Red Dragon Inn 3 – A Refreshing Update to an Already Fun Game

Today’s blog is by guest blogger:

Paladin Revenant
Confessions of a Casual Gamer

Hello to all the readers out there.  My name is Mike, though you’ll usually see me here and around the web as Paladin Revenant.  I write a little blog of my own, mainly it’s about video games and tabletop RPGs.  Though my own blogging endeavors pale in comparison to what my friend The Null Entry has put together here.  I’m guest writing this review of The Red Dragon Inn 3, so let’s get to it.

While the wife and I were walking around Gen Con 2008, we came across the booth for Slugfest Games.  They had volunteers running demonstrations of some of their games and I saw a title that I had seen at my friendly local gaming store called Red Dragon Inn.  My wife and I were intrigued, so we decided to sit down with two other players and see what the fuss was about.

The Red Dragon Inn is a game with a medieval fantasy adventure theme.  This theme is much the same as Dungeons & Dragons or Skyrim.  In it you play a band of adventurers just returned from parting vicious monsters from their loot.  All of the action takes place in the inn, and the basic objective is to drink the other players under the table.
Each player gets a mat with a line of numbers from 0 to 20.  A red marker represents your current Fortitude and starts on 20.  A white marker represents your current Alcohol Content and starts on 0.  If your Fortitude and Alcohol content ever meet, you pass out and are out of the game.  The player mat also has sections marked out for the Character Deck, a Discard Pile, and a Drink Me pile which contains special cards from a communal Drink Deck. Each player receives a Character Deck which contains the cards they will play for the game.

Basic gameplay in The Red Dragon Inn is pretty simple.  You discard cards you don’t think will help you, you draw until you have 7 cards in your hand, you play 1 action, you give another player a drink, and then you drink.  The cards are pretty simple, you have Action cards, which you can play only on your turn; Anytime cards, which can literally be played at any time; and Sometimes cards, which can be played when the conditions on the card are met.
Things get a bit more complicated when you decide to start gambling.  Gambling takes a couple of times around before you really get the hang of it, but it’s pretty simple once you do.  Once a round of gambling starts, players take turns and either pass or play a card that says “Take control of a round of gambling.”  Once everyone has passed, whoever has control of the round wins and takes the pot.

The next to last thing a player does on his turn is to take a drink from the Drink Deck and place it on one of the other players’ Drink Me pile.  Then the player turns over the top card of his own Drink Me pile and takes the effect of the drink.  Usually this will simply raise the character’s Alcohol Content, but sometimes the player will reveal a Drink Event card and everyone will get to participate in whatever the card describes.

As I said earlier, if your Alcohol Content ever meets or exceeds your Fortitude, you pass out and are out of the game.  Additionally, if you spend or lose all of your gold, the bar wench kicks you out to sleep in the stables.  Play continues until only one player is left, though it is possible, and usually hilarious, for the game to end in a tie.

The Red Dragon Inn base game supports two to four players.  As with almost all games that are designed to be played with more than two players, playing with only two is rather dull.  The game comes with four unique Character Decks, one Drink Deck, and fifty thick card punch-out gold pieces.  There are also four of each player mats, white glass markers (for Alcohol Content), and red glass markers (for Fortitude).  The game comes in a pretty standard size box, which I know The_Null_Entry has griped about for some games, and has a plastic insert to keep the five decks separate.  While the game doesn’t completely fill out the space in the box, it could not be nearly as well organized in a box much smaller.

The Alcohol Content and Fortitude markers, are nice glass markers, the player mats are pretty sturdy and I’ve never worried about them getting damaged.  The mats are even coated in a gloss finish and, while I wouldn’t immerse them in liquid, it should be sufficient to protect from incidental spills.  The cards are also of good quality and I’ve never worried about tearing or creasing them.

I do have one small complaint about the components:  I obsessively put all of my card games in card sleeves.  I am a fairly loyal customer of Mayday Games for my card sleeves because they have a very nice system that allows me to get sleeves that are just the right size for my cards.  I was able to find sleeves for my Red Dragon Inn cards without a problem, but once the cards were sleeved, they would barely fit in the places made for them in the aforementioned plastic insert.  It’s a small complaint, but there it is.

I mentioned at the beginning of my review that I was going to be talking about The Red Dragon Inn 3.  So far there are three entries in The Red Dragon Inn series of titles, and one related offshoot that I’m not going to detail in this review. The Red Dragon Inn and The Red Dragon Inn 2 function in exactly the same way and just as described above.  They each come with their own set of four Character Decks and one Drink Deck and everything else that you need to play.

