Tom Vasel
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Paladins & Dragons (Asmodee Editions, 2005 - Chrisophe Boelinger) is the first of a myriad of expansions for the wonderful game Dungeon Twister. Dungeon Twister is by nature a game that is expandable; and while it works well as a stand-alone game, I was very excited to add more characters and items to it. A big fear with this type of game, however, is the fact that new characters can outshine the old and simply get more powerful, making older sets obsolete.

Fortunately, in this case, that did not happen. Don't get me wrong - the new characters are fantastic, but I found myself often using a split of old and new characters in my forces. Let me give a brief rundown of the new characters, starting from my least favorite, and moving up.
- The Ghost (M: 3, C: 0) is a slow mover who can move through any type of terrain, even walls. He can't use any objects but can be attacked (has the worst combat skills in the game so far). His main goal is to escape off the edge of the opponent's board; but I found him too slow for my tastes, although others really enjoy his methods of slinking through terrain.
- The Pickpocket (M: 6, C: 2) is a fast little bugger who can steal objects from enemy characters. This can be rather handy when the opponent is keeping that fireball scroll from your wizard.
- The Elf Scout (M: 7, C: 1) has almost no special abilities (he can move over pit traps) but has the highest speed in the game. In a game in which speed is king (probably more than combat), I often pick the scout for my team - someone who can maneuver around and shift the gears quickly.
- The Illusionist (M: 4, C: 1) is identical to the Wizard, with the difference being that she can't levitate but can create one pit trap and one rubble (impassible terrain) marker during the game. Does this make her better? I'm not sure - I've used both, and they both have their usefulness in different situations. As they both can use scrolls, I may put my lot in with the Illusionist, since creating a rubble token at the right point in the game can be devastating.
- The Red Dragon (M: 0, C: 6) is a very unique character. It has the highest combat in the game (6!) and can shoot fireballs that are equal to the fireball scroll from the original game. This may sound like the dragon is overpowered, but in reality it's not; since it can't move and is worth two victory points to the opponent if killed! Before you think that this is crippling, a clever player can situate the dragon in places to make it an annoyance to the opponent. For example, I put my dragon in a corner of a center board, and then used another character to rotate the board around, causing the dragon to kill two of my opponent's characters! Against that particular opponent, this won't happen again, but I'll think up another idea for the next game.
- The Paladin (M: 4, C: 3) can carry two objects, which can even be combined. Give him two swords and the guy becomes a horrific fighting machine. But better yet, it allows him to have one item and still carry a wounded character around. The Paladin is one of the best supporting folk in the game.
- The Weapon Master (M: 3, C: 3) initially seems better than the Warrior, since she can see the card played by the opponent before playing hers (Oracle from Cosmic Encounter!). This makes her probably the best fighter in the game; but the Warrior still has his uses, since he can bash down doors. Still, why not put both of them on the same team?
- The Golem (M: 2, C: 4) is strong and can break down walls! The wall breaking ability (which can be done three times during the game) is fantastic, and even though it's not always useful, I have a great time doing it. He is rather slow; but used defensively, I'm very happy with him.

The game also includes some new objects…
- Teleportation ring - Allows the character to transport (one time only) to any space on an adjacent board. Nice item - best used with the dragon.
- Fire shield - Protects a character from falling rocks, fireballs, and the dragon's breath. Nice, but has limited usage.
- Key - Allows a character to open and close doors. Great item, but dangerous if your opponent gets a hold of it. I try to give mine to the Paladin.
- Dragonslayer - A sword that is +4 against dragons. VERY limited usage, but I've seen it used effectively. I wouldn't take it, though.
- Charm Scroll - Used by Illusionist or Wizard, can take control of an opponent's character for one turn. Nice, interesting, but I found the fireball scroll better. However, the one time I was able to take an opponent and have them walk up next to my dragon was priceless!

The game also includes some boards with new terrain. For the most part, I use ONE of these boards at the most, since I find that the terrain often detracts from the experience - the characters and items are enough for me. Terrain includes
- Falling Rocks - walk under these and you die (unless you're a ghost or have a shield)
- Rift - A space that can be jumped over, or crossed via rope - but otherwise blocks movement.
- Mist - Any character in a mist can't be targeted by spells, ranged attacks, etc.
- Fountain of Youth - Can heal characters next to it.
- Pentacle "Room" - If characters are on the corners of it, that team gains a victory point.

The rules explain how to pick characters for the game, using either equal forces (in which both players choose half the characters - and both teams have the same forces), or secret forcers (in which both players secretly build their teams). I personally prefer the secret forces, because it adds a bit of "deck-building" to the game. It's fun to try out different combinations of characters and enjoyable to find out which challenges your opponent will be using in the game. Of course, players should be experienced when picking their teams, as I've seen new players take an entire combat-orientated team, only to have me run circles around them with the faster characters. A team must be balanced, but that doesn't limit the options much.

If you like Dungeon Twister, then getting this expansion is a no-brainer - what are you waiting for? Unless teaching the game to newcomers, I'll always use it, and it fits easily into the original box (although there isn't much more room for future expansions). The artwork is good, the options have quadrupled, and a fun, strategic game has gotten more fun, and more strategic. Two thumbs up!

Tom Vasel
"Real men play board games"
www.tomvasel.com


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Derek Rowe
Canada
High River Canada
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Great review Tom, I've been waiting for these Dungeon Twister expansions to increase the replay value of the original game. Because I ususally game with a group of 15 this game does not see alot of action, which is unfortunate. Paladins and Dragons sounds great and when I pick up the player expansion I think this game will be a popular one for quite awhile. Excellent comments, your reveiws are always great and your opinions are close to mine.

Cheers!
 
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Eric Franklin
United States
Milton
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One minor nit - but it makes a huge difference for the Illusionist - the Fireball is on a Wand, not a Scroll.

Otherwise, great analysis of the various characters. I'm still struggling to be effective with my Illusionist, but I can definately see the potential.

Eric
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Mat zo
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nice

but with time you will see that the charm scroll is much much better than a fire wand, trust me. Because of its diversity of potential.

And about the fire wand ONLY the magician can use it... Very important indeed.
 
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Bruce Tanchel
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Solihull
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Thanks for a good review. Like you i thought the new characters would unbalance the origional, but in truth they compliment each other rather well.

I think you ,might have underestimated the charm scroll. It usually ends with a kill, but has lots of scope for imaginative play.
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