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JUST FOR FULL DISCLOSURE: I was provided a review copy of this game (only paid $3 shipping), asking that I review the game while providing three pictures of gameplay.
1) Intro to Game
Super Fantasy: Ugly Snouts Assault was a 2013 released dungeon-crawl esque game. It uses a dice-based action system and is a pretty typical heroes-in-a-dungeon fighting monsters game.
It is cooperative (though there are competitive variants), and it features many things common to games of its ilk: a modular board, various monsters and bosses, and different scenarios and such.
2) Gameplay/Brief Rules Overview
The game has a Hero phase and then a Monster phase and keeps alternating until a set number of rounds is reached (depending on the scenario).
In the Hero Phase, players can choose to take 1 turn each in any order. On a players' turn, there are a variety of actions they may take, but it is up to them how effective they want to be at taking those actions. They have 6 dice they can use to move, attack, defend, lockpick, and other actions. They can use as many as they want to do the action, but the success depends on what's rolled (a sword is 1 point to the action, double sword is 2, and a star is points based on the stat equivalent to the action such as your speed stat for movement)
In the Monster Phase, monsters may become active (for example, if heroes are in the room, the monsters become active), then monsters may spawn in certain Portals. The monsters automatically move to the nearest hero (if two or more are tied, there is a die roll and possibly a chart to use for a tie breaker) and automatically deal damage, unless a Hero defended, in which case they will be able to try to roll for defense.
This continues until players can reach a win condition (usually killing a certain monster) or the round token reaches the End Game Round.
There are two rulebooks, one for missions/variants and one for rules. I've read through them both twice.
The rule one works for its purposes, but it could definitely have been streamlined. There is a Table of Contents on the front, so its not hard to find when you have questions in the game. My issue is that the descriptions are verbose - they try to add flavor to the description with humor, but it could be simplified and more direct. I'd prefer just the mission book to have the flavor text and story, as the bloat in the rulebook slowed me down a bit reading and checking some rules.
For example, the line for "4. Lock Picking a Chest" says "If you have been even more careful, you will have found out that the Ugly Snouts hide the Magic Items inside Chests located in strategic places inside the dungeon" could be reduced to "Chests contain Magic Items", which would have sped up reading A LOT when you go through paragraph after paragraph of this stuff. They could add the fluff about the Ugly Snouts in a Flavor textbox to the side or something.
The missions rulebook is decent. I dislike having to constantly consult the monster stats, but otherwise, setup was aided by the picture and things like the arrows helped with someone who was colorblind like me. However, some of the color-coded aspects were troublesome like the Snout and Big Snout colors.
There isn't miniature level quality in the game, but the dungeon tiles work well for their purposes. They don't feel flimsy, and things like the wooden crates and pillars are pretty cool. The various dice and tokens are fine as well.
I did have issues with the standees though - they constantly tipped over easily, and I think a larger or rounder base at the bottom would help. That said, I do like the double sided nature of them, which helps with identifying front and back. The relative scale is a bit off in terms of character/monster heights, but that's not a huge issue.
It didn't come with baggies or inserts which annoyed me. At the minimum, there should have been baggies given how many tokens and chits are inside the box.
I enjoyed the artwork EXCEPT for the snouts. I think the Ugly Snout, Snout, and Big Snout would've looked cooler and more differentiated if they were different monsters (kinda like how other games will have, say, dwarves/elves/orcs or something). These made the board look homogeneous.
That said, I do like the other artwork. It is stylized and the characters don't look anything like each other. The gunslinger, the ninja, the giant, the goth girl, etc look very nicely differentiated and colorful, which I appreciated.
The game is fairly cheap compared to other dungeon crawl-esque games at $25. There is also a lot of scenarios, so if you like the gameplay, I feel you will likely get your money's worth.
The game is readily available online, and it doesn't seem likely to go out of stock anytime soon.
7) Positive Points
- There are 6 Mission Scenarios along with 2 Arena Variants, and there are a variety of characters you can use. Combine this with the draw of item and equipment cards and different map setups in each scenario as you play, and the game will have plenty of replay.
- The game is cooperative, so you do not feel the downtime as much. Even on other players' turns, you can discuss strategies and approaches together.
- The turn structure and usage of dice system is very freeform, giving players a lot of liberty to choose how and even when to approach certain obstacles.
- Some will likely enjoy the push-your-luck aspect of the dice system a lot. If you dedicate all 6 dice to an action, you are guaranteed to succeed (as most requirements are 6) usually, so its up to you how much you want to risk/try for reward.
8) Neutral Points
- The rulebook could be improved, but it is usable, as I described above.
9) Negative Points
- There is a lot of luck in the game. From the item/equipment draw to especially the rolls of the die, players can mess up/get screwed over easily from no fault of their own. Even rolling 4 of the dice may get you all 4 one-swords and fail that check you absolutely needed.
- There is no recuperance for an unlucky roll. In some other games, you may get some compensation, but you simply lose the dice and can do less on your turn.
- Setup is very long and tedious. Its especially fiddly since things like the standees keep falling over, and there's a lot of little chits to cipher through (I especially hate doors as they stand between tiles while makes it easier to tip - I sometimes put them moreso on one tile for this reason). The boards are also similar looking and its a bit annoying searching for the Letter-Numbers in the corners.
- The game can reach a point where you know you can't win anymore. Though this is toward the near end, so its okay. Its just anticlimactic to clean up all of a sudden, but it also feels futile to keep playing.
