05 October 2010

DungeonQuest part 2 [Boardgame review]

Part 2, how it plays.

So now that I’ve pretty much explained all the components and hopefully the basics well enough I will show you what happens to greedy adventurers who wander down into the dungeon.

 As I mentioned in Part 1 the entire dungeon is set for 25 turns before the doors start to close, the likelihood of the dungeon being shut and sealed increased by 1 on the last 5 turns. As you reach turn 26 you roll 1D6 and the dungeon is sealed on a 1, on turn 27 it seals on 1-2, on turn 28 on 1-3. Should you reach the last space on the timer you may evade being trapped inside the dungeon if you by some miracle keep rolling 6’s as the last space seals the dungeon on 1-5.

You enter and exit the dungeon through one of the 4 tower exits in the corners. You don’t have to exit through the same tower which you entered from though.

In this particular game of DungeonQuest we will have 4 adventurers, “Hugo the Glorious” will be the first player keeping track of the time. Each adventurer will also receive a special Rune card before the game starts. These Rune cards are each unique and one use only, but they have some pretty good powers which might come in handy down in the dungeon. The dwarf Krutzbeck has a “Stasis rune”, which allows him to move 3 times in a row during 1 turn if he chooses to use this power.  Hugo the Glorious has a “Rune of warning” which allows him to discard 1 trap card which he might encounter.

Some rune cards are indeed better than others, most are situational though but none are crappy.We place our 4 adventurers along the tower entrances and the exploration begins! The dungeon is made up of 13 different types of chambers which are randomly generated out of your “Dungeon tile” bag of 117 tiles! Most of the chambers have special rules of their own, all rules are described neatly in the rulebook and are easy to remember after a game or two.

At this point the game pretty much plays itself, it is as you might imagine with exploring a dangerous and uncharted dungeon, down to each players luck to find their way into the middle and grab some riches from the dragon’s treasure.  You should know that the survival rate in this game is low, all the games I’ve played alone or with friends  had casualty rates around 70%. This is just part of the game and nothing to worry about – especially since the game is so fast paced that you will likely finish a 4 player game in about 1 hour.

You pick your hero, tell a direction you wish to move, place your hero in an unexplored square on the board – randomly pick a dungeon tile and place it in your hero area. You then resolve the dungeon tile which often requires you to draw a card from one of the numerous decks of cards along the bottom of your board. As the dungeon is randomly generated for each player there is no telling where you might end up as you keep exploring, t here is no promise of a straight road into the treasure chambers in the middle of the board, sometimes you might actually get stuck wandering aimlessly in circles exploring tiles that go in all directions but the middle. Other times you will pick trap card after trap card, dangerous rooms and tiles that mess with you.

Other times you might get lucky and find a somewhat straight road leading to the treasure chamber in the middle. Should you get stuck in a dungeon that goes nowhere you may always perform a “search” in all the chambers that have a little torch marking on them. Performing a search gives you a reasonably good chance of finding a “secret door” allowing you to walk through a wall into an unexplored area and resolve it as a normal movement by placing another random tile in this location.

The victory conditions of this game are that each hero find at least some form of loot, be it 30 gold or a diamond worth 3000 gold, and escape back to the surface. This means that even though one hero is lucky enough to reach the treasure chamber – he has to walk all the way back before the sun dial reaches the critical spot where the doors start to close! Sometimes, wandering around in a far off corner you might actually encounter small pieces of treasure, knowing when to quit and head for the exit might make a poor but healthy winner while the guy dragging around some of the dragons treasure lost in the dungeon forever as the doors are sealed.

So our 4 adventurers start to make their way into the dungeon, Hugo is the most lucky, as he actually manages to find a somewhat straight way into the dragons chamber. Brother Gerrin was not as lucky, he had a straight way towards the treasure – but his road was much more perilous, with trap chambers and monster encounters. He managed to reach the very door of the treasure chamber but drew a “dark room” tile and ended disoriented wandering into the wrong direction and finally he was ambushed by a powerful Demon – who killed him… The monster will then remain in this tile for the remainder of the game or until killed by a passing adventurer.

Krutzbeck the dwarf, wandered in circles, having encounters leading nowhere, his entire dungeon lead to nowhere. He lost valuable time backtracking, trying to open blocked doors and trying to find a way leading to the middle. Finally he ended in a dead end, used his special rune card which allowed him to move 3 times in a row and discovered an entrance down to the Catacombs. Taking his chances he wandered into the darkness and did not fare well. Wading through various monsters his health began to drop considerably, somewhere towards the middle of the board he met his end as a Razorwing monster dropped from the ceiling and killed him – as he only had 6 wounds left this unlucky roll sealed his fate

Meanwhile Challara and her pet wandered south, encountered a trap room and had to cross a unsteady bridge, failing her attribute test to successfully cross the bridge she fell down into the Catacombs, took some wounds, and was forced to start exploring to find a way out of there. Finding an exit without bumping into any threat  just 2 spaces away she surfaces back into the dungeon – but has to roll a D6 to see how many spaces she will move to either her left or right. Rolling a 6 and moving to her left she ends up at the very south near the wall of Krutzbecks dead end dungeon. Far off from the Dragons treasure chamber, and with time running out.

