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Dungeon Fighter: Rock and Roll» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A GFBR Review: A Fine, but Too Conservative Capstone rss

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Four elemental expansions were promised, and four were released. The final in the series, Rock and Roll, is all about earth. Enemies are armored and things get heavy. But how does this expansion stack up to the others?

The Basics. Rock and Roll adds much of what the other expansions did. You get new XP tokens and new earth-based spells. You have a new hero, Tucker Blackfoot, who joins the fight. A new elemental die is added to the others, while new templates and monsters filter into the base game.

The elemental die is a big green d6. It is larger and a bit heavier than the normal dice. In practice, the difference is just enough to make you unsure about your abilities – even if you’ve become quite practiced at normal throws. The green die is added only on special occasions, when a room or spell calls for it.

The new spells are inspired by Earth and allow you to slow a monster, throw the green die, or give the monster a weak spot. The slow effect lets you place little discs inside the holes of the target board and each is worth two damage. No more missing by a bit and falling in the hole.

But monsters have advantages as well. Some monsters might be armored. The armor token is flipped onto the target. If a player lands on the armor token, it does one point of damage and the armor breaks. Until that time, though, all damage is reduced.

Rock and Roll also comes with not one, but two big bad end bosses. The first is a Gaia herself. She has tons of hit points and players must utilize both the armor and weak spot templates. The second, though, is the Shopkeeper and is playable only if you have all four of the elemental expansions. He uses a little something from each.

The Feel. Rock and Roll works well as a capstone to the elemental expansions. It adds more to Dungeon Fighter and continues all of the mechanics introduced way back in Fire at Will. The inclusion of a separate final villain making use of all expansions is a great way to tie things together, but it isn’t perfect.

As with Stormy Winds, the XP chits are cardboard bits rather than the tangible plastic coins used in the first two expansions. And the elemental die is a huge disappointment. It’s just a big d6. It’s even green! There is already a green d6 in the game! Although it is slightly larger, that is hardly satisfying given the ingenuity shown in the first two expansions. Plus, it seems like a hugely missed opportunity. They could have gone with a d20 to make it look like a boulder and be more evocative of the theme. What a shame.

That aside, the new elements that the game introduces are quite welcome. The Slow effect, for instance, is a tremendous crowd pleaser. Each expansion has introduced more difficult throws, more difficult monster abilities, and even more difficult dungeon tiles. This is the first to ease that back just a bit. Of course, Slow monsters tend to be tougher than average to compensate, but the psychological reassurance provides a steadier hand when tossing dice.

The new hero also has a fun ability. In Stormy Winds, the hero’s red ability allowed the player to blow on the die to move them. Blackfoot’s ability expands on that almost meta concept. Now, the player can give the target board one shake and the die can thereby be coaxed into a higher damage area.

Rock and Roll also introduces my favorite extra piece – the broken wall. The wall is in two pieces that loosely fit together. In order for your throw to count, it must break through the wall. It can’t go over or around. This is such a fantastic and fun exercise, especially for those who lived through the horror of trying to hop a die over the flame wall from Fire at Will. No need to go over. Now you just go through it.

But Rock and Roll is also about precision. Prior expansions added templates you’d want to land on, but this one adds a few that it feels like you must hit. Some monsters are armored. If you don’t knock that armor off, you’ll be doing less damage every turn. Others have a weak point. And, often, if you don’t hit that weak point, you’ll be hard pressed to defeat it before it kills you.

Rock and Roll, then, is about steadiness which is highly appropriate given the concentration on earth. Even while it adds new throws and challenges, it does a lot to keep the difficulty at an even keel. Which means it’s an easy one to add even with less experienced dungeon fighters.

Still, steadiness doesn’t exactly scream fun and excitement – and certainly isn’t much in line with prior Dungeon Fighter antics. As the fourth and final expansion, Rock and Roll was poised to push the envelope that much more; to greet players with the most interesting new ideas. Instead, it is mostly (all?) a rehash of prior innovations. As a result, this is a good addition for fanatics and completionists. But, other players might be better served with fire, water, or wind when expanding their game.

Components: 3 of 5. While the art is consistent and the cards have a good color match, I cannot get over the disappointment of the elemental die. It is especially grating because the first two expansions were so innovative. So, we know that creativity is possible here. It has just been abandoned.

Strategy/Luck Balance: 3.5 of 5. Rock and Roll adds more cards, and perhaps, more randomness to what you’ll get at the shopkeeper or in a fight. But, that doesn’t appreciably change the balance here. As a dexterity game, it’s more about your finesse than your fate.

Mechanics 4 of 5. This expansion makes precision more important. Previously, it was a victory just to get your die on the target. Now, that may not be good enough. As a counterbalance, things like the slow effect can be a welcome respite from some of the more ludicrous challenges you’ll face.

Replayability: 2 of 5. On the one hand, I love what this adds to the game. New spells, new monsters, and fun new throws. On the other hand, this is the fourth expansion to do that. At a certain point, covering the same ground doesn’t add all that much to the replay value. I think four expansions is that point. If this is the first or second one that you acquire, it will seem much more novel and interesting.

Spite: NA of 5. As a cooperative game, there is no spite present.

Overall: 3 of 5. As a capstone of the elemental expansions, Rock and Roll does a good job. It increases the spells and monsters while staying true to its earthy theme, but it is also the most disappointing of the additions. While some of the new effects are neat, it collapses back into old ideas rather than innovating onward. If you’re a fan, more dungeon fighter is always better, but I’d get the other expansions before grabbing this one.

(Originally posted, with pictures, at the Giant Fire Breathing Robot. Check out and subscribe to my Geeklist of reviews, updated weekly)
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