Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Red Dragon Inn

Greetings, citizens! In case you missed the news post from Sunday, I’ve got the schedule for the next couple months posted. I also mentioned that I might not be able to have the Superior Spider-Man finale ready for this week, which turned out to be true. So, instead of just not updating this week, I bumped up what was supposed to be next week’s review. So let’s dive right in!

Because my last game review was so popular, I decided to take a look at another game which I absolutely adore. So today we’re looking at Red Dragon Inn, by Slugfest Games.

The premise of the game is pretty simple; each player picks a character who’s part of an adventuring party. The dungeon’s been looted, the monsters slain, and the treasure divided. So what’s left? Why spending that hard earned dragon gold at the local tavern! Because what would games like D&D be without taverns?

Each character has a unique deck of forty cards, which represent the various capabilities of the character. Each one has different strengths and weaknesses, some of which you can guess at by what class they are. For example, Fiona the Volatile (human warrior) is great at blocking hits and can hold her liquor, Gerki the Sneak (Halfling rogue) is great at gambling, and so on. Some characters also have additional cards, such as Kaylin the Renegade (pixie enchanter) who has a deck representing her animal companion, Wulfric. The additional cards aren’t always positive though, in order to maintain game balance. Anyway, players start with a hand of seven cards, twenty fortitude, zero alcohol, and ten gold.

On your turn, you’re allowed to discard any cards that you don’t want in your hand, and then you draw until you have seven. You can then play a single action card. Action cards have a variety of effects, though the vast majority affect another player’s fortitude, alcohol, or gold. If a player runs out of gold, or if their fortitude and alcohol meet (i.e., if both your fort and alcohol are at ten or whatever number they happen to meet at), then you’re out of the game. But of course, players aren’t defenseless, and each deck contains a number of Sometimes cards. Sometimes cards are ones which are triggered by something happening. For example, if someone plays an action to make you lose three fortitude, and you have something which reads “ignore action card that affects your fortitude,” you could play that and not lose the fortitude.

A special kind of action that you can do if you have the right card is to start a round of gambling. When a round of gambling begins, each player antes one gold (providing a player doesn’t have a card that gets them out of gambling), and the player that began the round is in control. Then, the next player can play a gambling or cheating card in order to take control of the round. If they don’t have a gambling/cheating card, then they pass. Play proceeds like this until all players other than the last to take control of the round pass. The winner gets all the anted gold, and ire from everyone else.

After you play your action, you then go to the Buy Drinks phase. In spite of the name, you don’t actually spend gold for this part (usually). You take the top card of the drink deck and place it face down on another player’s Drink Me pile. Once that’s done, it’s time for the Drink phase, where you take the top card of your Drink Me pile and reveal it. There are two kinds of cards in the drink deck; drinks and drink events. Drinks are pretty straightforward, usually causing your character’s alcohol to increase, but sometimes doing other stuff like healing you or causing fortitude loss. Drink events are more interesting, causing something else to happen, and can affect other players. I’ll talk about some specific cards from the drink deck a bit later.

That’s the basics of how play proceeds. There are of course nuances to the rules, but it’s a fairly simple game, but lots of fun. The game is also modular to a degree. There are, at the time of this entry, four different box sets of Red Dragon Inn, each including a drink deck and four characters, along with six standalone characters (called Red Dragon Inn Allies). While each box says it’s for two to four players, you can play with more with little change. Hell, most of the time my friends and I play, there’s between five and seven of us. We pick characters from any of the twenty-two characters available, and have an enormous drink deck (the rules recommend keeping the deck at sixty cards, but I can never pick out which cards are good enough for the deck, so we just play with all of them).

Red Dragon Inn

Deirdre, the Priestess

Deirdre is an elf priestess of some (as far as I know) nameless goddess. She’s a solid character, who isn’t bad at dishing out punishment, but is really hard to hit. Her only drawback is that she can’t hold her liquor. She’s not one of my favorites, but I don’t dislike her.

Fiona, the Volatile
Fiona is the first character I ever played as, so I have a soft spot for her. She’s a human warrior, and has a good mix of damage dealing and defensive cards. She also has some of my favorite card names in the whole game.

