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  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • A simple concept with multiple strategies to explore
  • The Pub Crawl mechanic adds a new dimension
  • Easily combined with older entries in the RDI Series

Might Not Like

  • Characters unique abilities aren't totally balanced
  • The theme of getting someone drunk might not sit well with some players
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Red Dragon Inn 8 – Pub Crawl Review

Red Dragon Inn 8 Pub Crawl

Slugfest Game's Red Dragon Inn first opened its mysterious doors in 2007. Since then, there have been 7 more mainline games, as well as dozens of expansions and spin-offs. There's even a version of Munchkin based on the RDI universe, although by this point it'd be easier to list the franchises that DON'T have one. But I digress... 'Pub Crawl' is the 8th entry in the main series, introducing 5 new characters, a nifty new gameplay variation and perhaps most importantly... a load of new drinks!

For those of you not familiar with the Red Dragon Inn games, each mainline iteration of the game stands alone, but can be combined with others too.

In fact, it's expected, with some cards in 'Pub Crawl' having modifiers which only apply to characters from earlier RDI games.

So is Pub Crawl a recipe for a great night, or will it leave you with a stinking hangover? Let's find out!

Pub Decor

As someone who is quite new to the board game scene, I was impressed by the number of components you get with Red Dragon Inn 8 - Pub Crawl. I'm sure to the more hardcore board gamer, it may seem like a modest offering, but you get a lot for your money here.

In total there are 7 decks of cards, a plethora of good quality cardboard tokens and some nice glass markers to track players fortitude and alcohol consumption.

The art on the cards is beautifully done, and often quite intricate and detailed considering its relatively small size.

As you'd expect of a game about imbibing alcohol, the majority of the drinks look mouth-watering too. In fact, I'd happily down some of them myself, even having read the disastrous side effects associated with many of the brews on offer.

The design on the player cards ensures it is clear where everything goes, and what the order of play is, which was appreciated as a new player to the series.

Speaking of which, how does it play?

Bar Games

If you've never played one of the Red Dragon Inn games, the concept is actually a pretty simple one.

The aim is to take out your opponents one way or another until you’re the last orc, wizard, human or whatever else standing. The best way to do so is by a combination of lowering their fortitude and getting them drunk. You can also eliminate someone by bankrupting them, but much like in real life that's nowhere near as fun.

Each turn players start by drawing their hand up to 7. They can then play an 'action' card if they choose to, before 'ordering a drink' for one of their opponents.

This drink goes face down in the other player's drink pile, ready to be consumed on their next turn.

The active player then takes a drink (if they have one) and carries out any associated actions before ending their turn.

There are other cards that can be played in certain circumstances, usually to inflict more pain on a rival during their turn, or negate something bad headed your way.

What makes the Red Dragon Inn games interesting though (and is also the reason they have been able to make it up to 8 mainline games and counting) is that each game features a new roster of characters, with their own unique styles of play.

'Pub Crawl' introduces us to Father Farai, Lucky the Scofflaw, Nerodia the Petrifier, Phyll Startusk and Samantha the Bookie.

To fit with the Pub Crawl aesthetic, the new characters are all proprietors of drinking establishments in the city.

The Barkeeps

How do they all play?

Let's start with Father Farai, owner of The Harmonious Cup. His gimmick revolves around brewing Beer, Wine and Spirits by playing cards with their respective symbols on.

Once he finishes a brew, the actions from that drink kick in, and it usually spells bad news for the other players.

Next is Lucky the Scofflaw, who operates Lucky's Rolling Barrel, a cart selling a selection of alcoholic beverages.

Lucky doesn't always operate within the law, and players can leverage this by getting extra actions out of Lucky's cards. However, each time they do the 'Heat Level' rises, and when it gets to 3 there's a fortitude price to pay.

Nerodia the Petrifier is the gorgon owner of the Black Dragon Depths. She has the ability to 'Petrify' other players cards, remove them from their hand, and spend them to increase the power of her own actions.

Orc Phyll Startusk manages Startusks, a not-so-subtle parody of Starbucks, that focuses on 'mix ins'.

Phyll's deck is littered with mix in cards, which go on his shelf as soon as they are drawn and can be played at any point. They modify drinks to add or remove alcoholic content, fortitude and various other traits.

Finally, we have Samantha the Bookie, proprietor at The Scurvy Dog. Despite her title, Samantha's unique ability doesn't relate to gambling, but rather to the ancient art of the bar room brawl.

Certain cards in Samantha's deck will 'Start a Brawl', which leads to a brawl card being drawn, and the brawl counter going up by 1. Brawl cards usually end up inconveniencing the other players, and the more brawls that kick off the more rewards Sam earns.

Losing Your Balance

Do these player variations make a big difference? Having played through a few games as each character I'd have to say they do, and there are definitely some that feel more powerful than others.

Phyll ended up being my favourite. His mix ins are very handy and are really flexible in how they can be played. Compare that to Father Farai's mechanic, which requires a lot more effort for a similar payoff, and there's a definite favourite.

Samantha's brawl cards can inflict a lot of damage on other players, and there's no real downside to playing them. Lucky on the other hand, also has powerful offensive options, but using them eventually comes at a price.

That said, the boosts given aren't overpowered in general, and it's entirely possible to go through the game without having to rely on them at all.

Paint The Town Red

Aside from the 5 new characters the other thing that sets Red Dragon Inn 8 apart from its predecessors is the titular Pub Crawl.

Glancing at the rule book, there are actually a LOT of alternative ways to play the game for those looking to change things up. The newest of those is the Pub Crawl, which comes with its own unique set of components.

The Pub Crawl variation introduces 5 new locations in addition to the Red Dragon Inn, and every time someone drinks a chaser (or a bar runs out of beverages) the group move to a new location.

Each pub has an action that triggers when the group arrive, as well as a unique selection of drinks that tend to have more of an impact than the 'standard' beverages on sale at the Red Dragon Inn.

Our initial thoughts when setting up were that it wouldn't add that much to the game, but we were wrong.

The games where we played the Pub Crawl variant were definitely the most fun. That's not to say we didn't enjoy playing the standard version, but the new drinks were fun to discover, and there is an extra element of strategy over where to move next.

Last Orders

As someone coming into the Red Dragon Inn series without playing any of the other entries, Pub Crawl looked a little daunting at first. However, it only took a quick read of the instruction booklet and a single playthrough to fully get to grips with it.

The Pub Crawl variation is a simple concept that adds a real twist to the standard gameplay. In fact, it is such a welcome addition that there is no real reason to return to the vanilla version of gameplay.

While the game can be played perfectly well with two players, having 3+ makes for a much more varied experience, as it gives everyone more options (targets!) to play their cards against, or serve drinks to. Similarly, Red Dragon Inn 8: Pub Crawl works fine in isolation, but more value can be had by mixing in characters from earlier entries if you have them.

If you're looking for a game that's easy to pick up, but has enough nuance to keep games feeling fresh and fun, you should consider going on a Pub Crawl with Red Dragon Inn 8!

Zatu Score


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • A simple concept with multiple strategies to explore
  • The Pub Crawl mechanic adds a new dimension
  • Easily combined with older entries in the RDI Series

Might not like

  • Characters unique abilities aren't totally balanced
  • The theme of getting someone drunk might not sit well with some players

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