The Red Dragon Inn 5 is a game by Jeff Morrow, Sam Waller and Cliff Bohm, published by Slugfest Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be take on the role of adventurers who have just finished a harrowing dungeon crawling expedition where they killed all types of creatures and looted their various lairs. After a brief stint at the local healers and bath house, they’ve located the local tavern in order to procure some tasty beverages, as well as do a little gambling and partying with their friends. They will have to be careful not to get knocked out or pass out since their buddies will most likely loot their unconscious body of all the gold they’ve acquired. The player that can withstand the onslaught of fermented drinks and nonstop partying the longest will be declared the winner.
Before I explain the basics of the game, let me direct the players that are already familiar with the game to skip ahead to the section marked with 5 asterisks. There I will discuss the new characters in a bit more detail. With that out of the way, we can begin. To begin, the drink deck should be shuffled and placed face down in the middle of the table where everyone can reach it. Each player will then choose a character and take the appropriate player mat and character deck. If a player chooses Lizwick, they will receive her item deck as well. They will then be given a fortitude marker and alcohol content marker. The player that chooses Zakhan will be given the wine jug token as well. Each player will then shuffle their respective character deck. The Lizwick player should shuffle their item deck. Players should place their shuffled deck face down beside the space marked deck on their player mat. Each player is given 10 gold, unless playing with 2 players. In a 2 player game, each player receives 8 gold instead. The game can also be played with a lot more players by adding in one or more of the previous versions of the game or some of the ally decks. If the game is played with more than 7 players, each player receives 12 gold instead of 10. The remaining gold is placed to the side where all players can reach it. Players should now place their fortitude marker on the 20 space of their player mat and their alcohol content marker on the 0 space. Each player then takes the top card from their drink deck and places it face down next to the space on their player mat labeled, “Drink Me!”. Player must then draw the top 7 cards from their character deck to form their starting hand. The first player is chosen and play now begins.
On a player’s turn, they will follow a series of 4 phases that must be played in order; discard and draw, action, buy drinks and drink. The first phase is the discard and draw phase. In this phase the player is allowed to discard any number of cards from their hand that they would like to and then draw back up to 7 cards. Alternatively, a player may choose to discard nothing and keep their current hand of 7 cards if they so desire. Either way, the player is not allowed to play any cards or use any effects until they have finished drawing cards.
The next phase that a player will take is the action phase. In this phase the player is allowed to play one action card from their hand. To do this, the player simply reads the title of the card aloud, giving other players a chance to respond, and then following any instructions that are written on the card. The card is then discarded by placing it next to the discard space on their player mat. If a player chooses to play a “Gambling? I’m in!” action card, a round of gambling takes place, suspending normal play until the gambling round is over. I’ll discuss this in a bit more detail a little later. Players are also allowed to skip this phase and not play an action card either because they choose not to or because they can’t.
The third phase is the buy drinks phase. In this phase, the player takes the top card from the drink deck and then places it face down on top of another player’s “Drink Me!” pile without looking at it. If the drink deck runs out of cards, each player is forced to pay 1 gold to the Inn. Afterwards, the discard pile for the drink deck is shuffled into a new drink deck.
The last phase is the drink phase. In this phase, the player reveals the top card of their Drink Me! pile. They must then read and follow the instructions on the card. The card is then discarded into the drink deck discard pile. If the player has no cards in their Drink Me! pile at this time, they begin to sober up and must move their alcohol content marker reducing it by 1. Sometimes a player will reveal a drink event card. If this happens, players must follow the instructions on the card before continuing. If the player reveals a drink card that states, “with a Chaser” and has a mug with the “+” icon on it, they must then reveal the next card from the deck that the original drink card came from. If a regular drink card is revealed, it’s effects are added to the original drink. If however another drink with a chaser is revealed, it’s effects are not only added to the original drink but yet another drink card is revealed, repeating the process. Once the player has finished resolving the effects of their drink phase, play passes to the next player in turn order.
