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Subject: My take on Dungeon Degenerates rss

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Reed Dawley
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I have played this game with a gamer and a non-gamer under the guise of seeing if there was a difference in gameplay but really I just wanted to play it as much as possible. The game can be played as single missions or as a connected branching campaign and I like having that option. Lets get to my rambling review. Force march you degenerates!

I love the art of the game, let me be the seven thousandth person to say so. Flipping monster cards over and checking out the art before the stats is not something I normally do. I loves me some Star Realms but when a new card come out I am looking at cost and benefit, the ship picture is noticed later maybe. In this game I want to take the art in and really take it in, picking up little things that could be missed. I found myself picking up the other players cards to gaze at them as well. The art has no effect on gameplay but a number of the monsters made me giggle like a schoolgirl. I wish I could share examples but I really don't want to remove anyone else's fun of discovery.

On to the gameplay as the art should normally be a very superficial thing for me and I'll play with cardboard chits with numbers on them if the game is good. The game itself is very clever in a few key ways. I thoroughly enjoy the movement style, pick stealthy or "balls out", if you are stealthy you are more likely to hide from monsters but you move slower but if you go bold you can move quicker but are more likely to have to fight. There are a few dice involved in this chance of more or less based on checks that more than 50 percent of the players have to meet, just because you are trying to be quiet doesn't mean some chucklehead won't step on a stick or stumble into a nest. Checks are simple and this to me is one of the great keys to this game and gets new players in quick. Want to make a Perception check? Of course you do and you see you have a PER of 8 roll 2d6 and compare. If it is equal or under you pass. Want to hit a dude with a shovel check the shovel and find it is a STR test so take you 2d6 and roll and compare. It is simple and you can get gear or skills to modify rolls.

I'm not going to go through all the steps of how to play the game, you move, draw a danger card, increase danger level somewhere and then check the monster level vs the number on the card which determines if you have an encounter and/or monsters come out. Each area has its own deck of monsters that you draw from so as you move you get different dudes to pummel. It is all in the manual and once you do three or four cards it all clicks and makes sense. There may be some doom track stuff but read the manual or watch a video and they will explain it in full.

The combat is clever because you get to choose guard or assault depending on whether you want to be defensive or offensive. I mentioned the 2d6 system but I did not mention the colors of the dice. Becuase I am withholding information as a power move. This is why I showed up ten minutes late to writing this review. Power move. Back to the combat which could have been complicated but once it clicks totally is not. When you draw monsters it will say on the card who they go to which could be highest MAG or lowest STR and you move the card to that person. Once you finish looking at the art you see if they have an arrival power which kicks off before combat and activate it, then you look at the combat keywords and look them up, then see the attack value. The combat boils down to this: Pick your stance, declare your action and roll dice. Turn order is from highest PER to lowest in order.

Pick your stance: Guard for extra defense and Assault to possibly do extra damage. Your gut instinct will be to go all out and try to kill everything but guard is a very useful thing to use. These decide where you get a bonus purple "power die".

Declare your action: Most of the time you will choose Attack or a Combat action but you can also attempt to Escape.

Roll them bones: If you are attacking you can go unarmed but mostly you will use your weapon. If you have an enemy in front of you normally you will roll five dice (items can add a power die) two red attack dice, two green defense dice and a purple power die. This will seem way more complicated than it is but I'll lay it out as best I can. Also note that attacks are simultaneous so even if you get mowed down you still get to make your attack and possibly do damage.

Assault stance - Roll your dice, check for stat for defense(AGI) and offense(Depends on attack). If you make your defense die roll then you reduce the damage done by each monster by your highest green die but if you fail you take the total damage of the attacks of all monsters in front of you. If you make your attack stat roll than you use the highest red or purple die as the damage and if you fail the roll then you miss and the other players laugh and point because you were obviously bragging about your combat prowess earlier.

