Are you ready for your next favourite fantasy dungeon crawler?
Do you love the idea of not only fighting against monsters but also a race against the continually expanding Darkness? Then look no further, because Chronicles of Drunagor is going to take over your table in the future! Rated a well deserved 8.6 on BGG at the time of writing, this immersive gaming experience will lure you into its beautifully written story within its first chapter. Complete with absolutely gorgeous miniatures and components, plus stunning artwork, once you start playing you won’t want to put this away- just one more quest!
What's the story?
Chronicles of Drunagor is a 3D co-operative dungeon crawler for one to five players, where you are a brave hero saving your world from a powerful master of necromantic arts who is threatening the Age of Darkness! This is intended to be played as a campaign, although does also provide the option for One Shot adventures for standalone quests. The multi-tiered environment is achieved through cleverly designed GameTrayz, bringing in an innovative approach to an evolving terrain.
Your hero board will be used to play through each chapter, using a limited supply of action cubes to attack, defend, move, use spells, combo with allies, and heal- you will need to choose your abilities wisely to maximise impact and avoid curses and traumas! You’ll also need to look out for interaction points- these are in most scenarios and your decisions at these beautifully illustrated interludes will dictate your characters journey onwards.
Did I have a good time?
After the completion of Gloomhaven, there has been a dungeon crawling, adventure seeking hole in my heart that Chronicles of Drunagor is now more than filling. I have loved the narrative and the entire design of the game, it flows exceptionally well once you have clicked with the rules, which you are introduced to very well in the first scenario considering the impressive size of the game! The glossary at the back of the rule book proved very useful during the first few chapters while familiarising with the intricacies of the various actions.
As soon as I opened the box I knew it was going to be a game I would fall in love with. Although gigantic, Chronicles of Drunagor does not waste any space- it is jam packed with rule books, the adventure guide, a multitude of boards to pop for various status tokens and Darkness tiles, everything you need for your character set up and progression, and of course, the many beautifully crafted miniatures!
A strong storyline and investment in your character(s) is an important factor for me in my love for RPGs and this has delivered. We have been playing at a two player count as Elros, a nimble and impactful elf assassin striker, and Lorelai, an elf mage leader who can pack a punch from a distance using her powerful spells. Getting to grips with their abilities and when to apply them has been both challenging and rewarding, and experiencing levelling up their powers, weapons and items after a success really makes you feel like a hero!
The use of GameTrayz definitely deserves a shout out in this game design. A successful brand in their own right for gaming storage solutions, not only is this a very simple and effective approach to building a visually impressive 3D evolving map for each chapter, it also provides the opportunity for additional advantage and disadvantage modifiers based on your character’s position at the time of attacking enemies. This is something I thought worked excellently, as the Darkness you are trying to evade also provides negative modifiers for heroes and provides a boost to enemies who stay close to it, so we needed something tactical and controllable in favour of the good guys!
One thing I felt slightly lacked was the ability for your initiative to be higher or lower at any point after selecting your dungeon role. As the Leader, Lorelai will always go close to first, and Elros as the Striker usually has to absorb a couple of enemy hits before getting any chance of attacking or moving. The retaliation hits do still allow for some damage to be dealt but it would have been nice to have some functionality that determined whether this would be adjusted in some scenarios to mix it up a little. However on the flip side it does allow you to prepare each round and decide which monsters it would be beneficial to attempt to pick off first!
I also think replayability has been well considered in this game. There are many points in the scenarios where an interaction will be triggered, and at this point you will need to make a choice on how to proceed from a variety of options, all with different outcomes. These decisions will not only impact your current scenario, some will also impact future interactions. This means if you played through again and made different choices, you would have a very different game play experience and open up new opportunities you may not have had before.
If you have a love for dungeon crawlers, fantasy campaigns, or even as an introduction to this genre of tabletop game, Chronicles of Drunagor provides the perfect opportunity for a new adventure. For me, it was always going to be a challenge to hold a candle to some of the other RPGs I’ve played but Creative Games Studio have absolutely nailed it both mechanically and aesthetically, and I truly think it would be a welcome addition to any shelf with some interest in a brilliant story driven escapade!