Dungeons and Dragons: The Yawning Portal board game review

A jarring contrast to the typical adventure game that is typical of everything that bears the Dungeons & Dragons brand, Avalon Hill’s newest table game Dungeons & Dragons the Yawning Portal, has players who play the quiet job of a tavern’s attendant and attempt to satisfy the needs of thirsty and hungry customers.

The attraction of combining this idea with an established fantasy world has attracted my attention prior to its launch. When I discovered it at a local retailer without warning, I was astonished that there was no hype or anticipation for its launch. After playing a few sessions from the Yawning Portal, both by myself and in a group of four players, I realize that it’s an advantage that it’s as subtle and appealing as it is because there’s not an amount of excitement in it.

What is the best way to use the Yawning Portal?

It is the Yawning Portal‘s game board shows a table with empty slotted cards where players can sit against one another. Between the opposing seats, which stretch from one side of the game board and the next there is an array of slots in which food tokens can be put. The aim of each player is to collect a number of gems with different colors that correspond to four different types of food in order to meet the nutritional requirements of their heroes by using slots for food-related tokens.

A similar amount of food items is put in the central slot on the board prior to the beginning of the game. every time a food token is put by an individual, it may only be placed next to another already placed on the board. The number of food tokens and the length of the board itself will increase with respect to the players in the game, from 1 to 4.

The basic loop that takes place during players’ turns is simple and easy. Each player gets four action cards as well as a hand of heroes. At every turn, they need to take the steps using one of the action cards of their choice and flip it over as they have to. The turn ends when all the steps on the action card are completed.

If any of the steps on an action card that they intend to play can’t be completed, they will not be able to play the action card. There are several types of actions listed on the reverse of every action card and they are flipped over to the original side after each turn.

If all of the food icons on the top of the hero card match with the perfect match reward,’ represented by the colorless icons that appear vertically on the top right-hand side of each hero’s deck, will be awarded to the player along with the appropriate colored gems that they earn for their efforts in finishing the sequence. The hero card is turned over, showing one of the four colored gems that are on the back.

The game is set to begin with the final round, at the point that each end of the food token trail is a food token placed inside the slot. The total score of each player is determined by multiplying the amount of each color gemstone by the number of gem backs that are facing up on the game board. Bonuses are given to players who are able to complete one of the time-bound and aggressive goals that are randomly generated from a limited number of cards at the beginning of the game. These bonuses are awarded to the player with the highest set of sets comprising the same gem and to those who have the highest amount of any particular gem color.

The various game situations can produce diamonds that are white, and will be placed into the pile of any color gem is selected by the player to become permanently another one of the gems. “Enchant food potions” can also be made and used by specific action cards, the placement of which can grant the player their hero’s perfect match bonus immediately without flipping the card and allowing players to take the perfect match bonus from an opponent, whom might suspect is close to completing the hero’s card.

That’s all there is to it.

The dual-edged sword of simplicity

Because the options offered by the action cards of each player and the distinct powers of the hero cards are numerous and diverse The game’s play is mainly based on improvised strategies and adaption regardless of whether the strategy is grand. The game’s general simplicity goes perfectly with the fast-thinking and often reactive nature of every player’s turn. It keeps the game stimulating, not letting it become difficult or confusing.

For a single-player game, the same simple gameplay is what makes the Yawning Portal a deeply boring and unsatisfying one-on-one experience. For someone who normally buys board games that offer built-in solo play as I am confident that I’ll get it on playing at least one time, I began to get bored of the game before it had even finished, due to a total lack of stakes. I’m not sure I’ll ever play this game again by myself.

All in all, The Yawning Portal’sapproachability and charm suggest that it is ideal for younger players. Our group of players was able to master the rules and patterns of the game within two or three turns just by my poor speaking tutoring, and the concise and clear quick reference guides that were given to every player.

For a game that places itself at a cost that is a bit higher than other games with this D&D license, like Castle Ravenloft or Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate the type of interaction you’d normally think of to keep you coming to play it again just isn’t there. This game is one that can be played better with classics of the family like Monopoly and Monopoly, but it’s three times more expensive than the price of a standard Monopoly collection it doesn’t seem like it’s a good fit neither does it feel like it belongs there.

The Yawning Portal is an easy game, it certainly has merit and a place for games like this in your collection. However, the general consensus among me and my group was that the price is an enormous barrier to how light and easy the game is.

3 stars:

Dungeons and Dragons the Yawning Portal
Designers: Kristian Karlberg, Kenny Zetterberg
Publisher: Avalon Hill

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