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Subject: Dungeon Crawlers for old codgers... is this 'The One'? rss

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Mr G
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I am rather amazed by this game.

It's as though a more talented and creative version of myself has pulled together all the influences of good games I've played over the last 35 years. Taken the core element of each and designed a winner. I say 'myself' because Isaac seems to have designed just precisely the game I have been looking for.

The KEY resonances for me are...

2nd edition D&D vibe
Combat Commander card play
Innumerable dungeon crawl board games

I own pretty much all the dungeon crawl type games, having bought them in an attempt to find 'The One'.

'The One' ...which transports me emotionally back to 1983 D&D engagement levels, but can be played in small bites. With co-players flitting in and out to an extent.

With difficult tactical choices every turn, rather than a dice fest. But with enough randomness that it's not simply a maths puzzle.

With character progression and cool loot that comes at a pace where you can appreciate each and every step forward.

With rules that are not simple, but are simple enough, and intuitive such that my semi-gaming friends can get into it.

For me, this is 'The One'.
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Jon Pessano
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fentum wrote:
I am rather amazed by this game.

It's as though a more talented and creative version of myself has pulled together all the influences of good games I've played over the last 35 years. Taken the core element of each and designed a winner. I say 'myself' because Isaac seems to have designed just precisely the game I have been looking for.

The KEY resonances for me are...

2nd edition D&D vibe
Combat Commander card play
Innumerable dungeon crawl board games

I own pretty much all the dungeon crawl type games, having bought them in an attempt to find 'The One'.

'The One' ...which transports me emotionally back to 1983 D&D engagement levels, but can be played in small bites. With co-players flitting in and out to an extent.

With difficult tactical choices every turn, rather than a dice fest. But with enough randomness that it's not simply a maths puzzle.

With character progression and cool loot that comes at a pace where you can appreciate each and every step forward.

With rules that are not simple, but are simple enough, and intuitive such that my semi-gaming friends can get into it.

For me, this is 'The One'.


I keep reading stuff like this and makes me want to bust out my copy of GH but I know I want to finish Pandemic Legacy with my wife first.

I am glad I snagged a copy!!!

Thx
jonpfl
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Kevin Seachrist
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Yes, it's "the one". I think Dungeon Crawlers from this point forward will be compared to it like every RPG is compared to D&D (including D&D).

I've frankly never seen anything like it or thought I'd be playing anything like it.
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Eric Gingras
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Couldn't have said it better! My AD&D years ran from '88 to '92. I still remember my 3 characters over the course of those four years. Haven't played role playing games since (other than video games). Gloomhaven takes me back to those years for sure!

If somehow, Wizards of the Coast would do a similar game set in Faerun (Forgotten Realms) with expandable modules, I think I'd quit my job and play full time! lol... I was just so fascinated by Forgotten Realms back then! Read all the books, studied the map thoroughly, bought all the modules... It was quite the escape!

Gloomhaven has that potential IMO. The world Isaac created is fascinating and I'm wanting to discover more about it!
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Here here. My entire life I've wanted to get into dungeon crawl rpgs or the like but never had a group and didnt really care for the randomness of dice chucking. Other games just didnt give the total package. This IS the one. It has everything I've wanted from a dungeon crawl with amazing tactical play. 50+ hours in and I havent even scratched the surface of unlocking things. It truly is a masterpiece. Cant wait for entire new scenario books and characters to evolve from this base system.
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Kevin Marema
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I probably could have written this post myself, as we seem to share all the same sentiments.

I've bought, sold, and played LOTS of different dungeon crawlers in the hopes that I'd finally find one that got everything right for me. Gloomhaven has done the best job of that out of all the crawlers I've played, by far. From the first time I sat down with Isaac last year and played his lovingly crafted demo copy, I knew that this one would be a game changer for me.

I actually enjoy throwing dice around, and thought those were a necessity in a dungeon crawler, but I haven't missed them at all in Gloomhaven. I love being able to tailor your attack modifier deck how you want, which makes it such a refreshing change to tossing a handful of polyhedral dice, hell bent on my failure. What a great mechanic.

There are so many more things I could gush about, but everyone here already knows what this game is about.
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Mr G
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Wow! It's great to read so many like minded comments.

I feel that a key reason for the success is that it is really one person's work. A labour of love. It's like the best DM you ever met has given up his day job to write that 'crazy' module that is in every RPG player's head, and lasts for six years.

