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Subject: Four Heroes and the Dungeon of Despair and Death rss

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Eduard Navratil
Czech Republic
Vizovice
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Delve the Card Game is a neat little fantasy cardgame that is free to print and play. So, what do you get for the money? Let me tell you...

Components
You get four heroes to choose from:
Fighter, who can use most of the weapons found in the dungeon, and wins any tie in combat;
Rougue, beautiful and sneaky woman avoiding any trap;
Cleric, whom the gods reward with healing for every vile creature killed;
Wizard, the only magic user to venture into such a dungeon - only he can read ... scrolls and carry up to four common items.
Each hero has five hitpoints that also contribute to his total attack, and save for the wizard thay can carry only two common items at a time.

Then there is the dungeon deck, comprising of
5 traps - they make you lose a life, item or both. Very annoying - fortunately, you don't have to be afraid of them if you carry the Gem of Seeing;
20 common items 11 weapons, 3 scrolls, 1 spelbook, 2 healing potions, 3 artefacts - some of these can be used only by a specific class;
21 creatures - 4 general, 4 explicit banes (they win automaticaly against a specific class), 4 undead (damage they give can't be healed), 3 spellcasters (can be beaten only by magic or a weaker hero), 3 demons (immune to magic) and as the icing on the cake, 3 dragons (greedy - if you lose, you have to give up an item if you can);
4 epic items, one for each class, rendering the hero immune to the most annoying type of monster (e.g. Shield of Reflexion makes the fighter immune to spellcasters), and not taking up the item slot.

All the 54 cards are graphically well designed and have beutiful images.

Gameplay
In the beginning you choose one common item for your chosen hero, shuffle the rest of dungeon cards and forth you venture! That means, you flip a card and if it is
- a trap and you're not immune to traps, you suffer the consequences
- an item and you're allowed to use it, you can choose to use it, keep it or discard it
- a creature you either kill it by magic (wizard's scrolls, epic items,...), or fight it by comparing the total of your hp and weapon bonuses to the monsters strength. If you win, you discard the monster, if you lose, you take the damage and/or lose items.
If you make it through the deck, you've won!

Impression
The theme, small number of cards and beautiful graphics made me download and print this. I was a bit sceptical after reading the rules and first plays - the game was even more random than the Talisman, with yet (a bit) less control.There are ways to improve your chances, but if the Fates decide, your trail can be as short as three encounters (or you can get killed a single card before the end), but that's the way it goes with luck.
In a closer look you can see that some advanced mechanisms made it to the game (the spellcasters will get too strong heroes, the demons punish reliance on magic, ...), but still I have the feeling that some characters die more often.
Ad control: basically, you decide only what hero to choose, what item to equip and then only which item to keep, when to use it or when to discard it. Yes, you play the game and the game plays you.
But you know what? I liked it. It is simple and quick enough to play when you're short of players, time and energy, and the luck-generated tension does its part too.

Summary
Quick and pretty fantasy solitaire for free than includes tons of randomness, but can still please you if the constellations are right. Death rate is nearly similar to that one of Barbarian Prince, as well as the magic.

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If you want more control, you can try Patience Fighter, if you want even more (and if you have a whole evening to while away), play The Dungeon of D, which has equally gorgeous graphic. I'll try to write reviews and compare all three games. .
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Wulf Corbett
Scotland
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This looks really nice, but the ArtsCow deck only seems to have 52 cards - are some duplicated?
 
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Eduard Navratil
Czech Republic
Vizovice
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Yes, there are two goblins and two healing potions. And, thanks
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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I really like Delve: The Dice Game. That has some meaningful decisions throughout and is cleverly done. This is just flip the cards and see what happens, so it was disappointing compared to the dice game. But there's a basis for something here with this system that could probably be more interesting.
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Wulf Corbett
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Thanks! Lovely cards, I hope ArtsCow does them justice.
 
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Drew Chamberlain
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Grudunza wrote:
I really like Delve: The Dice Game. That has some meaningful decisions throughout and is cleverly done. This is just flip the cards and see what happens, so it was disappointing compared to the dice game. But there's a basis for something here with this system that could probably be more interesting.

I've actually said the exact same things to other people, and even described this game more as War than anything else. But, yes, I do agree that there are ideas that are here that could be in the game I was trying to make, I just have no idea (after quite a bit of struggling) what that game is. The main issue is that I feel that the simplicity of holding a deck of cards and flipping them over, much like solitaire, with a limited sized play, area is key. I believe that keeping the play fairly quick with the player not having to remember too many values, or count up modifiers every turn is important as well. To tell you the truth, even though it is not quite the game I think could be made, the following statement really made my day and is pretty much what I was looking for when I decided to post it anyway, because I wish there were hundreds of simple, quick, solo play games out there.

Longshanx wrote:
Ad control: basically, you decide only what hero to choose, what item to equip and then only which item to keep, when to use it or when to discard it. Yes, you play the game and the game plays you.
But you know what? I liked it. It is simple and quick enough to play when you're short of players, time and energy, and the luck-generated tension does its part too.
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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I like elephants. I like how they swing through trees.
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MaytagMan wrote:
To tell you the truth, even though it is not quite the game I think could be made, the following statement really made my day and is pretty much what I was looking for when I decided to post it anyway, because I wish there were hundreds of simple, quick, solo play games out there.


Drew, I agree and I appreciate that you made this and applaud the effort. I'm just particularly glad that you also designed the Delve dice game. As it is, though, I suppose the card version serves a purpose as a time-passer solo card game that has a little flavor to it, as opposed to the normal card deck solitaire game, and it would probably make a nice introduction to thematic card games for kids.
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Geoff Hardy
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Has anyone tried combining the two games? Seems like a natural direction to take. I like the mechanics of the Dice game, yet love cards, and the way you can have a different adventure each time you play. The one drawback I suppose of the Dice game is the mat stays the same for every game unless you play one of the variants of course. Could you use the cards to choose your character, and then as a way to create the adventure as you play? but use the Dice combat system to resolve the encounters? It would lessen some of the randomness, and bring back the system of choosing which dice to keep, etc. giving the player some control back.
 
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Drew Chamberlain
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I think combining would be great. I have been trying to think of ways you could buy/win cards, similiar to To Court the King. Any ideas out there (including those mentioned by Geoff) are appreciated.

One blocker I hit is that it makes sense to lose the playsheet when combining, as you said, but having the health on the cards either means you have to reprint them after you use them, or laminate them, but I am wondering if there is another solution (like maybe dice to keep track of health)?

Here is one idea I tried with some of the concepts you mentioned - http://www.delvegames.com/RandomDungeon.pdf
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Jason Fordham
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I just got my deck, and oh yes, they look very, very good from artscow.

Caleb
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