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Subject: Dungeon Roll: Blacklist Entry #46 rss

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Joel Eddy
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*sigh*

This game is so close to being decent, but it just does not achieve that level of quality.

The one minor redeeming factor are the character cards. Before each game, players can choose (randomly or not) from one of ten characters. If you have the Kickstarter edition, there are seventeen to choose from. Each character comes with a couple of abilities that make them different and should technically make the game play out differently depending on which character you get. They do kind of sort of, but not really.

The component quality is another possibly redeeming factor. The game comes in a neat little treasure chest that stores all of the components. Player's will also reach into the chest to pull treasure tokens during the game when they discover treasure. The game comes with two sets of custom dice, white Party Dice and black Dungeon Dice. Both sets are smartly etched and look great.

Let me jump into a quick rules summary, as I feel that the core mechanics are what is holding this game back.

Each game is broken into three turns, know as Dungeon Delves. On your delve into the dungeon, you are trying to descend as deep as you can into the dungeon fighting off monsters, collecting loot, and possibly defeating a dragon or two along the way. To start off each turn, you will roll the seven white party dice that depict various classes such as fighters, mages, etc... There are also scrolls on these dice that you can spend to reroll your party dice or the black dungeon dice.

Once you roll your party dice they are pretty much locked into place. You can use scrolls and possibly your character's abilities to change some of the dice, but for the most part you get what you get.

Then you will start rolling the black dungeon dice. When you enter the dungeon, you will roll one dungeon die. After you have cleared level one, you advance to level two and now roll two dungeon dice. You will keep adding dungeon dice all the way to level ten. The dungeon dice can come up showing a monster or possibly a treasure chest or potion. Different party dice will do better at defeating different monsters. For example, fighters can wipe all goblins rolled, but only one of any other type of monster. Mages can wipe out all oozes, but only one of another type, and so forth. Thieves can open all treasure chests. For each treasure chest opened, you get reach into a fantastically awesome looking treasure box and pull out a treasure token. There are several kinds of tokens. Some you can use as a specific class for doing battle. Others give you extra points at the end of the game. There are a few other types, but they don't really have a great impact on your game a lot of the time.

Finally, if you roll a dragon head when rolling the monster dice, you will set those aside. These cannot be re-rolled ever. Whenever there are three or more dragon heads showing, you must defeat the dragon after you have defeated the monsters at your current level.

After each completed level, you can choose to leave the dungeon and collect experience points equal to your current level. If you decide to stay and cannot defeat the next level's worth of monsters (and possibly a dragon), you are kicked out of the dungeon with no experience.

The game is billed as a push your luck dungeon dive that plays quickly and blah blah blah. There is really no push your luck here. I've played this now three times, and possibly twice in all nine turns of my three games I have been faced with a real decision about whether or not to proceed or leave the dungeon. This usually amounted to using my character's once per delve ability to get me out of a jam and buy myself another level or two of adventuring. However, there were several turns where my character's abilities never came into consideration at all. The abilities were just so specific that the condition never came up. For the characters whose abilities are more generic, you basically just have to play them once and figure out when to use them, and then you will have solved that character. From there out, plays with that character will become automatic and, "Poof! There goes 'choice'."

I really think this game suffers from not having some kind of automatic Yahtzee-like reroll. Almost never am I presented with a choice of what to do. Maybe if I could rearrange the dungeon dice a few levels in advance? I think a better option (also from Tasty Minstrel Games) is Martian Dice. The fact that both good and bad outcomes are are on the same die makes for at least a modicum of choice. In Dungeon Roll, I would hazard that 80-90% of the game is 100% obvious. There is no “push your luck”, because you don’t really have that much choice or pre-planning available to you. What if you could choose to re-roll your dice before every level? That would seem to be a core mechanic that would drastically change the game. How about saving potions from one level? The worst is when you roll a bunch of different dungeon dice. Some character abilities work OK with this, but again, the choice is either use it or die. There is no protracted or medium term implications for your choice. It’s just live or die. Once in a great while, there will be a choice to use an ability or treasure token to win the current level “better”, but you are pretty much guaranteed to get one more level at most out of your delve.

The game basically boils down to roll, roll, roll, roll, roll (almost always five or six times it seems to work out) and then either leave or die (again no choice... it’s a guaranteed loss or not), and then repeat that forever, until one magical day when your character’s abilities will be worth considering. There are certain characters that it just doesn’t make sense to play with, unless you deal them out randomly. There needs to be something “else” you can do in addition to your character ability. There should be some kind of currency that every player gets that they can spend throughout an entire game to change things up. Too many times, you have nothing you can feasibly attempt to make any sort of difference in the game.. Someone needs to remake Martian(Zombie) Dice with character cards... or just play King of Tokyo. I’m not the biggest proponent of YAYC (Yet Another Yahtzee Clone), but that simple re-roll mechanic at least presents some kind of round-to-round decision.

