Tag Archives: Peter Lee

20 Questions With Wizards of the Coast! With a Free Giveaway!


Hello and welcome Peter LeeMatt Sernett, and Bruce Cordell to 2D6.org’s “20 questions” and answers from the readers segment. If Wizards of the Coast was an automobile we would be referring to them as a classic, having over 20 years in the gaming industry. Wizards of the Coast is the proud owner of one of the most venerable properties in existence, Dungeons and Dragons, a true classic if there ever was one at 38 years old! You might be familiar with their other 800 lbs. gorilla Magic: the Gathering which single handedly created a card game phenomenon that is still going strong today. More recently Wizards of the Coast has been expanding the Dungeons and Dragons line into the board game medium with fantastic properties like The Dungeons and Dragons Adventure System Board Games, Conquest of Nerath, and the very well received Euro-style game Lords of Waterdeep. Not only that they have a great lineup of games coming out this year including the Dungeon Command skirmish level series of games, the Dungeon Survival Handbook, and a trilogy of books including the new novel Spinner of Lies.

2D6.orgPeter Lee, Matt Sernett, and Bruce Cordell, would you please introduce yourselves and for those who may not know, tell us what you all do at Wizards of the Coast?

PL: I started in early 2008 as a game designer for D&D Miniatures. My duties have expanded the last few years to include all the board games we’ve been putting out the last few years, including Castle Ravenloft, Lords of Waterdeep, and Dungeon Command.

MS: I’m a designer for D&D, and I’ve occasionally worked on some Magic sets, primarily as a world-builder. I’ve been working on D&D since 2000, first editing Dragon Magazine, and eventually doing a stint as Editor-in-Chief. I’ve been doing game design for D&D full time for several years. Today I’m a member of what’s called the Story Team, which includes the novel editors. Along with writing new material and creating new mechanics, one of my responsibilities is reviewing the work of others (novel outlines, adventures, online articles, miniatures concepts, and electronic games) to make sure it’s consistent with the history of our settings and the directions we’re going as we move forward. Not everything passes through my hands, but I try to see as much of it as I can. It’s great to be able to do it because just a few years ago the kind of research and fact checking necessary to consistently get things right just wasn’t feasible. Now with searchable text and about 150 gigs of products in electronic format, it’s time consuming, but at least it’s possible.

BC: I’ve been a game designer writing for the Dungeons & Dragons game since 1995, which means I’ve got a lot of adventures and other game books to my name. I’ve also been lucky enough to write several Forgotten Realms novels in my free time, most recently with Sword of the Gods and Spinner of Lies.

2D6.orgCan you explain the process Wizards of the Coast uses when it comes to writer submissions and give any tips to aspiring writers?

BC: Wizards of the Coast has a host of staff and freelance writers for its digital magazines, Dragon and Dungeon. Nearly everyone who works as a writer now got their start by pitching magazine article ideas to Dragon and/or Dungeon, eventually getting approved, eventually getting a final draft of the article approved and published, and doing this a few times. Great writers get noticed, and are asked on to larger projects. There are certainly other routes, but this one is certainly a way to go.

2D6.org: Mr. Bruce Cordell, you have a long pedigree including “Return to the Tomb of Horrors”, the “Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide”, and recently the new novel “Sword of the Gods: Spinner of Lies”. The Forgotten Realms have been around since 1987 creating an extensive history and back story full of intrigue, titanic struggles, and world changing events. Do you find it challenging writing in the Forgotten Realms especially with the challenges of continuity in a world that has been touched by so many writers? Can you tell us about the process of keeping the lore and occurrences across The Realms consistent?  

BC: Forgotten Realms is one of my favorite D&D settings, which means I’ve been using it since the very first dark gray boxed set. But sure, setting aside my personal knowledge of the Realms through its various incarnations, it’s true that writing for a setting that that allows multiple inputs through game products, organized play, novels, short stories, and articles can be a challenge. For a period of a few years, it was in my bailiwick to help track the continuity across all these realms. That process involved all the stakeholders having a monthly meeting to discuss all new inputs, as well as a review process for all adventures and novels. However, for the last year and a half, I’ve been working with the D&D Next game design team, and the continuity of the Forgotten Realms setting is currently in the capable hands of James Wyatt.

2D6.orgFans of your work will notice references to certain characters and organizations laced among your works creating a sort of continuity. Have you ever thought of expanding upon these ideas and fleshing them out and possibly creating some iconic characters (much in the way Ed Greenwood Created Elminster and all the works based on him) or do you prefer creating new and unique heroes?

BC: I think of doing that all the time, actually. While any of my characters could potentially step into the spotlight again, I actually made a bid to create exactly such a touchstone character for myself: Demascus, Sword of the Gods. The first Sword of Gods book, eponymously titled, was gratifying, because people really liked my favorite forgetful assassin. The second novel, Spinner of Lies, has also gotten some great response so far, and I hope it gets much wider notice.

2D6.orgFor those who may not know, where in the timeline of the Realms does this new trilogy take place? How will all of this tie into the Rise of the Underdark and can you give us any teasers about the 3rd novel in the trilogy?

BC: My Sword of the God novels are mostly set on the southern shore of the Sea of Fallen Stars in the city of Airspur, though certain events take Demascus quite far afield from time to time (including the Demonweb). In response to Lolth’s bid to dramatically increase her influence, drow priestess Chenrya Xorlarrin attempts to make off with a chunk of magical “mineral” that’s not really what it seems. Demascus gets caught up in the middle, even as enemies (but can’t remember) from past incarnations try to snub him out once and for all.

To be clear, the Sword of the Gods books are not a trilogy, per se. Subsequent novels do pick up story arcs from previous ones, but each stands alone despite starring the same main character. I can’t share any additional info on upcoming projects, but we’ll definitely be dropping details on our website the time comes.

