Review: Dungeons & Dragons Tomb of Annihilation

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Being a necromancer has always had unquestionable advantages. You have never had any need for friends, because if you lost (or got tired) of the old company, you could instantly summon new one. But in the last days, I am all alone. All my skeleton friends disappeared and my magic stopped working. As soon as I start to cast the spell and try to bring new undead to world, it starts to sparkle and nothing will happen. Some strange curse lies on our land! I have to add my hand and help in breaking it!

And trail led our hero to Port Nyanzar. It is hidden in the jungle, where tomb of the nine gods lie. And there, cause of all evil lies. This dark place has given its name to new board game , which was created for us by designer Kevin Wilson. This is the fourth addition to family of cooperative games, which arehappening in Dungeons & world. It was in addition to , published also under auspices of . It has hit European market thanks to .

Everybody interested in this new fantasy adventure will get for a really massive big box with jungle and entrance to title tomb. But its guarded by a serpentine creature with a fiery sword. Players will find a real flood of cardboard components in many cardboard sheets. First of all, there are a couple of brochures – first with rules and other with all the thirteen adventures, players can experience.

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Each player chooses a hero, who he wants to become in new game in this world, gets his board turned with level 1 side up, chooses skill cards from his available offer and above all a miniature. In order to place it in the world, players need to find start tile among map pieces. Usually it will be a glade, where they decided to camp. But later in the campaign, players will have different setup specified by the book of scenarios. Map tiles of that terrain (jungle or temple) create a drawing pile and its content is again determined by a specific story. All available miniatures, dice and lots of different tokens will create a common stock nearby.

Players will get to turn one by one. But even evil does not wait until all the heroes get to act. Conversely, monsters are brought to life at the end of every player’s turn (only some of them). But before that, player must move his warrior, using his speed statistics, determining how far he can move in one go. Whenever he can and wants during this shift, he can also attack monsters around him. They have to be within reach or shooting range. Player simply rolls a dice, adds bonuses and subtracts enemy armor. All remaining points are injuries, that are placed on monster card as tokens. Anytime, when set of scars exceeds number of points of life, creature is defeated. For that, successful hero gets one treasure card, the monster has dropped.

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Immediately after movement and attacks, exploration is coming on the agenda. If the hero is on the edge of actually revealed map, he turns top board out of the stock and places it. Its alignment is determined by a white arrow, which must point to the edge from where the character explores. Monsters, traps and chests may also appear on the plate. This position is determined by symbols on the tile.

Any newly discovered monsters at the same time mean, that the active player will get their control for all future turns. These monsters will be activated at the end of his every turn. When moving with jungle and temple residents, players are always guided by clearly defined rules on their cards. They usually move toward the nearest unwelcome visitor. If a player did not explore (because he could not) in this turn, he must reveal a new random encounter card. It brings with it some pretty tricky events, that need to be evaluated immediately.

And that’s basically everything. While heroes can disarm traps, heal, gain experience, but also can gain various disadvantages, usually from traps. Heroes have different abilities, that cards provide them. Players choose skills at the beginning of the game and their selection is gradually improving with every scenario. Goal of every story is specific. If hero exhausts all his life points as a result of the injury, he can use a healing surge. However, if players do not have this healing available and number of lives of a hero falls to zero again, players have lost their struggle with evil this time.

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Tomb of Annihilation is a clear sequel to the series. It uses all of the old good (loved and hated) mechanisms, that make Adventure System games (Castle of Ravenloft, Legend of Drizzt, Wrath of Ashardalon) great fun for families with children. These are the closest audience for these adventures, and this is true also for the Wizkids novelty.

Game is once again interwoven with simplicity of the rules. However, there is really huge amount of components and thanks to the miniatures, it all looks great. Card graphics itself is little above average (only a bit better than before), but everything is compensated by new stuff.

The first major and true novelty is the open environment. Adventure of this box is largely happening in the jungle. This was reflected not only in the more colorful and interesting tone of the map, but also in the environment where heroes are fighting. Everything is much more interesting. These are finally more free locations for encountering not only monsters, but also new traps and treasures. Some tiles even have positions for events, that can be linked to encounter cards, if the proper ones are revealed.

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New characters are also great. Druid can change into monkey, crocodile and panther! He will instantly become favorite hero of many players. Expect fights for this hero. The second new job is a bard, who can support other heroes in the same space. It is worthwhile in a possible battle with really strong monsters.

Between campaign stories, players can buy upgrades. Cards are added to their offer, and in future scenarios, they can choose from greater variability during setup. And you’ll need it, because fighting bosses is pretty tough deal. Rest of the scenarios are not very difficult, and especially in lower numbers of players, everything can be done very well. So if you want a bigger challenge, you have to invite more teammates. The good news is that, even with a higher number of participants, length of the game does not change significantly and fits within sixty minutes.

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In principle, campaign could be mentioned as new addition for this box. Although similarly linked story was introduced even in the previous Temple of Elemental Evil box, now its finally really sophisticated and long. Everything is tuned for different numbers of players, who can even drop in and out from the campaign. So players do not have to participate in all adventures, but you probably will not use it much, because of the character of the game. Its still a great option, if you have a group, that does not meet regularly.

 

Processing is surprisingly better – everything regarding illustrations has improved over the last game. On the contrary, quality of miniatures has gone down slightly, which can be seen above all in the largest ones. In addition, the main boss named Juggernaut seems to us to be the weakest (visually) miniature yet.

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Even Tomb of Annihilation is not game for advanced players, who are usually looking for some really big and naughty dungeon crawling with lots of scrubs and high difficulty. And yet, this game is excellent, you just have to be the right audience. Despite some problems with the quality of miniatures and bosses, we are still convinced, that this box is the best in the series of cooperative games.

DesignerKevin Wilson
PublisherWizKids
Year Published
# of Players1 - 5
User Suggested # of Players Best with 5 players
Recommended with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 players
(19 voters)
Playing Time60
Mfg Suggested Ages14 and up
User Suggested Ages14 and up
(8 voters)
Language DependenceExtensive use of text - massive conversion needed to be playable
(2 voters)
CategoryAdventure, Exploration, Fantasy, Miniatures
MechanicCooperative Game, Grid Movement, Modular Board, Role Playing, Solo / Solitaire Game, Variable Player Powers
ExpansionDungeons & Dragons: Ghosts of Saltmarsh – Board Game (2021)
FamilyCategory: Dungeon Crawler, Mechanism: Campaign Games, Players: Games with Solitaire Rules, Series: Dungeons & Dragons Adventure System Board Games, Setting: Dungeons & Dragons, Versions & Editions: Board Game Versions of Role-Playing Games
Primary NameDungeons & Dragons: Tomb of Annihilation Board Game

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Dungeons & Dragons Tomb of Annihilation
Final word
Dungeons & Dragons: The Tomb of Annihilation is the latest and best box in the entire D & D series. It brings an excellent campaign, new heroes, but above all an original environment. Plenty of components does not mean a complicated game this time. On the contrary, Tomb of Annihilation is a game with easy rules. However, story also has a gameplay. If you are looking for a game, that you can play with your child and fight together against the game, then Tomb of Annihilation is a great choice.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
great cooperative fantasy game for beginners
new environment
backward compatibility with past boxes
different placement of objects
players control their enemies
great campaign
Cons
not so good miniatures
still random and too easy for more demanding players
lower total difficulty
4
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