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Legacy of Dragonholt is a choose your own adventure style RPG game where you and up to 5 others spend a week in the FFG-familiar fantasy wor...

Legacy of Dragonholt by Fantasy Flight Games Legacy of Dragonholt by Fantasy Flight Games

Legacy of Dragonholt by Fantasy Flight Games

Legacy of Dragonholt by Fantasy Flight Games


Legacy of Dragonholt is a choose your own adventure style RPG game where you and up to 5 others spend a week in the FFG-familiar fantasy world of Terrinoth (…think Descent or Batllelore). Full confession, I’ve only played this solo due to Covid-related restrictions (but I have completed it). It describes itself as a cooperative narrative adventure which is spot on. However, winning and losing is a nebulous affair, the rules themselves state “You might fail to find a fabled treasure or to save an innocent victim, but if you enjoy the story, that is a victory”.

Gameplay

The first thing required of you is to create your character – I became a social-outcast, disfigured chubby cat-woman who wanted nothing more than to escape her humdrum life and the unwanted gaze of children and other people so she naturally became a stealthy thief and ventured solo. So far so D&D-lite. You’re then thrust into the tutorial adventure which introduces the rules through different entries in the first of the adventures. The first adventure, although the shortest, does such an excellent job of teaching the game system that you probably don’t even need to read the 3.5 pages of rules glossary.

No spoilers here!
 

The rest of the campaign is delivered through five adventures and a central location (Dragonholt Village) which you’ll call home for the entire game. These distinct events are each presented in their own booklet with several hundred entries to determine your choices and consequences as you go through the adventure. Each booklet will comprise a complete adventure and be formed of Encounters and you’ll be asked to mark your time or progress in different tracks to determine what further options are open to you.

If you’ve ever played a choose your own adventure type game, then you’ll know exactly what to expect here but there are a few differences to my own experience of the Fighting Fantasy books (and a Ninja series I’ve forgotten the name to, a 2 player dog-fighting series which I would love to find again, and the relatively new Van Ryder gamebooks) which are worth mentioning.

Each entry is given a four-figure number which I found really easy to remember when moving from one location to another. This may sound like an inconsequential thing to say but I remember losing my place numerous times playing a Fighting Fantasy adventure book which are sequentially numbered 1 to 400 or so. The four figures start at around 1000 in each book and go up to 9000 or so. Due to that amount of number space each entry is numerically separated from its neighbours by 30 or more. I think it is this separation that allows you to thumb through the pages quickly without losing your place. In the whole campaign over 4 or 5 sessions I only had to backtrack to find my place once.

The Story Point / Oracle system
 

The second ‘worth mentioning’ difference is the Story oints. You mark your progress down different story branches by marking off a variety of checkboxes which indicate a significant story event that you’ve just witnessed. In a later encounter, not just within the same booklet, your available choices will depend on which checkboxes have been marked off, i.e. your past actions directly influence your present. I thought this was a clever system that provided an elegant way to feel like your actions made a difference. Although I’ve completed the game, I’ve only marked off 25% of the Story Points boxes. At this point, I presume it is impossible to mark them all off in a single campaign and multiple playthroughs are necessary to see the entire story.

First completed run through

Which brings me onto the most notable aspect of this game, being the story itself. The characters and locations (particularly the village) feel genuine and are immersive. The writing is engaging and is on par with most of the good fantasy novels I’ve read. Typically, I would expect a gamebook to briefly describe a situation in a couple of sentences and give me an either-or choice. In Legacy of Dragonholt, your choice will come after a paragraph (or sometimes many more) of story and character development. Your choices will also depend on what time of day it is, and what Story Points have been marked off. I presume this is the Oracle system at work and I know I’d like to see some more games using this system.

The adventures

I’ve not played this multi-player but the game allows for an activation system in which you flip your activation token when you’ve taken the lead on a decision. You cannot make a group decision again until every other player has done so. I think this sounds like a neat solution but I still maintain reservations about playing this multiplayer.

Components

The game is presented in 7 adventure booklets (including the village book). You also get a small deck of cards, a village map and a couple of other handouts related to the story. As ever with FFG games I have nothing but praise for the components and presentation.

Is this enough to warrant a board game?

Criticism

Is it a board game or is it a gamebook? The inclusion of the six activation tokens (only one per player) and a deck of cards are really all that separate this from another choose your adventure book. (I’ve been enjoying the Van Ryder gamebooks series lately which are in my opinion at the pinnacle of choose your adventure design). I don’t think those components do enough to claim that this is a board game which leaves me with the conclusion that this is a £50 book … admittedly it’s well written and enjoyable but I don’t think it merits £50 when other gamebooks are less than half the price.

I’m pretty sure this game is best-played solitaire. There’s sometimes a significant amount of reading to do and that can get quite painful in a group situation. Each of the six adventure book states a realistic-sounding time of 50-80 minutes but as a solo player, I could blast through the quicker adventures in 30 minutes or less. I know I hugely enjoyed my time with the characters and the village of Dragonholt but I didn’t have to listen to anyone else reading ‘dramatically’ or discuss why I thought the group should choose a different decision. However, because I effectively ‘speed-runned’ (new verb) the campaign I was left at the end wishing it lasted longer.

Conclusion

If your group has played Battlelore and is well versed in Descent 2d Edition and you’ve played through the base game and own lots of the expansions then I can really see this having a place on your group’s table, for a few sessions. I do recommend this to solo players looking for an immersive fantasy experience, albeit slightly short-lived, again assuming the price doesn’t put you off.

I certainly enjoyed the story and although my ending wasn’t everything I wanted it to be, I am claiming a victory. After all, it's the first time I've ever reviewed a game where I've completed it.

I’d like to thank Asmodee UK for sending this review copy. This is probably in stock online more than local FLGS but you can use this link https://www.asmodee.co.uk/contentpage/find-your-game-store to find your Friendly Local Game Store who do need all the help they can get at the moment.

Designer:  Nikki Valens

Bgg page:  https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/234669/legacy-dragonholt

Playtime:  30-80 minutes per adventure.

Players:  1 - 6 

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