Recommend
18 
 Thumb up
 Hide
13 Posts

Dungeon Saga: Dwarf King's Quest» Forums » Reviews

Subject: General impression concerning dungeon saga rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Henrik Grabner
Austria
Breitenbach am Inn
Triol
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Hi everyone!

I just received my kickstarter dungeon saga pledge (with all expansions) and would like to give a quick rundown on

a) Quality of components
b) Game rules
c) Impression after the first sessions


I have been searching for a dungeon crawling game, which scratches the HeroQuest itch. I bought Descent 2, but it is just not what we have been searching as a gaming group. Dungeon Saga sounded like it might be up for the job.

I have received the game 5 days ago.
Well, after I opened the package I was happy to see a lot of content.
The main game comes in a box, which is shaped like a giant book with a magnetised lid. It certainly leaves an impression.
If you have pledged for all expansions then you will get a second book like box to store all the expansion content.
Once the game hits retail, each expansion will be published with their own book like box. Certainly a nice touch. It already draw a lot of praise from my gaming buddies.

a) Quality of components

Miniatures:

After unpacking, I first focused on the miniatures. On most figures only one leg is glued to the base, the other is hanging freely in the air, which makes them feel a bit fragile. A bit more than half of the miniatures have been bend.
A nice touch is the colouring of the plastic: The undead are “bone coloured”. Orcs, goblins and trolls are green whereas the infernals are red. Therefore, no painting is required, which supports Mantic’s “play out of the box” goal.

These are mass produced, pre-assembled gaming tokens, not high end, painting grade art pieces. One should not expect anything else realistically if you want to stay within an acceptable price range. There are certainly better quality miniatures out there. They will also be more expensive.

The material is neither resin, nor hard plastic but a soft plastic material termed “restic” (resin + plastic = restic).
As a consequence, a lot of the miniatures were bend. Hot water will soften the plastic and in most cases spears, swords and arms will “remember” their original position. In all other cases, you just bend the plastic into place by yourself. This also allows for reposing to a certain degree (only one leg being glued to the base actually is a benefit here). The new position is “locked” by dipping the miniature in cold water. It took me a bit more than an hour to reshape all miniatures to my liking.

The doors are made out of hard plastic, the furniture out of soft one (restic?) The detail here is beautiful (The shelves have been sculpted on all sides, including the bottom. Not necessary but nice!).They will certainly see use in other games as well.

Gaming tiles:

They are adequate and not warped. They do not have the thickness of those found in Descent 2 or Space Hulk. The colouring is a bit on the dark side, which might be intentionally to provide a more grim overall feeling. However, on one medium sized tile I can barely see the squares. Mantic provided plastic clips to connect the tiles, which do not really seem to be necessary.

Tokens:

They do get the job done, but nothing more. Well, at the end of the day, that’s all that is required, I guess.
I chose the sculpted bone tiles and the 3D wound markers during the kickstarter and I am really happy about that decision. I am not a fan of those provided in the base game: You have beautiful doors and furnitures and then those paper markers…

Rule and quest books:

Again, adequate quality. Some nice artwork and pictures of nicely painted miniatures can be found here. I wish, editing and proof reading would have been a higher priority. I do not know if this is a single occurrence but in my case there has been a slight misprint in my core quest book: There have been two pages printed on the same page.
Luckily, there are no rules on those and I can read the fluff introduction text with a bit of guesswork.
The adventure’s companion comes with an errata leaflet… This feels as if someone was in a real hurry and had no time to go over the text in detail. A pity…

I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed about the quality of the components at first… It is not bad quality. It is not outstanding either.
Editing job aside, I believe I had too high expectations.
The book like box is awesome, no doubt, but the game is supposed to be played, not stored on a shelf.
At that stage, I feared that Dungeon Saga might be a missed opportunity and a rushed kickstarter project.
Or so I thought…
Boy, was I wrong…


b) Game rules

The game’s goal is to provide a ready out of the box gaming experience with fast setup time on a budget:
The quick start rules help in getting through the two introductory adventures with minimal need to refer to the main rule book.
The cards for those two adventures are provided separately from the others.
Therefore, you just grab them, build up the tiles (the starting tiles have been marked on the punch out carton, as well. Nice!) and are ready to go 20 min after opening the box. This time includes reading the rules of the quick start guide. Awesome.

