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Subject: Dungeon of D multiple sessions report with strategy tips rss

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Graham Dean
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Dungeon of D

Session report

I recently acquired a copy of The Dungeon of D and have spent a pleasant few hours playing a sequence of games over the last few weeks, until winning for the first time over the weekend. I found the process of learning the game interesting, and thought that a session report based on this sequence of plays, with the lessons learnt along the way, might be of interest.

Game 1 – The Amazon

The first game of anything is always a learning game, and so this played rather slow. I was petrified of the various scary things which might happen to me, and so I made sure that I made passing a test or winning a combat almost certain, by using my highest value power card of the right type for each test.

So for example, if on the first level I was faced with a 5+ difficulty AGL test, this would correspond to a combined score of 6 (5 plus 1 for the number of skulls on the level card – a really neat mechanic which increases the difficult the deeper you go) from the first and second effort cards. I would play a 5 AGL card (if I had one), so that success was guaranteed, as the second power card could only be in the 1-5 range, and even the worst possible result (a 1) would still give me the 6 I needed to pass.



Also, when moving rooms I would use the highest value MOVE Power cards I had, so that I would only be faced with the weaker monsters. Another neat mechanic is that a power 5 card will bring out the weakest wandering monster, while the power 1 card will bring out the strongest.

I started off with some early successes, as may be imagined since I was using my best cards to do it, but I very quickly got into trouble by having only low powered cards available in my hand. This forced me to avoid taking optional tests which are available on the cards, and to run away when I was faced with some of the more powerful monsters.

Even being ultra cautious, I got into trouble several times with some of the larger monsters, and was forced to run away rather than fight more and more the further in I got. This left me unable to collect enough gold to secure upgrades, and I staggered through to level 4 where gruesome death awaited.

Lessons learned

d10-1 The rules. This was after all a learning game, so the main purpose was to learn how to play the game.

d10-2 When taking a test, don’t play a high value power card as your first effort card, such that a pass is almost guaranteed. You will run out of high value cards too early and will be left with low value cards in you hand when faced with the difficult tests and more powerful monsters. I opted to try to play the odds in future, and play my cards so that I had a 60% chance of success on each test. This corresponds to needing a 3 or better on the power card.

So in the example I outlined above, needing a combined score of six from my two effort cards, I would aim to play a 3 in the right colour as the first effort card, hoping for a 3, 4 or 5 on the second effort card. This makes it more likely than not that I would pass, while conserving my higher value cards for when they are needed.

d10-3 If you aren’t tough enough to attempt the actions available in the rooms, and you are having to run away from the tougher monsters, then you are in trouble. The difficulty is only going to increase as you get deeper into the dungeon, and if you aren’t passing tests and defeating monsters you won’t be able to get gold and buy upgrades.

Games 2 and 3 – The Merchant and the Priest

I was delighted to see that my next game would be with the Merchant. Some of the skills seem to be less useful than others (I hadn’t found a situation where I wanted to use the Amazon’s skill during my first game), but the Merchant had the skill of identifying potions, which seemed useful. I had never had enough spare gold to waste any on identifying potions.

To take things slightly out of order, I like the Priest skill too which allowed you to discard a fistful of low value cards and pick up again, although I think I forgot to use it.

Anyway, I have put both game sessions together as they played through in almost the same way. I was clearly on to something with my new approach with the power cards. By playing so that I had a 60% chance of passing a test or winning a combat I was exposing myself to taking a few lumps, but they were nothing I couldn’t handle, and I was conserving high value cards, which made the whole experience more controlled.

Each time I drew the Mystic Portal room card I would buy any upgrades I could afford and then go down a level straight away. Sometimes this would mean I would have to explore and sometimes it would be the first card drawn and I would descend an extra level straight away.



This approach actually worked surprisingly well, and on both occasions I made it to the Special Pit of Darkness room in level 8. Getting there did require some luck in the final few rooms, where I was having to run away from every monster which came up, and if more wandering monsters had been indicated I could easily see the game ending in defeat.

Once at the final challenge, I was forced to the realisation that there was no way I could win (The Merchant), or reasonably hope to win (The Priest). I hadn’t spent any time reviewing the room cards before playing, so my first real look at what the Special Pit of Darkness required came with the Merchant.

Some simple arithmetic made me realise that to pass a 12 AGL test, with my +2 upgrade, I would need to play a Power 5 card, and then hope to draw another Power 5 card as my second effort card. I would then need to repeat this in the INT test, and then I would have no hope of defeating the Ice Dragon which waited for me.