Guard stance - Roll your dice, check for stat for defense(AGI) and offense(Depends on attack). If you make your defense die roll then you reduce each monsters attack by the highest die(green or purple) but if you fail you can still assign the purple power die to a single monster to reduce it's damage by that number. If you make your attack stat roll than you use the highest red die as the damage and if you fail the roll then you miss and do no damage.

Once you are done, pass the dice to the next player and they go. There is armor and piercing and other keywords on skills and loot than can change things up a little, but just look that stuff up as I am not your personal game rules explainer. Although if you can match my current salary I will quit my job and work for you. I also am a pretty good cook if that sweetens the pot.

When the combat is done you total up your XP and gold on the monster cards you killed and add them to your character board then you make a roll vs XP for loot, kill three monsters that have a total of 4 XP, roll 1d6 and if it is 4 or under boom take a loot card. This makes kill stealing a thing and adds a bit of spice to a co-op game.

The buttery smoothness of the combat is such a boon to this game. Once it clicks it just locks in and turns go so fast. I was playing with Doverboy and after a couple turns the steps became second nature and the game just flowed. The first mission exposes you to most of the mechanics while being short enough not to get mired down and it felt so quick, so snappy. I had a lot of agency in a few simple ways and even though we ended up burning through the learning mission it left me wanting to play more. When I played with my nephew we finished the first mission and as I was getting ready to pack it up he asked "Where do we go next?". So we played the second mission which was based upon the choice we made in the first and it was longer in an awesome way, we watched danger go up, we added a hand to the doom track, we fought beasts and he went from balls to the wall killing machine to looking at his foes and going on guard when the wall of monsters in front of him could kill him in a couple turns. It was very enjoyable to watch that change in how he perceived the game and his character in it once the barrier of the rules were no longer in the way. This barrier drops pretty quickly once you know where the keywords are and honestly there are not that many of them.

My only complaint in the game is the cards are a little warped and the punch boards can be a little rippy. I do plan on sleeving it and I am not normally a sleever and I have a couple backs from a couple of tokens coming up, nothing a little glue won't fix and it does not affect gameplay as far as I have seen. To me these are quibbles but to others they may be miffed which is why I mention it. I guess I do not expect big box game quality from a small game company. I did get the miniatures and I think they are wonderfully grotesque but if the availability or funding is not there the standees work just fine.

All in all I will confess to the sin of initially backing this game based on the art style. I back a lot of games for a lot of different reasons but art is rarely a blip for me. Dungeon Degenerates art is just stunning and gross and visceral in a way that most games are not. I look forward to seeing the new beasties and loot and epic monsters when I play. To the gameplay there is a little learning curve but once you round that bend it is a smooth straightaway that you can cruise down in style. It is a pleasure to play, to make your choices and see where it leads. I really can't say enough good things about this game and I need to finish painting my miniatures to try to fully pay homage to a beautifully disturbing blast of a game.
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Vadim Golembo
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I backed this for the art and the hopes of a good game.
After so many hit and miss Kickstarters, my hopes were tempered by experience.
Glad to say the game is as described above, silky smooth.
My only regrets is not getting all the characters.
Hoping that I can pick up the rest individually as some points as I already have most of the ones in the $40 pack.
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Ben Turner
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Only had 1.5 goes at this so far, so haven't quite got enough plays to merit a review yet, but this sums up my feelings too.

I felt concerned about a "roll 2d6" system - took me back to final fantasy gamebooks, and having no real agency in combat (which was totally fine, when I was 12). But with luck points, items, and stances, there is just enough agency to make me feel like bad things that happen are at least partly my fault, whilst keeping combat as a single roll and each attack taking 10 seconds of less when you get into it.

My first game was a 3+ hour fest as we read up on all the powers, learned the extra rules on cards and got a feel of what was happening.

Last night, with only 45 mins, I managed to set up the game, do a few rounds of movement, and have one big fight (so many summoners), level up, loot and have an encounter before our time ran out - we knew we wouldn't finish the first mission, but with one play under my belt, it was easy to just "jump into it" with fellow gamers and enjoy the ride.