With help on the graphic design and art side, clearly, which again exactly hit the sweet spot.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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I haven't played it yet, one of the things being an old RPG Codger, I think I'm going to miss the dice-fest. All the old RPGs of the 80s used dice, and most used a lot of dice (just the few d100 games like Rolemaster (1st, 2nd & Classic Editions) only used 2, but Champions (4th Edition), Star Wars (WEG 2nd Edition), even D&D used lots of dice, and it was fun holding them and rolling them. I pretty much hate all card games, so I'm hesitant to try this game because of that. But, I did enjoy Gears of War: The Board Game, which uses cards as health + action, so I imagine my fears will be unfounded, but even GoW had dice to scratch both itches. Going to try to get my first game in tomorrow, so we shall see...

-shnar
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Kevin Seachrist
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shnar wrote:
I haven't played it yet, one of the things being an old RPG Codger, I think I'm going to miss the dice-fest. All the old RPGs of the 80s used dice, and most used a lot of dice (just the few d100 games like Rolemaster (1st, 2nd & Classic Editions) only used 2, but Champions (4th Edition), Star Wars (WEG 2nd Edition), even D&D used lots of dice, and it was fun holding them and rolling them. I pretty much hate all card games, so I'm hesitant to try this game because of that. But, I did enjoy Gears of War: The Board Game, which uses cards as health + action, so I imagine my fears will be unfounded, but even GoW had dice to scratch both itches. Going to try to get my first game in tomorrow, so we shall see...

-shnar


I like rolling dice, although, as many feel, "the dice hate me". Still love rolling them. The RPG I'm playing now is called Open Legend, and you roll a BUNCH of dice in that game. And the dice freakin' HATE me in that game, but I want to pick em up and roll again.

That said, I don't miss them a bit in Gloomhaven. I feel like every map is a tactical puzzle and I'm making a careful card choice and then I'm flipping a modifier card. On the surface, the modifier deck SEEMS like it could just as easily be a die or dice, but the reality is you can tweak your deck of modifiers extensively as you level both to mitigate bad draws and to add new special effects, neither of which could easily be resolved with dice and allow you to either play safe (removing bad cards) or run wild (adding augment cards that allow you to do special actions and usually mean drawing more cards).

Frankly the mod deck is something that would work great in most RPG's. I suspect if the deck had been the original mechanic to these sorts of games, you'd look at dice as a dumbed down substitute.
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Mr G
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shnar wrote:
I haven't played it yet, one of the things being an old RPG Codger, I think I'm going to miss the dice-fest. All the old RPGs of the 80s used dice, and most used a lot of dice (just the few d100 games like Rolemaster (1st, 2nd & Classic Editions) only used 2, but Champions (4th Edition), Star Wars (WEG 2nd Edition), even D&D used lots of dice, and it was fun holding them and rolling them. I pretty much hate all card games, so I'm hesitant to try this game because of that. But, I did enjoy Gears of War: The Board Game, which uses cards as health + action, so I imagine my fears will be unfounded, but even GoW had dice to scratch both itches. Going to try to get my first game in tomorrow, so we shall see...

-shnar


You will love it. I know all of those games.

Your personal modifier deck gives the anticipatory moment prior to rolling the dice / flipping the card. But the huge plus is that you are continuously tweaking your deck by adding and removing cards to suit your play style. It becomes your own, unique 'D20'.

It's very, very cool
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Ryan McManus
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I am having a great time soloing this game. I typically avoid fantasy themes and dungeon crawlers but this one provides a nice thinky puzzle which isn't too complex. I also like the idea of leveling up my characters and unlocking various scenarios over time. Sure glad I found a copy for msrp.
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Trent Y.
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I too am loving this game. I do not get the 'old school D&D feel'. That was a slog of rules, whereas this has all your 'character rules' on the cards. The design feels very modern and because of that, it feels fresh and new, rather than take me back to my D&D days.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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Well, played our first game tonight, and it was... meh? Very fiddly (constantly referencing the rulebooks, had a hard time figuring out how to even start), a bit lackluster in feel, and the cards just weren't that much of a hit for my group. There were many times we wished we could move twice instead of being stuck with a move and a no-attack. And thematic questions kept cropping up, like "Why is the war hammer a one time use?" or "wait, we can't loot the dungeon after we kill everyone?" That last one was a particularly frustrating aspect, especially since there were so many loot tokens in the last room. We had to "game" the system, keep one bad guy alive long enough for us to run around and loot. Felt really weird.