The rules are easy to grasp. Every unit (hero or monster) has three basic stats:
1. Speed (how far a figure may advance);
2. Combat (how many dice are used for offence or defence. This can be modified by injury, being outnumbered or attacked in the back);
3. Armour value (You need to role higher than the armour value to score a hit)

Here is a typical combat example including modifiers:

Orlaf, the mighty barbarian, has 5 combat dice and an armour value of 2.
He has been pinned down by two skeletons with swords.
One is directly in front of him, the other one in his rear arc. Now, Orlaf is outnumbered (two skeletons against one barbarian). Therefore, he looses one combat dice and now has only 4 left.
The skeleton in his rear arc attacks. Because the skeleton attacking Orlaf is standing in his rear arc, Orlaf looses another combat dice and is now at 3.

The skeleton roles a 5 and a 2, as skeletons have 2 combat dice. As Orlaf has an armour value of 2, the skeleton’s 2 just bounces off of Orlaf’s loin cloth…
Orlaf roles his three combat dice in defence and gets 4, 4 and 1.
The highest numbers will always be compared to each other: the skeletons 5 with one of Orlaf’s 4s. The skeleton scores a hit.. Orlaf gains one wound marker.
Heroes can only gain one wound marker per attack.

That’s all. Sounds too simplistic? It is simple, yet leads to quite complex situations. The heroes will more often then not try to face their backs to the wall to avoid being backstabbed. However, this leaves them open to being pinned down and their movement blocked, which is critical if the current adventure is a time critical one.
You are fighting in a confined space. Facing and position matters. A lot. The heroes have to combine their abilities if they want to have a chance.

This brings me to my…

c) Impression after the first sessions

We (two gaming buddies and me) played the two introductory adventures Journey from the West and Journey from the East.
I had the joy to play the evil Overlord, who really got smoked during the first two adventures.
Then two friends joined “who are not so into boardgames”.
When they heard we had a board game night, they were thinking along the lines of “Monopoly” and immediately lost interest.
We were able to convince them to at least show up for a beer.

Well, the “ooooooh, shiny” effect did the rest…

The rules were explained in five minutes and the rest was learning by doing.

Thus, we started Adventure 1 “Well Met!”
In this adventure, the heroes are divided into two groups, will meet in the middle of the dungeon and have to find the exit.
If you have not played Adventure 1, do not read the next paragraph!!! Part of the fun is to develop the right tactic to beat the level!

SPOILER from here:
Spoiler (click to reveal)

1st try:

The first play through had the heroes too hesitant and concerned.
They saw all the bone tiles lying around and did not know, that the Overlord in this level already starts with the maximum number of skeletons.
He therefore cannot raise new ones, until some others have gone down.

They saw the first door and assumed, this was the exit.
As a consequence, they took their sweet time, being rather thorough on my skeletons.
I focused on pinning down the dwarf and the barbarian in the first big hall, raising skeletons as they fell.
The elf and the mage only encountered marginal resistance and made good progress. Finally the elf and the mage overcame the single skeleton archer in front of the door and assisted their comrades from a distance, but neglected the treasure chest.
Eventually, the barbarian made it to the door and on the last round managed to smash the door, triumphantly.

I revealed the next chamber and the real exit, but not the monsters (need a surprise for the second try, after all…), and enjoyed the baffled faces of my buddies…
With no time left to reach the exit, the Overlord won this round.
The heroes have been too slow.

2nd try:

Now my buddies were infected with the gaming bug.
They started planning and calculating. Each step was thoroughly talked over.

However, they still were not ready to take risks and accept a free hit by breaking away from my skeletons once in a while. Therefore, they got pinned down too often.
This time, I had planned to mainly attack the mage as weakest link in the chain.
Due to the excellent positioning and some really bad luck on my side (curse you dice gods!!!!!) they smashed through my minions as if they were made out of paper, only to despair at the first door.
They had some very unlucky dice roles here, which gave me enough time to get my skeleton archers into position and pepper the heroes from afar. When they finally broke down the door (two rounds wasted!), the mage was not in a position to reach the exit and cast break wards two times before the game was over. The zombies in the room did not help either… The Machiavellian schemes of the Overlord had paid off again…