That was something I forgot to mention earlier; the humor. The game just has a great sense of humor and fun to it, and Fiona’s one of the best examples of that.

Gerki, the Sneak

Gerki’s a Halfling rogue, because fantasy does so love its stereotypes. He’s good at dealing damage and gambling, but his defenses are somewhat lacking. I’m not all that fond of him, but I’m also not fond of rogues, so I’m biased.

Zot, the Wizard and his familiar, Pooky

Zot is… kind of disappointing, honestly. The more interesting cards that he has are actually about Pooky. That’d be fine, except that they eventually made Pooky his own character (see below). I’d have preferred a more interesting array of spells that he had at his disposal, but what’re you going to do? His main weakness is that, like most wizards, he can’t mitigate damage too well.

Red Dragon Inn 2

Dimli, the Dwarf

Dimli, whose name in no way resembles that of a popular character from a fantasy series, is a dwarf of ambiguous class. In some of the stories on Slugfest’s site, it’s implied that he’s a warrior, but he doesn’t have much in the way of abilities to reflect that, save for his armor. He’s good at gambling, has great defenses, and was the first character to have a good amount of cards to get other players drunk. I’m not really sure what his weakness is, and yet I’ve never won with him.

Eve, the Illusionist

None of the other party members are sure of what Eve really looks like, but the form we see most is her as a blonde human. While she’s an illusionist, she does have a few other spells at her disposal. I’m usually not a fan of illusionists, but Eve’s a lot of fun to play, with a good selection of actions and gambling/cheating cards, not to mention her illusions keep her from getting hit. However, she can’t hold her liquor all that well.

Fleck, the Bard

I don’t like Fleck at all. Part of it is because he’s a half-elf (50% too much elf for my tastes), part of it is because he’s a bard (my least favorite class), and part of it is because I can’t figure out what it is he’s supposed to be good at. He’s alright at gambling, but everything else is just so lackluster. Nobody in my gaming group likes him very much either, so he almost always stays in his sad little box.

Gog, the Half-Ogre

Gog is a load of fun to play, and I always really get into character with him. His cards that refer to him do so in the third person, such as “Gog Not Think So” instead of “I Don’t Think So” (a staple card in everyone’s deck). He hits hard, and has decent defenses, but he’s not good with his money. Like Fiona, he’s got some cards I love as well.

Red Dragon Inn 3

Kaylin, the Renegade

Kaylin’s a pixie enchanter with a wolf companion (the aptly named Wulfric). I’m not quite sure what makes her an enchanter, but I’m not arguing with someone who’s got a wolf at their beck and call. She’s got an extra deck to represent Wulfric and his ever-changing moods. Each mood has a different effect, like lowering the amount of alcohol you gain from drinks, or making your cards unable to be ignored/prevented. She’s not bad at gambling, and has some decent defenses, but I can’t quite put my finger on what her strengths and weaknesses are.

Brewmaster Phrenk

Phrenk’s a troll alchemist, and like Kaylin he’s got a separate deck. His extra deck is full of potions and the occasional poison. He has the option of selling the potions for gold to other players, or keeping them for his own use. His greatest strength is getting everyone else drunk, but he doesn’t have much in the way of defense. Though really, are you gonna hit a guy who keeps giving you drinks?

Serena, the Pious

Serena is an orc paladin, which instantly makes me like her. Unlike every other character in RDI3, she doesn’t have an extra deck. Instead, she’s got a piety tracker. Various cards of hers raise or lower her piety, and many of her cards have different effects depending on how pious she is. For things like healing, you want her piety to be high, but for hitting people, low is the way to go. She requires a lot of strategy and planning to use effectively, but can be a lot of fun.

Wizgille, the Tinkerer
Wizgille (whose name I have no idea how to pronounce) is a gnome artificer, and one of my favorite characters. Many of her cards have little gears on them, like this;

When you play one of those, you flip over the top card of Wizgille’s Gear deck. The gears alter what the card does, sometimes increasing the effect of the initial card played, making it affect other players, or…

The randomness makes her a lot of fun to play as. Combine that with how she’s well rounded and the adorable artwork, and she’s one of the characters I most often pick.