Earlier I mentioned Gambling, let me explain how that works. When a player plays a “Gambling? I’m in!” card, each player must ante 1 gold by placing it in the middle of the play area. The player that started the round of gambling is currently winning. Players then are able to play either a gambling or a cheating card. If a player plays either of these two types of cards, they immediately gain control of the round of gambling. The player may choose to pass instead of playing one of these cards. As long as the round doesn’t end before it comes back to the player that passes, they are able to participate later in the round. The round ends once the last player passes. The winning player then takes all the anted up gold and normal play resumes with the player that started the round of gambling. Play then moves into the third phase for that player.
The game continues until only one player remains. Players can be eliminated by either running out of gold or passing out. If a player runs out of gold, they are kicked out of the inn and have to sleep in the stables. A player can also pass out by consuming too much alcohol. This is when the player’s alcohol content becomes equal to or greater than the player’s fortitude. The player then falls unconscious and the wench drags them to their room to sleep off the effects of drinking too much. If this happens, the remaining players then split the unconscious player’s gold between themselves and the Inn. The last player standing, or should I say staggering, is the winner.
***** Now, with the basics out of the way, here’s what this new version adds in terms of different rules for new characters. First off there’s Lizwick the Collector. She comes with an item deck full of all kinds of items. These cards come into play when one of her character cards has a Bag of Holding icon on it. Once the character card resolves, the player draws the top card of the item deck. These cards are placed at the top of the player mat in the first available space starting from the left unless it is marked as immediate. Immediate cards are played immediately. The more items that are added to the mat, the smaller the player’s hand size becomes. Only 3 items are allowed at a time.
The other character that has a few different rules added is Zakhan the Drunken Master. Zakhan has a wine jug token that is used to track his Drunken Chi. As he drinks, the player may choose to increase his Drunken Chi making some of his character cards stronger but also making his alcohol content higher as well. This can be a real two edged sword. The sum of both the player’s alcohol content and Drunken Chi is his Total Drunkenness. The wine jug token is placed on the player’s total drunkenness. For this character, if the total drunkenness meets or crosses their fortitude, the player passes out and loses the game. For example, Zakhan has an alcohol content of 5, marked by his alcohol content marker. He has a Drunken Chi of 3, thus his total drunkenness is 8, which is where his wine jug marker is placed. The player is able to increase his Drunken Chi by 1 any time he gains an alcohol content of 1 or more from a drink. The player can reduce the Drunken Chi by discarding 2 cards from their hand to lower it by 1.
As for Sera the Fleetfooted and Joran the Trickster, they don’t have any specific rules of note. Pretty much everything that these characters have is spelled out on their cards or is explained in the Character Specific Rules sheet that comes with the game.
This game comes with a lot of really cool stuff. First off let me address the 500 lb gorilla in the room. This box is HUGE! I mean it’s absolutely ginormous. It’s got 4 rows to place all your cards and stuff in. Of course you won’t need all 4 rows for the cards, but it’s great for adding expansions. There are also plenty of little baggies that zip up as well as several foam spacers to keep everything together. Also included are 2 cloth drawstrings bags that I personally used to keep all the gold and platinum coins in. Combining all the 4 previous game’s coins with this one’s will take both bags. Speaking of coins, I like the new platinum ones. It kinda helps break up the look of things a bit. These tokens are fairly thick and are a bit different looking than the previous ones but are still really cool. Of course the game comes with your basic glass beads for alcohol content and fortitude markers. Pretty much if you’ve played any of the previous games, you know what to expect here. There are a few new tokens that have been added to the game. There is the wine jug token for Zakhan that I described it’s use earlier. There are also several newly remastered fortitude and alcohol content markers made out of cardboard. These are a nice option to use instead of the basic glass beads. Also included inside the massive box are tons of cardboard dividers for each of the different character decks and drink decks. Each of these are made from thick cardboard and have really great looking images on them. Of course, hard plastic like some other games use in their big boxes would have been better. Still, these look great and are pretty sturdy despite being cardboard. The final pieces are the brand new character specific player mats for each of the different characters from both this game and all the previous 4 as well as all the allies decks. These are amazing looking. I love the look of these. The only complaints that I have are that they are a bit smaller than the previous player mats and are a good bit thinner too. I really like the thickness of old mats but I will gladly trade off thickness for look. Yea, I’m one of those type of guys. Finally the last thing to discuss is the cards. These much like all the other versions, have great artwork that is very light and humorous. The theme of the game is very much a part of each character’s deck as well as the drink deck. So anyway, if you haven’t figured it out by now. I’m a big fan of the look of this game. The components are great and there are places for everything inside the box. I will note that once I put all the pieces and parts that I have for the game inside and closed the lid, the thing weighs like 50 lbs. Ok, so it’s not really 50 lbs but it’s quite heavy and cumbersome. In any event, I can’t say much more than that. Overall, really great quality components.