At this point, the campaign play allows you to go to the next adventure, the heroes however, will have lost another hour.
In total, the heroes have 15 hours to reach the last adventure (=15 tries in total with 8 adventures and 2 introductory adventures).
As everyone knows, heroes do not like to be beaten. Therefore my buddies decided to give it another go…


3rd try:

Now the race was on. The heroes positioning was flawless, I was not able to find a good opening.
The mage positioned himself so well, that he was able to smoke a skeleton in the adjacent room through the walls with a spell, which does not require line of sight. Neat!
It was the same hall, through which the barbarian and the dwarf had to pass.
While rushing through, the dwarf took out one skeleton archer.
My attempts to stall them were not successful.
Both dwarf and barbarian always broke away where they could and smashed the skeletons where they could not.
The minions were smashed left and right, scattering bony bits everywhere.
All I could do was to raise skeletons in rooms they had already passed and follow them.
This time, the first door was not an obstacle and the dwarf jumped into the room behind it shattering the zombie close by and leaving enough space for the barbarian to follow.

Meanwhile, I had been able to raise my two skeleton archers again and attacked the mage from behind.
With the last hit point, the mage managed to reach the exit and did cast “Break Ward” the first time.
All zombies had been slain, my two skeleton archers were close to the first door.
I had one last interrupt card left.
My buddies were now sure, they had managed to crack this level.
Then, They made their only error in this adventure…
Instead of blocking line of sight to the mage at the exit door, they moved the elf to engage a total unimportant skeleton melee fighter, which the elf smashed. Afterwards, only the dwarf was still allowed to move and the next and last round would start.
The mage would be able to cast “Break Ward” a second time and open the exit, handing the heroes the win…
I announced an interrupt, played the card and moved one skeleton archer into the now open field at the first door, having line of sight to the mage with his last life point…

A table was in between the line of sight, resulting into one lower combat dice (from three down to two) for my skeleton archer.

The dice fell: 5 and 5.

The mage rolled his two dice… We all were standing around the gaming table now and the mage player shook the two dice in his hand and did not want to let go… He shook and shook and we drew a deep collective breath when he finally let go…

6 and 1.

The arrow zipped through the room, over the table and pinned the body of the mage onto the exit door, the life fleeing the broken mage’s body with a sigh…

(Mage’s 6 cancels the skeleton’s 5. The other 5, however scores against the 1, wounding the mage and therefore crippling him)

SPOILER end.

Holy shit…
I cannot remember the last time we have been so engaged and drawn into a game like that…
Was it worth it despite my initial concerns and disappointment?
Let me put it this way: Today, we will meet for the third time in a row. Three seasoned board game players and two “not so into board game dudes”. We are already talking about custom adventures (We have quite a lot of “Heroic Map Tiles” printed and laminated: Castles to defend, multi layered towers to climb, dungeons to explore… This game has an unlimited sandbox ability, with character and monster creations. Perfect.

Henrik

TL;DR:

Quality: Not outstanding, but “gets the job done”
Fun: For us, this is the game we have been looking for

Highly recommended youtube videos:

Beast_of_war videos (two introductory adventures and Adventue 1; Beware of Spoilers):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ygBGc2sDdM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B09GHcOXnG8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcqGr3A2q7I

Rules explanation by “Watch it played”:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZMaRH4pZhs

29 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mr G
United Kingdom
Hatfield Heath
Essex
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Good work on reviewing the gameplay. The QA seems dreadful but the actual game looks pretty good.

I reckon I'll buy the second edition at retail!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
JD Snider
Canada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've played three games now (two solo, one co-op), covering both introductory missions. And I have to say, despite the occasional ambiguity, I've really enjoyed them.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
wulung chuanfa
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
quazai wrote:
I've played three games now (two solo, one co-op), covering both introductory missions. And I have to say, despite the occasional ambiguity, I've really enjoyed them.

So when you played solo/co-op did you play that you lost when the invisible overlord deck ran out or did you reshuffle the deck?

Thanks!


Michael
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
seb seb2
France
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
"They saw the first door and assumed, this was the exit."

I am not sure about this.
The ovelord must clearly explained the objective of each adventure,and so saying this isn't the exit door.
The problem is that not all the maps are on the table,so how can the ovelord clearly say to the heroes,the objective is to open this or unlock that,without the objectives already on the map?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
JD Snider
Canada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
michael4928 wrote:
quazai wrote:
I've played three games now (two solo, one co-op), covering both introductory missions. And I have to say, despite the occasional ambiguity, I've really enjoyed them.