We're going to keep playing, at least a few more times, but in general the group wasn't impressed. Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients scratches our RPG itch a lot better than Gloomhaven does right now...

-shnar
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Price Johnson
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shnar wrote:
Well, played our first game tonight, and it was... meh? Very fiddly (constantly referencing the rulebooks, had a hard time figuring out how to even start), a bit lackluster in feel, and the cards just weren't that much of a hit for my group. There were many times we wished we could move twice instead of being stuck with a move and a no-attack. And thematic questions kept cropping up, like "Why is the war hammer a one time use?" or "wait, we can't loot the dungeon after we kill everyone?" That last one was a particularly frustrating aspect, especially since there were so many loot tokens in the last room. We had to "game" the system, keep one bad guy alive long enough for us to run around and loot. Felt really weird.

We're going to keep playing, at least a few more times, but in general the group wasn't impressed. Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients scratches our RPG itch a lot better than Gloomhaven does right now...

-shnar


I mean this respectfully, but your group should come to the understanding that the loot is not balanced to ALL be picked up. There is and will always be plenty of loot to grab, but the strategy of the game is to make sure your hand of cards will last you through your objective. And if you have time to abuse the last monster to pick up the last remaining loot...you should probably up the difficulty. I just completed my 8th session and I left a total sum of 22 gold on the board. In fact, my Cragheart walked away having picked up zip, zilch, nadda. Yet both my characters are still well equipped, 40+gold each, and am currently saving for Prosperity lvl 2 stuff to unlock since I don't have much less to spend my coin on.

Anyways, just my 2 cents.
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simon marshall
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Agreed - it's the first game I've seen that does take me back to early (1980) D&D

It's a remarkable game

I also like you analogy with Combat Commander!
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yes, exactly. This takes me back to AD&D and 2nd edition and the World of Greyhawk box set that I practically memorized as a kid. So far I really like the change of pace from games like Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) (although I still love Descent and I really want monster miniatures for Gloomhaven!).
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Mr G
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shnar wrote:
Well, played our first game tonight, and it was... meh? Very fiddly (constantly referencing the rulebooks, had a hard time figuring out how to even start), a bit lackluster in feel, and the cards just weren't that much of a hit for my group. There were many times we wished we could move twice instead of being stuck with a move and a no-attack. And thematic questions kept cropping up, like "Why is the war hammer a one time use?" or "wait, we can't loot the dungeon after we kill everyone?" That last one was a particularly frustrating aspect, especially since there were so many loot tokens in the last room. We had to "game" the system, keep one bad guy alive long enough for us to run around and loot. Felt really weird.

We're going to keep playing, at least a few more times, but in general the group wasn't impressed. Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients scratches our RPG itch a lot better than Gloomhaven does right now...

-shnar


Hi Shnar,

I can't change the way you and your group felt about your first playthrough, but I want to share a couple of ideas and a story that might help you give it another go. I have seen many of your posts over the years and I get a sense of your tastes. This SHOULD be a cracking game for you...

War-hammer... You might imagine that the hammer has a rune sigil that activates and cools down. You might imagine that the character needs to really focus on getting that stun out and takes time to recover.

Story... When I played my first group game, my two mates were my semi gaming friends. They are mathematicians and love card games, calculating odds, etc. The fantasy theme is a bit much for them. In the final room, we kept the last monster alive to get all the loot, as you did. We thought it was a bit weird (meh) and I posted up about it on BGG.

We played that game on level zero and without any city event, road event, etc. Just to see if they liked it and to grock the mechanics.

Game two another mate joined and we played that scenario again, but with a city event and road event. In a sense we started 'properly'. The natural story and the mechanical balance of the loot shone through.

During the city event, I had the chance to pay some of my cash to help the party. But I chose not to. Everyone called me a gold grabbing muppet but hey that's the game. During the scenario, I tried to loot three coins but the scoundrel nipped in and took one, just to upset me. In the final room, we started jockeying for position and considering initiative and so on, such that we could each nab gold for ourself. JUST LIKE MERCENARIES!

So most of the scenario we played as a team, occasionally we nipped in to steal gold as individuals, but the final room became a kind of mini game in its own right. It became a kind of mini game where we weren't playing as a team, but as individual mercs.

It was very cool and every be loved the added frisson.

My take was that rather than trying to justify and explain mechanics with reference to other games, we should just play and have a great experience. The actual mechanics work really well and the 'mercenaries rather than team mates' concept works great.

