The Dungeon of Dorukan is a card-based dungeon crawl based on the web comic The Order of the Stick (http://www.giantitp.com/). The goal of the game is to explore the dungeon, collect loot, and defeat Xykon at the bottom of the dungeon. After defeating the evil Xykon, whoever makes it out of the dungeon with the most loot and skill cards (called shticks) is the winner!
The game is played by each player taking turns to build each floor of the dungeon as they explore it, battling monsters in the rooms, and collecting loot along the way. It is a fairly cooperative and involved game, as each player may ask for help or attack other players. Where the gameplay falls short is the sheer amount of rules for this type of game. It is based on Dungeons & Dragons, but the rules for the game are overly complex and too long. During a typical session, the rules are consulted a number of times, and with so many rules, the players are bound to forget a few. But forgetting rules may end up breaking the balancing of the game. It is definitely a game designed for players interested and willing to break the flow of the game by consulting the rules.
The length of the game depends on the number of people playing and has a little flexibility built in to tailor the session to the current players’ needs. With four people playing, the game seems to average about three hours. By the time the dungeon gets to the bottom floor (or Xykon’s Lair), many of the players seem to have lost interest and it feels more like going through the motions.
The theme is obviously one of the main selling points of this game. The characters, character abilities, monsters, loot, and even traps have all been taken straight out of the comic. Whether it's the Belt of Gender Changing, Zz'dtri, or Elan running naked through the dungeon, the funniest and most memorable moments from the comic are in this game. The comic itself is a spoof on Dungeons & Dragons, and so too is the game. Although the game is a board game is a subset, it has a complexity closer to D&D than that of a board game.
Each dungeon floor is made up of rooms randomly drawn (and semi-randomly) placed on the table. The dungeon floor is series of connected room cards. Each card may have a special effect to the player or room itself, so that there is a bit of (albeit slight) strategy involved in this mechanic. This mechanic makes each subsequent play-through feel somewhat new and different.
Player shticks are the abilities each player has to perform actions in the dungeon. These can be in the form of attacks, ranged attacks, defenses, abilities that help other players, and so on. With each player having different shticks it creates a different experience for each player. Some people are better at lending assistance, and others are better a t battling, the key is finding out how to exploit your character’s abilities to their fullest.
Cooperative or Not?
Some of the battles the players come across, definitely battles on lower levels of the dungeon are sometimes more than one player can handle. Players can ask for help from any other player on that same floor, by offering them a loot card in exchange for their help. Bu in case you are the greedy type, instead of giving loot to other players, you can steal, or attack other players, to take their loot. Either way, the possibility of involving other players on your turn is always there…
The representations of elements from the comic are spot on. However, almost all of the big moments in the game (shtick, monster, and room cards) are moments straight out of the comic. It would have been nice if there were new moments, monsters, or even Shticks for the players that went beyond the comic. These additional elements would be transparent to people who do not read the comic, but would have been an added bonus to fans of the series.
The random dungeon generation makes most dungeons you play through feel like new. The cooperation in the game works pretty well, and sometimes against you, if you choose not to help someone, they may try to stab you in the back for it! Neither mechanics are new, but their inclusion here fits well with the theme and subject matter.
I imagine after a handful of times playing the game, the dungeon rooms and player shticks begin to lose their randomness as some are repeated. But honestly, with the game length, required number of players, and rules, who is going to play this game more then a handful of times?
I thoroughly enjoy reading The Order of the Stick, and even enjoy playing as some of the funniest dungeon crawling adventurers around. Heck, the geek in me was even excited about having to use a d12!
The game is ultimately a lot of fun for fans of the comic. But it really does feel like they tried to cram too many D&D rules into a board game. If you are a fan of the comic, definitely give it try. If you are not a fan of the series, take a look at the game length and rules before jumping in...