04 October 2010

DungeonQuest part 1 [Boardgame review]

DungeonQuest, the Fantasy Flight Games 2010 edition is a dungeon crawling boardgame where 1-4 adventurers test their luck against this monster filled, trap riddled and randomized labyrinth to get into the middle and steal some of the Dragons treasure. It’s a pretty fast paced game, that is both easy to learn, fun to play and most important of all, plays very well no matter if you are alone or play the full 4 character slots.

The game itself it pretty simple, but there are a lot of game components and the amount of pictures I have of this game requires me to break this review into 2 parts. Part 1 will describe the game components and talk about the rules while part 2 where I will show you a game in progress and I’ll talk a bit about how the game actually plays
 The components actually came with a number of zip bags, I have since I opened this game sorted all the cards and put each category into a zip bag of its own. The amount of game components is as you’ve come to expect from Fantasy Flight Games pretty impressive. All the sheets with dungeon tiles, life and determination markers are very easy to punch out, especially the dungeon tiles are VERY well cut and you basically just need to touch them to make them pop. The die cut is also pretty clean as you can see. Something I found to be very generous was that FFG included additional hero cards for 3 more games set in the same game universe if you want to use the 6 heroes supplied with DungeonQuest with either Runebound, Descent or Runewars.

You get 6 heroes here, 2 close combat oriented, 2 mages and 2 archers. Each comes with different stats and special rules that provide a different difficulty level and experience during the game. Each character have the same 4 stats or attributes if you like - Armor, Agility, Strength and Luck. These attributes are used when you draw specific cards that require an attribute test or when you combat a monster.

You get 5 types of monster tokens, each comes in 4 variations with different amount of wounds as they are drawn at random when you encounter them. There are additional monster that you may encounter in the game, but these tend to either have a attribute test involved or use one of these 5 regular monster tokens as proxy for the duration of combat.

We also have Life tokens, represented by hearts – and “determination tokens”. Determination tokens are gathered every time you fail an attribute test. Say you test your luck, your Luck is 3 and you fail that test. Upon failure you add 1 determination token to your luck boosting it to 4, for the next time you are going to test your luck. It’s an easy system and allows characters that have low attributes in some departments to boost their skill and pass a test at some time instead of never being able to.

We also get 4 regular dice (D6), a “First player” marker, a “Sun dial” marker – this one is used to keep track of the time, 6 stairs leading down to the “catacombs” and an “underground in the catacombs” marker with each hero’s portrait on it.  We also get 6 Hero cards along with 6 hero plastic miniatures.

What is left is the board and 11 or 13 decks of cards depending on how you count it. Let’s take a look at the board before I go into the cards. The board represents the dungeon itself, at the corners you will find the entrance/exit point from which each hero starts and ends their game if they are lucky enough to escape the Dungeon before the gates are sealed or encounter an early death at the hands of a trap or a monster. At the top of the board we have the time track, the game starts at an early morning, and give you 25 turns before the sun starts to set. This dungeon will be sealed once the sun sets and everyone left inside will be killed and eaten by the dragon. The 5 last turns are a sort of “sudden death” where you roll a die and the probability that the doors will shut and seal increase with each turn.  At the bottom of the board we have the card deck locations for the 8 decks.

As your heroes start to explore the dungeon they do so blindly, as you move a step forward each turn you place a random dungeon tile and resolve an encounter, be it a trap, monster, looting a crypt or finding a secret passage.

The cards are all of a very sturdy quality and I don’t think you’ll need any protective sleeves for them unless you are eating French fries with your bare hands while playing this game. They have this card and little rough surface, I wouldn’t say they are laminated but they are not just pure cardboard or paper either.

The decks for this game include, Dungeon Cards – these will form the backbone of all your encounters. As you move into a chamber you will 80% of the time draw a Dungeon Card.

We have a Crypt deck as well, sometimes you will come across a Crypt in your Dungeon Card encounter, and are allowed to crypt card. The crypt may be empty, contain a monster or you may find some loot down there.  Then we have the Corpse deck, just as with the crypt deck you sometimes come across a long dead adventurer and may check his remains for loot.

