Whew! This adventure was the closest we've come in a long time to losing terribly. But a miraculous stroke of luck came our way, and we won a nailbiter.
The premise of this adventure is that the heroes are trying to sneak into Ashardalon's lair to steal an item of power from his treasure horde. In mechanical terms, this means you turn over tiles until you reveal the Horrid Chamber entrance. After placing the accompanying Horrid Chamber tiles, you place a Rage Drake and several monsters in it along with four treasure tokens face down (only one will be the item you're looking for). Ashardalon then appears at the entrance stairway, and the heroes have to find the right treasure token and have someone escape with it by either getting back to that starting stairway or turning over another tunnel exit tile. It's a cleverly designed adventure (one of the best so far), in that the heroes are likely to get stuck between a rock (the Rage Drake and several monsters) and a hard place (Ashardalon).
We played with five heroes and adopted our usual strategy of turning over tiles as quickly as possible while killing monsters along the way to avoid too much of a build-up. Things went swimmingly, but our heroes were spread out all over the place when the cleric turned up the Horrid Chamber tile. The real challenge for us was that it seemingly took ages to get back to the cleric's turn in order to see which treasure token was which, and meanwhile each hero's turn involved the activation of two villains. The Rage Drake and Ashardalon don't deal out much damage, but they have very high attack bonuses and quickly wear heroes down. The cleric was knocked out and had to use a hero surge. Then the paladin was knocked out and had to use a hero surge, which meant the next KO would be the end of the game for us. But when the cleric was back on his feet, he did a sweep of the treasure tokens and when he found the treasure and got to draw a card, it was the Astral Refuge card which allowed him to disappear off the board and return on his next turn anywhere he wanted! That meant the heroes just had to survive one full round and he could appear on the stairways and we would win. Still, there were some anxious moments as a couple of heroes got down to 1 hit point before the cleric's next turn and victory.
So, an exciting game and it'll be interesting to try the next one involving a mystical gate to a demon dimension . . .