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Subject: Plunderstone: A "Dungeon Lords" Variant of Thunderstone rss

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Chris Flood
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By day, you visit the Village, hiring mercenaries, buying equipment, and learning ancient lore, all in exchange for honest, hard-earned cash. By night, you and your forces lay siege to the horrific haunts of the many minions terrorizing this great land. As your legend grows, you know that someday--

What's that? Folks are saying there's a "ghost" in your castle? And that you've been consorting with the nearby Orc Chieftain? Or that there's a Manticore in your very own labyrinthine dungeon wine cellar? Surely they must be mistaken!

In the "Plunderstone" variant of Thunderstone, players compete to raid and destroy each others' carefully designed dungeons with the help of Villagers and "Heroes" gullible enough to believe you have their best intentions in mind. The player with the most VP at the end of the game dismisses all unfounded rumors about them and is proclaimed savior of the Village! The winners truly write history!

To play this variant, here's what's different:

1. Build and shuffle the Dungeon Deck as per the standard rules, but then deal out the deck evenly to each player.
2. Each player selects one Monster for his own Dungeon Deck and then passes his hand to the left.
3. Repeat Step 2 until all cards have been selected.
4. Each player arranges her Dungeon Deck in whatever order she sees fit and then sets up a dungeon, three Ranks deep, in front of her. You can call yours a wine cellar, castle tower, cottage in the swamp, or whatever. To everyone else, it's a "dungeon." There will be thus one dungeon per player at the same time in the game.
5. Play proceeds normally, but other players will be attacking monsters your dungeon and vice versa. Players can attack Monsters in their own dungeon ("I told you I didn't have a Manticore!"), but they have to "hide" these Monsters by removing them from play and will not receive VPs for them. In addition revealed Traps do not effect the player controlling the dungeon from which the Trap came.
6. The game ends one player's dungeon has been cleared.
7. Any monsters remaining in a player's dungeon are added his Victory Points at the end of the game.

Advantages or at least interesting aspects of this variant:

There are some interactions between the monsters you could try to build into your dungeon through deck-building, and there are some tough choices about how to arrange your deck. Do you put all the high XP monsters at the top to slow down other players, or do you them for the bottom in hopes that they never actually get revealed, guaranteeing you the VPs? Where do you put Traps and Treasure? Do you even want these in your dungeon?

There's no more luck in what monsters appear when, as players have total control over this in their own dungeon.

Players can gang up on a player who seems to be getting ahead by attacking his dungeon instead of each others'. But if they do too much of this at once or are only clearing out low XP monsters, they run the risk of ending the game too quickly with him still in the lead. It's just a new layer of player interaction that could be fun.

Having six, nine, twelve monsters in play seems crazy, but I don't think it breaks anything. Players are faced with a dual choice of both Monster difficulty and whose dungeon they want to raid.

The endgame is very different, but potentially presents some interesting choices. Do I want to end the game now by removing that 7 XP beast from Jose's dungeon? What if I think he's in the lead? Maybe then I'll prolong the game by targeting Sophia's, but she's only got a couple lowly Orcs showing. Decisions, decisions...

(In "Epic Plunderstone," maybe you could pay to redeploy Monsters from your hand into your depleted dungeon. "We didn't kill that Orc Chieftain; we just 'persuaded' him to join our side!" But that probably leads to a four hour game.)

Totally unplaytested, but we hope to change that soon. If you beat us to it, let me know how it goes!
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Andrey
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This sounds supercool. Next time I'll play the game, I will definitely test this variant.
 
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Fractal Energy
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So the person whose dungeon was cleared (thus ending the game) is just automatically a loser?
I can already smell the rage...
 
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Chris Flood
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sstrunks5555 wrote:
So the person whose dungeon was cleared (thus ending the game) is just automatically a loser?
I can already smell the rage...


Not necessarily. That player simply wouldn't get any extra VPs for the Monsters left in her dungeon. If you think you're way ahead, you might even want to clear your own dungeon to end the game immediately.
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Chris Flood
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Just tested this out solo running two players, and it worked well! I was worried just putting the toughest monsters first in your dungeon would be the clearly better strategy, making the dungeon deck-building uninteresting (i.e., Everyone would arrange them in descending order of XP.), but I was wrong!

I tested this by making one deck in ascending order and the other in descending, and the player who put theirs in ascending order won, 47-36. I tried to play both players similarly, generally attacking Monsters when I could win, thinning my deck and buying high-cost items when I couldn't. The player with the descending dungeon got off to a quick start, knocking off two or three Monsters from the other player's dungeon easily, but that deck got quickly clogged. The player with the ascending dungeon took a looooooong time to prepare for defeating just one Monster in the other player's dungeon, but, once this happened, their deck was strong and only needed a couple adjustments to take out subsequent Monsters.

The game was very close to the end. The difference was the Earth Tempest that the player with a descending dungeon just could not take out, allowing the other player to pick off his last few low XP Monsters. If he'd grabbed the Earth Tempest on his last turn, he would have won 43-40.

Thus, with just one playtest to go on, there does not seem to be an "obvious" strategy to the dungeon building. I imagine there are some pretty clever things you could do to gain an advantage, and I did not use Traps at all in this game. Three players would be even more interesting.

I hope someone else tries it too!
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Fractal Energy
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Oh oh, I see. So you're still adding monsters from your opponents' dungeons to your own play deck when you kill them, and your total score is your accumulated monster kill VPs PLUS any left in your dungeon?

Okay that makes way more sense hahahaha.

This sounds kind of cool! I may try this next time I get a chance.
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