Dungeons & Dragons: Conquest of Nerath Board Game is Pretty Cool

When I say Dungeons & Dragons, you probably think of a bunch of guys huddled in a basement rolling 20-sided dice, right? Well, toss that perception out. Today, we’re talking about a new board game that’s part Risk, part Axis & Allies, and pretty much all awesome.

Conquest of Nerath is a game about conflict, and taking over your enemy’s territories. Much like Risk, you have armies for this purpose, and you use them to attack and/or hold territories. The twist is that you’ll use different types of dice to determine the outcome of the battles. Dragons, the most powerful units available, use 20-sided dice for their attacks, while lowly foot soldiers must be content rolling a 6-sided die. Since it takes a roll of 6 or higher to hit your enemy, you can see why the dragon is a prized unit.

Other units, like wizards, offer special abilities like First Strike, which is invaluable since it allows you to register damage before your opponent rolls. Dragons can fly, and you even have access to ships that can transport your units across the water. Each turn, you’ll move your armies, fight your battles, reinforce with new units, and draw the income from the territories you hold. Each player will have similar units, but they’ll have a unique look that matches the empire you’re controlling.

Another interesting addition to this game are dungeons. Rather than the dungeons you think of in the context of D&D, these are game spaces that are populated by a ‘dungeon boss’ card. If your hero is able to defeat the dungeon boss, you’ll get a loot card that rewards you with anything from a free unit to a bonus for certain units that remains in effect the rest of the game. It’s basically a way to get power-ups for your armies, and if you’re very lucky, can allow you to turn the tide of a game that isn’t going your way.

Conquest of Nerath is set up for 4 players, but can be played with 2 just as easily. You can play team games, or free-for-all matches where you form (and dissolve) your own alliances at will. It’s a great way to spend an evening with a few friends, but unless you like late nights, it’s best to start early. In my playtest, it took somewhere in the neighborhood of six hours to plow through a medium-length game, but you can alter the victory conditions to lessen the time required.

Other than the time investment a full game requires, the only other drawback is the price. Conquest of Nerath will set you back $80, but once you open your copy, you’ll see why. There are no cheap materials here. Everything oozes quality. Cards are printed on thick, textured stock, armies are represented by detailed plastic miniatures, and a large number of varied dice are included.

Obviously, this isn’t a game for a casual player, but if you like board games, you’d be hard pressed to find one that’s better designed or built than Conquest of Nerath. It’s the perfect way to amuse yourself if you’re burnt out on your MMO of choice, or if your internet is down for the night. If you’ve got $80 looking for something to spend itself on, we highly recommend giving it a go.

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