2D6.orgSpeaking of the Underdark, The Dungeon Survival Handbook was recently released including new races, character themes, and powers geared toward the dungeon delver. This new book seems less geared towards tossing lots of  new statistics at players and more towards story building, can we look forward to this format in future D&D releases?

MS: Absolutely. Of course people still want mechanics and we still want to provide them, but we’re trying to make mechanics that speak more toward story than they might have in the past.

2D6.orgThe Dungeon Survival Handbook adds 3 new races (Goblin, Kobold, and Svirfneblin) that have historically been relegated to the role of evil cannon fodder for players. Yet as a DM some of my most memorable adventures involved these very cannon fodder races spruced up with a level or two in a character class. Can we look forward to more of these races getting the player character race treatment in the future? To this day I still have copies of the Creature Crucible books for this very purpose much to the PC’s chagrin.

MS:  We’re certainly exploring those options. When introducing any new race or class, we need to balance the interest that people have in those new races/classes with the time/desire that people have to sort through an increasing number of choices. At any rate, I recall reviewing a couple Dragon magazine articles along this vein, so people should definitely check them out. As we go forward, if folks show interest in seeing more, we’ll definitely work to provide them.

2D6.orgCan you tell us about the inspiration for the themes and powers presented in this new handbook? Was it challenging to balance the powers in a way that allowed all classes to feel they could support the party in a dungeon setting without unbalancing the classes?

MS: As always when we present several themes, we do our best to make them apply to as broad an array of classes as possible. That way the vast majority of players can look at the group and see something that appeals to them.

With a few exceptions that slip through the net, we’ve got a pretty good handle on game balance. So the real challenge to creating a theme is making it compelling enough to warrant its inclusion in a book (and the character builder). There’s three ways to approach picking a theme’s identity: 1. Do something you know to be interesting to a broad audience (ninja, pirate, noble); 2. Create something unique that you hope inspires people (ankheg wrangler, gelatinous cube rider) 3. Blend the first two approaches and give a unique spin to a broadly shared concept (shadow warrior of the Ankheg Clan). The Dungeon Survival Handbook used the first and third approach, viewing them through the lens of an Underdark setting. So the trapsmith and treasure hunter are straight-forward concepts that everyone gets, whereas the bloodsworn and escaped thrall might be a bit mysterious at first glance. But when you read the themes, it’s pretty clear that the bloodsworn is the classic idea of someone out for bloody revenge and the escaped thrall is an escaped slave with the fun story element that you were mentally dominated by some scary oogie-boogie.

2D6.orgOf course no talk of the Underdark would be complete without mentioning the soon to be released Dungeon Command skirmish board game and the first faction pack Sting of Lolth. Will these faction sets be a limited release run replaced as soon as the next batch of factions are released or will it be a continuing and expanding product line?

PL: Dungeon Command is definitely not a limited release. Aside from Sting of Lolth and Heart of Cormyr, we already have other faction packs coming down the pipeline that we’re really excited about. While each faction pack is fun on its own, I think Dungeon Command is most compelling when you are mixing creatures and orders from multiple sets. For example, I love the resulting story and gameplay when you mix the drow from Sting of Lolth with a few goblins from the upcoming Tyranny of Goblins. That’s not something you can do as easily with a limited release.

2D6.orgCan you offer any hints of future factions beyond those already mentioned, perhaps a demon faction pack, or something in the theme of The Temple of Elemental Evil?

PL: Certainly! The third faction pack is Tyranny of Goblins, releasing in September. This features goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears, as well as big creatures like a Troll and a Horned Devil. I can’t reveal much more than that, but people can definitely look forward to a good mix of other creatures and threats in future packs.

I have a ton of ideas for the game, so we’ll see what comes up next. The game is mainly set in the Forgotten Realms, but it’d be cool to make an exception for something as inherently D&D as Temple of Elemental Evil – I could do a whole year of releases on that game alone! It’s a great game to play as well as design – I can’t wait to see what people think of the upcoming releases.

2D6.orgOne of the greatest challenges of any skirmish style game is creating variety while keeping everything balanced. How will the factions in Dungeon Command be made to feel and play differently from each other?

PL: The core mechanic of Dungeon Command involves giving your creatures orders. Each order has an associated ability score that should be familiar to all D&D players: Strength, Dexterity, and so forth. Each faction includes a subset of ability scores. For example, the drow faction from Sting of Lolth is mostly a Dexterity band, with a small number of other ability scores to round it out. Each ability score brings a lot of the feel to the band. A Dexterity band has a lot of mobility, A Constitution band is extremely tough, while a Charisma band has a lot of tricks dealing with teamwork and leadership. Most bands are a combination of two stats, each filling a unique space in the game.

While the ability scores give an overall feel to the band, the rules on individual cards brings in the spice. The spiders in Sting of Lolth all have the ability to maneuver around your opponent’s creatures, giving them a very slippery feel that feels spiderish. Heart of Cormyr has a few mechanics only usable by Adventurers and the combination of abilities, keywords, and mechanical themes really makes each band feel different.

2D6.orgMiniatures in board games can understandably cause costs to skyrocket. Will Wizards of the Coast try to reuse old Dungeons and Dragons sculpts to keep costs down (and hence keep the costs down for the consumer) or can we look forward to some new sculpts for Dungeon Command?

PL:  We’ve used some old sculpts, but we also have new figures in upcoming faction packs. I think people will really like the mix of minis we’re offering. 

2D6.orgIncluding enemy and ally cards for the Dungeons and Dragons Adventure System board games with Dungeon Command was a fantastic tip of the hat towards fan service. Can we look forward to any other cross promotions like this in the future? Will the Dungeon Command tiles also be compatible with the Adventure System board games? Will there be hero statistic cards for use in the adventure system games or only monster cards for now?