Can't wait to get a campaign of this going; I love the board having permanent danger level changes (and town level improvements, if you wanna pay for it !)

I did find the combat with 2 players much more deadly than 4 - guess that's fine, but wonder if this doesn't lead to a "sweet spot" number of players - I'm having a feeling three might be best. Or maybe as a group of 4 we might need to split up in later missions (no reason to in the first mission) which would up the danger of combat again !
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Reed Dawley
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N0mE wrote:
I backed this for the art and the hopes of a good game.
After so many hit and miss Kickstarters, my hopes were tempered by experience.
Glad to say the game is as described above, silky smooth.


I find most Kickstarter projects to be a neat idea or mechanism that could use just a bit more polish but there are some shining gems I have been lucky enough to be a part of. This is definitely one of them. The keywords are on the same level as Epic card game, less than Magic the Gathering by far and once you know them it goes even faster, until then just have that page open or copied and you are good to go.

Phantomwhale wrote:
I felt concerned about a "roll 2d6" system - took me back to final fantasy gamebooks, and having no real agency in combat (which was totally fine, when I was 12). But with luck points, items, and stances, there is just enough agency to make me feel like bad things that happen are at least partly my fault, whilst keeping combat as a single roll and each attack taking 10 seconds of less when you get into it.


This was also a concern of mine and I find it amazing that that single little purple die makes all the difference, choosing assault or guard seems so simple but while you are playing you are deciding to risk it all on a roll of the die having a way to mitigate the results really changes things up. It is simple, it clicks quickly and that is why it is so clever. A small way to mitigate luck that just blends smoothly into the roll.
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Charlie Theel
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Great review Reed, this is such a fantastic game.
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Cédric Billette
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Have you reviewed it yet Charlie?
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Charlie Theel
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columbob wrote:
Have you reviewed it yet Charlie?


My review will appear in Tabletop Gaming magazine's March issue (released at end of February), but I only had 500 words and Reed's review is more detailed and thorough here. He has great taste in general and knows what he's talking about.
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Reed Dawley
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charlest wrote:
columbob wrote:
Have you reviewed it yet Charlie?


My review will appear in Tabletop Gaming magazine's March issue (released at end of February), but I only had 500 words and Reed's review is more detailed and thorough here. He has great taste in general and knows what he's talking about.


Coming from the guy who has influenced many of my gaming purchases I will take this as a great compliment. I thank you kindly sir. I definitely am looking forward to your review!
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Julian Jimenez
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I've had my copy for quite a while but haven't gotten the chance to check it out yet. Mostly because I'm still waiting on a reply regarding damaged cards (going on 3 weeks now )

But also because the game seems rather daunting. Waiting to hopefully find a whole day I can dedicate to learning the rules and setup in order to get a full game in. Unfortunately I don;'t have adequate space to leave it set up and play over a few nights.

Thanks for the nice write-up.
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Stephan Beal
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Brewtal_Legend wrote:
But also because the game seems rather daunting. Waiting to hopefully find a whole day I can dedicate to learning the rules and setup in order to get a full game in.


FWIW, i also put off my first session longer than i really wanted to because it indeed seemed daunting. Once you play a few turns, though, you'll find that it moves quite smoothly, and most of what you will need to know throughout the first session or two can be found on the pair of reference sheets.
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Reed Dawley
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sgbeal wrote:
Brewtal_Legend wrote:
But also because the game seems rather daunting. Waiting to hopefully find a whole day I can dedicate to learning the rules and setup in order to get a full game in.


FWIW, i also put off my first session longer than i really wanted to because it indeed seemed daunting. Once you play a few turns, though, you'll find that it moves quite smoothly, and most of what you will need to know throughout the first session or two can be found on the pair of reference sheets.


I could not have said it better.

When seen as a whole it looks really intensive but once you get rolling (pun intended) it really does become second nature. The keyword sheet will be referenced when fights start and that's about all the rules checking I had to do by the second or third game.
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