I had exactly the same experience with the Priest. On both occasions I escaped alive but without even attempting the challenges to enter the final room.

Lessons learned

d10-1 You need to have purchased the maximum upgrades in order to have any chance of winning. You need to pass a 12 AGL and a 12 INT test before fighting a 13 STR Ice Dragon. The minimum you need are +2/+2/+3 in upgrades (or other magical assistance) to have any chance, and even then the odds of winning are tiny. Aim to be +4/+4/+4 for the final confrontation.

d10-2 It’s quite easy to get through a few levels quickly but this will leave you underpowered for the challenges you face. Don’t travel down a level until you are ready. Explore each dungeon level and gather gold and buy the upgrades you will need to thrive at the lower levels.

d10-3 There is no need to play high value cards when moving between rooms. Obviously play the white MOVE cards in preference to the other colours, so that you will pick up and replace the card you played. Wandering monsters don’t show up every time, so you can play your low value Power cards (which produce the tougher monsters) in the knowledge that you won’t have to fight them every time. This will help you to save your high value cards.

Please note that my understanding of this point was modified later on – see below.

Games 4 and 5 – The Scholar and The Dwarf

I was now confident that I could, if I wished, get down to level 8 and escape alive. However while this is a reasonable performance it isn’t anywhere near winning the game. Clearly I had to try something else.

After a little reflection I came to the conclusion that the only way to win was to get upgrades to my STR, AGL and INT, and this would only be possible through getting gold. Therefore I had to seize every opportunity to get gold by exploring each level and trying to pick winnable fights and choosing winnable room actions.

For these two sessions I made a point of exploring all nine room cards on each level, and sometimes even doubling back on myself to find a good room to rest in, or a particular action which I wanted to try. Sadly both games ended in messy death quite early – worse even than my first attempt.

On reflection I believe I was pushing too hard. Certainly you need to take chances if you are going to win this game, but I wasn’t paying enough attention to how much fruit I had left (and therefore how much rest I could take).

Lessons learned

d10-1 Think about resting when you get down to 4 cards. Definitely rest when down to 3 cards, as you are very vulnerable when down to so few. It is even worth resting in a dangerous location if you have to.

d10-2 The other side of point 2 above. Don’t wait too long before going down a level. You only have limited opportunities to rest so you don’t want to be using more than one rest per level if you can help it. If one level hasn’t gone that well, you may need to descend anyway in order to not run out of the fruit you need in order to rest and recover some Power cards.

d10-3 The other side of point 3 above. You want to fight the tough monsters, as they carry more gold. Playing low Power cards when you move between rooms is actually a good thing, not simply a necessary evil, as this increases the chances that you will encounter monsters with more gold. Obviously, this all depends on whether you can win the fight in question.

Game 6 – The Ranger

I really felt that I was getting close, and so started my next game (playing the Ranger) with some confidence. All I needed to do was show greater judgement about when to go down a level and when not. I tried for a balanced approach based on exploring most of the rooms (I think always at least 7 out of the 9, and often more), while keeping an eye on the fruit I had left and therefore how many chances I had to rest.

There were a few awkward episodes, and there was at least one occasion when I got down to a small number of cards (1 or 2) before resting. However this attempt was far and away my best yet, and I managed to achieve maximum upgrades in all three statistics, with a reasonable number of cards, as I stood outside the Special Pit of Darkness for the final confrontation.



It took me a few goes, but I was able to defeat the first and second challenges, and I found myself for the first time facing the Ice Dragon – the final guardian of the Amulet of D’Eugor.

I had two cards which were sufficiently powerful enough to give me a chance of winning. The first card was a 5, which after adding my STR upgrade gave me a score of 9. The Dragon has STR 13, so I needed a 4 or a 5 for victory – a 40% chance. I drew a 2.

Now came my last chance. I could play a Power card 4, and give myself another chance of winning – this time I would need to draw a 5, so this would only be a 20% chance. However, if I did I would not have sufficient resources left to run away. This was do or die. I made the attempt, but my second effort card was only a 1, and my brave Ranger ended up as a tasty snack.

Lessons learned

d10-1 No really major lessons came out of this game. I knew I was on the right track, having got so close, and having had a realistic chance of winning the final encounter. I needed to try the same again, but perhaps make better use of the items and skills which are acquired along the way. Up to this point I had made only haphazard attempts at using arrows, or the skills and items which are picked up along the way.