PL: The Dungeon Command tiles do interlock with the Adventure System, but they’re not the same size so they can only be used as part of a special Adventure. While most of the boxes have Monster cards, Heart of Cormyr has a slightly different mechanic allowing you to find allies in the dungeon. (It didn’t make sense to turn heroes like the Dragon Knight or War Wizard into a Monster.) I can’t really talk about any other cross promotions at this time.

2D6.orgThe Adventure System board games (Legend of Drizzt, Wrath of Ashardalon, and Castle Ravenloft) are a fantastic distillation of the core D&D 4.0 mechanics merged with a board game. When can we look forward to the next installment and any hints as to what it may be? Are you taking fan and community suggestions, if so can I toss Temple of Elemental Evil into the hat?

PL: There’s a wealth of old D&D adventures that we could easily be translated into an Adventure System game; Temple is one of my favorites as well, but a preliminary list of miniatures is staggeringly long to handle all four elemental factions.

We’re working out exactly when the next one will come right now, so I unfortunately have nothing I can say at this time.

2D6.orgWill the Adventure System board games continue to be big box sets, or have you considered expansions? Maybe small box sets with new adventures, cards and higher level monsters and/or heroes?

PL: We’ve considered expansions, but there are a lot of options and decisions still up on the air. The biggest question would be which game to expand? I don’t think an all-in-one expansion works, as if you have just one box, you can’t use up to two-thirds of the product. An expansion that expands just one of the games may not be compelling. I’m thinking about it, but I haven’t yet hit a good solution.

2D6.orgWizards of the coast released one adventure online combining Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon, can we look forward to more of these, maybe one including all 3 boxed sets or even the Dungeon Command skirmish sets?

PL: It’s on my mind, but I haven’t gotten a chance to dedicate the time to another one just yet. Fortunately, there are a few extremely creative fans that have written their own adventures if you know where to look. I love to see other people’s creative spin on the game.

2D6.orgThe newest boxed set Legend of Drizzt upped the power curve some, was this more of a unique occurrence due to the subject matter (Drizzt and company being iconic powerful heroes of the Realm) or will future releases slowly scale up like this?

PL: The Adventure Games need to match the feel of the subject matter – it wouldn’t feel like Drizzt if he ended up dying every few minutes. The game needed to match the expectations of the people coming to the Adventure System for the first time. Some of the core mechanics from Ravenloft were put in to give the game a horror feel; these decisions aren’t right for high fantasy. I suspect that future releases may not be as easy.

2D6.orgFor me, Lords of Waterdeep came out of nowhere and basically let everyone know that Wizards of the Coast is ready to branch out deeply into the board game market. When can we expect the first expansion? Have you considered a premium line of custom cubes shaped in the form of Fighters, Clerics, Wizards, and Rogues for customers to buy?

PL: We weren’t sure how well Lords of Waterdeep would do – so we were pleasantly surprised at how much people liked it. I don’t have any additional info on an expansion, however if the game proves popular enough, I can imagine an opportunity to do a deluxe anniversary edition with premium components. Again, though, we don’t have anything to announce at this time.

2D6.orgAre there any other surprises we can look forward to in the future from Wizards of the Coast? Any possible teasers you can share with us?

PL: It’s been fun! I’d love to share a teaser, but I need to take my secrets to the grave.

MS: All I can really say is that we’re doing some fantastic behind-the-scenes work to set the stage for the future. When I’m not deep in the archives mining for some nugget of D&D lore, I’m gazing way out past the horizon. I’ve never had more fun at work than I’m having now.

BC: Thank you so much for your interest, and taking the time to talk to us about our projects, games, and novels! Unfortunately, there aren’t any secrets I can divulge – just stay tuned!

2D6.orgSome really fantastic answers from Wizards of the Coast! I am really looking forward to seeing the release of Dungeon Command! Thank you again Peter, Matt, and Bruce!


We at 2D6.org would like to thank Peter Lee, Matt Sernett, and Bruce Cordell for taking the time out of their busy schedules to answer these questions! Wizards of the Coast was kind enough to supply us with a FREE COPY of the new Dungeons and Dragons book Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook! How do you win? The 2D6.org way! Simply post a reply to this thread stating what you liked about the interview and who you would like to see next! The winner will be randomly selected (from all US entries) on the 7th of July 2012!



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20 Questions With… Wizards of the Coast! A News Segment Where You Ask The Questions!

2D6.org strives to be your source for board game and RPG information and I can think of no better company to discuss both hobbies than the grandfather of the RPG industry Wizards of the Coast!


Now is the chance to ask YOUR questions!  Peter LeeMatt Sernett, and Bruce Cordell from Wizards of the Coast have kindly agreed to be guests for “20 Questions” where You submit your questions, WE at 2D6.org gather the 20 most popular questions, and then we conduct the interview!

For the first time 2D6 will be crossing the hobby borders to bring you an interview discussing board games, RPG games, and fantasy novels! Curious about the various Factions that will be released with Dungeon Command? Ready to delve into the Underdark? Interested in learning the process of becoming a writer for one of the oldest, active fantasy worlds on the market? Now is your chance!


Who Knows There Might Even Be A Contest In The End.

Nothing is worse than Question and Answer sessions where the question you care about the most is never asked. We need  YOU to submit  your questions, you have until  June 22nd before we gather up the questions and contact  Wizards of the Coast for the interview!

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Dungeons and Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt (Video Review)

Legend of Drizzt

A cooperative game for 1–5 players based on the New York Times best-selling adventures of Drizzt Do’Urden.

The adventures of Drizzt Do’Urden, as told in the Forgotten Realms novels by R.A. Salvatore, come to life in this thrilling board game. Take on the role of the legendary drow ranger or one of his famous adventuring companions, battle fearsome foes, and win treasure and glory.

