My introduction to Dragonlance was when I was between fourth and fifth grade and picked up Dragons of Autumn Twilight in a bookstore to take on a family vacation based on Larry Elmore’s incredible cover art and the brief blurb on the back that sounded like the start of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign (spoiler: it was). I loved the Chronicles trilogy that told the story of a bunch of adventurers going from zeroes to heroes.
Warriors of Krynn is a board game that’s designed to splice into a Shadow of the Dragon Queen D&D campaign. For the purpose of this review, I’m going to focus on the board game aspects of the production and lightly gloss over the RPG parts. Warriors of Krynn can be played as one-off scenarios or as a campaign where your successes and failures change some small part of the next scenarios setup. The game is for 3-5 players but is perfectly soloable as there’s no hidden information between players.
There’s a lot of small details I’m going to skip for brevity while focusing on the main parts of the core gameplay loop. Each player’s turn has four distinct phases which are:
1. Event phase – an event card is drawn that may add troops, change the active flank, or progress the story and battle with a key moment. The second part of the card happens during the battle phase.
2. Action Phase – Take four actions (more on this in a minute)
3. Respite phase – If you end your turn on a tile with no enemies or army units, your character finds some “me time” to reduce their stress by two or return two ability cards to their hand.
4. Battle Phase – Let’s get ready to rumble! Put down the folding chair; we use dice and cards here.
Some of the key actions a player can take are moving to an adjacent tile and initiating a conflict or an encounter.
Conflicts are tests where you have to roll a number of successes to beat the challenge. The difficulty is automatically reduced by one if the ability on the challenge is one of your character’s two mastered abilities. Players can add dice to this check by spending additional actions and/or discarding cards of the specified type. Succeeding at defeating a vile champion rewards you with an equipment card.
There are three basic types of encounters: activate a tile’s power (which resolves like a conflict), refresh a shaken commander so they can use their commander abilities during battles, or examine a scenario objective.
Battles fall into skirmishes and all-out battles. For skirmishes you roll the red skirmish die and activate the unit type rolled plus the commander’s power, if that symbol came up. For the unit type drawn, compare the army sizes, including tactic tokens, and draw the card for the bigger army and apply hits or roll dice as indicated on the card. All-out battles are the same, but they activate each troop type from inside to outside. Hits can be applied to units where the first hit shakes a unit and a second removes the unit.
Turns continue until an end condition is met and the heroes win, lose, or hold with each condition granting some benefits.
Having done no research on the game before receiving the review copy, I expected that I would be playing as the Heroes of the Lance reliving battles from the books. That’s not the case, and as this mixes with a D&D campaign book it makes sense. The heroes have some basic abilities and ability cards that can swing the tide of these battles but your wizard doesn’t feel drastically different than your fighter and that was mildly disappointing as I really wanted to hurl fireballs at legions of troops. But nope, I can add a +1 token to make my army feel bigger.
Each class has unique skills that are thematically tied to the character like a Monk’s fast movement or a bard’s ability to inspire others but they aren’t always exciting mechanically. But don’t underestimate them, using these abilities is the key to winning. More characters means more abilities to use and cards to spend without needing to get free for a respite and I felt four characters was slightly easier than with three characters.
Warriors of Krynn is basically an abstracted war game that stopped short of using chits with unit stats in place of streamlined groupings of footed, mounted, and missile troops. But there’s no tactical board movement or strategic positioning of units. While the shapes of the plastic bits didn’t click with me for which shape was which type of unit the card backs show the name and symbol as a constant reminder. The Dragon army is often larger than the Alliance, meaning their combat cards tend to be used more and has you feeling like you’re on your back foot most of the time. Sometimes, the heroes are scrambling for objectives to win before the army is overrun while other times I felt like I had the heroes mostly boosting the Alliance army to prolong the conflict. Even when I won some scenarios, I looked at the pile of removed alliance units and questioned if I really won.
The core action loop of Warriors of Krynn will feel like a typical co-op where there are more problems to solve than actions to spend. And there are some tough choices, do you move to an empty tile to get some cards back or stay in the battle to try and eek out another round before losing control of that tile?
After playing a few scenarios I also see this as a strategic war game with cooperative elements. You’ll know which tile will activate and if it’s a skirmish or all-out battle allowing you to effectively plan out your turn. In the clashes, you don’t have the agency to go for their mounted or missile troops first and you can’t set up your foot soldiers to protect your artillery. It’s my five purple ranged units against your four reds so hopefully something good happens when I draw a card. But who knows who they’re going to fight until the card is flipped. That randomness of the card draws and dice in combat adds some luck to the game. There are also some mitigations available with characters taking stress to save hits on the armies and using abilities for varying effects.
The scenarios have been varied so far and are getting more complicated (and longer) with four battlefields, and lots of extra locations to visit. Originally, I was going to say ‘explore’ but it doesn’t feel like exploration as much as rolling one or more dice to see if you get the reward.
Initially, I was going to critique the rulebook but as I used it, the organization of component breakdown explaining their rules makes a lot of sense. Like many games, one player really needs to get how the works to help run it efficiently for a few turns. But my biggest complaints are the lack of the heroes really feeling special and some of the component/art choices. I don’t like the character art on the player boards while the commander card art is better. A lot of the scenarios I’ve played feel like I’m slowly watching multiple battlefronts fall apart while accomplishing my primary objective which tensely captures a feeling of impending doom.
As a solo/cooperative fantasy war game Warriors of Krynn is pretty good. I’m assuming that if you’re playing the D&D campaign and then sidebar into these battles, it’ll be even more satisfying as you get a large mini-game to dictate the outcome of the large battles in the RPG. Warriors of Krynn provides a straightforward mass combat engine that will be accessible to most players and could easily be adapted by DM’s wanting to run a campaign with mass combat encounters.
Final Score: 3.5 Stars – Warriors of Krynn is a streamlined and accessible mass combat cooperative fantasy themed war game.
• Heroes feel generic
• Games run long while feeling like you’re barely holding on
• Components and artwork are underwhelming