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Subject: Euro all dressed up rss

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Andrew Cooper
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Of all the games from 2009 this one seems to invoke the the most controversy. As with many Vlaada Chvatil games it is unique and has a very different feel from his other games. This alone seems to ignite the flame of anger in many who expect it to be much like a previous offering from the same designer because it is another of his games. I remember some people being upset with Galaxy Trucker because it was nothing like Through the Ages. Galaxy Trucker being more on the light hearted side and far less of a brain burner.
Now Vlaada seems to have gone back the other way. Dungeon Lords demands much more of your brain power than Galaxy Trucker. It is heavy Euro with hard choices around every corner. The game can be very unforgiving as I have learned in a recent play (scoring almost -10!shake) and requires you to pay close attention to what you need, how you are going to get what you need, and what order you are going to need it in.
Perhaps the reason more than anything else that people seem disappointed is because this is the first time we have seen a heavy euro dressed up in such fun art and a great theme. As a result people saw the game thinking one thing and got another.
So is this bad? Should euros look like euros? Should only simpler games for younger audiences have this style art and ooze with this much theme?
In my opinion not at all.
This game seems to have it all actually. It has the hard choices which are at the heart of every good game. It has multiple paths to victory. It has fun innovative mechanics. It has outstanding art, theme, and rule book.

Conclusion:
I am a huge fan of all the games I have played by Vlaada Chvatil with perhaps the exception of Prophecy. Galaxy Trucker is still my all time favorite with Dungeon Lords coming in a close second. I love the humorous rule book that gets you engaged and learning the rules quickly. The mechanics are not always unique but seem to twist them in new and creative ways. The art is very cool and a pleasure to look at as you play.

10 out of 10. It does not get much better than this folks.
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Joe Fling
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Agreed! This game is a blast! Shame on anyone who turns this game down!
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John Di Ponio
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I went into learning this game with some skepticism. It looked 'busy' and I wasn't sure at first how it would all play out. I did enjoy the rule book and it was a very good idea to take people through 4 different battle puzzles to get you engaged and understand the last phase of each year. This had me excited to learn the rest of the game. Everything was understandable and there was not much reason to go back to the rules during play. A reference here and there...but all in all....a very enjoyable game!
 
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Todd
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superflypete wrote:
If you want hard choices, go get your girlfriend pregnant.


Amazing.

I don't see why this game polarized so many people like it has. It looks like a solid, mid to heavy weight euro with a rich theme. Isn't that what people have been asking for?
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Tim Seitz
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superflypete wrote:
DragonWhelp wrote:
Perhaps the reason more than anything else that people seem disappointed is because this is the first time we have seen a heavy euro dressed up in such fun art and a great theme. As a result people saw the game thinking one thing and got another.

Seems to me that people who obsess about euro-games being dry and virtually themeless simply lack imagination. There's definately irony: gamers who don't particularly care for fun.

Quote:

So is this bad? Should euros look like euros? Should only simpler games for younger audiences have this style art and ooze with this much theme?

Dungeon Lords is a perfect blend of euro-style "problem solving and decisionmaking" and american-style "theme and humor". Totally agree.

Those who mock euro games purely because of the dry themes of farming or shipping cargo should be flocking to this one.

superflypete wrote:
Quote:

This game seems to have it all actually. It has the hard choices which are at the heart of every good game.

This sentence pretty much epitomizes the problem I have with the euro-game mentality: FUN is at the heart of every good game. Hard choices, not so much. If you want hard choices, go get your girlfriend pregnant. If you want a FUN GAME, make it inviting, pretty, exciting, and engaging.

Fun is relative. What you find fun might bore me to tears, while my idea of fun might inspire congressional hearings against torture. That's why there are so many games on the market.

I enjoy making agonizing decisions and hard choices. I have a hell of a lot of fun when I get to do that.
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Carc >> BSG
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joefling34 wrote:
Agreed! This game is a blast! Shame on anyone who turns this game down!


I hate worker-placement games. The theme of this one got me to play it a few times. But I'm done now.
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Eric Jome
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ejcarter wrote:
I hate worker-placement games.


You hate worker placement, but you give Race For The Galaxy a 10. Role selection is worker placement.
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cosine wrote:
ejcarter wrote:
I hate worker-placement games.


You hate worker placement, but you give Race For The Galaxy a 10. Role selection is worker placement.


My apologies for my initial snarky reply. I'm not in the best of moods today, and gaming in general hasn't been as much fun for me as I'd like it to be.