9 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is pretty much the same as any of the ones that come with the previous versions of the game. It’s designed quite well and looks nice. There are several pictures and examples throughout the book. About half of the book is laid out with the basics of gameplay for those players that have never played any of the Red Dragon Inn games. The remaining half of the book contains the other rules that are more specific to the characters that are included with this game. Also included is a sheet with character specific rules that provides a basic faq for certain cards and questions that might come up while playing one of these characters. I find that everything is explained thoroughly and in such a way that is easy to read and understand. There’s nothing really difficult here. It’s pretty much straight forward and doesn’t take long to read. Overall, it’s well written and looks great.
9 out of 10
This is a great game. If you’ve ever played any of the previous versions, you already know that. What this version does is add 4 new characters and a big frickin’ box to hold it and all the published stuff to date. It also updates the player’s mats with a new look and feel. Needless to say the game is fairly easy to play but is high on the fun and humor. Who doesn’t love playing as their favorite character, using a funny accent or voice and enjoying a great card game? At the heart of it, this is a simple card game that is all about playing cards to eliminate your opponents. Simple as that. Each of the different characters adds it’s own flavor and feel to the game. Lizwick and her item deck adds all kinds of new fun and randomness to the game. Zakhan makes drunkenness an assest as well as a liability. Sera is fast and stealthy. You won’t know what hit you until it’s too late. Joran is great at redirecting and negating effects. Personally I like Zakhan the best. His cards have lots of enlightened speeches like something from an old episode of Kung Fu. He’s a lot of fun to play. I find that the theme of the game is integrated quite well and feels like Dungeons and Dragons the tavern card game. In other reviews, I’ve commented on how I’m not too fond of the gambling aspect and how that I find it tends to pull you out of the world that the game drops you into. I’m still not crazy about it but it won’t stop me from enjoying such a really good game. The game can be played in a fairly short amount of time with most sessions lasting around 30-45 minutes. Setup is super fast which is a plus in my book. Fans of fantasy games or humorous games should really enjoy this one. I’m very happy to be able to add this to my collection.
9 out of 10
The Red Dragon Inn 5 is a light weight card game of humorous player interaction in a fantasy setting. The game is really easy to play and doesn’t take that long. Most game sessions last no longer than 45 minutes. Setup is quick and painless which is a plus. The artwork and theme are great and have an awesome fantasy feel to it. I love the new player mat designs even though they’re a bit smaller and thinner than the originals. The box itself is massive but has tons of room for all the different versions and expansions that have been published, as well as having room for a lot more stuff. Fans of fantasy games like DnD or Pathfinder, as well as humorous games like Munchkin and the like, should really enjoy this one. The theme might be a bit much for younger kids seeing as the main theme is drinking and gambling. Just something to be aware of. For the older crowd though, it’s full of fun and laughter. If you’ve played or better yet own any of the other 4 versions of the game, you’ll be happy to add this one to your collection. It’s not only a fun game but a great storage box, much like the Big Geeky Box is for Smash Up. I highly recommend this especially for those players that own the rest of the games. It’s massively fun in a ginormous box of stuff.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Slugfest Games at their site.