Michael F
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Dungeon Fighter wasn't a game I was intending to pick up, but one of the local gaming stores was having a buy one, get one half off sale, and I wanted to get something I thought my wife might enjoy. From my perspective, I was also trying to find a fun dungeon crawler (which seems almost impossible unless you have the cash to shell out for something that's out of print). I decided to take the plunge since this fit the theme I was looking for, and I didn't really have any dexterity games in my collection. When I got home and played it with my wife, it wasn't quite what I was expecting.

THE REVIEW:

In Dungeon Fighter, you play as a pre-made hero that has 3 special powers. These range from dealing extra damage, to healing, to avoiding enemy attacks, and there are even some unique abilities for some of the characters. These heroes also are only allowed to carry three items, whether they be weapons, armor, or items. Each person can only carry specific gear, so that does factor in to who you play as. You pick from about a dozen or so of these heroes, set up a dungeon from included map cards with a big bad boss at the end of it, and you're ready to go.

One player acts as the team leader, who settles disputes about decisions and money use. At first I wasn't too hot on a game where one person decided who gets what, but it actually doesn't become a huge issue. Most of the ways you can spend your gold are very cheap, and a good leader will try to get a group consensus as to what the party will do next.

During the game you have three colored dice; a red one, a blue one, and a green one. You also start with an extra white die. These are what you use to attack. The colored dice are usable as many times as you want, but the white dice must be gained through other means. Think of them as "extra chance" dice. On your turn, you must bounce a die of your choice off the table and onto the board, which is a big target. The center is an automatic kill, while the outsides have chances to miss or deal very little damage. If you hit, you deal damage, if you miss, the monster deals damage to you. There are also symbols on the dice that, if showing after you roll them, allow you to choose and perform a special ability on your character sheet. This is essentially the combat of the game.

However, you may be faced with a monster, environment, or use an item that modifies your attack roll somehow. Some examples may be to roll a die off your nose, throw it over your shoulder, throw it from three feet away from the table, throw it from under the table, throw it with your eyes closed, throw it under your leg, etc. Even more difficult is when you have to do a combination of any of the previously mentioned things. Whatever you may have to do, combat is much more difficult than you may think. My wife and I were stuck on a level one monster that required us to throw a die over our shoulder, and neither of us made it in probably a dozen attempts from both of us. These methods to attack made us feel really silly, and most of the time we weren't hitting anywhere near the target. We ultimately made a house rule where if the die hit the floor, it was considered a redo. You may be surprised to know just how easy it is to make a die go further than you want it to. Despite how much fun this game may have been, the ways of throwing the dice became very tedious after awhile. So much so, in fact, that I almost quit on a couple of occasions.

Regardless, whenever you enter a new room, you must fight a monster. Should you run out of dice, you have two options. You can either use your "extra chance" dice, if you have any, or you must allow the monster a free attack on all heroes to regain the dice that have been used already. The big downside to doing the latter is that your leader "fails" as a leader in this particular fight, and must flip his leader chip over to indicate this. If you can make it through a fight where the leader "succeeds" as the leader, you get a free extra white die to use in future encounters. Keep in mind that you are not allowed to recall dice already used during the final boss. This goes back and forth until either the monster or party is dead. Should a party member get "knocked out" during the fight, but the party is still victorious, you must take a "scar" that covers up 1/3 of your life and one of your special abilities. As a result, you take a permanent loss of these hit points and ability for the rest of the game. A second scar covers up another 1/3, and if you receive three scars, your character dies for good.

As you progress through the dungeon, you may come across a store where you can buy items. Stores sell all three of the base items, and they all tend to do different things. First are the weapons. They tend to either add, multiply, or give you an absolute damage to your attack (absolute meaning "attack=3," for example). However, a lot of these also require you to throw the die in an unusual way, such as the ways mentioned above. In the game I played with my wife, I purchased an axe that gave me +3 damage, but I had to stand away from the board, jump in the air, do a 180, and throw the die onto the target before I touched the ground again. Even though I got a one-hit kill my first throw, it soon became very ridiculous to even land the die anywhere remotely near the board, and made me want to forgo using my axe altogether. I later got a crossbow that let me flick the die off my fist, which I much preferred, but that wasn't until almost the end of the game.

Then you have the armor. These tend to be somewhat similar to the weapons, but there are also some ways to avoid getting hit if you're wearing any of these. Lastly, there are the items, which are almost always one-time use potions/things. They do anything from let you avoid an attack to letting you heal. Compared to the weapons and armor, which are almost the same in price, these aren't nearly as useful, but sometimes they can be lifesavers.

The rest of the game amounts to progressing through rooms in a dungeon, which was the part I found the most enjoyable. You enter a room, you draw a monster from the draw pile, you fight it, you get your rewards and move on. There are some special rooms that require you to throw dice a certain way, and some rooms that give you treasure or let you heal all wounds. It had a very Diablo-esque feel to it, which I enjoyed.

The components of the game aren't anything to write home about. You have some dice, the board is what you would expect, and just about everything else is in regular card form. I do enjoy the gold pieces though. They have a unique look to them that makes them look more realistic. The tower that comes with the game is also pretty neat, even if it is just a glorified card holder for monster and item cards. It gives a nice flair to the game though.