Overall, fantastic components and artwork, but just a complete snooze-fest of a game.

For more Blacklisted items, check out my Geeklist: The Black List

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Michael Mindes
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eekamouse wrote:
*sigh*


*le sigh*

Lance and I will show you how to have fun with it at GenCon (or die trying...)
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Joel Eddy
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DrMayhem wrote:
eekamouse wrote:
*sigh*


*le sigh*

Lance and I will show you how to have fun with it at GenCon (or die trying...)


I have to room with him. I will be surprised if I come back alive.
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Seth Jaffee
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Hi Joel,

Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy Dungeon Roll. I'm curious what kind of scores you were posting.

Maybe Mike and Lance will help you find a way to enjoy your future delving, or maybe it's just not the game for you.

Either way, I look forward to seeing you next week!

- Seth
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Joel Eddy
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sedjtroll wrote:
Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy Dungeon Roll. I'm curious what kind of scores you were posting.


I don't have a complete memory of all the scores, but they ranged from as low as 12 to 28 (I think) was the highest.
 
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jflartner
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Completely agree.

I said to my wife after we played, "It's like complicated Zombie Dice." Having played it 14 times now I see that isn't entirely accurate.

Like Joel says, it isn't like Zombie Dice at all. Zombie Dice has a decision every turn. Dungeon Roll is more like rolling on a combat resolution table (TMG actually provides CRTs on the nicely done player aids), except there is no game around it. Imagine playing a war game, but take away the map and all the tactics and decisions involved. You still have units with different capabilities, so it is superficially interesting, but that's all - you just roll and consult the table to see what happens.

Was skeptical from the start, but really wanted to like this one. Disappointed.
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will sargent
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Shame you don't like it after 3 plays, Joel. I can only guess Michael and Seth wanted to create an ultra (and I mean, ultra) light fantasy toyshop game that set KS alight and looks the business on the shelf while keeping things so very simple it almost pulls the game away from gamers' game territory. You suggest, throwing in another yahtzee-style lock mechanic and overcomplicating with another resource to track, but I think they made the right decisions.

What does grate for me, though, is the typos and unclear rules wording throuhgout the game ('may' and 'must' on a card is straight to jail, do not pass go stuff). With such a massive project budget it's a truly poor move. It's as if they passed around the rules in-house and never had a proper sub-editor pass an eye over it all.

I am looking forward to the game, though, and on a positive note, for those of you who want to read a very well considered overview (and ranking) of each characters' subtle power differences from someone who's knocked up 75 plays of the game, as opposed to 3, then check out:

A Highly Subjective Review of Each Character



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Rick Teverbaugh
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From a point where I used to agree with most every review of yours, you and I are at odds on everything you have reviewed this month. I understand why your scores are so awful and would welcome the chance to crush you at a game that I believe you doesn't get at all. There are more real choices to make in this game than for any dice-based, quickplay game I've ever tried. Zombie Dice offers one choice per turn and virtually just one or two factors to consider when making that choice. Dungeon Roll offers many decisions based on many factors. I agree that if the first sign of trouble you return to the safety of the tavern, then the game would not open up to those decisions. Come on Joel, show a little courage. You know that you don't really die if the you fail don't you?

I'd rather play this a dozen times than Trains once. Talk about a fiddly, harder than it has to be game!
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Bill Reed
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jobin13 wrote:
Zombie Dice has a decision every turn.


I've never found this to be true. 1 shotgun? Roll again. 2 shotguns? Stop and collect brains. That's not much to decide.

The criticism about rules errors is valid.
The judgement that Dungeon Roll is lightweight is valid.
It has some variety of player powers, which may not be as well balanced as it should have been. There is enough decision making about how to spend dice, which to save and which to change, yet without making it too prone to analysis paralysis, that I think it is a successful, simple, push your luck dice game with a dungeon crawl theme.

And it's obviously not or everyone, but, IMO, it's not a poorly designed game. I've enjoyed it.
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Lance
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eekamouse wrote:
DrMayhem wrote:
eekamouse wrote:
*sigh*


*le sigh*

Lance and I will show you how to have fun with it at GenCon (or die trying...)


I have to room with him. I will be surprised if I come back alive.


MUHUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!!
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Rick Teverbaugh
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Go get him Lance. You have my permission to push him deep into a dungeon level and leave him there!
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Greg
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wmreed wrote:
jobin13 wrote:
Zombie Dice has a decision every turn.