Designed for 1–5 players, this board game features multiple scenarios, challenging quests, and cooperative game play. The contents of this game can also be combined with other D&D Adventure System Cooperative Play board games, including Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon, to create an even more exciting experience.

~ Wizards of the Coast

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Dungeons & Dragons: Legend of Drizzt Board Game – A Review

Dungeons and Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt, by Peter Lee – Published by Wizards of the Coast.

  “Because of the friends I have known, the honorable people I have met, I know I am no solitary hero of unique causes. I know now that when I die, I will live on. That which is important will live on. This is my Legacy; and by the grace of the gods, I am not alone.”

* * * **


“Change is not always growth, but growth is often rooted in change. Drizzt Do’Urden”. The more things change the more they remain the same, Legend of Drizzt is the 3rd in the series of Dungeons and Dragons board games based on a Rules Lite ™ version of the D&D 4.0 ruleset. Legend of Drizzt is a mostly cooperative, mission based, randomizing dungeon crawler that pits 1-5 players against the games AI on a quest whose ultimate goal changes depending on which scenario is chosen. Each player takes on the role of one of the iconic heroes (and anti-heroes) from the R. A. Salvatore series of books that began over 20 years ago. Unlike the prior 2 games in the series, Legend of Drizzt adds in team based missions, new player abilities, a hidden traitor mission, and other unique circumstances drawn from encounters that occurred in the books.


What’s In The Box

Legend of Drizzt comes in a fairly large (but not quite coffin sized) game box that includes 40 detailed (but unpainted) miniatures, 200 standard sized cards, 8 cardboard double sided hero cards, 4 double sided villain cards, 1 rulebook, 1 scenario book, 32 interlocking cavern tiles, 4 double sized interlocking tiles, 22 interlocking cavern edge tiles, 1 20 sided Die, and enough cardboard bits to keep the logging industry in business. All this gaming goodness ships in a nice, form fitting, compartmentalized, plastic tray and can be yours for the MSRP of $64.99.

 Description of Components


Legend of Drizzt ships with 40 detailed but unpainted plastic miniatures. While the sculpts might be rehashed from other games, the feral troll for example is almost the exact same sculpt used in the Heroscape D&D boxed set, they are finely detailed and worth the price of admission alone.

At first I was ready to berate Wizards of the Coast for just rehashing sculpts but upon closer inspection I did realize they are not perfect duplicates and instead made lemonade/saw the glass as half full/the cake is a lie… and saved myself many hours of painting time. This works decently for the Drow and Illithid sized figures but Heroscape uses a none-standard shaped base for all the large figures (like the Feral Troll for example). If you do decide to paint them they will require a good base coat primer but do end up painting fairly nicely. As a nice side note, these miniatures make a fantastic addition to D&D 4.0 game play sessions at a very reasonable price. I would almost be bold enough to say that for the price, the game is worth buying for the miniatures alone if you play D&D 4.0.

Legend of Drizzt like the prior games in the series comes with some great quality cardboard. The tiles are thick, interlock well, and actually have an improved look. Wizards took the time to actually make the caverns look less sterile. There are flourishes like bridges, pits, narrow passages, and rubble strewn about which are definitely a nice upgrade. Yet having said that, we are still stuck in the same drab, gray, dungeon we have been adventuring into for 3 games now. This series desperately needs to branch out to new tile sets.

The rest of the cardboard components keep with the high quality trend. All the tokens are durable and thick, the same can be said for the hero and villain cards. A decent portion of the components are full color with nice multi-colored images. The hero cards are still using mono–colored artwork but the artwork is nice and evokes the theme of the books very well. The artwork on the villain cards takes a back seat to the hero cards though being more reminiscent of a penciled sketch but still, it is passable and has been grumbled about in every version of these board games.

There is an extremely minimal amount of artwork on the cards for the most part and what artwork there is, is mono colored or simply sketched. The card quality itself seems to be on the thinner side, not to the point of feeling cheap, but definitely enough that I would suggest sleeving these cards to reduce wear and tear. To be fair the cards in this game are not excessively shuffled like a deck building game so you could get by without sleeving the cards if you wanted to.

The rulebook and the adventure book are both well done. They are nicely organized and laid out with full color images and examples. Additionally (and Wizards of the Coast needs to be applauded here) you can download a copy of the rulebook online from dungeonsanddragons.com with embedded videos that help explain the rules (it is a 140 MB download though). The rules break down the cards and components explaining everything in detail. I might be a little biased since this is the 3rd rendition of nearly the same ruleset but I tried to re-read the rules with an open mind and finished fully confident in the rules.

Finally we have the 20 sided die. This is your standard 20 sided die, it has a decent heft to it and rolls pretty well. It even has a dark purple hue to it matching the games theme.


Components And Presentation Verdict:8.75/10   – The components are well done. The cardboard is thick and will last a long time. The miniatures are also detailed and cast in different color plastics. My only complaint is the rather drab minimalistic artwork and the thinner quality paper used to manufacture the cards.

 How Does It Play?

Let’s take a moment to peruse the components of the game and what there uses are shall we?

 The Adventure Counters (pictured) and Encounter Counters (not pictured but very similar) are either unique to a scenario, such as the Crystal Prison, or represent Event Card effects, such as The Juicer Trap. Generally when they enter play they will remain on a tile as a reminder of their effect(s).

The Cavern Edge Tiles are a great addition to the game. They are used to create dead ends, scenario specific purposes, or to make pregenerated adventures with slightly more logical layouts and a feeling of an actual room or cavern. The pregenerated adventures are a fantastic addition to the game. Each scenario that uses them requires you to randomly set out a set amount of tiles in a certain pattern then to close off all the open cavern tile edges with these counters.

