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Why Red Dragon Inn is Perfect for Families


Released way back in 2007 and having spawned more expansions and extensions than you could count Red Dragon Inn will be on the radar of most game players.

I was very late to the party, having been introduced to Red Dragon Inn in 2022 at my local friendly gaming shop’s board game night.

Playing the game with a group of other new players, I quickly determined that this was a game that was perfect for families. Okay, it is set in a pub and includes buying people drinks in hope that they end up passing out but hear me out. I’m going to offer five reasons that Red Dragon Inn is a perfect game to play with your family.

1. Turn taking and interaction are at its core. Every turn on Red Dragon Inn includes a discard and draw phase before you play an action card and then give someone a drink. As a result, there is a fair bit of interaction that happens whilst also awaiting your turn to go. If you really buy into the game theme, it all adds up to a really positive experience. You are definitely learning to communicate and listen effectively as a direct result of playing this game.

2. The characters in Red Dragon Inn have their own personality and this really adds to the fun. There is a wizard with a psychotic bunny rabbit that attacks the other players, a sneaky halfling rogue who is great at cheating money from the other players, an angry red-haired barbarian who will punch other characters for mentioning her chainmail bikini and a priestess who can pray her way out of harm. I like to try and bring these individuals to life by giving them their own voices etc. This really brings another element to the game, making it even more fun as an experience for all players.

3. It teaches people about gambling… in reality. If you think about it gambling is not something where people tend to gain. This is the situation in Red Dragon Inn. Gambling is a mechanic that takes gold from all players apart from one (the winner). As a result, getting out of gambling can be a life-line to saving money; run out of gold and you’re out of the game. I like to think that there is a positive moral lesson in there for sure, gambling results in more losers than winners.

4. Similar on drinking. In Red Dragon Inn your “health” is composed of Fortitude that decreases (physical health) vs Alcohol Content that rises (drunkness). When the two measures meet you’ve passed out under the table. This means that you need to watch your drink. You might have a card to “Ignore a Drink” or “Reduce the Alcohol Content of a Drink”. You’d want to hold it for a potent beverage of 4-6 Alcohol Content rather than blow it on a 2. In other words, you learn “drinking too much is bad” and “choose the drinks you have wisely”! Again, definitely a positive message in the midst of a game mechanic that might at first seem anything but.

5. Reality vs Fiction. Red Dragon Inn is a fictional world, inhabited by fictional characters played in a very tongue-in-cheek way (a lot like the way that I am writing this review). This allows you to discuss fiction vs reality with your fellow players and reflect on what is important. Coming together to do something fun with your nearest and dearest.

I sincerely hope you have enjoyed this little featurette and, if you haven’t already, you consider trying out Red Dragon Inn with you teenaged gamers. From personal experience, I have had a parent at work thank me for introducing a child to this game because it had completely transformed their family time together and introduced a new level of interaction between them

The full-disclosure truth is that Red Dragon Inn is at its heart a really enjoyable game. Its mechanics are pretty unique. I really wish that there was an equivalently addictive and fun game that didn’t involve accidentally on purpose causing physical harm to other players whilst desperately spiking their drinks and trying to relieve them of gold but so far my search has eluded me. So until that time comes I am going to keep playing Red Dragon Inn and convincing myself that, despite the questionable content, the messages are positive and the experience outweighs any misgivings!