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Board Game Friday: Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Begins - REVIEW

Today, I have a bit of a strange review of a board game to go over.  I'll skip to the punch line right away and then work my way back to the same conclusion.  The board game Dungeons & Dragons: Adventure Begins is a bad game.  That said, it's also my most played game for the month of April thus far and my son loves it...and so I also love it.  But it's bad.  So bad.  

Confused?  Me too, so let's get into it and I promise it'll all make sense by the end.

Dungeons & Dragons:  Adventure Begins is a board game that claims to be for people aged 10+.  That's the first thing that is clearly wrong about the game itself.  This is a game that works for young children with an adult "running" the game.  My son is only 5 (nearly 6) and I'd say he's at the perfect age to enjoy this game for what it is.

So what is the game?  Again, we go back to the publisher's description:
In the game, players choose their characters, then journey through the lands of Neverwinter, working together to overcome fantastic obstacles, battle monsters, and defeat the Boss monster terrorizing the realm. The role of Dungeon Master passes from player to player with each turn, so everyone gets to be part of the storytelling.
Again, more things wrong in that statement but we'll get to that after a more proper introduction of the game and its mechanics.  

Dungeons & Dragons:  Adventure Begins is a game for 2-4 players ages 10+ and is published by Hasbro.  The game itself was designed by Allie Jennings.  

Game Summary:

The game is a dungeon crawler of sorts where the entire party progresses through four main game boards that ultimately end with one final boss battle.  The game is a cooperative game, though there are a few event cards where you do compete with your fellow players for a minor reward/penalty.

Game Setup:

Each player takes a character mini, a corresponding character board (in three pieces), a life tracker/board holder, and a backpack card.  The four game game boards get assembled (puzzle style) with the final board being "home" to the chosen boss for the battle (there are four final bosses included in the game).  Finally, each final boss has three "minion" cards that go out at the end of each of the first three game boards, thus serving as a de facto mini boss for each board.

How to Play:

Players work cooperatively to defeat enemies and solve encounters, all of which are determined by drawing a card from that particular board's deck and some dice rolling of d20s.  Rinse and repeat until you progress to the end of the path when you fight the final boss.  

Winning the Game:

The four bosses

Win the final boss battle and your group wins.  Lose that battle (or have all party members die at any point earlier in the campaign) and you all lose the game.  Unfortunately, all four bosses have the exact same health, and attack values.  The only difference between them (besides the name/image) is that each boss comes with its own three "mini boss" cards for use at the end of each game board.  Definitely a wasted opportunity here to not have easier/harder bosses and/or more variety!

My Thoughts:

As I said at the top of the post, this is objectively a bad game though it can be a perfectly fun activity if you lean into the goofiness.  Ultimately, the entire game is decided on the luck of rolling a bunch of d20s (by the players) and a d10 (by the "dungeon master").  Basically, there's little-to-no proper game here that's fun on any level, but if you treat it more as a goofy adventure and lean into the cards that make you do silly things (fart noises, crawl like a gelatinous cube, etc.) then it can still be a great time for kids.  

The Bottom Line:

  • Easy-to-learn
  • Some fun tie-ins to Dungeons & Dragons proper plus other pop culture references
  • My son liked the pictures, he used them to try and formulate clever attacks
  • Entirely determined by luck
  • Game does not scale at all based on player count
  • Very little variety among enemies and bosses
  • All "role playing" is superficial, nothing actually matters
  • Choice cards are arbitrary, no way to "solve" them for the correct answer

Overall Score:
3.5.  I'm giving Dungeons & Dragons:  Adventure Begins a 3.5/10.  Using Board Game Geek's rating system, that equates to a game that is somewhere between "not so good" and "bad" which I think is fair.  There is a nugget of a good game buried in this game, but as it stands the game simply isn't very good.  However, my son has loved it which is what is keeping the overall score as high as it is.  Lower the suggested age range to 4-7 year olds and I think people would have a much different view of the game and its target audience.

Note:  I am using Board Game Geek's rating scale to come up with my score. 

Board Game Geek's Rating Scale:
10:  Outstanding - will always enjoy playing
9:  Excellent - very much enjoy playing
8:  Very good - enjoy playing and would suggest it
7:  Good - usually willing to play
6:  Ok - will play if in the mood
5:  Mediocre - take it or leave it
4:  Not so good - but could play again
3:  Bad - likely won't play this again
2:  Very bad - won't play ever again
1:  Awful - defies game description


  1. Thanks for the review! I considered getting this game to play with my teenage daughter who loves D&D.

  2. Bummer that the game isn't that great... but glad your son enjoys it. That's all that really matters right now. Hopefully this motivates the two of you to eventually move on to other D&D games and adventures.


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