an you have to choose from several options. The choose from a selection cards are the only part of the game that doesn't have a high level of replayability. I'm guessing from these kinds of cards and the extra card-slot storage in the box that WotC intends to release expansion card packs for the game. Personally, I'm thinking that when we come upon a card like this that we already played, we'll have the DM come up with a new description and choice but with the same mechanical effects.
  • The DM role is changed each time the part enters a different room. In all combats and in many non-combat encounters the DM also plays his or her character. The card description and dice dictate how the monster acts. But there are some cards where the DM only presents to the other players, even some where the DM has to choose which character wins the challenge.
  • The game is cooperative, but there are some competitive opportunities from cards. Like the create a riddle card I wrote about above. The DM selects which player's riddle is best. As it is a cooperative game, I suppose the DM could just give the win to whichever player needs the gold or healing the most to help the group's chances, but my boys and I enjoyed the competition and played competitive encounters competitively.
  • The cards have a lot of game and geek references, many of the them are D&D related, but they also reference a lot of other Hasbro games in a way that doesn't ruin the D&D vibe. Very clever actually and provides a selection of references for all ages and properties. It is almost certain that most people will recognize at least some of the in-jokes and Easter eggs, whether referencing Monty Python (It wouldn't be D&D without Monty Python references), Lord of the Rings, My Little Pony, Monopoly, etc.
  • While not a premium game, for the price I thought that the components were of acceptable quality. The design of the game, cards, parts were all well done. Game mechanics were very well done. I can't think of another game that is quite the same as it. It is the first straight board game that felt like D&D to me in a way that the Adventure System boxed sets never did. My kids played the Princes of the Apocolypse board game for one scenario and never wanted to play it again. We already plan to play Adventure Begins again tomorrow.
If you've played or at least looked through the game, what are your first impressions?

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I have not played it and I don't think that I'm the intended audience, but I did enjoy your review... and it's making me consider it as a gift for a gamer friend of mine who has kids ranging in age from 4-14, and whose wife is an author of children's books. I think they might get a kick out of this.


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