Each player gets one character card representing the Hero they will control during the adventure. Each card is double sided, with one side representing the level 1 version of the Hero, and the flip side listing the statistics for the slightly more powerful level 2 version of the Hero. Each Hero card lists the Heroes name, race, and class with a small thematic blurb about that specific Hero. Below that are the Heroes statistics including AC (what needs to be rolled on a D20 plus bonuses to hit the Hero), HP (how much damage the Hero can take before falling), Speed (how many squares the Hero can move with a move action), and finally Surge Value (how many HPs they heal when they use a Healing Surge or any ability that says to heal their Surge Value). Beyond that each Hero card lists a power and how many Power cards of each type that Hero gets to choose if using those rules.


Various encounters can trigger conditions on the Heroes and these are represented with Condition Markers to set on your Hero as a gentle reminder of any negative effects the Hero may be suffering. They are pretty self explanatory and have the gameplay effects printed on them.

For anyone who has played the earliest editions of the venerable Advanced Dungeons and Dragons RPG, think of Event Cards as those moments your DM would get that devious grin on his or her face, roll some dice, and then announce some random pain that was about to befall your intrepid party. Event cards add a random element to the game spawning traps, curses, and various other impediments to our Heroes journey. An Event card will be drawn any time a tile is drawn with a black arrow on it or any time a Hero fails to reveal a new tile on their turn. This adds a sense of urgency to exploration and helps keep the game moving and prevents a slow cautious methodology of exploration.

Monster cards represent the various denizens of the Underdark our Heroes will face on the adventure. Each card lists the AC (roll on a D20 plus bonuses needed to hit the monster), HP (amount of damage needed to slay the beast), Tactics (discussed above), Attack bonus (what is added to the D20 roll when the monster attacks and is compared to the targets AC), Damage (how much damage each attempted hit causes, yes sometimes even misses hurt the Heroes), and finally the experience reward for killing a monster. Experience serves a few purposes in the game and is saved in a communal pile accessible to all Heroes at all times. Experience is generally used to level up Heroes and to cancel Event Cards.

Hero powers come in three varieties; At-Will (useable every turn), Daily (useable once then flipped over until an event allows you to refresh them), and Utility Powers (useable once then flipped over until an event allows you to refresh them). Additionally Legend of Drizzt introduces a new Utility Power called Stances.

At the start of a players turn, if they have a Stance Utility Power, they may place a Stance Token on that power card. This grants the player a temporary bonus and these Stances are useable once a turn. For example Cattibrie has a Stance power: At the beginning of your turn place a Stance Token on this card. While this Stance token is on this card Hero gains +4 to attack rolls and knocks monsters back one tile.

Treasures are gained when a Hero defeats a monster but only one may be gained per turn even if you manage to slay multiple foes. There are two types of Treasures, Fortunes which are played immediately, and Items which are held in a Heroes inventory and either continue to give a bonus or can be activated for a 1 time use.

The villains are pretty much just like the monsters except much more powerful. Villains are usually the ultimate goal of an adventure and are meant to be a challenge to defeat.

Rulebook turn Summary.


Set Up
Players select one of the adventures from the Adventure book, making sure to follow any special set up instructions for that adventure.

*Each of the game play decks are shuffled and put within easy reach of every player.
*Unless the Adventure says otherwise, place the Start Tile in the center of the table and place two Healing Surge tokens within easy reach of all the players. These are the group’s healing surges for this Adventure.
*Each player selects from one of the eight 1st-level Heroes and decides which Power Cards to use for that Hero.
*Each hero is placed on the start tile, unless of course the adventure states otherwise.
*Each Hero draws a Treasure Card, drawing and discarding until they obtain a Treasure Card with an item on it.
*Set up the Cavern Tile stack (the deck of tiles) using the setup instructions in the Adventure you have selected. The Adventure will advise of any additional rules you need in the “Special Adventure Rules” section, or any rules that change the core game rules.

Each game turn is broken down into 3 specific phases that must be fully completed in order before the next player can begin their turn.

* Hero Phase
1. If your Hero has 0 Hit Points, use a Healing Surge token if
one is available.
2. Perform one of the following actions:
✦ Move and then make an Attack.
✦ Attack and then Move.
✦ Make two Moves.

Once this phase is completed move on to the next phase.

* Exploration Phase
1. If your Hero occupies a square along an unexplored edge, go on to Step 2. If your Hero doesn’t occupy a square along an unexplored edge, go on to the Villain Phase.
2. Draw a Dungeon Tile and place it with its triangle pointing to the unexplored edge of the tile your Hero is exploring from.
3. Place a Monster on the new tile.

Once this phase is completed move on to the next phase.

* Villain Phase
1. If you didn’t place a Dungeon Tile in your Exploration Phase, or if you placed a Dungeon Tile with a black triangle, draw and play an Encounter Card.
2. If the Villain is in play, activate the Villain.
3. Activate each Monster and Trap Card, in turn, in the order you drew them making sure to follow the tactics on each respective card.

Play then moves on to the next players turn.

A sample game might look something like this:

A game turn is pretty simple, lets take a sample round using Drizzt Do’Urden. Player A starts their turn by placing a Stance Token on the utility power “Dancing Serpent”. Now Drizzt can move 2 squares before or after an attack as long as this stance remains in effect. Drizzt moves 2 squares ending adjacent to a soon to be skewered Drow Duelist (16 AC, 1 HP). Drizzt then uses the at will power “Twinkle” which allows an attack for 1 damage at +6. Drizzt rolls a fantastic 20 making his total attack roll 26 which easily hits the Drow Duelist for 1 point of damage and slays the pitiful Drow. The next part of the “Twinkle” at will power says to move your stance token on to this card. Drizzt now has the ability to shrug off 1 point of damage thanks to his new stance! Also since Drizzt rolled a natural 20 he may spend 5 experience points to level up if they communal experience pile has enough points.


