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A Chair Ducking, Hard Drinking Review of Inn-Fighting!

Written by Nicholas - Published on February 1, 2009

Nicholas is the columnist in charge of Nerd Watching and part-time Expy wrangler. He also works as the community manager, so keep an eye out for him on RPG blogs and forums.

Inn FightingFor those unaware of the product, Inn-Fighting is a game by designer Rob Heinsoo, who is noted for his creation of Three-Dragon Ante and his work on many other Dungeons & Dragons products. Inn-Fighting uses cards and specialized dice to try and invoke the feel of a tavern brawl without getting bogged down with a lot of rules. Each player controls a D&D style adventurer and typically some common inn patrons, who serve to defend and power up your adventurer. In short, you use your adventurer to launch attacks at the adventurers and bystanders of other players in order to rack up enough victory points (VP) to win the game.

Like Building Cheap Furniture

It’s a sad thing but the game’s biggest flaw is also its first impression, the instructions. If you are planning on playing Inn-Fighting then do yourself a favor and read the rules a couple times in advance. Personally I tend to pull a game out of the shrink wrap and just start playing, working out the rules as I go. You can’t do that with Inn-Fighting, it will probably take several full readings of the rules to grasp the basic mechanics. Even then, be prepared for a rocky first game and maybe second. The rules aren’t terribly complex but much of it is poorly explained or just absent from the instructions. An experienced group of gamers should be able to power their way through rules complications with some guesswork and houseruling, but it never feels good doing that. Unfortunately, your first few games of Inn-Fighting will be full of that sort of rules divining. Some of these confusions can be cleared up by looking online, however I don’t believe that makes up for the poor out of the box experience.

Ensemble Cast

Moving on to one of the positive aspects of the game, the feel of the characters is excellent. The adventurers are varied, ranging from the simple dwarven cleric and human fighter up to the more exotic vampire assassin and beholder barfly. Every creature, regardless of how strange they are, has a unique set of ability to flavor their attacks. To the designer’s credit, these powers don’t make things very mechanically complicated but do a lot to differentiate the characters. The downside is that these distinction cause some balance issues. Since the selection of an adventurer is random it is not really anymore unfair than a die roll but it isn’t very fun to get stuck with a bad adventurer who you will be likely using much of the game.

Sum of the Parts

More important than the little details is the big picture, how does it play? The answer is a firm “okay”. It felt like the designers were trying to create a brutal cut-throat end game, like you find in Munchkin, where all players attack the person at the top to prevent him from getting the last few VP he needs to win. In practice it just didn’t work out that way for my group. It was just too easy to get VP and hard to take it away. Additionally your choice of targets is retrained by what you roll on the brawling dice. What you’re left with is a passable game that doesn’t detract from the fun of your friends gathered around a table, but doesn’t do much to enhance it. For my part I felt like the game could have been something much more with a bit more playtesting and rules editing, however my players would rather just play Munchkin.

Have you tried Inn-Fighting? What were your thoughts?

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Written by Nicholas

Nick DiPetrillo is the original author behind the games Arete and Zombie Murder Mystery available at http://games.dungeonmastering.com

Nick is no longer active with DungeonMastering.com, however he is an accomplished writer and published his first game in 2009.

GD Star Rating
A Chair Ducking, Hard Drinking Review of Inn-Fighting! , 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

Nicholas is the columnist in charge of Nerd Watching and part-time Expy wrangler. He also works as the community manager, so keep an eye out for him on RPG blogs and forums.



9 Responses to “A Chair Ducking, Hard Drinking Review of Inn-Fighting!”
  1. AlphaDean says:

    Sounds like a boat load of fun. I think I may use that in my game. I have ship run by pirates in my game that’s basically a floating tavern. They have gambling and everything on the “Random Roll”. I think this may be good addition to my D&D game in order to speed through bar fights. My players can’t resist a good bar room brawl.

  2. Janna says:

    I agree; it can take a while to get the hang of the rules. They could have been more concise and better organized. But it’s a pretty fun game. I got the kids involved, and it was amusing to watch my 7 year old daughter look at her brother with sadistic glee and scream, “I THROW A CHAIR AT YOU!!” I like Munchkin better, but Innfighting is good for a fast game.

  3. RPG Ike says:

    Sounds like a great party game. Too bad that may be mitigated by the rules; I have enough trouble getting my non-gamer friends and family to try new board or card games.

    Does anyone know how well it integrates into a D&D campaign as a mini-game, as AlphaDean suggests?

  4. Toord says:

    @Janna: that’s exactly how I felt when I first tried Inn-fighting … “this looks … like … Munchkin” :D I personally don’t like Inn Fighting. Nothing epic about it. And it feels so anti-DnD.

  5. I loved Inn-Fighting. I’ve never tried it integrated into a game, but it’s great to play when one of your players is late or unexpectedly absent and you can’t run your regular game. It took us forever to END it, tho. For a while, I think we had 3 people who had enough VP to win, but couldn’t make a hit before they were taken down by another player.

  6. LC says:

    I gave Inn Fighting a try, but found the rules needlessly complicated. The effort of trying to figure them out and teach them to the others at the table detracted from the fun to such an extent that the entire group voted to completely ditch the game. We didn’t get further than the first round. (Of play, that is. Maybe if we WERE drinking, the game would have been more fun.)

  7. LonePaladin says:

    There’s a pretty big typo on one of the cards; it makes no sense whatsoever if you don’t know about it. It’s the ‘Second Swing’ card — it says to reroll the Brawl Dice used in an attack, and that you have to take the result of the second roll. What it should have said was to reroll the d20 you used.

    As printed, there’s no reason to use this card at all. Knowing the correction, it actually becomes useful.

  8. Georgiana says:

    One thing I disliked about the game is you didn’t have much choice in who you attack. Your power attack could only hit the person with the most VP, you could only hit the person on one side (don’t remember if it was right or left) with a chair and the opposite you could punch, and you could only choose those attacks if you rolled them on the dice. As you said in your article, I’d much rather play Munchkin.

  9. Android says:

    Inn Fighting is easy to learn (despite a few minor rule glitches) and plays quickly — just the sort of thing if you want to get a couple of different games played in one session. Its enjoyment lies partly in its unpredictability and partly in the fact you can stay in the game, despite being knocked out several times. As for the rule uncertainties … come up with your own house rules and just be consistent. No braindrain needed, really.

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