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Note - I've also posted this in the Dungeoneer : Vault of the Fiends forum as we used that set in our game as well.
Yesterday afternoon two of my friends game over for a 3-way game of Dungeoneer. All three of us love the game, and were eager to see how a Heroic set played when mixed with the Epic set. We had originally intended to take our heroes all the way up to 10th level, but ultimately decided that we didn't have enough time to play with 3 sets. So we combined Dungeoneer: Vault of the Fiends and Epic Dungeoneer: Call of the Lich Lord.
Having played the game a number of times before, we've found that several optional rules greatly enhance our enjoyment of the game, making it a bit more tactical/competitive, and less random. They are as follows:
Hero Selection: We always choose which Hero to play as, rather than assigning the cards randomly. No one likes to play a character they see as sub-par.
Secret Quests: We deal out two Quest Cards to each player and let them keep one secret. It keeps the other players guessing about where you are trying to go during the game, as well as makes the next optional rule more interesting.
Revealed Map: In the past, several people have won games by being incredibly lucky and drawing the Map Card they needed to finish a Quest during the Explore Phase, simply plopping it down right next to their character for the win. We all felt that was pretty cheap; even the players who did it (well most of them did). We deal all the Map Cards out between the players, pass any cards required by our Quests to the left, and take turns adding a card to the board one player at a time. This allows you to stick your opponents Quest locations in hard to reach spaces and set up difficult areas with Pits and Spikes, as well as Trapped and Locked Doors. Plus, players are able to plan their route through the dungeon, rather than just wander around aimlessly.
As the owner of the games, and semi-official DM, I decided to let people select a starting hero from any of the three Heroic sets I had; Dungeoneer: Vault of the Fiends, Dungeoneer: Dragons of the Forsaken Desert, and Dungeoneer: Realm of the Ice Witch. We rolled off for first choice and I won, choosing Faerona the Elf Priestess of Nakari. Next to be picked was Grog Nordham the Human Beastmaster, followed by Shara Quickblade the Elf Assassin.
Just an aside here, the player who choose Grog was the least experienced, having only played once before, and mistakenly though that all monsters counted as Fiends, and that Grog could control any of them.
Then we dealt out the Quest Cards. Each player got two Heroic and two Epic Quests and chose one of each to reveal, keeping the others secret. Next we built the map as described above under optional rules. As this was our first time using a Heroic and Epic set together we just shuffled the Map Cards from both sets together and built one huge dungeon, rather than separating them into different areas. This had a definite effect on the game which I'll get to later on.
Since we were playing with two sets we divided the Adventure Cards into separate Peril and Glory decks. However, we did not stack the decks (1s and 2s on top of 3s and 4s, on top of 5s and 6s, etc) and simply mixed everything together. We reasoned that this would lead to interesting choices, as you might want to save Glory or Peril from turn to turn so you could play a big card you had in your hand, rather than play the inexpensive cards as soon as you got them. This proved to be a really bad idea, which I will get to shortly.
Things started off well enough, though some areas of the dungeon were a deathtrap to Heroic level characters at first. Maneuvering around Threat 8+ Pits and Spikes is almost impossible when your Move Stat is a lowly 2! People also collected Peril rather quickly since the map spaces from the Epic set tend to have a higher Peril value. This is where not separating the map into two areas and not stacking the deck proved to be a problem. After a few turns we all had Peril scores either close to or in the double digits, meaning that we were all getting assaulted by monsters everywhere we turned. Then this monstrosity made his appearance.
No one had even gotten to 2nd level yet, but were collecting enough Peril so that the player who had drawn the Infernal Beast (which happened to be Grog) could smack us with it about every other turn. Being a magic user Faerona managed to beat it's Magic Threat 6+ a few times, but Shara wasn't so lucky. Both characters were taking a severe beating, as a Melee stat of 7 is an automatic 2 wound hit against characters who have a Melee stat of 1 or less, which they both did. Even Shara's Assassinate ability didn't help her at all (since the best she could hope for was tie, and then only if the beast got a 1 for it's attack roll), and when she died after only about 8 turns and before anyone had even completed a single Quest, we saw our mistake. Heroic level characters have absolutely no chance against Epic level monsters and traps. So, if you are going to play with a game combining Heroic and Epic sets, you have to stack the deck. Unless you want a really short and brutal game that is...
