If you’re a fan of board games, there’s a good chance you’ve at least heard of Red Dragon Inn, even if you haven’t played it. Well, that lighthearted battle of booze and barroom boxing has a new tie-in that better encapsulates the adventurer’s life outside the tavern.
In Red Dragon Inn: Battle for Greyport, you’re trying to save the surrounding town—and often, the Inn itself—from monsters.
As with RDI, you start with one of several heroes from the tavern. Mainstays like Zot, Gerki, and Fiona retain their flavor from the brawling version while changing to fit the mechanics of this new game.
The gameplay involves a series of encounters as you try to save locations from destruction at the hands of various monster groups, culminating in a final showdown with a boss. In an interesting twist, the location has a health pool, just like your characters. One of the key strategic elements of the game is balancing your own health pool against the survival of the town, bearing in mind that rescuing one part of town won’t matter if you die before defeating the boss.
It’s a pretty heroic-feeling mechanic.
Though the cards themselves are markedly different, Battle for Greyport is primarily a deck-building game. Between combat rounds, you’re able to purchase equipment and recruit allies to power up for future enemies. The game rules are relatively straightforward and simple (for this type of game at any rate) but allow for quite a bit of strategic flexibility.
It’s a cooperative game, too, so collaborating with your fellow heroes is definitely part of the experience. It feels very much like a cooperative Dominion, with an actual objective.
As for downsides, the mechanics can feel a little clunky at times. The first turn or two are especially bland since your starting deck is shockingly weak (multiple copies of weak cards with no interesting abilities), which also waters down the unique personality of each hero, so prevalent in RDI. But this fades once you get past the first few turns and have a chance to purchase upgrades and reshuffle them into your deck, which also lets the characters’ unique abilities shine through more.
And like Dominion, if you’re smart about using upgrades to “retire” your weak cards (the equivalent of “trashing”), you can construct a powerful deck with some great combo abilities. But unlike Dominion, since you’re cooperating, figuring out how to maximize the current hand of is fun for everyone.
Overall, it’s a fun evening of lighthearted heroics. I don’t think it quite captures the whimsy of Red Dragon Inn, but it does make decent use of the game world.