Though between The Red Dragon Inn and The Red Dragon Inn 2 there are eight characters, they all play pretty much the same.  Dierdre the Priestess has a few cards that allow her to gain Fortitude but fewer cards that take Fortitude from others.  Gog the Half-Ogre doesn’t have any cards that allow him to cheat at gambling, because he’s too dumb and clumsy to be any good at it.  All of the characters have their own quirks, but the core mechanics are the same throughout.  Where things changed was with The Red Dragon Inn 3.

The Red Dragon Inn 3 once again introduces four new characters.  This time, however, each character has their own special rules that govern how they play.

Wizgille the Tinkerer is a gnome with a passion for inventions.  Unfortunately, her inventions almost never work exactly the way they were intended.  Many of Wizgille’s cards have a pair of gears depicted in the card title. Whenever one of these cards is played, the player also turns over a card from Wizgille’s special Gear Deck to determine exactly what happens.  These cards have three sections.  The first section states whether the card takes effect or not.  The second section tells about any other effects, from numerical elements of the played card being increased, to other unintended players taking damage.  The third section is a bit of flavor text that makes the whole card read like a sentence and are usually kind of funny.

Wizzgille is probably my favorite character.  I love the unpredictability of her actions.

Brewmaster Phrenk is a troll who makes and sells potions.  He has a deck of potions that are revealed one at a time at the beginning of Phrenk’s turn.  Potions can be sold to any player and are placed on the table in front of the player’s mat.  These potions can be played exactly like cards played out of the player’s hand, but they do not count towards the hand limit of seven cards.  Each potion says if it can be played as an Action, Anytime, or Sometimes card and exactly what its effects are.

Phrenk’s mechanics make for an interesting addition, but we found it easy to forget that the potions were there.  Also, gold is usually pretty scarce, which makes buying potions an expense that few players are willing to make.

Kaylin the Renegade is a tiny pixie with an inferiority complex.  She has a canine companion, Wulfric, who follows her everywhere and bites people who make fun of Kaylin’s size.  Kaylin has a Wulfric Deck and turns over the top card at the beginning of each turn. Each Wulfric card has a lasting effect that remains in play until the next Wulfric card is turned over.  These effects can range from “Other players can not target you with Action cards” to “Whenever you gain gold, pay one gold to the inn”.

Of the four new character mechanics, I found Kaylin’s to be the least inspired, but it’s still a nice departure from the standard formula of the previous two games.

Serena the Pious is an Orc Paladin.  Personally, I never thought of that as a contradiction, but apparently it is in the world of The Red Dragon Inn.  Serena does not have a special deck, she just has one special card.  The card is a track of numbers from 1 to 8 representing Serena’s current Piety (the box comes with an extra red marker for use with this card).  Many of Serena’s cards will have an arrow up or down indicating which direction her Piety moves when that card is played.  Many of her cards also have various effects based on Serena’s current piety when she plays the card.  In general, damaging cards have a greater effect with lower Piety, and healing or shielding cards have a greater effect with higher Piety.

Serena’s extra mechanics are very simple to understand and I like the story reasons that were developed for the mechanics.  I did find that when I played her, Serena’s Piety was almost always six or above.

To be honest, this game is not one that my group pulls out very often.  Usually, we’re looking for a game with more substance than The Red Dragon Inn offers.  On the other hand, it doesn’t simply sit on the shelf and gather dust either.  It’s a fun game for when you don’t want to have to think too hard.

One great thing about these games is that, not only can you play any of the characters with any others, you only need one box to play.  Each of the three entries is a complete game in its own right and they can be combined in any way that you desire.  With all three sets, theoretically the game can support up to twelve players, but I would recommend that games larger than six players be broken down into multiple games.

Slugfest suggests that these games are for players ages 13 and up, and I agree with that assessment.  The themes in this game revolve heavily around drinking and gambling.  I know those themes are not right for everyone, but I would recommend one or more of The Red Dragon Inn games to anyone who isn’t offended by these themes.

The Red Dragon Inn and The Red Dragon Inn 2 are a great way to get introduced to the core mechanics of the game without having to worry about what is different about your specific character.  For seasoned players, however, I would recommend picking up The Red Dragon Inn 3 for a fresh take on a great game.

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Wednesday, February 15th, 2012 at 8:30 am and is filed under Board Game Reviews, Guest Bloggers, Theme Games . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply