Category: My Blog

Dungeons and Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game Review

You are a brave adventurer, and your group is on a quest that requires you to venture into Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft. It is the dreaded home of Strahd von Zarovich, an evil and powerful vampire. Do you have what it takes to work together and survive this deathtrap? Be a fighter, rogue, cleric, wizard or ranger. Use your abilities and spells, and work together with your fellow adventurers to defeat Strahd and his minions in this strategy adventure board game.

Castle Ravenloft is a board game based on Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), the original fantasy role-playing game. D&D is a pen-and-paper style of gaming first published in the 1970’s that differed from the then popular tabletop war games. A dungeon master designs and facilitates adventures while the other players experience these adventures as a group of fighters, mages, rogues and a whole host of other character classes. What made the game special was that there were rules to facilitate combat as well as non-combat encounters, bringing the ‘adventure’ to the gaming table. The players actually lived and breathed their characters that grew over time.

More specifically, the characters and setting in the Castle Ravenloft board game is based on D&D’s Ravenloft adventure module that revolves around Strahd von Zarovich, an evil vampire who pines for a lost love. This module and its setting has been so popular that it spawned a few D&D campaigns and worlds, a series of computer games, and now a board game as well. The board game uses the encounter rules from D&D 4th Edition, the 4th iteration of the D&D rulesets and manuals. This version of D&D focuses more on character placement on grids and tiles, making it more like a tabletop miniature game and very suitable to be turned into a board game.

The story and setting of the board game revolve around the vampire Strahd and his home in Castle Ravenloft. The players take on the role of a group of adventurers entering the castle with the ultimate goal of killing Strahd. However, there are many scenarios that you play through before getting to meet the dreaded vampire, each of which can take around an hour or more to complete. Your newly-formed party might start your adventuring career by recovering magical treasure from the castle dungeons, then working your way up to killing a cunning goblin sorcerer, then a dragon, then Strahd himself. Each scenario will have its own special rules and goals, with end bosses and other monsters you must fight.

In the D&D role-playing game, there is a player who has to take on the role of dungeon master and control the monsters, dungeon design and how the adventure progresses. In Castle Ravenloft, this is not necessary and everyone is able to play as part of the adventuring team. This is possible via an interesting mechanic where things pop up pretty much randomly.

During each player’s turn, they have a choice of exploring a new room in the dungeon. This is done by taking a random tile from a draw deck and placing it on an unexplored edge of the map. This may reveal a new monster (again drawn randomly from a deck) and an encounter effect (you guessed it: randomly from a deck). These encounter effects cover everything from traps that you stumble on, to events such as a goblin seeing your group and running off to get help. In effect, the map and the flavor of the dungeon are able to grow organically without the need for someone to control them.

The dungeon isn’t the main focus of the game though. It’s an adventure game, and the focus is you (or the characters you play, to be more accurate). There are 5 characters you can play: fighter, rogue, ranger, wizard, cleric. Each character has their own unique powers and flavor. The fighter is a close-range melee defender whose job is to protect the rest of the party. The rogue is a close-range melee striker who uses daggers to devastating effect. The ranger attacks her enemies from afar using her bow. The wizard uses arcane magic to damage and control the enemy, while the cleric uses divine magic to protect and heal the party. Whichever class you decide to play, you will be able to customize their powers to create your ideal character.

Whenever there are monsters to fight (which is almost always), the player characters and monsters are represented using miniatures on a grid map composed of the random map tiles. D&D 4th Edition rules are used for these encounters. The rules aren’t very complex, and basically dictate what actions, attacks and moves you can make each turn. Most of the time, dice are rolled to see if your attacks hit and how much damage they do. Your objective during these encounters is pretty straightforward: kill the monsters and claim their treasure! After a few of these encounters, your character may even increase in level, earning you higher stats and more powers to use.

Castle Ravenloft is an exciting adventure game that also includes a fair amount of tactical maneuvering. You will feel a sense of achievement as your party slowly works its way from the easy treasure-hunting scenarios to the final scenario where you face off against Strahd. However, you don’t have to worry that the game does not have replay value. Due to how the dungeons and events are set up so randomly, no two games will ever be the same.

Castle Ravenloft is a fun game for players who like cooperative games or wish to immerse themselves in a high-fantasy adventure. It can also be used as a way to try out D&D and see if you will like playing the actual D&D role-playing game. You will enjoy Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft if you like dungeon-crawl adventure games like Heroquest or cooperative games such as Battlestar Galactica.

For d&d minis click here.

Preventive Snow Removal Tips

Snow removal is one of the many services you must provide to your tenants in exchange for rent. Snow removal is also a necessary preventive measure to reduce risk and liability from slips and falls by not just your tenant, but their family, friends, and other visitors to the property. Prevention begins at the front door, and ends anywhere anyone could possibly walk, slip, or fall.

