Reviewing Epic Encounters: Lair of the Red Dragon.

A few weeks ago, I had a look at and reviewed Steamforged Games’ Epic Encounters: Shrine of the Kobold Queen, noting that it was a solid module and well worth your time if you were looking for either some great miniatures to paint or an “in the box” D&D session. I also noted that this was only part one of a larger story, and that I would get around to reviewing the accompanying ‘Boss’ set, Lair of the Red Dragon later on.

Well, todays the day, so let’s not waste any time and see if the Boss boxes live you to the high bar set by the Warband sets.

To recap, Epic Encounters is produced by Steamforged Games and are boxsets are designed to provide DM’s with a complete gaming session to challenge their players with. Split between ‘Warband’ boxes and ‘Boss’ boxes, these sets give you a complete adventure booklet, battle map, and most importantly, miniatures you need to represent the enemies you will be pitting against your players.

The Warband boxes come with a whole bunch of plot hooks to get your party into the scenario and do a great job of providing an interesting story to discover. In the Shrine of the Kobold Queen (SPOILERS) the party put an end to the Kobold Queen and stop her destructive escapades. However, there is still a hanging plot thread that needs to be resolved, and that is the Giant Red Dragon the Queen was planning on controlling. So, not wanting to leave the job half done, you set the party to work battling the scaly beast before it can run rampant over the land.

So, what do you get in the box? Well, as with the Warband boxes you get a double-sided game mat (representing the Dragon’s volcanic lair). Some tokens to represent the Dragon’s minions if you are planning on using this as a one-shot adventure (more on that later). A booklet with rules and scenario ideas. And of course, a giant Red Dragon miniature. All this comes in at around £39.99 (or $49.95 if you live in the US) but prices can differ depending on store discounts. Considering the prices of other huge unpainted Dragon miniatures on the market, this is not a bad price considering the included extras.

The Dragon miniature itself is absolutely fantastic, and really conveys the size and majesty of such an ancient creature. Dwarfing most other minis of its scale, it makes for an imposing ‘final boss’ for this little adventure as it stands on to of its own hoard of treasure. The miniature is two colours of plastic (red for the Dragon itself and gold for the treasure mound) and comes in three pieces. Both the wings come sperate and are designed to ‘plug’ it to side of the body, so no glue is needed.

Unfortunately, the plugs on my copy were a bit too big, and so I needed to do some filing down and cutting to make them slot together. This was not too much of an issue as I have a lot of experience with building miniatures, but for first timers it could be a bit off putting. It wouldn’t be enough for me to not recommend the product, but it is something that is worth noting if you intend to pick it up yourself.

However, despite been the main centrepiece of the set, the dragon was actually not the most impressive thing in the box. That honour goes to the adventure booklet that is included. Yes, that bit of paper most modelers are instinctually trained to throw away has some great content for both experienced and newcomer DM’s. As well as the rules and stats for three tiers of Dragons (allowing you to tailor your encounter to your party’s level) there is also advice on how to play as the Dragon, with a turn-by-turn guide on tactics to use to make the battle fell more cinematic.

And speaking of cinematic, another key selling point of this set is the Cinematic action that allow you as the DM to spice up the fight with set pieces that make the battle feel more like an epic action scene. Each of these give you a description of the event, the effect it has on the battle, and when in the fight to us it. For example, “It’s All Mine!” happens halfway through the battle and involves the Dragon spitefully sweeping half its treasure at the players in an attempt to knock the over, forces Dex saves on the players and destroying half of the treasure. These little tweaks change a an already tense battle into something far more impressive, as you see your players go “What!” as they lose half of that sweet, sweet gold they were after.

As stated before, this Boss box is intended to be played as a follow on to the previous Warband box Shrine of the Kobold Queen. But if you are just interested in picking up a sweet looking Dragon for your collection, the set can be played as a stand-alone adventure with plot hooks provided on how your party got roped into fighting a giant scaly beast, with the Kobold token provided to give you addition threats if you didn’t pick up the first box.

Final verdict? Overall, this is a great boxset to pick up if you are looking to give your players an interesting and challenging encounter to play through. The cinematic actions and tactics provided give you some great material to slot into your own games, and the Dragon itself is stunning (and HUGE). Overall, I place this slightly below Shrine of the Kobold Queen but not by that much, and would definitely recommend checking it out for yourselves if you are a DM or just love Dragon miniatures.

I hope you have enjoyed this look into some of the open license D&D products available. If you have and would like me to cover more of the Steamforged Games Epic Encounters product line, then let me know either down in the comments below, or over on Twitter @TenguPlaysGames and I’ll do some more of these reviews in the future.

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