So when you played solo/co-op did you play that you lost when the invisible overlord deck ran out or did you reshuffle the deck?

Thanks!


Michael
There actually isn't a timer on the first two intro missions, so when the IO deck ran out the one time I just reshuffled it :) For the missions with an actual timer I'm going to try counting out the appropriate number of regular overlord cards and use them as a timer (just draw one per turn, and end the game when the deck runs out).

So far I've been really impressed with the AI. There are some vague areas, but nothing too severe that I've seen (though official clarification would be welcome). I mainly decided on a way to handle them and then applied this consistently. I also didn't see anything in the way of schizophrenic monster behavior as mentioned in other threads, so I'm not sure if this is actually a big issue or not. I may have been lucky so far(or perhaps this is more evident with more models on the board). But so far I think the hierarchy for deciding which models act etc. is actually very solid (it's just a major pain the way it is currently presented in the AC). Eriochrome mentioned in another thread that an Invisible Overlord panel would be useful in this regard, and I have to agree.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
wulung chuanfa
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
quazai wrote:
michael4928 wrote:
[q="quazai"]I've played three games now (two solo, one co-op), covering both introductory missions. And I have to say, despite the occasional ambiguity, I've really enjoyed them.

So when you played solo/co-op did you play that you lost when the invisible overlord deck ran out or did you reshuffle the deck?

Thanks!


Michael
There actually isn't a timer on the first two intro missions, so when the IO deck ran out the one time I just reshuffled it For the missions with an actual timer I'm going to try counting out the appropriate number of regular overlord cards and use them as a timer (just draw one per turn, and end the game when the deck runs out).

So far I've been really impressed with the AI. There are some vague areas, but nothing too severe that I've seen (though official clarification would be welcome). I mainly decided on a way to handle them and then applied this consistently. I also didn't see anything in the way of schizophrenic monster behavior as mentioned in other threads, so I'm not sure if this is actually a big issue or not. I may have been lucky so far(or perhaps this is more evident with more models on the board). But so far I think the hierarchy for deciding which models act etc. is actually very solid (it's just a major pain the way it is currently presented in the AC). Eriochrome mentioned in another thread that an Invisible Overlord panel would be useful in this regard, and I have to agree.

Thanks JD!


I did not realize that there was not a timer of the first 2 intro missions (I haven't got mine yet as it is pre-ordered with CSI). Using the actual command cards from the core game and counting them out based upon how many are supposed to be for that mission in the regular player versus player version sounds very reasonable. Looking over the solo section rules in the PDF it says that the I.O. wins if they cripple a hero but it does not explicitly state that the I.O. wins when the deck runs out so I wonder if you are supposed to keep reshuffling the I.O. deck (which I assume would cause more monsters to spawn via raise dead command...?)?? I prefer more of a fight to a race, but some sort of timer may be needed... Maybe that could also be used as a means to create various difficulty levels (i.e. fewer turns to complete for harder games and more turns to complete for easier games).

In terms of "schizophrenic" monsters I suppose the issue would be when a model is engaged with a hero and could easily attack and perhaps cripple him and the order instead is to surround or something like that. Would you disengage and move away from the hero? Things like that.

Take care,


Michael
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
JD Snider
Canada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yes, I think the concern is that a monster could switch targets to one that was very obviously suboptimal. I think the biggest issue would be a monster disengaging (and therefore risking a free strike against it) to go after another target. Practically, though, this may not occur with great frequency (though I won't be sure until I play more). The monsters have different 'personality' types, for example, which affect their behaviour - for instance 'brutal' monsters will always prefer to attack the closest target (so would never be subject to odd disengagement). Also, in tight corridors it isn't always possible for a monster to actually disengage (i.e. a monster can't disengage unless there is a free square not in a hero's front arc to move to), or it may also not be possible for a monster to disengage in a manner that allows it to attack the preferred target. In both cases the preferred target becomes the next highest threat hero (and so on) and so is likely to become the hero they are already engaged with.