Red Dragon Inn 4

Captain Whitehawk

Captain Whitehawk is a human sailor, captain of the vessel The Crimson Drake. Whitehawk is another character I love to play, because she’s very defensive. She’s got a lot of really fun counters, and can even do a few things other characters can’t. Lost a round of gambling? You can still get half the pot. A drink or sea event comes up that you don’t like? You can ignore it. Don’t want somebody to make you Tip the Wench? You can negate it. She’s somewhat lacking on offense, but is great at defense.

First Mate Remy

Remy is a drence (RDI’s word for dark elves) fighter. I’m honestly not really sure what to say about him, having never played as him and only seen him played once or twice. He’s an elf, so I’m biased against him.

Bryn, the Boatswain
Bryn is another of my favorites. Mechanically, she’s very similar to Fiona, and I like her for many of the same reasons. I just have a soft spot for female warrior types. Also, Bryn juggles cannon balls and has biceps to rival Gog, so there’s that. Oh, and this;

Tara, the Navigator
Tara’s a seer, and like lots of seers, she’s blind. The seer stuff makes her a lot of fun to play, enhanced by some of the more comedic cards that reference her blindness, like these;

Not sure what to say about her beyond that.


Pooky, the Vicious

Lots of people think that Pooky’s a rabbit. The rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but still a rabbit.

However, he’s not a rabbit. On his deck, he’s described as a “Strange Thing” and in the story detailing Zot’s backstory, it’s implied that he is something very powerful. My bet is a demon of some sort, but as far as I know they haven’t revealed it. Anyway, mechanically he’s interesting to play. Similar to Serena’s piety, he has a mood tracker, which is affected by things like getting hit and losing a round of gambling. Many of his cards have different effects depending on what his mood is. He’s not bad, but not one of my favorites (which works out, since I have two friends who love playing him).

Erin, the Ever-Changing

Erin is an elf druid. In spite of those facts, I actually don’t mind playing her. Her ability to change form is a pretty neat mechanic, with each form having different upsides and down. Being a raven makes her really good at gambling, but easier to get drunk. Being a bear makes her do more damage, but she has to pay more to gamble. Being a tree makes you unable to play cards, but you reduce any alcohol gained or fortitude lost, making her pretty invulnerable. As an elf she… has pointy ears. While she’s not one of my favorite characters, I don’t mind playing her.

Cormac, the Mighty
Cormac’s a human barbarian, and totally not a Conan knock-off. Cormac’s thing is that some of his cards have a… coin I guess on them.

Instead of going to your discard pile, these go into your “building rage” pile. Once you get enough cards in the pile, you go into a rage. While raging, you’ll do extra fortitude damage with all your cards. However, most of the rages also cause you to gain more alcohol, so expect people to buy you lots of drinks. He’s still one of my favorite characters to play as, but barbarians have always been fun for me.

Witchdoctor Natyli

Natyli is a troll shaman, and Phrenk’s niece. Many of her cards, in addition to their normal effects, also bestow a curse on the target. The curses each do a different thing and last until triggered. The mind hex increases the alcohol gained from the next drink or action by one. The power jinx decreases the numeric effect of the next action that the player uses by one. Finally, the pain curse causes the afflicted player to take an extra point of fortitude damage the next time you lose fortitude. She’s an interesting character to play, but not one of my favorites.

Ozrik, the Adept
Ozrik is a human elementalist, though I usually just call him the “Sorcerer Superb” because he looks a lot like Doctor Strange.

Many of Ozrik’s cards have an element associated with them. Other cards can have additional effects to them if you discard cards of the right element(s). Take the above card for example. If you discard a water card when you play it, then each player will lose two fortitude instead of one. If the card has multiple lines, you can discard for each one to gain the effect. So, if you were to play the above card, and then discard three water cards and two other cards of any element, then each other player would lose four fortitude. He’s one of my favorite characters to play, partly because of his versatility, and partly just because of his attitude.

