What is this game about?
Legacy of Dragonholt is a story-driven game in which you (and possibly some friends) work together to explore the town of Dragonholt, go on related quests, and solve a larger mystery at the heart of it all. This game is designed to be light role-playing without a GM, and it very closely skirts the line between "game" and "choose your own adventure book." At the beginning of the game, you will select a character and assign him/her a race, class, and set of starting skills. Throughout the story, you make choices and can select special options depending on your skills or on other story points you have discovered so far. But you won't roll any dice, you won't engage in combat (besides choosing it as an option in the story), and you won't be dealing with very many cards or chits as part of your gameplay experience.
"Life" in this game is represented by stamina. Each character starts with a certain amount of stamina, which can be spent by straining yourself or regained by eating/resting. Your starting stamina will be higher or lower depending on the number of skills you choose during character setup. If you specialize in fewer skills, you are rewarded with higher stamina. If you choose to acquire more than the minimum number of skills, you will have more options but also lower stamina. Several of the choices you make in the game require stamina, and if you run out, you have to revive yourself by temporarily giving up use of a skill. (You can get your skill(s) back once you reach a point in the story that allows you to reactivate them.) That said, the focus of Legacy of Dragonholt is the story—this isn't exactly a game that you win or lose.
How does it play solo?
You can play Legacy of Dragonholt as a pure solo game or you can control multiple characters. It works fine with just one character, or it's easy to play with two if you want to build two characters with unique skill sets. The game scales to accommodate fewer players by increasing stamina for characters in one- or two-player games. I have worked through this game with one character on my own, as well as played a two-player game with my boyfriend in which we each controlled one character. I enjoy the game both ways. But if you want to read at your own pace and make all the decisions for yourself, I say that you should go ahead and play the game solo!
Be warned, however--Legacy of Dragonholt is not fully replayable. You will know some of the major story beats the second time through, and then it's just a matter of experimenting with different decisions.
If you want a game in which you move pieces on a board and develop an overarching strategy, then Legacy of Dragonholt is not for you. If you already like games along the lines of Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, or if you loved choose your own adventure books as a kid, then Legacy of Dragonholt may be right up your alley. I also suspect you will have different feelings about this game depending on whether you approach it as a board gamer or as a roll player. For board gamers looking for a gateway RPG experience, Legacy of Dragonholt is awesome. If you are a hardcore D&D player who is already used to more robust campaigning experiences, then Dragonholt could feel limiting to you.
I personally enjoy Legacy of Dragonholt. After each session, I found myself thinking about what might happen next, and wondering what would have happened if I had made different choices. Not every game needs to be an intense, brain-burning experience to be fun. In the case of Legacy of Dragonholt, I got a huge kick out of deciding what to do and then just seeing where the story took me. Legacy of Dragonholt works for me because I appreciate the kind of experience it offers—the game delivers a lot of story and fun for a low level of commitment. The writing is good, and there are little extras in the box (like letters, journals, and maps) that give this game some spice. I'd like to see more of that in future installments.
Do I recommend it?
Yes. If you know what you're getting with this game, and it sounds like your sort of thing, you are going to love it.
Overall Rating: 4 stars
5 stars — I love it.
4 stars — I really like it.
3 stars — I like it.
2 stars — It's okay.
1 star — Meh.