Gambling at The Red Dragon Inn? I'm in!

You and your group of heroic, fantasy adventurer friends have just finished raiding the dungeon, killed badass monsters, and looted their treasure. Now, you're looking for a place to unwind, drink some dragon's brew, and rest your weary bodies. What better way than to spend an evening of gambling and mayhem than at the Red Dragon Inn? Even though you're all roughhousing, you need to stay sober and not lose all your gold, lest you pass out and wake up with a horrible hangover.

The Red Dragon Inn is a fantasy party game for 2-4 players. They have a whole series of games, like The Red Dragon Inn 1-5, dedicated to more drunken adventurers. You can use the other series as a standalone game or to build on and add more players to your merry group. We played this game with real alcohol involved, but it's not necessary and not recommended for underage gamers.We just did it to get into character :p


No, Zot isn't upside down. You must be drunk.
The game contains the following components:

4 Character Decks with 40 cards each (Deirdre, Zot, Fiona, Gerki)
4 Player Mats
Drink Deck with 30 cards each
4 Fortitude Markers (Red)
4 Alcohol Content Markers (Clear)
50 Gold Pieces

The game contains quite a number of cards. all with decent cardstock and can handle quite a shuffling. The glass markers look like the ones you buy for aquariums, so if you lose one of them you can most probably buy a new one to replace them. Unfortunately, the gold pieces are made of cardboard instead of real gold, but we can live with that. The game comes with 4 player mats, one for each player, and it is made with thicker cardstock. It's used for putting your character deck, discarded cards, and drinks (usually face down because the drink is a surprise) just like how you would do in a real bar, and it contains the turn order so that before you end up being blackout drunk you'll still remember how to play the game. It's also used for keeping track of your alcohol and fortitude levels.

The components are of decent quality, all held together by a neat divider in the box. The rulebook is a fold-out type instead of a book type, so it wasn't as easy looking for specific rules since at some point during our game we were confused which was front and which was back because our alcohol fortitude weren't as good. Nevertheless, the components you need are all there, and almost all of them were used during the game so there were no unused components.

Rules and Gameplay

Fiona drinking more chases
The game begins by handing players their choses characters. You have Deirdre the Priestess, Fiona the Volatile, Gerki the Sneak, and Zot the Wizard. We didn't see any notable differences betweeen choosing one character over the other, so it's just a matter of choosing which adventurer you can most relate with. You shuffle your decks and draw 7 cards, which will be your hand. Afterwards, everyone picks a card from the drink deck and places it face-down in the "Drink Me!" space allocated for drinks in the player mat. Then the remaining drink deck is placed in the center. Each player then gets 10 gold each (or 8 gold for 2 player games, and 12 gold for 7+ player games), which represents the amount of money you have looted from whatever monster you defeated prior to arriving at the inn, and which will now be used for gambling and paying the inn. Place your fortitude marker in 20, the alcohol marker in 0, and when these 2 markers meet you lose the game and get sent to your room so make sure to stay relatively sober. You also lose the game when you run out of gold.

You may do 4 actions in a turn. First is you discard and draw. This action should be done in order; you must discard an unwanted card first (if any) before you draw. You must draw until you have 7 cards in your hand. Afterwards, you may play one action card from your hand. This has a wide range of actions from gambling, to making your opponents lose fortitude so they get drunk easier. Before each action, you must read out the title of the cards first, which are humorously labeled like "How did this get stuck in your back?" to give your opponents a chance to respond. You can respond by playing the apporpriate card (for gambling) or a "Sometimes" card which you can use in specific conditions. You can also sometimes obtain an "Always" card which can be played at any time during the game. If you choose to gamble,  normal play is suspended and everyone must put 1 gold on the table. The current winner is the player who played the gambling card, and the round of gambling begins clockwise around the table. You may play a gambling or cheating card in response to gain control of the round, or pass. The gambling phase ends when you have gone around the table with no one being able to respond. The winner then takes all the gold offered on the table.

Next, you may choose to buy a drink for anyone or yourself. Buying a drink doesn't cost any money until the drink deck runs out, in which case everyone has to pay 1 gold to the inn and reshuffle the deck. The rulebook is quite loquacious, saying "You don't have to pay for the drinks now. The inn keeps a tab and you will pay for the drinks later." when it just means that you pay 1 gold when the deck runs out. When this is done, you drink a drink that's placed on your "Drink Me!" section in your playmat. There's a chance that you get a drink with a chaser, which makes you get another drink from the pile and you have to chug that down as well to increase your alcohol level (which you do not want), or an event card. Thankfully, this can be prevented by certain "Sometimes" cards which can split the alcohol content with a chosen player, or ignore its effects entirely. If you have no drinks in your "Drink Me" pile during your turn, you start to sober up and your alcohol level decreases by 1. Your turn then ends and it's now the next player's turn. You win when you're the only player left sober with gold still in your inventory.

It's a fun party game with a lot of betting/wagering, and we had quite a number of "Take-that!" moments especially with gambling. This is a game that's more fun with more people, since it is a party game. It's not as fun when we tried it again with 2 people because the only goal was to make your only opponent get drunk and pass out; the gold on the table bears little significance. When you pass out, you can still resolve any actions or try to save yourself with a "Sometimes" or "Always" card with the appropriate action. Otherwise, you're out of the game. It's a fun game but nothing spectacular and reading aloud the card labels and the opponent's response is unnecessary and it's easier to just let the opponent read off the card.

Length and Replayability

The game typically lasts around 45 minutes; less if there's less people in the group and more if there's more people. The game length is good for a quick yet full game but for its complexity level - our group wasn't inclined to play it consecutively. It was just a bit simple for the length of time it requires. Replayability level is quite decent as there's different ways to go about winning the game. You can try and act out the different characters and their actions but it bears no notable significance in the game.

Overall score

It's a quirky game of wagering and player elimination which has its charms and it's easy to pick up by those new in the board game scene but there are times when the theme just feels forced. You should definitely grab the expansions to increase the player count and fun factor. It's amusing to watch your opponent try and stay sober when you have the correct cards to send him to his drunken death.

View the BGG game page here

None of us passed out in real life during the game, but we started poking fun at the characters at some point and starting calling the real waitress a wench. Whoops.

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