This review does not cover the rules of the game. If you have not played before you can find the rules at the following site: http://www.atlas-games.com/dungeoneer/index.php
Each new Dungoneer set released adds new variety and expands on its predecessors and this expansion is no exception. As with all Dungoneer expansions, Realm of the Ice Witch can be played as stand alone or integrated seamlessly with the other expansions.
Realm of the Ice Witch incorporates a new “world event” mechanic with a card called Winter Spell of the Ice Witch. It has the Winterize ability which, on the start of each turn, a die is rolled and on a 4+ an ice token is placed on any site card except desert. Yes, this can even extend down into the dungeon. Any area with an ice token is now considered to have an ice icon. This card starts in play and is only removed when the Ice Witch is defeated. Most of the monsters in this expansion get an attack bonus per ice icon on a site so sometimes it’s best to stay away from that ice!
Once again 6 new characters appear in this set. Aside from two, most are medicore.
Enraka Tyvus: Half-Celestial Valkyrie. Ability: Demon Ward. Allows you to pay any # of glory up to the cost of the threat of 1 demon to return it to your opponent’s hand. Not that great. Most of the time players do not have enough glory to return a pricy card to opponent’s hand, and if they do the opponent will just discard it and draw something new.
Tahewyn Draexis: Human Frostblade. Ability: Demon Slayer. +1 attack against Demons. Nice ability if you are playing the expansion as stand alone since most of the monsters are demons, but not so great when playing with more expansions since you will face much more than just demons.
Ryghus Gar: Human Boreal Scout. Ability: Arctic Knowledge. Allows you to draw and keep 1 additional card if you end your turn on an ice space. Great ability. With the Spell of the Ice Witch most spaces will have an ice token on it so you will most likely always have an extra card. Having that one extra card can make a big difference.
Nadalia: Half-Elf Warrior-Witch. Winterize: Collect 2 threat to turn any space except desert into an ice space. Terrible. There are only a few cards in the set that you would actually want to use this ability with. With Spell of the Ice Witch in play most areas will have an ice token anyway. Her only redeeming quality is that she has +1 magic on ice which is very nice.
Onoku Kai: Human Arctic Channeler: Ability: Channel Arctic Wind. Allows you to pay any # of glory to reduce a monster's magic by the amount of glory you paid. Not only is she the best in this set, but also one of the best in any set. She can turn the toughest magic user into a wimp.
Bodones Ving: Human Warblade. Ability: Undaunted. Pay two glory to untip. Not too great. It’s nice not having to pay a movement to untip, but there have been many games we have played where no character has ever become tipped.
Just as Dragons of the Forsaken Desert introduces scrolls to the series, Realm of the Ice Witch introduces Wards. Wards allow you to automatically destroy a certain type of monster and then collect glory equal to its life. Two of my favorite cards in this set are: Omnisus’ Favor: Allows you to re-roll one die and draw 1 card. Super card that only costs 1 glory. Bite the Hand that Feeds: Allows you to target a monster in any pack. That monster then attacks it’s owner. For only 2 peril this card is great. It will make your opponent think twice about having a beefy monster in his pack after being attacked by it.
One complaint that my friends and I had with earlier sets was that monsters were way too easy to defeat once a character gained a couple of levels. This has been addressed in the past couple expansions with some monsters having the ability to add a characters level to their attack. This expansion address the issue even further with monsters gaining an attack bonus for each ice on the site.
As for the Cholizar the Ice Queen, she’s by far the most powerful creature in any set. When played from a pack, she automatically places an ice. She gets +2 attacks on ice, inflicts 1 wound or two wounds if on ice on melee attack, and 1 wound and opponent is tipped if on ice on magic attack. She’s also got a whopping 4 life, 3 melee, 7 magic, and 5 speed. Unless your opponents has something up their sleeve those stats are guaranteed to be at least +2 if played from the pack. Play on site with more than one ice and Ouch!! Luckily she costs 7 threat to play.
Overall this is another great set to add to your Dungoneer collection. If you’re not a fan of Dungoneer there’s really nothing here that’s going to change your mind, but the new world event is a nice touch. Although this set mixes seamlessly it does have a problem if you do. If Cholizar ends up being in the lower half of a 500+ card draw deck your likely never to see her. This makes the whole Winter spell a bit anticlimactic and somewhat pointless since she’s the one casting it. That’s my only gripe about the expansion, albeit a minor one and a non-issue if played as stand alone. This is my second favorite set in the Dungoneer universe. Dragons of the Forsaken Desert being my favorite.
A good review, thank you. It persuaded me to add Ice Witch to my Christmas list. Just one question: when this one is unwrapped on Christmas day, will the artwork provoke an "oooh" of pleasure or an "urgh" of dismay?
I've found the artwork in this series a bit variable. Very nice in Dragons... (my favourite of the series also)and Den of the Wererats but poor in Vault of the Fiends.