How and When to Protect Your Property

You should have your snow removed every day before you or your tenants go to work. Ice should be removed on an hourly basis if needed, especially if there is a rainstorm. If you use a contractor, frequent talks with them to determine the best times to visit your property are recommended.

Mark the date and time you did snow removal at your property. Also have your contractor do the same. If you are sued for a slip and fall, you can use the dates and times the property was serviced as a defense with your homeowner’s policy.

Some homeowners think that shoveling a path through the sidewalk is sufficient. Not only is it not sufficient, but also one snowstorm after snowstorm will make shoveling harder to complete. The snow not shoveled will be packed down, and heavy. Also, you will find it hard to find someplace to put the snow. A good path clearing should be at least 42 inches wide. Designate yard or driveway space in anticipation of a big winter of snow.

When there is a blizzard, it could snow day and night. You will want your snow removed so your tenants can go to work in the morning to avoid slip and fall suits. Also, research your city ordinances about required snow removal. In most cities, landlords must remove the snow and slush from their sidewalks within 3 hours of a storm, or they will be fined every day of non-compliance.

Make sure the path to the trash cans or dumpster is cleared. If not, people will not put their trash there any more. When it snows, they will leave it at the nearest convenience to the trash cans.

If your commercial tenants have a lease stating they are responsible for their own snow removal, take a ride and see if they are doing it properly. If not, send them a warning letter, with a specific deadline for lease compliance.

Again, check your local ordinances on snow removal. Some cities charge a substantial fine for shoveling your snow on the street or your neighbor’s sidewalk area.

Hire Someone Else to Shovel the Snow

Your back is killing you, your legs feel like jelly, and your head is throbbing from a head cold. I think that is when it is time to call it a day. A shovel full of snow could average 7 lbs., not including the weight of the shovel. Add to that the exertion of throwing the snow over your head into the front yard.

Do you have any form of asthma or bronchitis? If there is one snowstorm after another, and you have a full time job, why are you out there shoveling snow and throwing down ice melt? Hire a company whose job it is to make sure your sidewalk and driveway is always clear when you leave for and come home from work. It’s a tax deductible property expense.

When you hire a snow removal company, the liability is on them. Make sure the company has liability insurance. Give clear directions as to when you want the snow removed from your property. Talk about what to do if it rains, and the sidewalk freezes over.

This is a high-risk time for people to fall on your property. Protect your investment by having someone remove snow and ice, regardless of when it snows or rains. You can still go by yourself and throw down some salt and sand.

If your back goes out, you are sick, or have to stay at work for overtime, having a contractor will save you the aggravation of doing it yourself. Also, your contractor can hire people to do this work even if one of his employees take sick.

If you live on the property, have your contractor shovel out your car, too. Again, why shovel and sand your property in your business suit before you have to go to work?

Consideration

1. Fire Hydrants – A large snowstorm will cover what could be a life saving device. Remember to clear your fire hydrants, and instruct your snow contractor to do the same.

2. Wheelchair Accessibility, the Disabled and the Elderly – Winter is especially difficult on disabled people, the elderly and those who have to go to work using a wheel chair. Give them enough clearance to navigate your sidewalks with ease. Don’t just shovel a path – shovel the entire sidewalk. If your property is next to the end of the sidewalk, shovel the handicap ramp.

3. Plant Life – Do not plant flowers or shrubs where you plan to dump your snow for the winter. The sand and salt from the street mixed with the snow will kill your plants. I have found that bulb plants can survive. Yet, if you have an extended snow season that goes through April, your tulips may start to come up while snow and ice is still on the ground. Better to strategically plant your flowers and bulbs where you do not intend to dump snow and ice during the winter.

4. Rock Salt vs. Ice Melt – Rock salt, which contains water, will only melt snow and ice up to the freezing temperature. Rock salt also has a corrosive nature, and will wear out the cement on brick stairs. Ice melt is a bit more expensive, but is better long term as a preventive protection. Ice melt is better for indoor carpeting.

Use sand to give people some traction on icy areas. Sawdust is really messy when tracked inside your apartment.

5. Maintenance – Keep your snow blower tuned up after every snowstorm. It will increase its longevity. Do not store gasoline in your house.

6. Before shoveling or plowing, spray some WD-40 oil on the shovel or snow plow blades. It will help make the snow slip off the blades quickly, and prevent ice from forming on the blade and shovel.

Maintain your snow removal efforts in a preventive manner to reduce risks and liability. You will also find that consistent and considerate snow removal management will give your property a good reputation.

Check out Kelowna Snow removal companies.

TNT Services
982 Old Vernon Rd.
Kelowna, BC.
V1X 6T8