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Dungeon Construction Kit: Cursed!» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Another Solid PnP title rss

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Israel Waldrom
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Dunedin
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Of all the PnP games that I have been playing recently, Dungeon Construction Kit: Cursed has stood out as one of the ones that I keep going back to again and again.

Becoming trapped in a game and having to make your way out isn't a new concept, but it works well here, with the added twist that you have to make it out with as many points as possible (from treasure and defeated monsters). When the second deck is added (highly recommended - it adds 7 extra characters for a total of nine, and doubles the number of dungeon cards), a dungeon tax of 80 is introduced, and the aim is to score higher than that - which is not as easy as it sounds. This title requires a surprising amount of thinking that you wouldn't expect from it at a glance. But that isn't a bad thing

Obviously all gamers have some inbuilt talent, as when you become trapped in the dungeon you take on the role of one of nine characters, each with their own special ability, which does effect the way that you play the game and plan your moves. They give you an edge, each in different ways, and while some characters I believe are more powerful than others, they are all fun to play around with.

The dungeon cards are the core of the game. They have a room of the dungeon printed on them, with 1 to 3 exits from that room, as well as a monster(s), sword, or treasure printed on the bottom of the card (plus a few trap cards, which just complicate life a little). They are used for everything (barring overrides from character abilities) - moving, building the dungeon, evading monsters, defeating monsters, and also become the monster trophy or acquired treasure that are gained and count towards your final score. The cards are THE vital part of the game, and are the true currency of the game. When the cards run out, its game over, and if you haven't escaped the dungeon by that point you are lost in it forever, so managing the cards and making the best you can out of them is the key skill to the game. It also means that any cards/abilities that allow more efficient use of cards or recycle them are very valuable.

The cards are laid out in a 4 x 3 grid, and only the topmost card from each column can be used, (although when defeating monsters multiple cards from the same column can be used, and the action itself usually uses at least 2 cards). This restricts choices a bit (but is far superior to only having 1 card to choose from), but allows you, and requires you, to plan ahead. You want to make sure that the cards you need/want for certain actions are available when you need them, and if they aren't, you can't do that action. To aid in this, you can also discard a useable card just cause, which can be useful for uncovering a much needed card. When the top row is cleared, the rows below it are all pushed up by one, and a new row added at the bottom, so the cards are always cycling through.


End of one of my first games. The 4x3 grid of available cards can be seen on the left hand side as I had some cards left over. You usually aim to use up as many of them as you can, without being short at the end. Having too many left is wasted opportunities.

Exit cards, of which there are two, are put into a separate deck (along with two standard cards), and a random card from this set is added to the main deck whenever a key is gained from the map. All exits have a treasure ability associated with them, and deciding if you want to use one for its treasure instead of placing it is a key decision that you'll make during the game. You have to place one of the two during the game (otherwise you can't exit), and where you place it will effect how many cards you have to spend to get there at game end.

The game looks simple at first, but getting a good score is anything but, and requires some skillful play. It is a lot of fun to play, and seeing the dungeon grow as you progress through the game is part of the charm. It is a game of planning and decision making, doing the best you can with the cards that you currently have available. And the art is cute ^^


End of the most recent game, finishing with a score of 5 after dungeon tax. Using the map exit treasure, I recycled the initial part of the dungeon back into the deck, which resulted in a trap card coming up twice, and also resulted in a somewhat squat dungeon (aided by a couple of poor placements that meant I didn't end up using all of the cards)


Another example of a sprawling dungeon.

thumbsup Solid PnP title with cute art, cheap to produce.
thumbsup Plenty of variety with 9 characters (extended deck version).
thumbsup Requires good planning and decision making - it's not easy to get a good score.

Highly recommended.
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Mo
United States
Downingtown
Pennsylvania
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Great review, Israel! meeple

Question: In the first image, you used an exit card that runs into a wall. Is that a legal escape? I don't have the rules in front of me to check.

Either way, I really love this game, and I'm happy to see others enjoying it.
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Israel Waldrom
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I believe it is legal. The card follows the normal placement rules, and thematically you could argue that the exit actually lies above the rest of the dungeon ^^
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