CASTLE RAVENLOFT in Review

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d20Pictured is a D20. It is the ultimate monster-slaying device.  CASTLE RAVENLOFT lets you throw this thing at all sorts of monsters, including Kobolds and Gravestorm the Dracolich.Screw fancy card-based combat mechanics, I'd much rather off baddies with this thing. It's how we use to do it before gamers started losing sleep over things like balance, probability, and "meaningful decisions".

Now, gamers are losing sleep over CASTLE RAVENLOFT and not due to the vampires and spooky goings-on in the game, but because they can't come to terms with the fact that not every dungeoncrawl has to be a raging, cluttered nerdathon. See, CASTLE RAVENLOFT is a dungeoncrawl for _everybody_. In a sense, it's almost a casual take on a hardcore gaming staple.

And that cheeses off hardcore gamers.  I read something somewhere recently, the source escapes me (may have been Destructoid or Kotaku) that the reason hardcore gamers freak out in nerd rage about casual games like FARMVILLE or whatever is that they represent a transition of ownership of the term "game" to a larger, less niche and more mainstream population. All of the fluster over RAVENLOFT reminds me of that. Sorry Charlie- this game ain't "ASL in a dungeon". And it was never intended to be.

I think the game is great, unreservedly and without apology.  It also represent something much truer to the Ameritrash games of the 1980s and early 1990s than anything FFG has released in the past five years, and its nothin' fancy, almost mechanics-less approach (which some folks apparently feel is "bland") is a breath of fresh air in a time when games in this genre have drifted away from simple pleaures and back-to-basics fun.

Review is in the usual spot, Gameshark.com.

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Michael BarnesFollow Michael Barnes Follow Michael Barnes Message Michael Barnes

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Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

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