Since this suicide run had only taken about half an hour or so and we still had lots of time left, we reset the game. Everyone kept their characters and Quests, and the map was left as is, but we set up the Adventure decks properly this time. The game went much more smoothly after that, though the mixed Heroic and Epic map spaces still caused up to rack up the Peril quite quickly.
Grog took an early and commanding lead through some clever plays with Shift and Warp cards; putting his Quest locations within easy reach and tossing Faerona and Shara into a pretty dangerous area of the dungeon. He warped Faerona (me) into a space where her only way out was through the Throne of Despair, meaning that she was going to have to somehow dodge the monstrous Arch Lich Lord. Thankfully she had a Dodge all ready, which allowed her to avoid the three wounds she would have taken otherwise, and the Gilded Key (her one Treasure that she could carry) meant that she was able to get through the Trapped 8+ doors relatively easily. However in a particularly ruthless move, Shara, who was after Faerona in turn order, used Nudge to push her back into the Throne of Despair. As she hadn't entered on her turn she didn't have to fight the Arch Lich Lord (thank goodness), but collected a lot more Peril and had to get through the Trapped 8+ doors again. Ouch.
Faerona eventually caught up to Grog in levels as the Beastmaster (now Beastmasterwas/Champion) was having real trouble defeating the giant spider Shadefang. Faerona took the opportunity to hurl as many Undead as she could at him during each of her Dungeonlord phases, as Undead get +2 attack in the Shrine of Angrihm. Poor Shara was still stuck at the Heroic level as her Quests were in particularly tough to reach spots. We kept telling her to head to the Vault Entryway in an attempt to draw something easier, which she eventually did. But by then it was too late. Grog finally dispatched Shadefang, but only had 2 wounds left after the harrowing encounter and was finished off by an Acid Shower. Faerona, now a Priestess of Nakari/Mageblade, traveled to the Conjuring Chamber collecting enough Glory to complete the Abyssal Dealings Quest bringing her up to level 7.
It was a close game at the end, and everyone seemed to have a good time. The next time we play however, we are going to have two separate areas of the map; one for Heroic and one for Epic. The Epic Map cards have a much higher Peril value than the Heroic ones, meaning that low level characters can be hit with a lot of stuff rather early on. We liked the idea of one giant dungeon (which is why we played with two dungeon sets) but in the future I think we'll find some way to keep the two area more distinct.
After our game, I thought of building the map in two rounds as well; dealing out and placing the Heroic dungeon cards first, then dealing out and placing the Epic dungeon cards. It would result in a big combined dungeon, but with the more difficult/dangerous Epic locations towards the edges. That would allow the players more choice about when they decided to risk them.
I had also thought about building two distinct but connected areas. Deal out and place the Heroic map cards first, then deal out the Epic cards. Place the Epic start location adjacent to a Heroic passage (if possible) then build the Epic dungeon as normal. Though when placing an Epic card, it has to be adjacent to at least one other Epic card. In this way the Epic map spaces are all in the same general area, though there could still be more than one way to enter the area, as the Epic cards could touch Heroic ones in some places.
Or, build the Epic dungeon first, and then build the Heroic dungeon around it. After all, most dungeon-delving adventures get more difficult the further you progress into the site.
Of course the one problem with any of these idea is the Warp and Shift type cards. A low level hero who gets moved into the Epic area has a good chance of dying if they can't get back to the Heroic area quickly enough...
I like the second option as well, though I'm reluctant to put a restriction on the Warp/Shift cards. I don't really like to put rules on cards/game pieces that aren't actually there as it usually leads to confusion.
I don't know about the cards in Dungeoneer: Tomb of the Lich Lord as I don't have it, but there aren't actually that many Warp/Shift cards in VotF or CotLL. Plus there are a few "cancel target Warp/Shift type cards" in the VotF set. The risk of being dumped into a particularly nasty area makes both the Warp/Shift and cancel cards that much more valuable.
Of course the easiest way to avoid this problem is to just play with a Wilderness Heroic map and a Dungeon Epic map.
I think the best sets to combine are dungeon + wilderness.
My favorite combo: Vault of the Fiends + Dragons of the Forsaken Desert + Wrath of the Serpent Goddess.
Though Den of the Wererats and Haunted Woods of Malthorin are probably the best Dungeoneer sets.
- Last edited Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:35 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:35 am