Drizzt now takes his move action moving 3 squares to an unexplored tile edge this ends the Hero phase. A tile is drawn revealing a new tile with a black triangle (an Event Card trigger!). A new monster is drawn to occupy the new tile revealing a Drow Wizard which is placed on the new tiles mushroom patch square. This ends the Exploration Phase and begins the Villain Phase.

Drizzt placed a tile with a black arrow so he must draw an Encounter Card and gets “Baruchie Colony”. Each Hero on the same tile as Drizzt is attacked at +11 and anyone hit will become poisoned! Everyone starting with Drizzt rolls a D20 to see if they are poisoned adding a poison condition marker onto their hero if they roll over their AC on a D20 + 11 attack bonus from the Event Card. Since the Villain is not in play Drizzt carries out the Drow Wizards tactics which states it teleports to the tile with the most Heroes and then attacks each Hero on that tile with a blast of fire at +8 attack that does 2 damage (1 on a miss).

Simplicity of The Rules: 9/10 – To be fair this is the 3rd game in the series and the rules have not changed much. Having said that though honestly it really isn’t a complex game as long as you remember to perform each players turn in the correct order there shouldn’t be any major rule confusions. There is even a turn summary card provided in the game for each player to use.


Daddy Why’s This Guy Got A Sword In His Belly?

 As a father of 2 future board gamers, a large concern of mine is how secure am I in letting my eldest son play and or rummage through a game box. Granted, BGG and board games themselves very clearly tell you a minimum age, they don’t tell you exactly why that minimum age was chosen. My hope is to arbitrarily tell you why I think this age range was chosen for this game and then hopefully give a few ideas I might have for a game to make it easier on the young ones. Finally I will close with what seems to be the “sweet spot” for number of players and if the game has solo rules I’ll comment on those too.


Legend of Drizzt is a Dungeon Crawler for 1-5 players ages 12+. The rulebook and adventure book are devoid of overly gory or bloody images. The miniature sculpts themselves are fairly well detailed with monster roll call including Drow (dark elves), Drider (Drow males cursed by the goddess Llolth to be mindless centaur like creatures with a spiders lower body), Trolls, Goblins, Undead Spirits, drakes, spider swarms, water elementals, and a Balor (a fire denizen from the nether realms reminiscent of the creature Gandalf fought on the bridge).

The rules themselves are fairly straight forward. On a players turn, they simply complete steps A, B, and C in order, then the next player repeats the same process. Monster AI is also very basic and understandable by anyone who can follow basic if/then directions. For example the Feral Troll if within 1 tile of a Hero, it moves adjacent to the nearest Hero and attacks. Otherwise the Feral Troll regains all lost hit points and then moves 1 tile closer to the closest Hero. Honestly as long as you were not offended by the inclusion of some creatures in the game an 8 or 9 year old could easily grasp the concepts and rules of the game quite handily. Again this assumes the parent is OK with the theme of the game.


Family Friendliness Verdict:8.5/10 – This is actually a great family game for 9-10 year olds and up. Cooperative games reduce the antagonistic feel that younger players may not appreciate. It scales very well from 1 all the way up to 5 players allowing the entire family to get in on the fun. The only caveat is that Errtu is a fairly dark looking character.


A typical game should take anywhere from 60 – 75 minutes from opening the box through the end of the game, assuming of course the players don’t have a run of bad luck and suffer a crushingly early defeat. Usually games will take about 15 or so turns of play. In an average 3-5 player game each player will play through about 4 or 5 full turns. During a solo game a player will play through 15 – 20 turns depending on luck of the draw and combat results before winning a scenario. Most turns are fairly quick taking less than a few minutes per player (30 second turns are not unheard of), which is a bonus since on off turns there is little for a player to do beyond suggest minimal strategic movement suggestions to the current player. For the impatient, fewer players will be better but the game is most enjoyable with 4-5 players thanks to player interaction and the feel of a “party adventuring into a dungeon and reliving events from the Dark Elf Series of books.”



* Admittedly this is ripped directly from Chez’ Geek Quarterly, but come on it’s Drizzt and company.

* Does a good job of including the highlights and major players from the books

* The miniatures are well detailed and look fantastic painted

* Rules are simple to grasp

* The AI is still fairly top notch for a boardgame

* Finally we get more than the standard cooperative style scenarios; hidden traitor is definitely a breath of fresh air!

* 8 Heroes included in the game

* New unique hero mechanics, stances used by 3 of the heroes and the ability to attack during the villain phase are two good examples

* Prebuilt dungeons are a really refreshing change of pace to the sometimes chaotic dungeon layouts that can plague this game (do note only some scenarios use this feature)

* New monster tactics and abilities



* The dungeon setting is getting a little tiresome. Where is my Village of Hommlet? Anything that isn’t a dungeon would really be nice at this point.

* For better or worse the cards are still pretty devoid of artwork

* Different text on the back of the tiles can hamper combining them with prior games in the series

* The new heroes are more powerful than the heroes from the other 2 games and therefore will not retroactively “play nice” with those scenarios

* A noticeable power creep

* The hidden traitor scenario, while entertaining, is in need of some balancing tweaks

But Is It Fun?

 The 3rd time really is a charm here. Wizards of the Coast has done a fantastic job of evolving the Dungeons and Dragons board games without making them overly complex. As a light cooperative dungeon run style game Legend of Drizzt really delivers. The hero powers are finally evolving, we now have alternate ways to play thanks to a Horde style scenario, a hidden betrayer scenario, and some other interesting ideas that I don’t want to spoil.

There are 8 heroes to choose from and all feel different and fun to play and the scenarios do a great job of bringing the encounters from the books to the table top in an entertaining way.