If I had to say what games I want to play right now they'd probably be the lighter ones, like TTR, Carcassonne, and Dominion. I've got enough stress in my life right now that I don't want to play heavier games. I'd probably turn down RftG, AoS, Through the Ages, etc. Right now I want games to relax and entertain me, and worker-placement doesn't do either.
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Dave Hamson
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joefling34 wrote:
Agreed! This game is a blast! Shame on anyone who turns this game down!


Yes because individuality is something to be ashamed of.
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Mark G.
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out4blood wrote:

superflypete wrote:
out4blood wrote:

This game seems to have it all actually. It has the hard choices which are at the heart of every good game.

This sentence pretty much epitomizes the problem I have with the euro-game mentality: FUN is at the heart of every good game. Hard choices, not so much. If you want hard choices, go get your girlfriend pregnant. If you want a FUN GAME, make it inviting, pretty, exciting, and engaging.

Fun is relative. What you find fun might bore me to tears, while my idea of fun might inspire congressional hearings against torture. That's why there are so many games on the market.

I enjoy making agonizing decisions and hard choices. I have a hell of a lot of fun when I get to do that.


Well said, out4blood, I agree. I too enjoy games that require me to agonize a bit. I also understand folks who don't like those kinds of games.
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Jeff Jackson
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OK, one time Randy Beaman had to take baths with his brother. So one time his little brother took a potty in the bathtub .....and now Randy Beaman gets to take showers alone. 'K, bye.
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One time, OK, see, one time Randy Beaman's little brother ate Pop Rocks and drank a soda at the same time and his head exploded! 'K, bye.
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I apologize for the quick rant, but......
cosine wrote:
Role selection is worker placement.


WRONG!

Worker placement is NOT role selection. Related? OK, but NOT equalities.

Whew. Now as far as Dungeon Lords, the euro. The theme is perfect for me, however, I wanted to dislike the game after reading the rules. Why? Because it was touted as a 'heavy' euro but the worker placement (not role selection) aspect bugged me. I didn't like not knowing which of the three available slots for an action space, if any, my minion was going to occupy - much like many people don't like Leonardo da Vinci for its 'bidding' worker placement mechanic (which I love).

Now after two plays, I must admit that I like it quite a bit more than I thought I would. The slight unknown of the exact spot your minion will occupy is interesting. The idea of manipulating your evilometer to grab specific heroes is actually very fun. It probably won't earn a spot in my collection because:
1) it only plays four (any my game groups tend to be 5ers)
2) I enjoy other heavy euros much more

but, the game is admittedly, a solid design and will be adored because of its theme AND game play.



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Aaron Cinzori
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jjacjackson wrote:
It probably won't earn a spot in my collection because:
1) it only plays four (any my game groups tend to be 5ers)


I think it also works quite well for 2. Maybe more chess-like.
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Andrew Cooper
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thanks for all the kind words. this is my first review and I was a little worried.
 
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ejcarter wrote:
cosine wrote:
ejcarter wrote:
I hate worker-placement games.


You hate worker placement, but you give Race For The Galaxy a 10. Role selection is worker placement.


My apologies for my initial snarky reply. I'm not in the best of moods today, and gaming in general hasn't been as much fun for me as I'd like it to be.

If I had to say what games I want to play right now they'd probably be the lighter ones, like TTR, Carcassonne, and Dominion. I've got enough stress in my life right now that I don't want to play heavier games. I'd probably turn down RftG, AoS, Through the Ages, etc. Right now I want games to relax and entertain me, and worker-placement doesn't do either.

So you do want to argue about it after all!

(Personally, I thought your first response was fine. Here's someone taking the high road on teh interwebs.)
 
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Gene Cooper
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Great first effort! I agree with your take on the game. It is perfect for me because in our group everyone likes lighter games than I do. With DL they are tricked into a game with some euro-goodness. Mwahaaha.
 
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Ben
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DragonWhelp wrote:
thanks for all the kind words. this is my first review and I was a little worried.


It's a good first review. Nothing to be worried about.

I do disagree with your ultimate take, however, on two fronts.

First, "theme" should mean more than simply lots of pretty pictures and an interesting rule book. A solid theme should inform the gameplay. Once I understand what I'm supposed to be doing thematically, my ability to play the game well should become more intuitive and thus the experience of playing should begin to feel more like the experience it is representing.

Although Dungeon Lords has great artwork and a charming sense of humor, when playing I'm quite conscious of the experience of playing game itself. I do not, by contrast, feel like I'm building/running an efficient dungeon. There is little that is truly thematic here. Digging tunnels and mining for gold comes before hiring imps. Why? Because that's the rule. (Not that any good dungeon lord would do it in that order.) Your first order returns to your hand, but your next two don't. Why? Because that's the rule. Your traps spring first, then the wizard casts a quick spell, then your monsters attack. Why? Because that's the rule. You have to pay to "install" a trap in a room, but don't have to choose the trap until the adventurers are already in the room. Why? Well, you get the idea.