- It is colorblind unfriendly, and there's a lot of fiddly little bits and such to track and remember.
10) Atmosphere/How it Feels
Does it feel like I'm a hero in a dungeon fighting off monsters? Sort of - I didn't get into the role play of it, but I definitely felt the theme as I played mainly through the artwork and components, though the mechanics did not feel connected.
I think it feels relatively light - this isn't meant to be a super strategic game or anything by that means. Its marketed as a "Hack N Slash" board game, and I do get the idea behind that marketing. The game feels pretty much like "Try to kill the monsters and get to the end zone as fast as possible".
Mentioned above, but there are 6 Mission Scenarios, 2 Variants, 3 Difficulty Levels, 6 Heroes, and then various abilities/items/equipments in the game. I haven't played it that much, but from all this, I do think the game should have enough replayability to justify its purchase for most people.
11b) Videos/Images (captioned)
Here are some images of the game in action:
12) Player Count(s)
This is a cooperative game, so it will scale better to the number of players than some others, since players will always be working against a threat together and downtime isn't felt as much at higher player counts. Players can always control multiple Heroes to play at a higher player count too.
In 2p, I found it worked well enough, though it was challenging at least. (albeit I don't know if that's because we rolled unluckily)
Its sweet spot is likely 3-5p or so.
There is a sequel known as Super Fantasy: Night of the Badly Dead which seems to use much the same ideas and systems of this game. If you liked this game, checking that one out may be up your alley.
14) Setup/Cleanup, Playtime
Setup took us about 10-15 minutes, and cleanup took about 6 minutes. Playtime took a bit over an hour.
Overall, despite some of its good points and its attempt at something more original with its dice system, I hate this game. IMO, its dice system relies too much on luck and die rolls to be successful, and I think its heavily flawed. I prefer games where the dice aren't so all or nothing, or even better, I prefer games where I can first roll all my dice, see the results, THEN attribute then to things. I think that feels more fair, even if its less exciting.
In this, I was so frustrated when no matter how many dice I dedicated, I'd fail a task, or I would try with an overabundance of dice, and then I would succeed too much so. While getting stars charges your attack (and same for damage giving exp), this isn't enough to compensate for bad rolls in the long run. Unlike other games where "lots of rolls will balance out" the nature of losing actions themselves sets you back a lot.
Its also made me not want to play, because why play for 45 minutes to 1 hour, then be frustrated at losing because of some dice rolls? Vice versa, if I play enough, I know I will definitely eventually win because all the dice rolls will be lucky eventually and it'll carry me through.
I've checked out some reviews by people such as Rahdo and Tom Vasel, and I can't believe how much this system is praised. IMO, a more classic DnD-esque system would have more favorable gameplay, as I enjoyed/appreciated just about everything else about the game.
16) Extra Thoughts/Recommendations/etc
Overall, I think I'd be willing to play this more if the action dice system was changed, but that aside, it may be more up others' alleys. If you don't take it too seriously, it can possibly be a fun push-your-luck esque dungeon experience.
If you enjoyed this game, you may want to check out its sequel mentioned above. If you want to try other dungeon games, I would recommend Arcadia Quest as an enjoyable adventure-y dungeon romp with heroes and monsters (though its competitive unlike this one). If you want a cooperative experience, I would suggest possibly looking into either Defenders of the Realm or Legends of Andor.
Thanks for reading. Hope you liked the review. For more of my reviews, feel free to check out https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/209514/hcs-extensive-revi...
- Last edited Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:16 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:29 am
Kevin B. Smith
While I have no first-hand experience, so I can't agree or disagree, I appreciate your honesty, and that you clearly explained what you like and dislike.
Dist of Columbia
Nice to see some activity in this forum...
I think the review has some good points but overall I find SF to be one of the better one-shot dungeon crawl games. It may also be the only push-your-luck dungeon crawl out there. I would to point out that in other dungeon crawl games, the dice are usually all or nothing. I would argue Arcadia Quest and Imperial Assault/Descent are all dependent on the dice result (just like the dungeon crawl origin D&D is with its swingy d20). I admit, it would be nice to have some secondary dice outcome (like surges in IA/Descent) but the Star giving an adder to an Ability is nice (but maybe it would be better if 1 sword gave the refresh, not the star).
I do feel the Super Fantasy Abilities (if comboed correctly) add a lot of tactics and the whole experience of the game comes from the combos and order of the different Heroes and Abilities. The Ability advance system is unique and shows Hero growth throughout the single session, unlike in AQ/Descent/IA where you have the same powers (and often gear) throughout each session and progression happens between games.
Some ideas maybe:
- after rolling dice, may re-roll with 1 fewer die. Reducing the bad roll/bad luck some
- spend 1 XP as a 'Fortune Point' to re-roll all dice
I hope you play it again as in my opinion it is a push-your-luck dungeon race game, which is different than a normal dungeon crawler.
Congrats on getting a free review copy of the game though!
I appreciate the in depth review.
I wanted to chime in here, and just say that my gaming group absolutely loves this game. We have a blast playing this, and quite enjoy the dice mechanic.
We find that it has less to do with luck than you might think, since you do have the option of rolling more dice than you need to accomplish a given task.
Even the weakest character can bash in a door if they use all 6 dice, it's a guarantee.
We've also found that the special abilities are very powerful, and using dice to power these up and then use them in the same turn is a great strategy.
All in all, for us, this has been a great lightweight dungeon crawl, in the vein of hero quest from earlier days, and we've had a ton of fun with it.