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Bryce K. Nielsen
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Oh, we're definitely going to be playing this more. I'm not going to let one game that barely scratches the surface on a game this deep to define that game. But my high hopes have been dashed. So far, not so good

-shnar
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shnar wrote:
Well, played our first game tonight, and it was... meh? Very fiddly (constantly referencing the rulebooks, had a hard time figuring out how to even start), a bit lackluster in feel, and the cards just weren't that much of a hit for my group. There were many times we wished we could move twice instead of being stuck with a move and a no-attack. And thematic questions kept cropping up, like "Why is the war hammer a one time use?" or "wait, we can't loot the dungeon after we kill everyone?" That last one was a particularly frustrating aspect, especially since there were so many loot tokens in the last room. We had to "game" the system, keep one bad guy alive long enough for us to run around and loot. Felt really weird.

We're going to keep playing, at least a few more times, but in general the group wasn't impressed. Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients scratches our RPG itch a lot better than Gloomhaven does right now...

-shnar


Thanks for playing, shnar. I'd like to address the fiddly bit here... (Oh, and 'starting the game' is actually annoyingly undefined, until you find the first page of the Scenario book, anyway. To the point where someone on the forums made a Quickstart Guide.)

The most fiddly rules I've come across are the monster movement rules; where I still need to reference them. (Came across a weird situation with a ranged monster in melee, but with a multi-target attack... He moved to get not-Disadvantage on his Focus, who was adjacent, but the only available spot to do that was next to the other character he'd target, so I checked to make sure that was right... Because monsters always try and hit their Focus as best they can, and then maximize their attack after that... At least, I think so. Personally it annoyed me greatly because it ended up Pushing my Tinkerer onto the trap he had just set. *siiiiiiiigh*)

Where are you getting 'fiddly' rules from? Is it just that it was the first scenario, so you had to look up everything? If that's true, I would like to save you some time on scenario 2: (Presented as a spoiler.)
Spoiler (click to reveal)
-STUN traps will cause you to immediately lose the rest of your turn when they are triggered. You only lose the STUN status effect if you started your turn with the status effect. So if you walk onto a STUN trap, you lose the rest of that turn, then next turn must either Play 2 Cards (discarding them since you're stunned), or take a Long Rest.
-The Bandit Commander is immune to certain status effects, that's what those symbols on the left side of his card mean. (If memory serves, he's immune to Stun, Immobilize, and Curse.)
-The Bandit Commander will immediately move all the way to the next door in sequence when that Special comes up, opening the door and revealing that room. He doesn't just use his Move to get there, he's just *there*.
-When he Summons a Living Bones, he will do it in an adjacent hex closest to a Character.
-Summoned creatures *never* act in the turn they were Summoned.
-Locked Doors are treated as if they were Walls; They cannot be moved onto and you cannot place traps on top of them.


Finally, yes, I think everyone has that 'argh' moment where they either want to use two Bottom actions or two Top actions; it makes you appreciate the value of Bottom Attack actions and Top Move actions. This was a very deliberate design decision.
 
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shnar wrote:
Oh, we're definitely going to be playing this more. I'm not going to let one game that barely scratches the surface on a game this deep to define that game. But my high hopes have been dashed. So far, not so good


I *have* seen posts where the immersion breaks if you're expecting just another dungeoncrawler where everyone shares the loot, you pick up the treasure after killing the monsters, etc.. Many BGG'ers accept this, since Eurogames regularly do this, putting game balance and mechanics over theme and immersion. I *am* glad there's a dungeoncrawler that doesn't chuck dice again. Plenty of those on the market.
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Joshua Hansen
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Gloomhaven is a marvelous game and I adore it. It has an overlap of many well designed components and meta-strategies. It scratches several gaming itches for me simultaneously, like the desire to play Descent and Pandemic at the same time.

It is a board game though, not an RPG, espcially not an AD&D. Same theme, but old school RPG's are giant, messy collective story-telling episodes with pretty freeform story and lots of rules.

Gloomhaven is a tactical combat game with pretty binary decision points as far as story goes. You get scenario options, pick one, finish it, open more and close others. OTOH, Gloomhaven is faster and requires less people than an RPG.

In my experience, nothing scratches the D&D itch other than D&D, or maybe Shadowrun.
 