Game 7 – The Amazon



I followed the same plan as my previous attempt with the Ranger, and with similar levels of success, until I got to level 5.

Up to that point things had gone pretty well, but in level 4 I had a couple of nasty fights where I lost a few hit points (cards) and was forced to rest twice on that level. I had a bad feeling about this attempt until I remembered my arrows. I had 4 of them by this stage (the maximum possible) but I had never really had much luck with them before. I realised that this was probably due to the priority which I gave to the three character attributes when deciding which to upgrade first.

Usually I upgrade the STR attribute first out of the three, on the basis that you can lose more hit points in fights than anywhere else. However on this occasion I decided to use the arrows for each fight which turned up, so it made sense to upgrade my AGL attribute first.

This worked a treat, and I breezed through the next level and collected a lot of gold without needing to rest at all. I used up all my arrows, but I had earned enough gold to upgrade my other attributes, so I was back on track.

Finally, I made it to the Pit of Darkness. During my adventures I had met, and acquired the skills of, the Priest, and this enabled me to discard my low value cards and draw again, with the result that I had a powerful collection of cards with which to attempt the final challenge. I would never have a better chance.

I played power 5 cards on the first two obstacles to give myself a better than evens chance of success, and managed to get through quite quickly. I was feeling confident about my battle with the Ice Dragon – I calculated that I had at least 5 attempts with a chance of defeating it.

However, this is where the game bit back. My first attempt failed. As did my second. And my third. It was at this point that I realised something about the probabilities in the game. If I have a fistful of Power 5 cards in my hand, there are fewer Power 5 cards in the deck which I might draw as my second effort card. There was every chance I could lose this.

Then came my fourth attempt, and – finally – success! I was down to three cards, only one of which would give me even a chance of victory, so it was a near run thing. I took the Amulet, and with it the right to use the Victory card version in future, and then realised that there was a chance the Dragon might regenerate. That was a nasty moment. Fortunately it didn’t, and I was able to rest again before making my way out of the Dungeon, for my first ever win.



Lessons learned

d10-1 Use the arrows. To do this effectively the AGL attribute needs to be upgraded to an effective level, but they are brilliant – I underrated them in my early attempts because I was using them with a high STR but average AGL. With a high AGL they really work well.

d10-2 Make careful decisions about what statistics (STR/INT/AGL) to upgrade. They will need to be upgraded together - i.e. you should never end up with one stat being 2 or more below the others – but the decision about which one to upgrade first will depend on what items you have and what you intend to do. Usually I upgrade STR first, but AGL was the right call when I was planning to use the arrows.

d10-3 Use the skills you acquire from the characters you meet. Some of the skills I find more useful than others, but when you get a selection of skills together which can be blended they can form quite a powerful combination.

Postscript

Since writing this report I have played The Dungeon of D several more times, but have failed to win again. Hopefully there will be useful tips contained in this session report, but don’t worry that this game is solved. Even now I have played a few games and worked out a decent approach, this game is still a challenge every time.
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Tim Fiscus
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This is TEN TONS of awesome. I have sat down to write this very report quite a few times and never finished it. I completely agree with your points, and I have now played about 15 games without winning (though coming mighty mighty close). I might try starting with 3 Fruit next time and see how that goes.

Thanks for this! coming your way!
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Graham Dean
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Thanks for posting (and for the GG). I actually half wrote this a while ago but didn't finish it until now. I'm glad I did though, because this is an excellent solitaire pnp game and hope I can encourage people to print their own copy and give it a play.
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Bob Flaherty
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Excellent report and great tips on your experiences. I have only played DoD once and thouroughly got spanked on level 3.

Bob
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Jeremiah
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HuckmanT wrote:
This is TEN TONS of awesome.


really have to agree with Tim here: this session report is incredible.
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B. Perry
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Firstly: Awesome session report!

Many of your late lessons learned centered around the use of arrows. In playing the game twice, I've only ever managed to acquire a single arrow. Where are you getting all your arrows?
 
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Graham Dean
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Kayvon wrote:
Firstly: Awesome session report!

Many of your late lessons learned centered around the use of arrows. In playing the game twice, I've only ever managed to acquire a single arrow. Where are you getting all your arrows?

I think I must have been lucky during those games. I've played since and not accumulated anywhere near as many again. I suppose the general point would be to use the items you pick up, and not forget about them, which I did in my early plays.
 
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