There is also a personality type called 'proximity' which makes a monster recognize a hero it is adjacent to as being double the threat value. However, there are no monsters in the bestiary that I can see that have this type. So it may be that this is actually meant to apply to all monsters (which wouldn't surprise me considering the poor editing of the AC) and it could also help reduce the potential problem.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
wulung chuanfa
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the information! And yes, as was said before an Invisible Overlord panel/card would be very helpful with regard to this.

Perhaps also a simple house rule that a monster would never disengage a hero (unless the personality trait was somehow fearful etc.) to perform a less optimal action. (e.g. a monster will always try to hurt a hero if he can)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Henrik Grabner
Austria
Breitenbach am Inn
Triol
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
@ Mr G: Thanks. I believe the game play of the core set is solid. A quick look over the adventure companion shows a lot of possibilities, but the editing... Well, too bad.

We did not try the solo variants yet.

@ seb:

Well, you might actually be right. The goal states: "Open the final door marked X".
The overlord would have to reveal the map if he would like to show the door marked X to the heroes. By just telling them to find the exit, there is a bit more uncertainty. Guess, it depends what you prefer.

Tonight, we played Adventure 2 "Into the depth", which has not been a challenge for my group. Still they had to find the exit (still did not tell them where to find it), but they made all the right choices. However, they neglected the treasure chest and the extra task goal in exchange for an early win.
I made errors in moving the troll and payed dearly. The overlord should not play too defensively.
At least it did not work out for me in this adventure.

Adventure 3 "Restless Guardian" was a ton of fun. I lost as the overlord on the first go but only just so.
The banshee is powerful. The overlord having only one action tips the scale in favour of the heroes if they dare to separate early on. However, the three spells of the banshee are devastating.

Good times.

Edit: typos/autocorrect
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thorsten Schröder
Germany
Bonn
flag msg tools
badge
Loser at the 'Pursuit of Happiness Contest'
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thank you very much for this review/session report.

Seems like it's no issue for your group to replay quests they have lost.
When that was revealed during the KS many people were concerned about that.
I expect it to be fun trying a map again and figure out how to do better.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Henrik Grabner
Austria
Breitenbach am Inn
Triol
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Hi Thorsten!

Yes, you certainly can try them multiple times.

The last two adventures have been a breeze for the heroes. My group has learned to rush through the corridors and nullify any advantage I could possibly have by excellent positioning. No backstabbing for the poor, little Overlord...

Right now, they are so powerful that my only option has been to slow them down by literally piling up corpses in front of them (zombies and skeletons). They always managed to finish the adventures, but I always succeeded in denying them the secondary goals and the early win condition.

My group has now advanced to the boss fight with the undead troll (Hoogarth is his name, i believe? I always have the urge to shout "Hodor!"...).
Here they first disposed of the trolls easily. I was able to surprise them with an interrupt card multiple times, but those trolls both managed only a single attack before they went down. The little winding alley before Hoogarth cave made a perfect bottleneck, to block heroes and resurrecting zombies with the blood sacrifice spell. In the end it came down to a last attack by the heroes, which Hoogarth was able to deflect, winning the level for the overlord.
They will try it again and now of course have the advantage of knowing, which enemy can be found in which room and what spells Hoogarth has.

Now I have to change my strategy. Perhaps i might try a full on assault? The difficulty is, that the Overlord only gets a single command point and is so dependent on extra command cards...

The thing I really appreciate in this adventure is that the single levels are so different, with nice, distinct mechanics (collect the four heart peaces to destroy the banshee, beware of collapsing ceilings, rotating rooms... It does not get boring.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Drake
United States
Dallas
Texas
flag msg tools
What a crazy thing I am saying!
Avatar
Microbadge: Golden MeepleMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: WriterMicrobadge: You've been CakedMicrobadge: I play Bad Kickstarter Bingo - First Created, 0 Backed!
Henrik, I think you nailed it.

Boards, minis and other components: Could be better (especially those worthless plastic clips).
Mantic's support and delivery on the Kickstarter: Not so good.
The actual game (and reason I dropped all that money in the first place): Di-no-mite. Very, very fun.

In fact, the game is so fun, it has lead to crafting. I built an insert to hold all the cards, built a minis box out of a toolbox and upholstery foam, built walls to surround the tiles and hold them in place, and I'm painting the miniatures now.

I've spent more time crafting stuff for the game than I have playing it. The last game that got me doing this much crafting was HeroScape.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls