Before I start, if you're looking for reviews on the game play in Dungeoneer, you should read this review of "Dungeoneer: Tomb of the Lich lord" first.
So when I got hooked on to Dungeoneer, I did the next thing any good gamer would do - get some friends addicted too so that they can purchase more decks for me to play with without needing to buy one myself. Once a friend of mine bought Vault of the Fiends, I gave myself a pat on the back for a job well done. However, the downside of not owning the deck myself meant that I needed to borrow it to write a proper BGG review on this deck, and that took four months of excuses from said-friend: "Sorry, forgot to bring it along", "Looked everywhere; I don't know where I put it, dude." and even a "Must have left it in a hotel room during our honeymoon." The implications of the last comment was scary on so many levels.
Vault of the Fiends (VotF) is the second double-deck in the Dungeoneer series and is themed around a type of creatures known as Fiends. Fiends, apparently, are creatures that have been experimented on and mutated by unspeakably dark arts. One such practitioner of these dark arts is some BBEG named Ramalith, who's a sort of butt-ugly, self-experimenting, mad scientist/mage armed with a VERY SHARP scapel grafted into his hand. Our heroes are to infiltrate his underground vault complex and disable his reign of terror by completing 3 Quests.
Being one of the early decks by Thomas, this means that you'll get a double-deck chock full of mostly unique cards with beautiful artwork. Most players consider this deck as the "Advanced Tomb" deck (of course, this is before Call of the Lich Lord turned up), mainly because it has a lot of more advanced mechanics compared to Tomb.
I find this deck very interesting in terms of its Warp and Shift mechanics. As you might know, Warping involves re-locating your hero to another Map Card, while Shifting is relocating Map Cards themselves elsewhere. In this deck, you have a number of cards/sites that do this, but at the same time, you get a number of cards that counter these effects in a neat little balancing act.
So anyway, onto the heroes:
Shara Quickblade (Elf Assassin) Assassinate: pay 1 Glory to add +1 to your hero's next melee attack, and inflict 1 additional wound if successful. This may only be used once per turn.
What's there not to like about a hero with plus modifiers to combat? Shara is even better than Kron in the sense that Kron's +2 melee ability only works in counter-attacks while Shara's ability works in attacks AND counter-attacks. Shara is a real killer, for both monsters AND heroes. I've seen Shara players take their turn by first stabbing someone in the same space as they are, and then running off elsewhere. Losing 2 Life is painful for any 6 Life hero.
Hemp Ghostcaller (Ork Shaman) Healing: pay 3 glory and 1 movement; target hero in same space (or self) recovers 1 Life. This ends your turn (go to Discard/Draw Phase)
At first glance, Hemp looks like the magic-user version of Rodrik the Paladin from the Tomb deck. He's got exactly the same special ability, but his stats are all Magic instead of Melee. However, Hemp simply isn't a survivor like Rodrik. First off, his inventory is 1 Treasure/4 Boons. This itself kills Hemp since most of the cool effects are from Treasures that you find. With Dungeonlords being 'considerate' enough to only send melee monsters at Hemp, this ork shaman is doomed to wandering the dungeon helplessly hoping for a lucky boon or two to buff up while anguishing over which single cool Treasure should he equip. I have yet to see anyone win using Hemp.
Throngar (Dwarven Runecaster) Runespell: pay 1 glory to add +1 to your magic score for the duration of this turn. Use this ability only once per turn.
A more robust magic-user, Throngar does well enough on his own. His cheap special ability is very handy especially if he's attacking (or attacked) more than once during a turn. I still can't get over the 'court jester' skirt that he wears though; a hero dressed like that ought to get first strike at opponents too amused to attack first.
Maluvius (Drakan Sentinel) Terrorize: pay 2 glory plus 1 additional glory equal to the peril value of a target monster attacking your hero; that monster is discarded. This may only be used once per turn. Resolve as a Response.
Ahh.. the Drakan Sentinel. Over-powered? Hell yeah, and when you keep a mere 8 glory in reserve at all times, dungeonlords will be caught in a dilemma on what to attack you with. Send something weak and it won't have a chance against any buffs that Maluvius might have picked up. Send something too powerful, and it gets cruelly ripped out of the dungeonlord pack and sent to the discard pile in an almost insultingly easy manner. Definately a second favourite after Shara.
Nord Fimble (Gnome Illusionist) Illusion: pay 1 glory; target attacking monster must over magic threat 3+your Level or it cannot attack for the duration of this turn. Play this ability as a Response only once per turn.
Nord's ability is very cheap and exceedingly useful. He can use it to avoid combat with monsters he can't defeat, or use it to attack monsters he wants to kill.
Grog Nordham (Human Beastmaster) Control Fiends: pay glory equal to the peril value of 1 Fiend attacking you. That Fiend attacks another hero or monster of your choice in the same space instead, or ignores you. Use this ability as a Response.
All Dungeoneer decks have a deck-specific hero, and Grog is the hero in VotF. With the majority of monsters being Fiends here, Grog will find little difficulty in his encounters.
Some of the Quests in this deck are tougher than what you normally find. One quest involves you escorting "Princess Penelope" to the Vault Entryway; on the condition that you cannot wound Fiends while you have her! The "Cryptic Doors" quest allows your opponent to your left to re-locate your hero to an adjacent space if you fail, thus ensuring that you'll be spending precious Movement getting back into that Map Card just to re-attempt the quest.
Saying that though, there are some quests that are just too good to pass up. The "Unsavory Bargain" and "Feed the Bloodstained Gate" quests are located at Map Cards that can Warp, which effectively means that you can complete this Quest this turn, and warp to the location of your next Quest in your next turn, effectively completing 2 Quests in 2 turns! And there is a quest that gives you an Artifact as a reward - a pair of +2 Movement Boots. Yeah, you heard me - all together now: "The hero with the most Movement wins the game!"
