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Subject: Masmorra: adventuring in the dungeon beneath Arcadia rss

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WD Yoga
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Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia is a reimplementation of Masmorra de DADOS in the world of Arcadia Quest. In Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia, players control adventurers, represented in cute minis, exploring the depth of a dungeon and facing monsters, represented as dice.

Quality-wise, the game has good components. The minis have good quality, as expected from CMON. The other components such as the game tiles and cards are made of thick materials. The dice representing the monsters are problematic, though, with some of them in perfect condition yet some others have blurry printing which reduce both functionality and aesthetic value of the dice. The kickstarter stretch goal is put in a generic brown box, which is disappointing for me because at the same time, AQ: Inferno has a great, colourful box for its stretch goals. One positive surprise for me was CMON provided a plastic insert which accommodates sleeved cards! Finally.

Moving on to the game play, Masmorra offers three modes for playing it: basic mode, epic mode and alliance mode. In basic mode, each adventurer vie to be the first to reach 16 experience. This competition usually means adventurers not only fighting against the monsters but have to keep an eye for their fellow adventurers and hamper their progress using various means. While adventurers can not attack each other directly, using treasure cards to steal other adventurers' experience, teleporting them around or weakening them so monsters would easily kill them are allowed, even endorsed. The result is a quick and vicious take that style of gaming experience.

The epic mode plays similar to basic mode but requires the adventurers to face and stop the wizard Malaphyas from succeeding whatever evil scheme he is hatching. The adventurers must find the stairs to Malaphyas's lair in the depth of the dungeon then defeat the wizard in his throne room (or, in the sewer if you opt to). An epic game will play longer than basic game, especially when the adventurers are dilly dallying their time by exploring the dungeon. Thankfully, once an adventurer found the wizard's lair, all adventurers are magically teleported to the lair thus starting the ending phase of the game. Otherwise, the game might drags on and on, with each adventurer busy sabotaging their fellow adventurers instead of progressing forward.

The third way to play the game is the alliance mode. In this mode, the players are working together to defeat Malaphyas. To instil a sense of urgency, the adventurers have to defeat the evil wizard in 21 turns (this does not mean each player will get 21 turns but there are fixed 21 turns divided among players, regardless of the number of players) and the death of one adventurer means the defeat of all. In order to help the adventurers, the game provides alliance special treasure cards which give the adventurers extra attack, defence or various other useful effects for themselves or for their fellow adventurers.

I have played the game with two and four players, playing all modes of the game. Based on my experience, the alliance mode is the best. The additional victory conditions make the game feels tight and exciting. There is a sense of urgency with the time limit, unlike with the epic mode which could drag on and on. Adventurer's death is no longer negligible or inconvenient set back like in the other modes; it ends the game! Thus players need to plan their moves well and cooperate with each other, especially for healing and to defeat tough monsters. The alliance treasure cards are also more powerful than the competitive cards yet at the same time, the time limit prevents players from spending too long to defeat monsters and hoard treasure cards like in the epic mode, again providing players with delicious choices.

Edit: If you find the alliance mode too easy, you can always adjust its difficulty by putting the door to lower levels deeper than normal difficulty. That's another big plus for me!

While located in the universe of Arcadia Quest, Masmorra is a different game from AQ and can hold its own if compared to the AQ family. Masmorra has shorter preparation time and shorter gameplay. Its random dungeon also makes each game different, unlike AQ with its pre-determined settings for each scenario. Masmorra's alliance mode is better than Arcadia Quest's awkward attempt at cooperative mode. Masmorra also played better with odd numbers of players, be that 1, 3 or 5 players.

On the other side of the coin, Masmorra might be too random for some players. You have "roll the dice for actions" mechanic as its base. Added with random monsters, random dungeon tiles, random traps and curses etc, Masmorra is too random and it might be hard to build a strategy to win a competitive game. AQ's determined setting is better in this regard. At this point, I enjoy Masmorra and AQ both and they scratch different itches for me.

One negative point about Masmorra is its rule book. While the basic rule is easy to understand, the rule book does not explain the rules in concise way. It also fails to provide clear explanation on several key issues. One greatest question I still unable to understand is whether Malaphyas blue side summon a random Major minion each turn in combat, in addition to rolling the die to shoot grimbolt and summoning monster (can be Major or Minor minion) at the beginning of each turn. For basic mode I can rely on Rodney's excellent video, unfortunately he did not make learn to play videos for epic and alliance modes. While my family is fine with house rules if confusion arise, more strict players might find these uncertainties as turn off.
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Kenny Cather
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Thank you for providing a co-op review! I was kinda waiting until I saw one before breaking my copy open. I just started playing Arcadia Quest proper and LOVE it, but I think a lighter co-op dungeon crawl has a higher potential for replayability with my friends.
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WD Yoga
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Wallabee_Champ wrote:
Thank you for providing a co-op review! I was kinda waiting until I saw one before breaking my copy open. I just started playing Arcadia Quest proper and LOVE it, but I think a lighter co-op dungeon crawl has a higher potential for replayability with my friends.


The alliance mode is fun to play. Some heroes' special ability work really well in alliance. Healer heroes are more appreciated because they can heal other adventurers if sharing a room. Zsa Zsa is my favourite because she can use magic = potion, making her very versatile.

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