Brother Bastian
Bastian’s a human cleric, a worshiper of the same god that Serena prays to. Serena’s actually the reason that Bastian met up with the party. He had heard that an orc was worshipping his god, Korash, and thought that they were a heathen who needed a good smiting. Ah, fantasy racism at its finest. Anyway, after meeting Serena, he was convinced that she was a true follower, and joined her group. Bastian starts each game with three prayer cards which are randomly selected from a small deck. 

To use these prayers, you have to spend a certain amount of prayer tokens (indicated by the arrow) which are gained from using his standard cards. 

His play style is a little different each time, depending on which prayers you get. He’s a well rounded character, and fun to play as.

Now that we're done with characters, let's look at some drinks!

Drinking Contest is a drink event card which is a lot of fun. Starting with the player who revealed it, each player takes the top card of the drink deck and drinks it (or ignores it, gives it to someone else, etc.). The person who revealed the drink with the highest alcohol content wins the contest and everyone pays them one gold. If there’s a tie, then the players that are tied have to take an additional drink, and so on and so forth until there is only one “winner.” The longest drinking contest I’ve seen ended up with two players needing to down four drinks each, and neither one was in good shape afterwards. Drinking contests can really speed up a game and knock somebody with a strong lead back down to everyone else’s level.

My friends and I have affectionately nicknamed this thing “the boot” because of its illustration. This was a promo drink which I received from backing the RDI 4 Kickstarter back in 2013. While straightforward, this thing is a beast. FIVE alcohol before people screw around with it? That’s a quarter of what you can take, all in one go.

Another promo drink, this one has a decent strength at three alcohol content, but it also gives you the ability to give out two drinks to people. So, while fairly strong, it can be worth it to take the effect, just so others can end up with more drinks to down.

A drink from the original set and reprinted in each one. At four alcohol content, it’s a potent drink, and you can be sure that if you try and dodge it, the others will try and stop you. This was “the boot” before there was a boot.

At two alcohol content, this ale isn’t too strong. What makes it stand out is that it lets you draw two cards if you drink it. Normally, you only drink at the end of your turn, so this can give you extra options for things to do on other players’ turns. It’s also one of the very few ways you can get more than seven cards in your hand.

Yet another promo drink which I got from funding the 2013 Kickstarter, the Mystic Martini is a neat drink. It’s a lot like the aforementioned Gnomish Inspiration Ale, except instead of drawing two cards, you get back the top two cards of your discard pile. This can be a great drink, if you get it at the right time. Also, I just like the way it looks. I want one.

Chaser cards are exactly what they sound like; a drink followed by another drink. When you get one, you flip over the next card in your Drink Me pile and take the effects of that drink too. However, the two drink cards are counted as a single drink, so if you have a card to ignore a drink, you’ll ignore both parts. If the next card is a drink event, or if you don’t have another card in the pile, then you just take the effects of the first one. There’s a bunch of different chaser cards, but the Pixie Punch is my favorite, just because I like how it looks.

A few weeks ago, Slugfest was running a Kickstarter to fun RDI5, and it was a rousing success. They not only met their goal, but also hit the stretch goals to release two new allies. So, later this year (or early next year), there will be six more characters, a whole new drink deck, and some new promo drinks. I’ll probably take a look at it when it arrives in the mail, maybe even doing an unboxing. In the meantime though, I highly recommend checking the game out. It’s a lot of fun, simple to play, and has a great sense of humor. The boxed sets are around $35-40, so while not a budget game, it’s not that expensive either. The Allies are $15, which is pretty good. The fine people at Slugfest have also written a Pathfinder supplement, the Guide to Inns and Taverns. I haven’t gotten to take a good look at the book, but I really want to get it. They’ve also got a bunch of stories up on their website detailing the backstory of many of the characters, and they’re pretty entertaining. Check them (and the games) out at .

That’s it for this week. Hopefully next week won’t be quite so busy and I’ll be able to actually get some work done on the Superior finale. Until then, citizens!

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