There are a few minor issues though. Bruenor has an error on the back of his Hero card telling the player to pick a new Daily Power for him (impossible since he only has Utility powers) and there is definitely power creek going on here. Heroes now have abilities like Stances and the ability to gain multiple attacks including attacks during the Villain phase. While in the contained Legend of Drizzt environment this is fine it does limit cross compatibility with the other 2 games. The backs of the tiles now say “Cavern Tile” making them stand out in a stack if for some crazy reason you wanted to combine tiles from all the games. Finally, yes the artwork is still very sparse in this game, all the eye candy is in the miniatures.


I also have two minor nitpicks. I would like them to modify the exploration rules some. Right now when exploring, a character with a speed 7 has no inherent advantages over someone with a speed of 4. It’s almost worth play testing and house ruling that placing a new tile requires Speed points to be “spent”. For example to reveal a tile it costs 2 speed, so a player like Drizzt who is fast can cross a tile and then discover a new tile, while a slow player like a dwarf is hampered some. I am also getting rather tired of seeing dungeons and caverns. I would really like to see the next game introduce some variety. Give me a swamp, a jungle, heck, give me the Village of Hommlet, just give me new tile sets.


Overall Final Game Verdict: 8.5/10 – Wizards of the Coast has done a fine job evolving this series of games with Legend of Drizzt being the best of the bunch so far. They have broken the pure cooperative mold some offering alternate modes of play and evolved the powers of the Heroes. This isn’t a Descent Killer because its not in the same competition. This is dungeon crawling without a DM and if that is what you want then this is your game.




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Worker Placement 101 Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep by Peter Lee and Rodney Thompson is a worker placement game for two to five players set in Waterdeep, in the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) setting of the Forgotten Realms. It is the first eurogame that Wizards of the Coasts had produced in their line of D&D themed board games, though I imagine if it ends up being successful it will not be the last. I have not actually played any of the others, as I am generally not interested in cooperative games, but the fact that Wizards of the Coasts (WotC) was going outside of their normal style of games was enough to catch my interest.

Wizards did an excellent job on the component design for this one, producing a game that is not only visually appealing but also functionally effective. Unfortunately the physical quality of the pieces themselves is somewhat questionable and I suspect it will not stand up to the long term wear and tear of being played.


The insert is probably the best I have seen, and is one of the few where I have not had an immediate desire to throw it away. Not only does it do an effective job of providing locations to play all of the components, but the design also makes it so that the board and various player aids serve to help keep the components in their designated receptacles, ensuring that the components are unlikely to shift assuming you can keep the game in a reasonably vertical position. Shaking the box vigorously can still cause the components to become unsettled, but other games tend to suffer even more from this particular action, and since it is usually a good idea to avoid being in situations where your games will be vigorously shaken this is unlikely to be much of a problem.

The game’s component colors are usually pretty easy to distinguish, and in those instances where they are not there are suitable symbols to aid in the differentiation of the player pieces. I greatly appreciate this as someone who is red-green colorblind, as having a great deal of difficulty parsing the game state usually increases the likelihood that I will find the overall game play experience to be unpleasant.

The cards are of reasonable stock, though they have a bit of a texture to them that I found to be vaguely unpleasant. Also, after shuffling them over the course of a few games they were also becoming slightly bent, though not in a way that harmed their functionality. The meeples have similar quality issues, and after a few games I was already finding that some of the black meeples were starting to miss the paint from their “feet.” Now, it is possible that they came this way and I just did not notice it before, but it is still something you should probably look out for.

Structure and Strategy
Lords of Waterdeep’s game play is rather straightforward, particularly if you have played any worker placement before. Players take turns placing their workers on the board, gathering resources as they do so, and using these resources to get points. Whoever has the most points at the end is the winner.

There are four major types of resources to manage: adventurer cubes (fighter, rogue, wizard, and cleric), money, intrigue cards, and quest cards. There is no particular complexity in gathering these items, and there are no advanced goods to be acquired; each of these items can be acquired from simple action placements on the board, and in fact almost all actions are directly related to acquiring some combination of these items. Specific spots also allow you to construct buildings, which provide new locations to place workers, or to play intrigue cards.

Intrigue cards provide special bonus powers that can be performed by taking an action that is specifically designated to use intrigue cards. This action is special because, much like the Gate in Caylus or the First player spot in Dominant Species, it essentially allows you to trade access to better actions for the ability to gain whatever extra power your intrigue card provides. There are three spots available to play these additional cards, and typically all three should be used every round of the game. The bonuses from the intrigue cards are typically significant enough that if any of the spots are empty at the end of the round the someone made a mistake, though whether you use your first worker, or a later one, to do so is a significant decision. Placing multiple workers on the “play an intrigue card” location is particularly valuable in games with fewer players, as it allows you to potentially perform consecutive actions and thus do something without anyone else being able to react to it. I have used it to construct a building and then immediately use it, but I am sure there are other ways that you can take advantage of this.

Most of the intrigue card powers are pretty straightforward affairs, providing you with 2 cubes and another player with 1, causing all other players to lose a cube of a particular type and giving you a bonus for each other player who does not have a cube, or allowing you to break the rules in a minor way, but there are a few cards that break through the expected and provide something that is new and interesting. The biggest example of this is the Mandatory Quests which are played on another player and prevent that player from completing any other quest is completed. On an initial glance this appears fairly trivial, as you generally lose 1 (or gain 1) point over the end of the game value of the cubes, but when you compare the value of the Mandatory Quests to the benefits you could get from using those cubes to complete an actual quest the loss is actually a bit more severe than that. This is usually something that you can recover from early on, but later in the game, when individuals are more likely to have put together a precise sequence of actions they need to complete their final quests; this loss can be a bit more severe.