All games must approximate their subject matter, and that necessitates some abstraction. But the mechanics and theme diverge in Dungeon Lords more than I would like.

Second, as a Euro, Dungeon Lords has more downtime than I would prefer. The "game" is primarily in planning your orders/combat and setting down cards/tiles in the right order. That constitutes about 20-25% of the time spent playing the game. The remainder of the time is spent in finding out how things turned out for you.

Usually, when a game separates the planning and resolution phases, it leaves enough decision-making in the resolution phase for players to feel as though they are still actively participating. Vasco da Gama, for example, is great at this. Each of the chosen actions still consists of a myriad of possibilities, so that players may react to the actions/choices of their fellow players. In Dungeon Lords, players lack this ability to adjust their strategies on the fly. During building, every chosen action consists of essentially a take-it-or-leave-it proposition except Rooms (choose 1 of 2, if available) and Monsters (choose 1 of 3 if available). During combat, the choice is usually reduced to which of the three adventurers your monster will attack. Rarely does resolution deviate from the original plan. I just can't love a game that asks me to spend nearly twice as much time finding out how my choices worked than the time I actually get to spend making choices.

In conclusion, I think you did a solid job on your first review. And while I'm glad you enjoy the game, I think the very things you point to as this game's strengths (theme and decision-making) are places where I find the game to drop the ball. If I want tough, interesting decisions, I'd rather choose a game that lets me feel like I'm participating. If I want a richly thematic experience, I'd rather choose a game whose rules feel like intuitive approximations of the experience it's depicting, not simply arbitrary restraints to cabin the underlying gameplay.

It's still a fun game, but closer to a 6 or 7 than a 10.
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David desJardins
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xjohncandyx wrote:
It looks like a solid, mid to heavy weight euro with a rich theme. Isn't that what people have been asking for?


No. We've got like 50 "mid to heavy weight euros" that have been published just in the past few years. I think more people are looking for something new.
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Eric Jome
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jjacjackson wrote:
Worker placement is NOT role selection. Related? OK, but NOT equalities.


If you'd like a formal proof, I'd be happy to provide it for you. Think about what you'd have to do to convert any game with worker placement to role selection and vice versa and you'll find that it's pretty trivial.
 
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cosine wrote:
If you'd like a formal proof, I'd be happy to provide it for you. Think about what you'd have to do to convert any game with worker placement to role selection and vice versa and you'll find that it's pretty trivial.


Worker placement implies that each player has several workers while role selection means that players generally take turns selecting a single role. That is the main difference.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
xjohncandyx wrote:
It looks like a solid, mid to heavy weight euro with a rich theme. Isn't that what people have been asking for?


No. We've got like 50 "mid to heavy weight euros" that have been published just in the past few years. I think more people are looking for something new.


Yes we do seem to have a too many mid to heavy weight euros, but I think the distinction the poster was making is that it's a euro with a "rich theme". The theme is definitely more on the Ameritrash end of the theme spectrum.

Personally, I really enjoy the game, but I fear that it may be too heavy mechanically for its own good. Hopefully, I can find enough other players who are looking for a brain-burning euro with a wacky theme.
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Frank Burbach wrote:

Yes we do seem to have a too many mid to heavy weight euros, but I think the distinction the poster was making is that it's a euro with a "rich theme". The theme is definitely more on the Ameritrash end of the theme spectrum.

Personally, I really enjoy the game, but I fear that it may be too heavy mechanically for its own good. Hopefully, I can find enough other players who are looking for a brain-burning euro with a wacky theme.


DITTO!
 
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cosine wrote:
jjacjackson wrote:
Worker placement is NOT role selection. Related? OK, but NOT equalities.


If you'd like a formal proof, I'd be happy to provide it for you. Think about what you'd have to do to convert any game with worker placement to role selection and vice versa and you'll find that it's pretty trivial.


Worker Placement is where players take turns drafting from available actions, and a player's choice of an action interferes with other players' ability to choose it.

I'm not sure what you or anyone thinks Role Selection is, but your only example of it is Race for the Galaxy, which fairly obviously has nothing like Worker Placement.
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Tim McCormley
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chally wrote:
In Dungeon Lords, players lack this ability to adjust their strategies on the fly.

Wow! I don't see this at all.

The whole process of protecting your dungeon, "running" your dungeon, is a dynamic adjustment of the capabilities of your dungeon to the characteristics of the adventurers you are facing. One of the reasons you didn't care for the game is because the dungeon resolution phase doesn't represent a traditional static D & D style dungeon. E.g. Traps and monsters aren't locked into a specific room or corridor, you solve the adventurer puzzle on the fly with the tools you have. That's on the fly decision making. By definition.