I've never found this to be true. 1 shotgun? Roll again. 2 shotguns? Stop and collect brains. That's not much to decide.

The criticism about rules errors is valid.
The judgement that Dungeon Roll is lightweight is valid.
It has some variety of player powers, which may not be as well balanced as it should have been. There is enough decision making about how to spend dice, which to save and which to change, yet without making it too prone to analysis paralysis, that I think it is a successful, simple, push your luck dice game with a dungeon crawl theme.

And it's obviously not or everyone, but, IMO, it's not a poorly designed game. I've enjoyed it.


Yeah, I agree with your points William.

And regarding Zombie Dice, it often isn't even a push your luck game because there is often no-brainer choices when you roll all brains(no shotguns rolled yet) or 2 shotguns(when you have several brains already). Also, if you are way behind in the score, you can only keep rolling to have a chance.

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Daniel Drickman
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Based on how much I enjoy several of the games on your blacklist, this could be a ringing endorsement for the game
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Rob Lundy
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Valid points and review, but I actually think there is far more choices to make in this game then Zombie Dice will ever have. Try taking more treasure in an early round. Trying to go as deep as possible on the first delve is not always the best route. Sometimes it's better to amass treasure to use later.

What companion to use in a certain situation is also a choice.

When to use a treasure token. Dragon bait can be ENORMOUSLY powerful if used in the right situation.

randomizing the character you take when you start the game.

heck if you want to mix it up tell people they need to draw a new hero card every turn to keep them on their toes. Or draw 3 at the beginning and decide which hero you are going to use in which order.

There's lots there if you really look at it.

Glad you like the art though

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Michael Wißner
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For what it's worth, Tom and Melody also didn't really enjoy it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OESjH5nq88E
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John E
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I usually dislike solitaire games but I've actually had a lot of fun with Dungeon Roll so far just playing solo. It only takes 10 minutes; in fact I played it in the car waiting in a carpool line waiting to pick up a kid from school (it's a minivan with a flat center console which is good for rolling). I figured it's equivalent to playing 10 minutes of something on my phone but I actually get to roll dice and stick my hand in the gaping maw of a mimic to collect treasure so it's all good.

I'll actually get to play with other folks this weekend but I'm anticipating it will be very similar since there really isn't much of a way to affect other players. Each person just kind of does their whole turn in a vacuum. That's really my biggest problem with the game so far. Maybe that will be addressed in the expansions I know are in the works, like maybe there will be a 'trap' die that you can force a player to include in his dice pool or an 'extra bad monster' die that you can include in someone else's delve.

But for a game that's supposed to be a quick 10-15 minute dice throwing and treasure collecting blitz I think it does what it says on the tin quite well. I dig it and am happy with the $15 I spent to get it made!

edit: One thing in Tom's review (link posted above my post) is that it sounds like they are paying (losing) 5xp in order to level up your hero. But you don't actually do that, you just level up automatically once you earn 5xp which hopefully happens after your first delve. This is a mini push-your-luck scenario. If you don't get 5xp in the first delve you'll be a half-step behind a player that does so it might be worth going for it.
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Joel Eddy
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Appreciate the feedback, but I never said I like Zombie Dice.

I do enjoy Martian Dice from time to time. King of Tokyo is the ummm... king of this genre though.
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Zaphod Beeblebrox
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Hahma wrote:
And regarding Zombie Dice, it often isn't even a push your luck game because there is often no-brainer choices ...

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Bobby Warren
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eekamouse wrote:
I really think this game suffers from not having some kind of automatic Yahtzee-like reroll. Almost never am I presented with a choice of what to do. Maybe if I could rearrange the dungeon dice a few levels in advance? I

This is pretty much spot-on. I played it a couple of times last night and just rolling the dice once and then seeing what monsters come up isn't all that exciting.

It's not terrible and I do not feel like I wasted my money, but it's also not something that is likely to have a long life or see dozens of plays in the next couple of months.
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David Valadez
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I also find this game strangely addicting. Based on what I've seen of Zombie Dice, I have no interest in that game, but for some reason this game tickles my gambling nerve. I think it's the treasure tokens and the 17 different avatars that helps with the replay value for this one.
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Silver Bowen
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Moltenink wrote:
Valid points and review, but I actually think there is far more choices to make in this game then Zombie Dice will ever have. Try taking more treasure in an early round. Trying to go as deep as possible on the first delve is not always the best route. Sometimes it's better to amass treasure to use later.

What companion to use in a certain situation is also a choice.

When to use a treasure token. Dragon bait can be ENORMOUSLY powerful if used in the right situation.

randomizing the character you take when you start the game.

heck if you want to mix it up tell people they need to draw a new hero card every turn to keep them on their toes. Or draw 3 at the beginning and decide which hero you are going to use in which order.

