Legacy of Dragonholt (Boardgame)

The Legacy of Dragonholt boardgame is essentially a tricked out choose your own adventure. Allowing freeform character generation and spanning multiple volumes, it is more than a simple book. However, despite its boardgame sized box, but it is not a traditional boardgame. If that sounds interesting to you, Legacy of Dragonholt is a great choose-your-own adventure experience with strong role-playing game flavor.




Legacy of Dragonholt
Designer: Daniel Clark (I), Tim Flanders, Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda, Greg Spyridis, Nikki Valens
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Players: 1-6 (really best solo)
Ages: 14+
Time: 30-90 minutes per session
(review copy provided by publisher)

The game commences with each player creating a character. Yes, a choose-your-own adventure with character creation. The game can be played with multiple characters, and works well with two or three. Multiple players requires players to simply alternate making important decisions in the story, so it isn’t a great experience for a larger group. Some may find the sweet spot to be playing solo, but with two or three characters. To create a character, a player choses a race (out of 6), then a profession (out of 7), and finishes by picking five to eight skills (out of 24.) Two must be from your race and two from your profession. Stamina (your health) is linked to your skills and your stamina is decreased by two for each profession beyond the fifth. Solo characters or pairs of characters get a slight stamina boost.

Skills play a huge role in the game. For many decisions, additional options exist if a character has the requisite skill. There is no luck component to the game, so combat and other encounters depend entirely on the results of the characters’ decisions, and typically options with a prerequisite skill tend to have more positive developments than the other choices. (Which makes sense, as you are able to play to your strengths.) Damage to characters are also related to skills. After their stamina is reduced to zero, additional damage begins to disable their skills. Stamina and skills can be restored only at specific moments within the story (typically points in the story where you are allowed to rest and/or recuperate.)

There are seven main storybooks. One of which is the introduction to the game, which contains rules examples alongside the story in order to introduce the mechanics of the game. After the introduction, characters arrive in Dragonholt Village proper and use the main (largest) storybook for their exploration. Each book, and the entire campaign, has its own tracker sheet. These keep track of time (you are informed whenever time passes, and some decision options are affected by the time) as well as important decisions and events in the story. For example, if you make a friend, you may check off a box (box L2, maybe) to show the story point. Other decisions down the line may have alternate options depending on whether that box is checked.

In addition to the choose-your-own adventure style storybooks, there are a few other bits and pieces in the game (the reference rulebook and the character creation guide) such as cards to represent found items, a map of the town (used to explore locations – each location has a “page number”), and a few story bits, like a letter from a friend which can be used to solve puzzles later in the game


I remember fondly the choose-your-own adventure books of my youth. Both first story-based ones as well as the follow-up books that included combat and character development. Legacy of Dragonholt is such a thing, but on steroids. Character creation is robust, something the old-school books never managed to do well. While the storyline has to be fairly linear due to the nature of the game, the variety of decisions made during the course of the game will affect the flavor of the story arc. That said, additional playthroughs of the game will have significant overlap and I can’t imagine I would want to play it through a third time. The question becomes, is the game worth the $50 or so asking price? The game books give estimate times for completion, adding up to about 10-20 hours of gameplay (depending on your reading speed), so that’s comparable to paying to see a movie. Dragonholt has the advantage of a second replay (but probably not more than that) and if one prints out the tracking sheets at the Fantasy Flight Games website, you can keep the game in nearly pristine condition and pass on the copy to someone else. While the box claims it plays 1 to 6 players, I really can’t see playing it with more than a couple, and I would have a strong preference of playing it solo (perhaps with two characters) just so that I wouldn’t have to wait around while all the story text is read aloud as the game progresses. Legacy of Dragonholt is a significant investment (money and time) when compared to choose-your-own adventure books of the past, but the game should best be considered a multi-novel series rather than a single book. Players looking for social interaction or a more strategic experience should look elsewhere, but gamers looking for some solo roleplaying opportunities will be well served by experience.

Kid Factor

Reading, reading, and more reading. The game works well for any kid that is willing to put up the effort of reading through the story. There are mild dark bits – it isn’t a polished up shiny Disney fairy tale, but from what I’ve read it falls within most young adult fiction norms. Some of the more telling bits of the story reside in the interpersonal relationships, so a maturity there would be good.  (Marriages, etc.. but I haven’t seen any sexual overtones yet.) The books are all softcover and just stapled together, so if your tweens are like mine, you may need to encourage them to treat them with extra care. (I have no worries about their regular use if standard moderate care is taken.)

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