With 2 adventurers dead it is now down to Hugo the Glorious and Challara to see who will grab the greates amount of treasure and escape alive. Hugo who reached the dragons chamber, takes his chances and wades around in the piles of gold, risking a quick death by drawing 2 Dragon Cards. Luckily enough the dragon did not wake up, and Huge grabbed 4 treasure cards before he started to head back for the exit. His road into the chambers was pretty straightforward, and there are no apparent dangers lurking there so he chooses to walk back the same way he walked in. Of course he still has to draw a new Dungeon card each time he enters a dungeon tile, and just a few steps outside of the treasure chamber he encounters a “Shade” – he now has to roll 2D6 each turn, and if he rolls the result of 2 the Shade will kill him instantly! That’s pretty much typical, but makes things interesting, will the loaded Hugo reach the exit with his pile of treasure, or will he die leaving Challara alone with her meager findings to win the game?

The greatest danger for Hugo apart from the Shade is that towards the end of his road he must cross a narrow bridge, having to test an attribute which Hugo is bad at. On top of that, each treasure card makes it harder to pass that particular attribute (Agility) so not wanting to take his chances Hugo tries to find a way around – and explores the last empty space to the left of the bridge room. This tile leads nowhere, Hugo searches this chamber, and finds a Secret Door, leading to another room…. Which is a dead end… Come on!  Here it gets a little hairy, since you are only allowed to perform 2 searches before you have to move on, and sine this room is a dead end, Hugo might end up being stuck in here. On his 2nd search he manages to find a Hidden door and breathes out as he walks up the stairs leading out of the dungeon. Loaded with the dragons riches, and alive.

Challara has no chance of reaching the treasure chamber, the time dial has progressed beyond the middle so she starts trying to find a way out of the dungeon, while making random encounters on her way out she comes across a mysterious chest that might only be opened once outside the dungeon itself. Searching for hidden doors she finally manages to enter Krutzbecks already explored dungeon and moves straight for the exit. The Sun dial was getting close to “closing time” as she too exits the dungeon.

Since we have two heroes left alive, we now check their loot to determine the winner. Hugo has apart from some gold coins also found a huge Ruby worth an astounding 3000 gold. He also found two more objects, the ”Bottled imp” and the “Artifact eater”. Both objects could either remove or give you 1 additional treasure card, but Hugo does not feel like taking such a risk since he only has one major treasure in his possession. He ends the game 3671 gold richer.

Challara who ran out of time to move towards the treasure chamber only found a lousy 30 gold, however she still has her mysterious chest. The chest card say that you roll 2D6 and multiply the result by 100. Challara rolls 9, and thus ends the game 2nd place, but alive and 930 gold coins richer.

This is DungeonQuest. A fast paces, easy to learn, easy to grasp fun game for 1-4 players.  With the 4 different versions of official combat rules you are likely to find one version that suits your personal preference and style, I will add the link to that official PDF at the bottom of this review. I find this game to be pretty damn fun, and the change of pace – considering most of the boardgames I own or usually play can take a whole evening to finish, DungeonQuest is a game which you and your buddies might play 2-4 times in one evening. The replayability is quite high, considering everything that happens is randomized. That you don’t take any “active” part in the game other than moving and hoping for your best luck is no problem, as the game is fun enough to make up for not requiring much thought. It is a good game to play if you want to play something easy or don’t have the time to play something longer. A good game to bring newbie players into boardgaming, since the rules and game mechanics are simple that everyone will know what it’s all about after turn 1.

It being Fantasy Flight Games produces makes future expansions more than very probable, I can imagine this game being expanded both in tiles, additional heroes and cards.
This is also a 1-4 player game that actually plays WELL if you are alone. You can for instance play a game like Arkham Horror by yourself, but that would require you handling multiple investigators and that game really comes to its own right when you are 3-4 players to share the fun of the weird terror. DungeonQuest is a game where each hero kind of handles himself, trying to race towards the middle, grab some treasures and try to find their way back. There is nothing here that really requires you to be more than 1 person as each trip into the dungeon is a fun challenge of its own.

I have played this game alone, 3 and 4 players, and the difference between playing solo and with other people is that you might laugh at their sudden deaths, or cheer for them to reach the exit as they have 1 health left and are chased by a Shade – watching them getting killed by a trap just in front of the exit (happened to me in a 3player game). As the game is so easy, fast and fun you won’t be as tired at the end of a session that you will not want to brave the dungeon a second time right away. And I can do little else than to recommend it.

Edit: Forgot to add the link to the official combat version released by FFG:
You can buy this game from GameManiacs, or Fantasy Flight Games.

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