The Door deck, contains 3 cards, “Door opens”, “Door jammed” , “trap”. As you sometimes enter a dungeon tile where doors are present and wish to move further you must draw and resolve a Door deck card.
Most of the tiles have a little torch symbol, which means that you may perform a “Search” in this location instead of moving along the next turn. Sometimes certain circumstances will require you to perform a search to move on at all or be left behind some wall until the sun sets and you are killed!
Other times a hero may perform a search to see if he can find an alternate route home instead of going straight over some dangerous tiles he previously went through.

The Trap deck is used in random encounters when drawing the Dungeon cards or if you enter a dungeon tile marked with a large TRAP marking. These traps are often very deadly, some will kill you outright if you fail a attribute test, others will “merely” nick some wounds.

The Loot deck is only drawn from if you are lucky enough to enter the dragons hoard in the middle of the board. This deck contains only treasures and magic items. But beware, as soon as you enter the dragons nest and start poking about you are also forced to draw a dragon card to see if the dragon awakes or if you are sneaky enough to steal some objects without waking the beast. Should the dragon awake you are pretty much screwed, the dragon inflicts 2D6 damage and you drop all your Loot cards and if you survive you are pushed out of the dragon chamber – and will have to enter again if you dare to poke around for some more.

Last deck of cards on the board is the Catacomb deck, sometimes you may either find a staircase leading down to, or fall down by accident into, the Catacombs. The catacombs are not represented by any new area or board, but instead you are assumed to be “below” the board itself, and you place an “underground” marker. Walking around in the catacombs, you must first determine one set direction, you will after that wander in that single direction until you find a way out or get killed by some hungry monster (and there are lots of those in the catacombs). Once you find a way out, you must determine if you want to “scatter” left or right, roll a die and surface on the board that many steps to either the left or the right from your last underground position. You then place a new dungeon tile on the board and resolve an encounter and keep playing as normal.

Then we have the combat deck, which is a story of its own. The original combat for this game is very complicated and slow, it is actually a strange thing to include such a weird combat system in a game that is otherwise easy and fast paced. The original combat system uses 3 decks of combat cards. Bot you and the monster have 4 special cards of your own, you pick one special attack from this deck at random, then you pick 4 generic combat cards from the deck to form a hand. After this you each flip a card from your hand and see if you score a hit, each fail to hit or are allowed to parry and add more attacks/wounds etc. I confess that this segment made me feel dumb as I had a hard time grasping this combat system to 100%. It is also explained over like 6-7 pages with lots of examples in the rulebook – which just confirms my suspicion that it is too intricate for this otherwise simple game.

It seems that many fans complained about this combat system, so Fantasy Flight Games have released an official PDF with 3 additional combat variations – all of which I think are superior to the combat system that comes with the boxed game.
The variations, and I have tried them all, are easier to grasp and most importantly doesn’t slow down the game. Two are dice combat, and 1 is a “rock/paper/scissors” kind of card combat. Each version also provide rule changes for the special rules written on your character sheets so that you still get unique abilities out of your heroes no matter which variant you will play.

Alternate variant 1 (my personal favorite), the monster are all categorized according to 1 attribute. Skeletons are Agility based, Wizards use Luck, Demons and Golems use Strength and Trolls use armor attribute. When encountering a monster, you simply roll 2D6 and try to roll equal to OR below your attribute. Whenever you roll a double 2 wounds are inflicted, either on yourself or on the monster.
Fighting a Troll with your fighter “Hugo” who has armor 9 will give you good odds to beat him, since you will inflict wounds on all rolls of 2-9. This system also makes each character have a great strength and a great weakness against certain monsters.

Alternate variant 2, even simpler dice combat. Where you roll 1D6 and check a chart to see who gets hit and how much damage is inflicted.

Alternate variant 3, uses cards – and you get a little chart to help you determine the fighting results quickly. You and the monster draw a combat card, and place them on a chart to see how your weapons match. Either you will result in failing to hit, inflict 1 or 2 wounds, or receive 1 or 2 wounds.

All these 3 variants are according to me more fitting this game, and it is good that FFG released this additional set of combat rules pretty much upon release. I wouldn’t be surprised if they found their way into the printed rulebook in future print runs.

Stay tuned for part 2 as four heroes brave the deadly dungeon in persuit of the dragons treasure, my thoughts about the lasting value and replayability of this game as well as a final verdict.


  1. Neat stuff. I've been meaning to play this one, didn't have the chance yet. Might be the case that there'll be a game on tomorrow at the Spelträff.

  2. Nice rewiw! Another bordgame to get!


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