DRAWN TO ADVENTURE – Review by Jay Bell

Board Game Gumbo is pleased to present another review from Jay Bell! Jay is a game designer and graphic designer living (for now!) in Lafayette, and is our Acadiana’s foremost Shards of Infinity player as well as a cookie connoisseur. You can reach him on Twitter @TheJayBell or find out more information about him at his design page, Clover Spark.

TLDR: Drawn To Adventure requires strategic drafting and efficient choices. You’ve really got to keep pace with the other players, and maximize each turn. It’s easy to learn, but balancing side quests, boss fights, and the right playstyle for the Rogue or Wizard or any other class takes some practice. It’s a low difficulty, highly replayable, well done roll-and-write RPG.

I’m not deeply familiar with role-playing games, but by request of my gaming family I’m actively changing that. Drawn To Adventure is a nice intro to RPG style gameplay, because you choose a class, set forth on adventures, and of course, do some side quests. In the end, it’s all about gathering the most remarkable (or largest) collection of treasure.

Keith Piggott is the designer of these legendary lands, with the help of Jonny Pac and Drake Villareal. Final Frontier Games brings this tale of old to our modern world, and I would say that there is a nice blend of small role-playing elements and roll-and-write customization. There’s moderate player interaction, but the game still gets really competitive.

Presentation

You’re definitely in for a colorful adventure with this game. The character cards feature quirky art that’s diverse in both appearance and skill. The iconography on the adventure maps is intuitive and doesn’t interfere with vibrant map art. Tracking equipment, treasure, and mana are easy with the top half of the adventure book. The art isn’t something to rave about, but it definitely sets the tone for the world inside of the Five Realms.

Gameplay

There’s a lot to talk about with gameplay. So before I go down the rabbit hole, I’ll talk about the main part of gameplay. Each turn, players draft two dice and choose to either use the action or movement of those dice. There’s a special die that’s exclusive to your roll, offering some other cool stuff, too. A lot hinges on these drafts, and there are mitigation opportunities, but you’ve really got to be able to pivot and adjust your strategy when need be. When used efficiently, these dice let you mark off (or complete) quest spaces that can create chains that result in really satisfying turns.

One of the things I like most about the game is that every component or mechanic feels very purposeful and streamlined. The only area that falls short of this is the Experience Bonus section of your character card. It isn’t as intuitive or well explained as it should be, but it is still very useful. Speaking of characters, with double-sided character class cards you get a lot of choice in how you want to explore. Each of the 5 classes has unique and finely tailored abilities to unlock that heavily influence your gameplay.

The adventure booklets are laid out in a way that makes progressing and tracking seamless, and dual purpose dice (which might be more common than I realized) often present some tough choices. This draft style might not be the best fit for players who prefer more independent gameplay, but you can easily house rule 3 personal dice rolls instead of a shared pool. (This was a successful idea for my group of two/three, but might be harder with four.)

Then there are the adventure maps. Dice rolls determine which locations you play each game, and each map has a unique layout filled with obstacles that change how you explore. The offer different side quests, and everything ramps up from round to round. There’s more risk and more reward.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I love how Drawn To Adventure feels light, but really challenges your skills of effient exploring. There’s also so much replayability. Five classes, six maps that include caves, oceans, swamps, bridges and more. Plus, the side quests are abundant, and you can try out different strategies each game.

Playtime is set at 30-90, and I’d say that’s about right. The round times are dependent on how players explore, so it varies. You have to adjust your strategy accordingly, and try to be faster than the other players for bonus rewards.

There is also a solo mode that is very challenging. I couldn’t beat level one (of three). The solo mode takes the same requirement of multiplayer “efficiently draft and explore” and takes up to a thousand. You play against an AI-driven Boss who progresses up their own treasure track each turn. The solo mode really adds to the fun and puzzly planning element of the game.

Thanks for reading!

— Jay Bell @TheJayBell

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