Quest cards are generally used to translate money and adventurer cubes into victory points, but there are also plenty of them that provide additional special abilities, either in the single instance when they are created, or over time in the case of plot quests. This results in some opportunity for clever play in the form of being able to chain quests together, to make payouts for previous quests help with future ones, but this is extremely tactical, as you are never quite sure what quest are going to be available. I also appreciate the differentiation that plot quests, which provide more long term benefits, provide, as they change the valuations of the various action spots, but their declining utility means that they are essentially “dead” by the time you reach the later part of the game. This is particularly problematic with the single plot quest that provides you with an additional worker; it is expensive enough that you cannot get it during the early game, but by the time you can afford it, the additional actions it provides are probably not worth all of the cubes you have to spend to bring it out.

The buildings are largely just improved versions of the regular action spots. What makes them interesting strategically is that, Caylus-style, they also provide a secondary benefit when someone takes the space instead of whoever constructed it, allowing them to get resource or victory point income even without having to take actions. This makes is so that the earlier your construct a building, the more valuable it will be. This is reflected neatly in the mechanism that they use to track the current round. Three victory point chits are stacked on each round spot, and are distributed on top of all the current buildings as the game goes on. This makes it so that most buildings have a victory point value, and that buildings that are less appetizing early on, or are very expensive, end up slowly accumulating victory points until it suddenly becomes a much more reasonable proposition to construct them. Of course, since the money you use to construct the buildings is also worth victory points, where, exactly the point where constructing an individual building is worthwhile remains somewhat ambiguous and will depend on the dynamics of an individual game. Of course, if you have the scoring card that rewards you for buildings, it becomes much less ambiguous.

Buildings and some plot quests do intersect in interesting ways, which can sometimes be sufficient to push a particular building from worthless to must have. Plot quests can provide cubes, money, or intrigue cards based on cube or money acquisition, and making it so you get these bonuses both when you take your building and when other people do so, can push the value of plot quests and these special buildings up to a whole new level. These combinations are valuable enough that it is usually a good idea to keep an eye out for them during the initial seeding of quests and buildings, both so that you can gain the combination for yourself and to ensure that nobody else is able to get them.

The game ends with a final scoring based on your cash (1 vp for $2) and cubes (1 cube = 1 vp) on hand as well as bonus points for your secret goal card that corresponds to one of the Lords of Waterdeep. The vast majority of them provide 4 VP for each completed quest that fits into one of two categories, but one of them provides 6 vp for each completed building. The bonus points for buildings are very rewarding, but it is also the most easily interfered with. Generally it does not seem worth it to steal a quest from someone else just because you think it is one they are specialized in, as actions are fairly valuable, and mutually destructive play tends to simply aid whoever else is playing.

The game’s quests and various worker placement locations seem to be fairly well balanced, though I do find the plot cards to be questionable. While I have not gone through and done a statistical analysis of the quests, and I probably will not at this point, the inputs generally seem to correspond to the outputs, though considering the limited number of quests you can acquire it seems that a balance between less expensive, but still valuable, quests and more expensive high victory point quests is best. The worker placement locations available on constructed buildings are better than those available on the base board, but that is both perfectly understandable and perfectly reasonable; nobody would use money to purchase the buildings if they did not provide additional benefits beyond those that are available for the base board locations. They seem to be balanced based on their financial cost, but as noted earlier they are more worth the money earlier in the game. Later in the game the amount of victory points stacked on them will be a more significant concern due to their lack of resource return on investment.

The intrigue cards are where the notion of “balance” becomes a little bit more problematic. There are definitely some cards that are more useful than others, and some of the more offensive cards allow you to essentially cause one or more other players to lose what amounts to an action or two, which can be painful in higher player count games where you only get 20 actions. The limited ability to play intrigue cards only adds to this, as in four or five player games, someone will always be shut out of the intrigue card spot, meaning that you will have no chance to play one of your own. Of course, this makes the first player spot more valuable, and the fact that you get a free intrigue card for playing on the first player spot supports the idea that taking first player is primarily used to set yourself up for taking one of the intrigue card spots in the following round, but there is no guarantee that you will end up with cards that are helpful to your cause.

The combination of targeted negative cards (the low VP mandatory quest which your opponent is required to complete before they perform any others and the card which allows you to steal a cube) and beneficial cards that have a secondary bonus that your provide to one other player combine to making it so the game encourages players to fly under the radar so that other players are less likely to target them directly and more likely to help them when they have to provide a secondary benefit to someone else. While this does not bother me that much, as this is simply an aspect of the game rather than actually being the game, those who dislike this kind of dynamic will probably dislike Lords of Waterdeep.

The biggest problem I have with Lords of Waterdeep is its overall triviality in the grand universe of worker placement games. There is nothing particularly new or innovative about the game, and both learning and playing the game is fairly easy. After a handful of plays you will know most everything there is to know about the game and what remains is a series of relatively straightforward tactical decisions that plays in about an hour. It is light and breezy with marginal tension and no more than one or two points in the game where you will have to really think deeply about what you are doing. For many people, including the likely target audience of D&D players who are not necessarily into more in-depth board games, this is probably perfect, but for those of us who tend to like deeper and longer games, Lords of Waterdeep will be roughly equivalent to having one or two pieces of candy instead of a full meal: tasty but ultimately unsatisfying.

I do think Lords of Waterdeep does a good job in distilling the essence of more complex workers games down into a form that is more approachable for those who prefer lighter or shorter games. Ultimately though, I personally do not want a distilled form of the more complex worker placement games. I want to actually play these more complex worker placement games, and I do not think there are many situations where, having the time, I would chose to play Lords of Waterdeep over my deeper favorites. Now, if we have an hour left at the end of the night then I would not be against playing it, especially since some of the people I game with find the game to be quite enjoyable, but even there are other approximately one hour games I would probably prefer and because of this, Lords of Waterdeep has left my collection.

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