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Subject: Level 1 game session rss

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Brandy Hamblet
United States
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The day I received this game in the mail was a very happy one. I was able to acquire it before it even began showing up on EBay through a friend of mine who is currently residing in Japan. Even though the game is in Japanese, I was determined to translate the rules so that I could play it with my friends. Finally, last Friday, I had my first opportunity to see how well it plays.

Before even opening the box, I was stunned to see the level of quality the manufacturers put into the box itself. As well as being highly durable and glossy, it is aesthetically pleasing as well. Inside the box, everything is organized so that the game pieces won’t go flying around in the box during transport. The playing board comes in two sections, one for each player. There are also two screens, one for each player, so that the other cannot see your side of the board. These seem to be made of a higher quality cardboard, though they are apparently not impervious to cat's teeth, as I discovered much to my annoyance. That’s the last time I leave the game unattended in my living room floor… All of the playing pieces are made of a durable plastic and are vividly colored. There are two sets of playing pieces, one for each player. Each set has 28 walls, 1 hero, 1 princess, 7 monsters of varying strengths, 6 treasure chests, 1 boss, 1 dungeon entrance, 1 ladder, 1 pit, and 1 landing place (for if you fall into a pit, methinks). There is also 1 die for the level 2 and 3 games, and 14 cards are also included that are used in the level 3 game. Most importantly, the grid sheets are used to track your movements through your opponent’s dungeon. 2 sticker sheets are included as well and should be applied before beginning play on either the level 2 or 3 games. I will go into detail on those in another article though. Of note, each set of monsters is comparable, but different, along with the bosses. In my mind the monsters of the blue set look more evil than the monsters of the brown set, and it makes game play a bit more fun and interesting.

The instruction manual that comes with the game is actually quite cute, or weird, or disturbing depending on how you view it. It’s somewhat like a comic book in that there are three characters with word balloons that teach you how to play the game. One of them is an old man wearing something resembling a beehive and the other two are creatures that resemble the spirits in Princess Mononoke. However it’s viewed, I found the instruction book quite amusing.

There are three levels of play associated with the game. For our first session, we only focused on Level 1, the simplest of the three so we could get our bearings on the basics. For this game, set up the board as shown here: Each player then sets up their own dungeon using 24 of the 28 walls in whatever configuration is desired. The entrance and the big boss must also be placed somewhere in the dungeon. The entrance is the one that looks most like stairs. Note: You cannot make it physically impossible to reach the boss from the entrance point. The hero doesn’t actually seem to need to be on the board anywhere for the basic game, so I just placed him on the circle that has the number “5” on the right side. The goal in creating the dungeon is to make it as difficult as possible for your opponent to get from the entrance to the boss. We then let the other know where the entrance was and where the boss was and marked it on our grids.

Game Play
The game play is quite simple and is remarkably similar to Battleship. Player 1 starts out by declaring (from the entrance point) which square he will explore, and player 2 responds with whether there is a wall there or not. Player 1 marks this information on his grid using either O (no wall) or X (wall). If there is no wall, player 1 may continue. When player 1 hits a wall, play shifts over to player 2, who then declares his first movement. Moves can only be made from a square marked with an O that you have already explored, and can only be horizontal or vertical. The first player to reach their opponent’s boss wins.

My Thoughts
Just going off of game mechanics alone, level 1 does not have much replay value for me. Another game it can be likened to is minesweeper (yes, the computer game), especially when you’ve explored more of the dungeon and can start guessing where walls must and must not be. That’s the tactic my opponent used once he was irritatingly close to my boss. Building lots of dead ends seems to be successful as well, since I went down two large dead ends that he created before I finally got on the right track. I think a lot of the fun we had in playing this game is due to a number of factors unrelated to the game play itself. 1) We are both learning Japanese and have an interest in Japan, 2) Dragon Quest (which is ‘Dragon Warrior’ in America) is cool, and 3) it was our first time playing.

All in all, I actually did have fun playing the game, and I look forward to the day when I get to play level 3, when you actually have monsters to fight, treasure to get, a princess to rescue, pits to fall in, and cards to use. This session was a good way to learn the basics of movement rules and how to build better, deadlier dungeons. It’s going to take a bit more translating before I get to that point though.
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Tomas Engström
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Thank you for sharing your point of view. Though short - your review provided all the information needed to understand what the game is like and make me wanna get it
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