Monday, November 17, 2014
Unplugged Dilintia: Dungeon!
Dungeon! contains a whole lot of little fiddly bits for a game whose main mechanic amounts to "move, draw a card, and roll a number". It's Dungeons & Dragons laid bare as an exercise in dice-rolling, with very little in the way of strategy or variety. Key to the Kingdom gives you a more diverse experience with much fewer pieces and a much easier setup.
But god damn if Dungeon! doesn't strike a chord.
I discovered Dungeon! shortly after discovering Dungeons & Dragons, and wasn't I just the happiest teenage dweeb to have a dungeon-crawling experience that was randomly generated every time, with complete AI and no need for a Dungeon Master. Hell, you can even play it single-player! Even now, when I'm a little more aware of how shallow the basic business of the game is, I'm very fond of it for what it is. There's something about a subterranean maze that exists only as a place to slay monsters and acquire treasure which speaks to my inner spelunker.
I actually own three different editions of the game.
This was the original version. It's very messy, with just a ridiculous number of tiles and things and that adorable cheesy sort of 70s cartoon fantasy art motif to it.
The New Dungeon! is probably my favorite version of the game. It offers a much larger gameboard than the others, and the rooms are printed large enough that you can actually fit the monster and treasure cards inside of them, eliminating the need for extra markers to keep track of which monster is at which location and which rooms have been cleared. The game also features six character classes compared to four in other versions, and there are expanded rules for things like wounded characters, players cooperating in battle, and players robbing each other.
Easily the best-looking game of the bunch. The game harkens back to the original in its ruleset, but it has slightly different character classes and an art style in line with modern Dungeons & Dragons. There are also some welcome features on the gameboard, like a handy reference chart for game rules and places to put monsters and treasure piles -- the rooms aren't large enough to hold the cards as in The New Dungeon! but it is at least a bit easier to keep track of where things go. This is also the most compact version of the game, folding together into a tiny box that's easy to find a place for in your game cupboard.
Despite a few little twists in the rules here and there, all three versions play pretty much the same. You step into a room and you have to roll a certain number to slay a monster. If you win, you get a treasure card. If you fail, you stand a chance of dropping one or more treasure cards. Get enough treasure and you win. It tries to make itself more complicated with magic items and secret doors and such, but there's really not much to it.
And there's nothing wrong with that.
Dungeon! gives you exactly what it needs to. A maze to wander, monsters to fight, and gold to collect. If you want a quick dungeon hack on your tabletop, this'll do the trick.