There's lots there if you really look at it.

Glad you like the art though



Threadjack! How about doing a draft beforehand? Three cards per player, pick-n-pass. Or four, and last pass is a discard instead. Solo would be draw instead of pass. Something like draw two, draft one for each delve would be fun, too.
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Silver Bowen
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Hahma wrote:
wmreed wrote:
jobin13 wrote:
Zombie Dice has a decision every turn.


I've never found this to be true. 1 shotgun? Roll again. 2 shotguns? Stop and collect brains. That's not much to decide.

The criticism about rules errors is valid.
The judgement that Dungeon Roll is lightweight is valid.
It has some variety of player powers, which may not be as well balanced as it should have been. There is enough decision making about how to spend dice, which to save and which to change, yet without making it too prone to analysis paralysis, that I think it is a successful, simple, push your luck dice game with a dungeon crawl theme.

And it's obviously not or everyone, but, IMO, it's not a poorly designed game. I've enjoyed it.


Yeah, I agree with your points William.

And regarding Zombie Dice, it often isn't even a push your luck game because there is often no-brainer choices when you roll all brains(no shotguns rolled yet) or 2 shotguns(when you have several brains already). Also, if you are way behind in the score, you can only keep rolling to have a chance.



+1 and +1. This is only a push your luck game if you actually push your luck
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Ted Elrick
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I'm loving this game personally. Got it last night and did a delve with every single hero. Loved it. I played through them all in about 2 hours and it was awesome. Talk about bang for your buck...

Anyway, I think expectations are a big part of why this game is getting some negative buzz. I bought this game thinking it was going to be a quick dungeon crawling game that felt like... yatzee. Roll 5 chests and you did awesome. Roll 3 monsters and 2 dragons and you messed up, boooooo. I didn't have any expectation of being able to completely mitigate horrible dungeon rolls with my super-smarts. I knew it would be a quick luck-fest and that's exactly what it is.

On the other hand, what amazed me last night is that in every level of the dungeon I felt like I was playing a puzzle. OK, I've got 5 heroes left, there's 2 dragons in the lair, and I just rolled 3 different monsters. I could use my 3 heroes, but wait, I've got the dragon bait! I'll use that, and use my invisible ring, and now I get to go one deeper and see what's waiting for me! It felt like I was playing... Mage Knight. OK, certainly, it isn't as deep or engaging as Mage Knight, but you've got a "hand" of options, each of which can have multiple uses and you've got to figure out what you want to use each for, or save for a later turn/level. As soon as I made that comparison, I was super hooked. Play a Mage Knight-ish luck-fest in 10 minutes or less? Yes please.

I'm going to be playing this over my lunch hour at work with some friends and I'm also going to be playing this a ton with my 6 and 8 year old over vacation over the next few days. It seems like a great game for lots of different audiences, especially when you don't have a ton of time.

It is what it is, and I love it.

Oh, BTW, as soon as I get bored with the heroes (probably will be a while), I'm going delving with 2 heroes selected at the same time. Use both regular abilities whenever, use each super ability once per delve. Level up one hero of your choice at 5 xp and the 2nd at 10 xp. Now you've got how many different combinations to choose from? Serious replayability. Throw in a 3rd after that and level him/her up at 15 xp. Yeah, it'll break the dungeon pretty bad, but you'll all be breaking the dungeon, so it's even. I'm sure certain combos will be crazy good or bad, just throw those out at the get-go.
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Chris Brisiel
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I played through a few games with friends as well as solo and have enjoyed some interesting situations...one thing I was wondering from a potential expansion down the road option would be to give each player a dungeon master card as well as their hero with some limited abilities to mess with the active hero... Though I would imagine that could really shorten the game further depending on what these abilities might be.
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will sargent
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Morph Mode wrote:

edit: One thing in Tom's review (link posted above my post) is that it sounds like they are paying (losing) 5xp in order to level up your hero. But you don't actually do that, you just level up automatically once you earn 5xp which hopefully happens after your first delve. This is a mini push-your-luck scenario. If you don't get 5xp in the first delve you'll be a half-step behind a player that does so it might be worth going for it.


In his rush to ruin the game's chances of doing well at GenCon, Tom has got this critical rule totally wrong - no wonder he couldn't enjoy the game. One of this little game's most appealing points for me is flipping the cards over (as in D&D Drizzt and Co.) to bump up the power once I've enough XP to do so of course. It's a lovely little mechanic.

edit: joel can I take this opportunity to thank you for 'most' of your other reviews. You've got me into Ottoman Sunset at present (so you don't always f*** up with Nemo's War to follow.
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