Recommend
1 
 Thumb up
 Hide
5 Posts

Dungeonville» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Dungeonville: Not quite all that AND a bag of chips rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Jon Ben
Canada
Vancouver
British Columbia
flag msg tools
badge
Of course I've been up all night! Not because of caffeine, it was insomnia. I couldn't stop thinking about coffee.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have a problem. I'm a sucker for John Kovilc's art work, this is a serious problem because John Kovilc is not always part in parcel with excellent game design. In fact in my experience so far the opposite may be true. However I am not here to slander anyone, and the fact of the matter is his art work appeals to me because he IS an exceptional artist. His style seems to lend itself to fun and funny, light hearted games, that don't always contain the best game mechanics. This, I argue, is the real short coming of Dungeonville...

Components:
The game consists of lots of cards, since... you know... it's a card game. There are three basic types of cards:

Hero Cards: These are the delightfully illustrated adventurers, who also have hilarious names such as "Ivan the adorable". They are printed on very cheap card stock, which quite frankly is an insult to the only exceptional aspect of the game, John Kovilac's art!

Dungeon Cards: There are 5 dungeons in dungeonville, and they each have dungeon cards, which basically give you gold. The art is non-existent, as each card has a huge letter (relevance to come) and a huge number indicating it's value in gold. There is funny flavor text running up the side of the cards, but a little more effort making them match the splendor of the Hero cards might have been nice. See this review by Edd Allard (edralla) for more on that opinion: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/88141

Deed Cards: These are on the same poor stock as the heros and I only mention them because of a defect that exists in some (maybe all) early copies. One of them has a discoloured back, which is not good because the deeds must be distributed randomly, and kept secret. Not too hard to overcome, but annoying nonetheless. The problem appears to have been fixed now, see this thread: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/88165

Rules and Play:
There are five dungeons in dungeonville, and at the beginning of the game each player is given a deed to a random dungeon. The object of the game is to have 7 heros die in your dungeon. That is you are awarded one point for every hero belonging to an opponent that dies in your dungeon, and you loose one point for each of your heros that dies in your dungeon. You may also gain points by fighting an opponent... more to come on that.

Heros are acquired from the town, there are 5 heros in town at all times, one at each of the town’s haunts. The strongest hero costs 40 gold the second strongest 30, and so on… Which means the weakest hero is free! Each player may enlist a total number of 3 heros, no more, no less. Each time a hero is taken from the town a new hero is added, and the order is adjusted such that the strongest is worth 40 and the weakest is free. Once all players have 3 heros each player declares which dungeon they wish to adventure in, if two people wish to adventure in the same dungeon then those player’s heros must fight.

Fighting:
The players each choose the order they will reveal their heros in. Then one by one the heros are revealed (as in the card game war), each time the hero with the most strength wins and the loser’s hero dies (off to the discard pile), unless those heros happen to be the same colour, then the loser’s hero is recruited by the winner. After this is done for all three heros the player with the most surviving heros (including those recruited) wins the fight. The winner gains a point and gets to adventure in the chosen dungeon.

Heros:
Heros have several attributes, such as strength, colour, class, and skills. The strength is a number, high numbers (like 50) are weak and low numbers (like 5) are strong. A hero may carry gold equal to his strength, and a party of heros may carry gold equal to their combined strength. The colour only comes into play during the fighting phase as mentioned above. There exist special cards (found in dungeons) that give abilities to certain classes. Skills dictate the likelihood that a hero will die in a given dungeon.

Once all fights are resolved players are ready to adventure. Adventuring consists of flipping over a dungeon card, the card will have a letter (A, B, C, D, or E) and a value in gold indicated. This is where skills enter the picture. Each hero has five letters at the bottom of the card, each letter (A, B, C, D, or E) is associated with a dungeon (most heros are very good at one dungeon and mediocre to poor at all others). If the dungeon card has a letter that matches any of your heros’ skills in that dungeon, then one of them must die. That is, if I have a hero with skill D in a given dungeon, and the dungeon card I draw is also D then that hero must die. There are more A’s than B’s, more B’s than C’s, and so on…. So a hero that is adventuring in a dungeon that they have an E skill in is likely to die.

You can continue to adventure as long as you have a surviving hero, however you must keep in mind the amount of gold that your team can carry away, and you might not want to have adventures dying in your opponents dungeons (as each that does awards a point to whoever owns that dungeon). After every player has adventured in their chosen dungeon players start recruiting new heros from the town again, and the whole thing repeats.

