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Subject: It's what you'd expect. rss

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Brian Bankler
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We invited another couple over for gaming last night and they introduced us to Dork Tower. It was average. Not bad. Not good. It's a simple game -- go around, fight monsters, get more powerful, kill the big bad guy. Apart from Railroads, is this the most popular theme for games?

Each player has a character (with ratings for strength, movement, special abilities and a number of slots for things). The board is a circular affair, with the tower in the middle indicating which parts are "Night" and which are "day". After moving, if you aren't in a city you draw a number of discs (based on terrain and Night/Day), which are usually monsters. Add up their strength, your strength and roll combat. Win, and you get experience and stuff (more die rolls). Lose, and you run away. Dungeons provide extra treasure, but if you lose there, you die (and then get resurrected, sans stuff). Some of the discs are wimpy monsters (wolves, orcs) up to demons and dragons.

If you end in a city, you can go to market to buy stuff or just earn some extra money. The game ends when someone goes to the tower in the center and defeats the bad guy (who summons five discs worth of monsters).

In some respects, this game stands out as superior to Runebound. Both games are "dungeon races" but Dork Tower contains more interaction (and no direct player vs player fighting, which is a personal preference). The problem is that Dork Tower's length is so variable. My first two disc encounter was 12. My wife's totalled 26. The first player to attack the wizard drew five discs (several of which were "Draw more discs") and faced a strength of 50+. He used a scroll to redraw and netted ... mid 40s. Two more of us were similarly dispatched. My wife then went in and got a high 20s value (and then used a few scrolls to knock that down). Game over.

If she had gotten a high value as well, the game would limp on for another hour or so. (In reality, we would have quit). Also, we didn't really curse the other players. It's a "Take that" system, but you have to pay XP to curse someone, and it's a random chart.

Wonderful components, by Steve Jackson's standardssauron. At least the card/chit quality is acceptable (although I assume you have to punch the chits). Thin paper board/play mats.

Not a great strategy game, too long to be a filler. Fine for what it's aiming for.
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