Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Dungeons & Dragons: Eternal Winter

So, it’s expansion time again and this week I’m going to talk about Eternal Winter, an expansion for the D&D Fantasy Board Game I reviewed last week. I’m going to focus this review primarily on what the expansion adds rather than on specific cards etc.

 

Unboxed

So what do you get:

  • 2 double-sided game boards
  • 1 Barbarian hero figure
  • 1 large dragon figure
  • 7 Monster figures
  • 1 Tower
  • 4 double door tokens
  • 1 Hero token
  • 2 Passageway tokens
  • 26 Item cards
  • 24 Monster cards
  • 1 Reminder card
  • 1 Hero board
  • 1 Die
  • Adventure book

Everything in this set is on a par with the base set. The monster models are pretty good and very big, including a dragon, some eagle riders, wolves and salamanders.

There are new monster cards for some of the older minis which are Winter versions. These show show different stats to make the monster feel different than in the base game.

There are couple of areas where the game is a bit lax. Firstly the new Hero is only presented with starting equipment for level 3, this assumes that you wont want to use him in the base game. The second is that the maps show additional props (like trees) that are not included in this set so you have to substitute in pillars or other tokens. But other than that everything is a pretty good quality, considering you can pick this expansion up for £12 on ebay.

New Mechanics

One of the major new mechanics introduced in this expansions is Flight and different “levels”. This is probably the worst mechanic in the whole game.

Firstly there is only one elevated position, the tower. This could be fixed by modding the expansion yourself (possibly using the new 3-d tile kits from Wizards) but adding a whole new mechanic for one 4x4 platform seemed redundant.

The second problem with the mechanic is the flight die. Any creature that can fly rolls the flight dice. This dice then dictates how that creature moves. There are three results:

  1. Move Up
  2. Move Down
  3. Fly Anywhere on the same level

Rolling the dice counts as an action so you can only roll once per turn and still attack. However, because you must follow the instructions on the dice, if you are up on the tower and want to get down you have a 1/3 chance. If you fail you can roll again, but then you would have to land somewhere far enough away from the heroes so they cant bash your brains in during their turn. However, most fliers have pathetically low ground movement so you’re in a catch 22. If you roll the dice while on the ground you have as much chance of flying back up to the tower as you have of engaging the heroes and actually being able to attack or not moving at all.

Obviously having fliers be able to continually harass the players would have been a bit game breaking but this entirely random mechanic is rather strained to say the least.

The second new mechanic in this set is Breath Weapons. These are extremely powerful as they ignore armour and in the Dragon’s case they can hit heroes standing three boards away with the same ferocity as if they were standing right next to the Dragon. It might have been a bit more tactically challenging for Breath Weapons to affect anything in it’s path, not just heroes.

The third new mechanic is Wandering Monsters, which I actually quite like. Essentially you build a deck of monsters that can continually enter play while at least 1 hero is “outside”. Each turn the Dungeon Master can roll the Star Dice and if he rolls a star result he flips over a card and brings that monster into play on a specific spot. It might have been nice for there to be more than one spawn point for wandering monsters in each scenario through…

The final new mechanic is snow. This is really just a hindrance and reduces Heroes speed by 1 if they start on the snow. Happily though Winter Monsters and the new Barbarian Class are unaffected. I’m not sure that with the deadlier monsters, breath weapons and fliers that the heroes needed to be hampered any more than they were. In fact this mechanic seems to be aimed at making players see the barbarian as the most attractive choice for this campaign, of course, only one of them can play the Barbarian. Speaking of which…

The New Hero

The Barbarian Morkahn is pretty much a clone of Regdar, they have identical hit points, armour class and weapon and artefact slots, except that Morkahn can move 1 additional space, isn’t slowed down on snow, can have an additional attack if he spends 4 hit points and still has Regdar’s special ability of gaining an additional damage if he attacks in melee.

Add to that the fact that he starts with a crossbow that allows him to go up and down the tower and you can see why he is the best hero of choice for this campaign. However, there is only one of him, which means that everyone else has to play weaker characters who can’t walk on snow or climb cliffs or attack three times.

The New Campaign

 

The final part of this set however is the campaign. Six new missions, all set at the top difficulty (i.e. Level 3). These new campaigns pose a significant challenge to the heroes, especially if you have fewer than four characters.

The new monsters and fearsome foes like the Salamander and the Dragon, as well as the minor twists on the old foes make these scenarios reasonably fun to run through. There is nothing ground breaking about them but they are different enough from the base set to be enjoyable.

The new weapons and spells offer new opportunities and most of them have a winter twist to add some theme and flavour.

However, it would have been nice to have, either, components for the heroes to progress to fourth level or for the campaign to effectively “start over” and have the heroes begin from first level and work their way up (as the later expansion The Forbidden Forest did)

Final Thoughts

Overall this expansion is just more of the same from the base game. It adds some power creep, as I mentioned with the new Hero and the new monsters.

The new mechanics the game adds are, on the whole, not worth it. But the new boards, monsters, weapons and spells are nice for people who want to design their own campaigns.

The lack of levelling up in the new campaign really removes any feeling of Roleplaying from the game and it certainly isn’t anywhere as thematic as the other expansion The Forbidden Forest.

So, if you liked the base game and you are just looking for a new campaign with a fresher face then this may be the expansion for you. However, if you are looking for a more story driven adventure I’d definitely look at getting the Forbidden Forest instead.

However, if what you are looking for is components to use with creating your own campaigns that are set in a winterwonderland then grab this expansion while you still can… plus… it has Dragons and that’s always cool right?!

2 comments:

  1. It's now out of print but you can still pick up copies reasonably cheaply on ebay, copy and paste this link:

    http://toys.shop.ebay.co.uk/Toys-Games-/220/i.html?_nkw=eternal+winter&_catref=1&_fln=1&_sac=1&_trksid=p3286.c0.m282

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