Saturday, October 13, 2012

Review - Dungeon Heroes

I recently met Patrick Nickell (founder of Crash Games) at RinCon 2012 to pick up my prototype copy of Dungeon Heroes. He gave an overview of the rules and my wife and I jumped right into our first game. Obviously, the components are not final, but even the prototype is very nice. The artwork looks great and even before playing I could tell that the game had much potential.

In our first game, I played the Heroes and she was the Dungeon Lord. The game is abstract, but the theme really does show through. The Heroes must find 3 of the 4 treasures before all Heroes die. The Dungeon Lord places 4 tiles each round for the first part of the game and then begins moving revealed monsters once all the tiles are placed and the dungeon goes “Aggressive.” Once the Aggressive Phase begins, the monster tiles are replaced with tokens and can move around the dungeon.

The Heroes are represented by different dice and the number showing is their health:

Warrior: d10
Cleric: d8
Rogue: d6
Wizard: d4

The Heroes also have unique abilities:

Warrior: kills monsters
Cleric: heals
Rogue: disarms traps
Wizard: reveals tiles

The heroes all move orthogonally, but the Rogue and Wizard may also move diagonally.

At first, I thought the Wizard’s ability may give the Hero player an advantage because he can just hang back and flip 2 tiles per turn. However, with 4 tiles placed per turn, it is difficult to keep up. Plus, the Heroes still need to get to the treasure once it is found which is more difficult than it seems. We ended the first game early because we were scheduled for another event, but had a good handle of the game at that point. I felt I was doing pretty well at first, but if we continued I don’t believe I would have won.

The next day we played 2 more games and my wife beat me both times. I was the Heroes again in the first one and she managed to hunt me down once the dungeon became aggressive. At that point, I was thinking the Heroes may have a disadvantage, but in the next game we swapped roles and she beat me again. That game was close, but she managed to get around my traps and get to the gold on the far end of the dungeon. In that game my mistake was being too aggressive and trying to pin the Heroes in their starting spots. It worked fairly well and I managed to kill off 2 of them, but after that they could through and I didn’t have a good tile setup for the end game.
With the few plays we’ve had so far, I’d rate the game an 8.5. I enjoy abstract games and this one does a great job at intertwining the theme. The game is fairly short and to describe it in one word: addictive. It has as much if not more replay ability as most other abstract games and the potential for expansions increases that. The asymmetrical roles are common for dungeon crawlers and thematic games, but rare for abstract and simpler games so this is an interesting mix.

The only negative I can think of would be that the tiles are sometimes difficult to flip when they are close to each other. However, this is understandable in the prototype form. I’m sure the final product will have thicker tiles and I suggested to Patrick that rounded/cut corners might help. I also suggested making the tiles smaller than the squares so that there is space between the tiles. However that turns out, I’m sure it will be better than the prototype which is already functional.

We really enjoyed the game so far and I look forward to playing more and getting better at it. Once the Kickstarter campaign starts I will certainly back it. Patrick gave me a sneak preview of some possible stretch goals and I promised not to reveal them, but I’m very excited to see how everything turns out. Because I’ll eventually have a KS copy and won’t need the prototype and because I’d like to see others have a chance to try this out, I’d be happy to pass this along to anyone who might be interested. I’m impressed with this game and want the KS campaign to be a huge success. If you want my copy and are willing to write up a short review, send me a geek mail on BGG and I’ll pick the next recipient.

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