I think that’s basically it, people keep track of their total points in secret, and the first to 7 points wins. Maybe I should mention that points from fighting are not secret they sit in front of the player (in the form of cardboard tokens), so you have some idea of who is doing well… maybe. Every time a hero dies in a dungeon a coloured token is placed on the dungeon, hence you can also tell which dungeons are doing well… but you don’t know who owns that dungeon.

HOW I FEEL:
I don’t recommend this game for several reasons.
One:
The game is expensive; especially since the card stock is so bloody poor!!
Two:
The strategic elements of the game are thin, allow me to elaborate. When fighting there is only strategy in choosing the order of your heros if your opponent also chooses the order of his heros, much like paper-rock-scissors this strategy is psychological in nature and you have very little if any control. If your opponent chooses to randomize the order of her heros then there is no strategy in choosing how you order your heros. That being said, you can of course control which heros you buy (if you have gold), and that is where one of the nice aspects of the game lies, the balance of buying strong heros to win fights, and buying weak heros to carry gold which you need in order to buy strong heros to win fights! Get it?

As far as adventuring in dungeons goes, the optimal strategy seems to be, get in and get out. The last thing you want to do is die in a dungeon, because that’s giving your opponents points. So don’t! It doesn’t seem hard to build a team of heros suited very well to a particular dungeon, so jump in grab some gold and get out before anyone dies. Don’t try to max out your teams carrying capacity, just grab the first gold card and get out. Bad luck can cause some hiccups in this strategy, but I think it’s more or less what you always want to be aiming for.

It’s also nice to fight an opponent if you are assured victory, this means that you get a point for beating an opponent, and whatever dungeon he/she was going to adventure in doesn’t get any points, that is if you can get in and get out without losing a team member.

All of this strategy just seems very obvious, and not varied enough. There a few key things to keep in mind, and the rest is up to luck. The game is not quite as obvious as snakes and ladders, but it falls far far far short of a serious board game.

Three:
You can’t control your dungeon!!! You are a mad wizard in charge of a dungeon and there is NOTHING you can do to make your dungeon more deadly, or more rewarding, or anything!!! And there is only one way I can think of to encourage opponents to adventure in your dungeon (which I won’t tell unless someone cares to ask).

Four:
It just isn’t that much fun. This statement however comes with a pretty hefty qualifier. It was not much fun for my group of board game enthusiasts, non-gamers might really like this game
, but since this is a review on BGG I am hedging my bets and assuming that you, the reader, are in fact, a board game geek, and therefore will probably not enjoy this game much.

Final Ultra Short Conclusion of Greatness:
If you are a gamer, a serious gamer, do not buy this game. Unless you are looking for a very light strategy game, whose only strong point (the fantastic art work of John Kovalic) is printed on some of the worst card stock available (maybe a bit of an exaggeration). To borrow an odd expression whose origin is unknown to me, this game just doesn’t cut the mustard.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul DeStefano
United States
Long Island
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
It's a Zendrum. www.zendrum.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
JonBen wrote:
To borrow an odd expression whose origin is unknown to me, this game just doesn’t cut the[/COLOR] mustard.


That's because the phrase is "doesn't cut the MUSTER" - as in when troops are mustered, someone isn't on time or simply isn't good enough to be given a weapon. They didn't cut the muster and are not integrated into the force.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon Ben
Canada
Vancouver
British Columbia
flag msg tools
badge
Of course I've been up all night! Not because of caffeine, it was insomnia. I couldn't stop thinking about coffee.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hmmmm, I was surprised by your post Paul, so I did some sleuthing!

O Henry wrote in 1902 (or maybe 1907, my brief research found both cited) "So I looked around and found a proposition [a woman] that exactly cut the mustard." Check out this link: http://www.yaelf.com/aueFAQ/mifcutmustard.shtml
or this one: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-cut1.htm

One final reference tells the reader the following:
"There are two schools of thought about the mustard in question. One school believes that we are talking about actual mustard, the same stuff you put on sandwiches and hot dogs. The other school thinks this mysterious mustard is probably a variant pronunciation of 'muster'." Check out the full article here: http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=20000330

So it appears that cut the mustard is in fact a saying, and maybe it is derived from cut the muster.... either way thanks for the info Paul :-)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul DeStefano
United States
Long Island
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
It's a Zendrum. www.zendrum.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
In the end, either etymology applies to this drab game.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rob Leveille
Canada
St. Catharines
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wow. I learn something new everyday here.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.