In the planning phase, the dungeon you need to build is based almost entirely on the adventurers you are likely to face. Since the adventurers you get are a direct result of your current evilometer rating, which depends so heavily on the actions of your opponents, you *must* make on the fly adjustments to your strategy if you want to control the type of adventurers you are going to fight.

This game may have it's fair share of faults, but from what I can tell, a lack of dynamic decision making isn't one of them.

Also, speaking as a long time fantasy role player, this game definitely captured the theme for me. I absolutely felt like a dungeon master when playing. Sure, I was only building a first level dungeon that used a simple combat system, but that's all you need to do to get your "dungeon lord" license. Is it Vladda's fault that the Ministry of Dungeons is such a money grubbing bureaucracy that it's certification requirements are a sham?

Tim
 
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cosine wrote:
jjacjackson wrote:
Worker placement is NOT role selection. Related? OK, but NOT equalities.


If you'd like a formal proof, I'd be happy to provide it for you. Think about what you'd have to do to convert any game with worker placement to role selection and vice versa and you'll find that it's pretty trivial.

Okay, I call. I'd like to see a formal proof. I see worker placement as the OPPOSITE to role selection.

With worker placement (as in Caylus/Agricola), you choose MANY actions that ONLY YOU can perform.

With role selection (as in Puerto Rico/RftG), you choose (usually) ONE action that EVERYONE can perform.


Edit: Sean beats me to the punch (again) cuz I stopped to make bread!
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armor_11 wrote:

Wow! I don't see this at all.

The whole process of protecting your dungeon, "running" your dungeon, is a dynamic adjustment of the capabilities of your dungeon to the characteristics of the adventurers you are facing. One of the reasons you didn't care for the game is because the dungeon resolution phase doesn't represent a traditional static D & D style dungeon. E.g. Traps and monsters aren't locked into a specific room or corridor, you solve the adventurer puzzle on the fly with the tools you have. That's on the fly decision making. By definition.

In the planning phase, the dungeon you need to build is based almost entirely on the adventurers you are likely to face. Since the adventurers you get are a direct result of your current evilometer rating, which depends so heavily on the actions of your opponents, you *must* make on the fly adjustments to your strategy if you want to control the type of adventurers you are going to fight.

This game may have it's fair share of faults, but from what I can tell, a lack of dynamic decision making isn't one of them.

...


Tim,

I appreciate that you took time to read my whole comment and to provide thoughtful counter-argument, but it seems that you misunderstood (or I poorly described) my second complaint. I am NOT suggesting that, over the course of the game, players can't and won't adjust their strategies. Rather, I am saying that for every 1 minute I spend actually making a decision the game, I must then spend 3 minutes "resolving" that decision -- a mechanical process that offers few (or sometimes no) meaningful choice.

Let's say it's the building phase of year one. I choose to go for gold, a trap, and happiness, in that order. My participation in the game has essentially ended once I lay the cards down. Then what happens?

1. I wait for everyone else to finish making their decision.
2. We each turn over a card in sequence.
3. We each place a minion corresponding to the card.
4. We each turn over another card in sequence.
5. We each place a minion corresponding to the card.
6. We each turn over another card in sequence.
7. We each place a minion corresponding to the card.
8. We resolve food: I do nothing, while other players collect things.
9. We resolve happiness. I wait my turn, and then am given the following choice: pay one gold to gain two happiness, or don't. I can't pay more gold for more happiness. I can't change what I pay (e.g., food instead of gold). I can't use some other action to get more gold. It's a binary choice (and not really a choice at all, since I've probably already planned for the possibility that I land on this space).
10. We resolve tunneling: I do nothing, while other players do things.
11. We resolve gold, and I'm given another binary choice.
11. Etc.

I probably spent 2 minutes planning out the three cards I will play, and 10 or more "seeing how it turned out."

During the "seeing how it turned out" part, I'm given almost no opportunity to change, adjust, adapt, or reconsider my plan. That will come down the road, when we get to the next 2 minutes of card play. You seem to be describing the cool, dynamic choices that happen during those two minutes, which I agree are fun when they happen. My critique was simply that those moments are few and far between, compared the sheer amount of time I'm sitting at the table.

As for the first complaint, I suppose we have different ideas on what an integrated theme feels like. I expressed why it didn't work for me, and how that detracts from my experience, but I'm glad it works for you. Being able to connect with a game's theme in an intuitive or immersive way does wonders for the enjoyment gained from playing.

- Ben
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