Board Game Review

The Quest at the Bottom of a Tankard (Red Dragon Inn)

This review is also warmheartedly on Zatu here.

Hurrah! The quest is ended! You and your co-adventurers have cracked the clues, mashed minions, triumphed trials, defeated dragons and found victory over the villain! Now you have your just rewards, gold! You can finally take some time to unwind with your beloved allies in the friendly and welcoming Red Dragon Inn… That’s where this game starts. The quest is ended, but by no measure is the danger gone! Red Dragon Inn by Slugfest Games is a fantastic twist on classic questing/adventuring style games; no longer are you finishing the quest, but are now fighting over the gold in the midst of gambling, bribing, brawling, fooling, stealing and drinking. Lots and lots of drinking. So line up those drinks, pay the wench and get ready, as you’re not done yet!

The game is effectively a drinking game, and the concept is simple, be the last man standing. Players are taken out of the game through two methods, both of which link to being unable to drink. If their vitality and alcohol levels meet they are overwhelmingly drunk and are taken to bed without their gold, or when they have no more money left they are kicked out of the Inn for not being able to pay their tab! All players have a character board, two counters (one for vitality, one for alcohol level), 10 gold to start and their own deck of cards specifically oriented around their character. Their deck has a variety of actions they can take linked to the game or to their character.

Player’s turns always follow the same pattern; discard and draw up to 7 cards, play an action, buy a drink for someone and then take a drink from your pile. Cards come in a variety of different flavours and do some pretty awful things, but generally speaking you have sometimes, action, anytime and gambling cards. Sometimes cards are played at specific times, usually in response to another player’s card. Anytime cards can be played at anytime. Action and gambling cards are played as part of your main turn. Within your turn, you should always be able to play an action, but be aware that other players can (and probably will) play their own hands to try and hinder you. Actions are all oriented around giving you the edge by making your opponents closer to being blackout drunk, or penniless and thrown out!

All characters available are oriented around a certain specialism, usually linked to their job title. We’ve had wins with all 4 original characters, but all are very different. Included in the base game is Deidre the Priestess who is fantastic at avoiding damage, Fiona the Volatile who can take hits and hits hard, Gerki the Sneak who is very good at collecting all the gold, and Zot the Wizard (and Pooky) who is a bit of an all rounder. Playing to your characters strengths and knowing what they are best at will enable you to last a while, but we found that knowing the card types and thinking on your feet will give you the edge! The game isn’t limited to this batch of misfits, Slugfest Games has developed 6 expansions with multiple characters in them and tonnes of independent character packs!

The most complex element of this game is the gambling… and it’s very simple! For their action, players can play a Gambling card which will start gambling. All players join in and must ante in 1 gold (unless they play a sometimes to counter it), they then take turns to play gambling cards to take control of the round. Some players have many winning hands, some have lots of cheating cards, and some have gambling cards which straight up ruin it for everyone else. All characters have gambling cards, but not all are very good at it!

Now onto the drinks. The drinks are the main element of this game! You could pummel, punch, zap and stab your way to victory, but you’ve just finished the quest! Your violent outbursts should be at a minimum! At the end of your turn you buy a drink and have a drink. Lots and lots of cards affect drinks, some make you drink more, some pass the drink, some ignore it… This where the more tactical plays come in. Having several players play cards to increase the number or severity of a drink can take you from poll position to being barely able to stand! The drinks themselves are equally as lethal! Most drinks are very straight forward and have a set alcohol content, these are the ones you want… Some affect different races of player in a unique way. Others have chasers, meaning it’s that drink and another from your pile! Which, if you’re as unlucky as me, will end up knocking you clean out of the game! The other style of drink card is a drinking game. These involve all players and include a reward for having the highest alcohol content drink, however being a part of these may mean having several chasers!

Everything about this game screams old pub, quest, adventuring and being drunk. The cards are superbly illustrated with each different type having a completely unique artwork. The player boards are very robust and may even be water proof (not an excuse to turn the game into a real drinking game!!). And the characters are balanced enough for anyone to win. I personally love the overall theme of the game, it fits and there’s always a solid amount of fun and laughter around the table. You will do nothing but interact with other players. Your cards are all aimed at making your opponents red and white counters meet so they are taken to bed and their gold distributed amongst the surviving drinkers. The moment you stop interacting is the moment everyone will be aiming all negative effects at you! Discussion about the game may not be the only thing either, most the words we said to one-another were in response to being told to drink more, and more..

The game keeps you occupied. I can’t argue that smaller groups won’t be more engaged as it’s a quicker turn around to your turn, however your cards can be played during anyone’s turn. We found, with expansions, 5 was the optimum number of players. That’s not to say we didn’t absolutely love every second with more, we just found some people lost track of their turn and the cards they had. This game is incredibly replay-able, without a doubt. With the core game you have 4 characters to master, and even then every time you play as one of them your experience will be different due to the randomness of shuffling a deck! Then, there’s the expansions which fit into the game seamlessly, expanding the game and interactions further!

Red Dragon Inn is a fast paced, fun and hilarious card/party game. Whether you are drinking alongside or not, you’re going to be laughing (and grumbling) your way through the game as you and your opponents hinder everyone’s ability to stand after a long day’s questing. The game is fast paced, action packed and fantastic. Bottoms up!