Red Dragon Inn Board Game Review (Slugfest Games)


You've already explored the dungeons, killed the big bad, and probably burned down a tavern or two. Now it's time to spend the loot. Red Dragon Inn is a game about what happens after the adventure is over. Players drink, gamble, cheat, and attack each other all with the goal of being the last one standing. Once your health goes down enough and your drunkenness goes up enough, you're out of the game for good. Red Dragon Inn is a particularly good introductory game -- even if it is mostly random.

Red Dragon Inn Board Game Details

Players: 2 to 4 

Game Time: 30 Minutes

Age: 13+

Genre: Take That / Push Your Luck

How Do You Play Red Dragon Inn?

Every character in Red Dragon Inn has their own deck and board. On your board is a single meter: at one end is your "Alcohol Content" and at the other end is your "Fortitude." A clear disk represents how drunk you are and a red disk represents how healthy you are. Your drunkenness will increase while your fortitude decreases, and if they ever meet, you're out of the game. You also have a pile of gold -- and if you ever lose your gold, you're also out of the game.

Every player gets a mat which explains not only what they can do during the game, but also the loss condition.

During Red Dragon Inn, players will discard cards they don't want, draw up to a full hand, and then play as many "Action" cards as they can. These action cards will impact other players by causing them to get injured or drunker, or will help yourself by recovering sobriety and health. You can also play "Gambling" cards. Every character has a different deck which has a different type of balance. The rogue may make a lot of money, while the fighter does a lot of damage.

When gambling starts, it creates a meta game that all players are playing outside of ordinary turn order. Players need to play gambling cards until they have no more relevant gambling cards to play, at which point the last player to play a card will win. There are also cheating cards that can be used to "cheat" on gambling, stealing away the pot. 

Though the base game only plays up to 4 players, there are tons of additional decks that can be used to expand it.

At the end of your turn, you'll need to give a drink from the drink deck, and drink a drink from your own deck. Thus, players are also progressively getting drunker, in addition to wave after wave of gambling occurring.

What Makes Red Dragon Inn a Good Game for Beginners?

Like Munchkin, Red Dragon Inn has a lot to do with luck. There's enough back-and-forth in this game that any player can win, which fosters a more relaxed atmosphere. More importantly, Red Dragon Inn has explanations on every single card. It doesn't rely upon icons or well-known tropes: it explains what every single card does directly on the card itself. That makes the game much easier for players who haven't played board games before.

Players need to balance out their alcohol content while also ensuring they don't go broke.

That's not to say Red Dragon Inn doesn't have anything to offer for more experienced players, either. The sheer number of decks can make playing Red Dragon Inn interesting and different each time. But it's important to know that, above all else, Red Dragon Inn really is a social game. Much of the fun comes in the characters and the actions that you take, rather than strategically winning.

The Inn Can Be Volatile

A game of Red Dragon Inn can take aywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the group and how they strategize. If players are actually taking this game seriously, it can last forever. That wouldn't be terrible, except for the fact that it's an elimination style game. I've seen a single person eliminated within 5 minutes and then the rest of the game drag on for another hour.

Not only is Red Dragon Inn a game with a social emphasis, but it's more fun if it's played socially. If you're playing to eliminate other players as quickly as possible, it just leaves half the table doing nothing while the other half becomes embroiled in a bitter feud. 

There has been expansion after expansion of this game.

In terms of strategy, Red Dragon Inn isn't a game for serious gamers. But it's one of the games that's often pulled out when everyone wants a light ice breaker. In terms of introductory games, it resides in a space a little closer to complex than "Exploding Kittens" or "Cards Against Humanity," lightly edging casual board gamers into an addiction that will last for the rest of their lives.

Red Dragon Inn Board Game Review
  • PRO: An excellent game for beginners, in which all of the actions are intuitive and well-described.
  • CON: More a social game than a strategy game -- your mileage may vary.
  • CON: As an elimination game, it can get less fun the longer it goes on.