Interestingly enough, there are a couple of quests that actually deactivate things in the quest location. Like the "Dismantle Armor Golem" quest gets rid of the Armor Golem in the Armoury, allowing anyone to visit that place afterwards without worrying about being attacked by the golem.
Gosh, there are so many interesting Map Cards in this deck that it's hard to decide which ones to comment on. As mentioned previously, some locations like the "Laboratory" or the "Armory" can have their dangers de-activated via completing the Quest associated to that location. It gives the game a nice "we're shutting down this place" feeling as you play.
The "Black Cyst" location allows you to retract or let down a bridge in the "Fiery Chasm", or de-activate the "Transdimensional Gate". I've had one game where my hero went off to retract the bridge right before another hero had to cross it to get to his Quest location. Great "take that" effect!
There is a "Flooded Chamber: Anytime you enter this space, overcome speed Threat 5+ or take 1 Wound; add +1 to the Threat for each readied Treasure you have." Map card that seriously hurts those who have buffed up on Treasures.
There is a "Turning Chamber: Anytime a hero enters this space, rotate it 180 degrees." space that could have come straight out from the old "Dungeon!" game's Rotating Chamber. Two of the exits have high-valued traps, so heroes could find themselves passing through these as they back-track.
Lastly, there are two locations that make this game Warp-crazy. "Bloodstained Gate: Pay 2 movement and 1 Life to relocate your hero to any space." and "Transdimensional Gate: Unless deactivated, you may pay 1 Movement to relocate your hero to any Grim Passage." Locations like these attact heroes like flies, particularly if they are easy to get to. The chance to warp directly to your next Quest objective is too good to pass up.
I mentioned interesting Warp and Shift effects in this deck, and here's where I elaborate. There are 62 Adventure cards in VotF. Out of these, 13 cards have some sort of Warp/Shift effect. Aside from straight-up "Re-locate hero/map card" cards, you have monsters that warp heroes upon hitting, traps that relocate heroes upon succeeding, cool items like:
Cloak of Phasing (Hero, Permanent, Cloak): Pay 1 glory to move through any 1 door or Wall as if Open. Do not collect peril or glory for the next space you move into and ignore its effect.
and completely insane mass warp-type cards like:
Gathering (Dungeonlord, Instant, Warp): Pay any # of additional Peril to relocate the same # of heroes to the target hero's location.
With so many warp/shift type cards, you'd expect heroes to be bouncing all over the place like caffiene-soaked jumping beans, and you're partially right. Countering these warp/shift-type effects, we have these:
Boots of Planting (Hero, Permanent, Footwear): Your hero cannot be affected by Warp-type cards.
Boots of Stability (Hero, Permanent, Footwear): The space your hero is in cannot be affected by Shift-type cards.
And also handy Anytime, Instant cards that resist Warp and Shift effects.
The other major mechanic introduced in this deck are pumpable monsters/effects. This is the answer to the problem faced in the original Tomb deck; once heroes got to a certain level, they cut through monsters like a hot knife through butter. Pumpable monsters are simply monsters that get more powerful if more Peril is pumped into them. Therefore, high-level heroes still can find their match while delving through the dungeon.
Son of Ramalith: Pay any # of additional Peril. Son of Ramalith's attack score is the same as opponent's total attack score +#. Opponent chooses attack form.
Enchanted Golem: Pay any # of additional Peril to add # to Enchanted Golem's next magic attack.
Other cool cards that ought to be mentioned are:
Vampiric Dagger (Hero, Permanent, Weapon): Vampiric Strike: your opponent must overcome melee Threat 4+. Fail: your hero recovers 1 Life.
Low on Life? Go pick a fight with someone!
Diversion (Response, Instant, Skill): Target attacking monster attacks another monster or hero in the same space instead of you.
I have fond memories of playing this against a dungeonlord's monster - to make it attack his own hero in the same space as my hero.
Disruption (Anytime, Instant, Foil): Prevent the effect of any 1 target Boon card or hero special ability for the duration of this turn.
This is a positively evil card. Players come to rely on their boons or special abilities to get them through some key situations, and plans get seriously stuffed whenever this card comes out to play. In one game I played, the dungeonlord played a Warp-type card to re-locate a hero away from his Quest location. That hero anticipated the move and played "Warp Resistance", an Anytime, Instant Boon that prevented his hero from being warped. And then, yet another player played "Disruption" to disrupt the "Warp Resistance", kicking the hapless hero off to his new location!
Dampening Field (Anytime, Instant, Foil): Prevent the effect of all Treasure in the space of the targeted hero for the duration of this turn.
Again, this is another evil card. Like "Disruption", this Anytime card can make its appearence when least expected, and can seriously stuff up a player's plans.
VotF is a wild deck, chock full of unique cards with special surprises. Hardly a game goes by without some twists being played and unexpected effects kicking in. I highly recommend getting this deck, and combining it with Tomb to make it even nastier.
- Last edited Sat Mar 24, 2007 3:00 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Fri Mar 23, 2007 3:57 pm
TaleSpinner, I really appriciate the fact that you are reviewing all the dungeoneer games in such great detail, you actually helped me into deciding to buy one deck :D
Which one do you think I should get?
I know that at my local shop they have two decks, I think that one is the tomb of the lich lord OR dragons of the forsaken land, but I'm not sure.
I'd recommend Tomb to start with. For one, I think it's best value because you're getting almost unique cards (with some exceptions) throughout the whole double-deck. The other reason is that it's a more basic game compared to Dragons. Grab the Dragons deck when you've decided that you like Dungeoneer and that you want more complexity.