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For what it's worth, we split whatever loot we find evenly, and haven't found a compelling reason why this isn't a workable and frankly good idea. If we get a chest with a bit of gear, that piece counts as someone's share, even if they turn around and sell it. Once you claim an item, it's like an online MMO with "bind on equip" in that you can't trade it, you can only sell it.

We definitely don't grab all the loot, but we try to make sure we pick up any chests.

Frankly we found as a group that the idea that you waste a movement or a turn to go grab some extra stacks while your buddy is busy getting thumped on by the gribblies just doesn't make much sense. We're willing to accept the game countdown with ability cards as a way of limiting being able to clean sweep the floor of all loot, but turning the game into a peanut scramble is silly.

I play the scoundrel. I've probably got the most compelling reasons among my abilities to not want to share. I'm also the one who suggested we share, and the game is still challenging trying to maneuver to a position where I can sweep multiple hexes before the timer runs out and we're out of cards.

YMMV.
 
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Sam and Max wrote:
shnar wrote:
Oh, we're definitely going to be playing this more. I'm not going to let one game that barely scratches the surface on a game this deep to define that game. But my high hopes have been dashed. So far, not so good


I *have* seen posts where the immersion breaks if you're expecting just another dungeoncrawler where everyone shares the loot, you pick up the treasure after killing the monsters, etc.. Many BGG'ers accept this, since Eurogames regularly do this, putting game balance and mechanics over theme and immersion. I *am* glad there's a dungeoncrawler that doesn't chuck dice again. Plenty of those on the market.

Yeah, that's a good way to describe this game. A Eurogame pretending to be an Ameritrash dungeon crawler. After our second game, everyone felt the game was very stale. We were all doing what seemed like mathematical calculations in our heads for cards to play trying to minmax our way to the end, instead of feeling like we were adventuring in a dark bandit hole killing monsters.

I still intend to play a few more times, but I have a feeling this one is going to sit on the shelf from now on.

-shnar
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shnar wrote:
Sam and Max wrote:
shnar wrote:
Oh, we're definitely going to be playing this more. I'm not going to let one game that barely scratches the surface on a game this deep to define that game. But my high hopes have been dashed. So far, not so good


I *have* seen posts where the immersion breaks if you're expecting just another dungeoncrawler where everyone shares the loot, you pick up the treasure after killing the monsters, etc.. Many BGG'ers accept this, since Eurogames regularly do this, putting game balance and mechanics over theme and immersion. I *am* glad there's a dungeoncrawler that doesn't chuck dice again. Plenty of those on the market.

Yeah, that's a good way to describe this game. A Eurogame pretending to be an Ameritrash dungeon crawler. After our second game, everyone felt the game was very stale. We were all doing what seemed like mathematical calculations in our heads for cards to play trying to minmax our way to the end, instead of feeling like we were adventuring in a dark bandit hole killing monsters.

I still intend to play a few more times, but I have a feeling this one is going to sit on the shelf from now on.

-shnar


It's funny how there are such different views. I don't feel that way at all about Gloomhaven, but that's exactly how I feel about MAGE Knight. But fair enough. Horses for courses. Jumpers for goalposts.
 
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shnar wrote:
Sam and Max wrote:
shnar wrote:
Oh, we're definitely going to be playing this more. I'm not going to let one game that barely scratches the surface on a game this deep to define that game. But my high hopes have been dashed. So far, not so good


I *have* seen posts where the immersion breaks if you're expecting just another dungeoncrawler where everyone shares the loot, you pick up the treasure after killing the monsters, etc.. Many BGG'ers accept this, since Eurogames regularly do this, putting game balance and mechanics over theme and immersion. I *am* glad there's a dungeoncrawler that doesn't chuck dice again. Plenty of those on the market.

Yeah, that's a good way to describe this game. A Eurogame pretending to be an Ameritrash dungeon crawler. After our second game, everyone felt the game was very stale. We were all doing what seemed like mathematical calculations in our heads for cards to play trying to minmax our way to the end, instead of feeling like we were adventuring in a dark bandit hole killing monsters.

I still intend to play a few more times, but I have a feeling this one is going to sit on the shelf from now on.

-shnar


The first few games can be stressful.
By now we don't try to minmax, just having fun adventuring on normal difficulty. Doing fun card combinations comes naturally, doing exact mathematical calculations are unnecessary, and not possible with the official communication rules anyway.
Maybe you should lower the difficulty and just have fun
Don't stress on getting coins, my poor cragheart is really bad with looting, still have bought all items needed.
 
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