IN CONCLUSION:


This game almost feels like the Wii of tabletop games, because it does require a lot of moving on your part. If you typically don't like Wii games that require a lot of moving around and precision, you may not enjoy this game either. For me it was alright. I found myself enjoying the overall theme, and I loved the humor found throughout the decks of cards. I found that it even scratched my itch for a good dungeon crawler, but the combat is very annoying at times, and I longed for something with more traditional combat mechanics as I went through this game. I almost want to compare it to Guitar Hero in that this game is very unique in how you play it, and the only way you'll get better is through practice. As a result, this can make for very frustrating situations for new or inexperienced players. Nothing is worse than being stuck on a level one bad guy that only has one or two life, but because of how you must throw the attack dice, he may never be beaten. Yes, there is a way around this, but why make an excuse for a mechanic that can sometimes be broken in certain situations?

I may need to just play around with this game more, but so far I've found that certain things about this game simply don't work that well. If you don't take Dungeon Fighter too seriously, it's pretty fun. But the flip side to that is that you may want something a little deeper, and something that doesn't make you feel foolish for having to throw a die at a target while doing cartwheels (not an actual situation in the game, but it sort of feels like that level of ridiculousness). I think for most people this will be a game you either love or hate. I want to play around with it a little more before I make a decision, because I really do love all the little pieces of this game outside of the combat. And that's not to say that it's not immensely rewarding when you kill a monster on your first die roll, but that almost never happens. As for now, I think it's a decent game, and if you want something a little different that still falls within the realm of dungeon crawlers, be sure to check it out. I would recommend trying before you buy though.

My BGG Score: 7 out of 10

Positives:
+ Great dungeon crawling atmosphere
+ Lots of humor that doesn't detract from the game
+ Gold pieces and tower are cool
+ Weapons, armor, and items can give you an edge over the difficulty
+ It's cooperative

Negatives:
--- The Combat
- May be too difficult for some


EDIT: After playing this game a few more times, I have come to the conclusion that this game works SO much better as a solitaire experience. Even though this is dressed up to be a party game, playing by yourself ups the odds of you beating it by a lot. Not to say I won't play this with friends, but I definitely get more enjoyment out of it playing solo.
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Wolfram Troeder
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newkillerstar27 wrote:
...
This game almost feels like the Wii of tabletop games, because it does require a lot of moving on your part.
...


This!
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Peter Brichs
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My experience says that this is a game you need to try a couple of times. You get better after the first game, so the second is more enjoyable - and so on.

I really like it, even though I don't get to play it nearly enough (not because of the game, but because of the fact that I have too many unplayed games).
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Mark
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Your review matches my experience almost exactly. It's a very strange "party game" because it *does* require some practice to really enjoy it. It's simply not fun to "whiff" on every single roll of the game, and with a group of 4 - 5 noobies playing, that is pretty likely. Also, I vacillate on the impossible throw situations that can pop up. Sometimes they are amusing, sometimes they piss me off.

Individually, I really like a lot of the mechanics (scars, increasing challenges, dexterity, goofy iconography, etc). But there's something about this game that just doesn't quite work for me. Honestly, I don't think it is a good party game. More of a light 2-3 player game, and possibly a great game to play with kids (I haven't done that, so can't really say).

Finally, the first rule book that came with the game. OMG, horrible. Anyone that is going to play this game must download the latest rule book.
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Michael F
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Brichs wrote:
My experience says that this is a game you need to try a couple of times. You get better after the first game, so the second is more enjoyable - and so on.

I really like it, even though I don't get to play it nearly enough (not because of the game, but because of the fact that I have too many unplayed games).


I think I agree with you. Unfortunately my work takes up a good chunk of my free time, so moving towards "mastering" this game is going to take a long time, lol. I really do want to like it, but there's something odd about a party game that is so unforgiving in its mechanics.
 
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oldschoolgamr
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newkillerstar27 wrote:
From my perspective, I was also trying to find a fun dungeon crawler (which seems almost impossible unless you have the cash to shell out for something that's out of print).

You should try Mice and Mystics - especially if you are trying to get more casual gamers (e.g., spouses and kids) into a dungeon crawler. Some are calling it HeroQuest with a story... It's a great co-op, certainingly not out of print, and seems to be striking a chord with all types of gamers.

OSG

Edit: Added the word "crawler" as it sounded like I was suggesting putting family members in an actual dungeon.
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Michael F
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oldschoolgamr wrote:
newkillerstar27 wrote:
From my perspective, I was also trying to find a fun dungeon crawler (which seems almost impossible unless you have the cash to shell out for something that's out of print).

You should try Mice and Mystics - especially if you are trying to get more casual gamers (e.g., spouses and kids) into a dungeon crawler. Some are calling it HeroQuest with a story... It's a great co-op, certainingly not out of print, and seems to be striking a chord with all types of gamers.

OSG

Edit: Added the word "crawler" as it sounded like I was suggesting putting family members in an actual dungeon.


I've had my eye on this. I guess what's holding me back is the fact that it's mice and bugs instead of heroes and monsters (Yes, I know the mice used to be human, but it's the miniatures that matter). I've also been on the fence about the D&D games (Ravenloft and those ones), but I keep hearing so many negative things about how they're just a straight-up slug fest without much variety to them.
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