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Subject: ​Tough game, and that's a good thing! rss

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Mike Vande Ven Jr.
United States
Verona
Wisconsin
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Overview
The first time I played this, I lost. My 6 year old son said "You lost a game you played by yourself? How?" Well kiddo, it's not an easy game, that's how! . For what it's worth, I finally beat a boss on my third time playing.

In this tiny box lives a big game. Multiple levels of dungeon, many traps and combats, even a boss level. It's surprising how much of an RPG can fit into a single deck of cards.

Gameplay Summary
The overall goal of the game is to descend through three levels of a dungeon, and then defeat a boss character. You do this by first choosing a hero, and exploring the dungeon to find rooms, and examining rooms to find encounters. On each encounter there are special rules to that encounter, and dice you have to roll (good dice rolls get you through, while bad dice rolls can destroy you). You get the dice of different colors based on your character and any items or other bonuses you have gathered along the way. Upon completing the encounter, if you are still alive, you get to take the loot as an item, skill, or experience.

In a nutshell this seems easy. But there are a lot of things going against you as you make your way through the dungeon. One of the biggest threats to your survival is time. Your deck of cards not only acts as the rooms and encounters, but also a timer. You need to spend time to explore the dungeon. You need to spend time to open rooms. And when you fail encounters, time will often be spent. Before playing, I didn't get why this is so important. But by the first play through, I realized that the more time you spend, the less experience, items, skills, and potions you will gain. IF you aren't strong enough by the time you take on the boss, you will likely die.

Of course, the other main threat to your survival is your health. Each hero has a set amount of health. Certain items can increase your max health, but to get them, you need to defeat very difficult encounters. As soon as you reach enough damage to kill you, you die (unless you have a potion or some other way to stave off death). Losing encounters is the main way to take damage. As you may recall, losing encounters can also spend time. So you need to make decisions for what is more important to you, health or time.

This decision making is a key part to the overall game. You need to decide where to put your loot. You need to decide to take on an encounter or flee. You need to decide how to use your skills and potions. You need to decide what is the optimal placement of dice. All of these decisions make a delightfully challenging and difficult puzzle.

Once you have a better understanding of this puzzle, you can take your hero on a campaign. There are multiple difficulty levels to choose from, which is a nice touch. Completing a game allows you to mark off boxes on a campaign character sheet. This allows you to build up extra skills over time, potentially allowing you to work up to the most difficult dungeons. This is a well thought out mode that ramps up the difficultly, but also challenges you to beat all of the bosses in as few games as possible.

Likes/Dislikes
Some may be split on this, but one of the first things I noticed as a breath of fresh air is that all of the hero characters are female. I showed this to my wife, and her jaw nearly hit the floor. If you are too macho to play a female character, either get over it, or find another game.

The quality of everything is nice. In my version of the game (seems like I got a recent reprint), all of the damage cubes are little hearts. I wish the potion cubes were little potions, but oh well. The cards seem sturdy. And the dice are nice as well (I like the translucent look). Everything fits well in this tiny box.

Another great thing about this game is that while solo mode is my preferred method of play, I can also bring in my wife for a two player game, or even get another copy (or the expansion), to allow up to 4 players to head into the dungeon. It feels like this game will get easier with the more players, so I plan to stick to 1 or 2 for the challenge.

With all of this, it's hard to complain about much (other than losing so much ). But if I had to pick out one thing, it would be that there is no included pencil for campaign mode. Yup, I just complained about a lack of pencil. Why? Because the box is small, and finding a small pencil (without wasting half a normal sized pencil) to keep in the box is hard.

Final Thoughts
I have had this game on my wish list for some time. Recently I took a work trip, and sitting in the hotel, I wished I had a game to play. Same thing happened a few weeks later on another trip. I then decided to get this game, and I am very glad I did. With its small size/weight, it will be easy to bring with anywhere, and provide some great solo gaming opportunities.

As stated earlier, I'm simply stunned they fit such a richly featured RPG in such a small package. Well done!
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Neill
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I think one negative I would add is that it can be quite tricky to slide the cards (as skills or stats) under the player card. I know that seems minor, but it does play on my mind every time I think of playing - I ask myself if I could be bothered with the fiddly gameplay, and usually the answer is no. I have seen people build stands to hold the cards to good effect - maybe I'll try the same?
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Hugh Downing
United States
Florida
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I sleeve all my cards, including the character cards. I find using blue tack keeps everything in place. Comes off easy.
 
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Mike Vande Ven Jr.
United States
Verona
Wisconsin
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Geisskane wrote:
I think one negative I would add is that it can be quite tricky to slide the cards (as skills or stats) under the player card. I know that seems minor, but it does play on my mind every time I think of playing - I ask myself if I could be bothered with the fiddly gameplay, and usually the answer is no. I have seen people build stands to hold the cards to good effect - maybe I'll try the same?


I was bothered by that the first two or three plays. After that, didn’t seem too bad anymore.
 
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kos blaat
Netherlands
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When staying at a hotel I usually just grind videogames on a nds. YMMV.
 
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Gary Ives
United States
South Carolina
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For a pencil that might fit in the box, go to a sporting goods store that sells golf equipment. Golf scoring pencil would be just the right size, I think.
 
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Bryan Cole
United States
Waxhaw
North Carolina
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Nice review - well stated and I agree with your points. I recently pulled this back out and it took me a bit to figure out which cards to use since I backed the kickstarter and they sent the updated cards but I couldn't remember if I had swapped them out or not.

I like how durable the cards are but I feel like my dice for some reason are weighted wrong and the 1's and 2's show up way more than they should. cry

And just like the reviewer, it took me until my 3rd game to beat a boss - Hyrda defeated with the warrior.

For a pencil - if you have an IKEA anywhere near buy, you can stock up as they also have those small mini-golf pencils everywhere.
 
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Nick
Germany
Maintal
Hessen
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Schwarz-weiß wie Schnee
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Why not just saw a pencil in half and sharpen the tip?
Two pencils made out of one

Just ordered this game after playing the steam-version (It's great, but I'd like to play boardgames the physical way) and I'm excited about it.
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