Scott A. Reed
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Lawrence
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The Basics
Dungeon Lords is a game of action selection and resource management where the player are overlords of dungeons who are attempting to impress the Dungeon Keeper's Guild by quickly and efficiently dealing with adventurer parties.

Goal
The goal of the game is to score the most points by eliminating adventurers, earning titles by amassing certain characteristics, and keeping dungeon tiles from being overtaken.

Gameboard
The game comes with several game-boards. Each player has an individual board with areas for the dungeon layout, resources, action cards, and adventurers. Additionally, there is a central board that holds the stores of resources, monsters, and rooms, and also contains the tracks for the action selections. Yet another board is uses to keep track of the flow of the game, and holds the adventurer tiles that come out during the game, giving players a preview of what adventurers are coming up in the next "season" and what actions will take place in the current "season". This board is backed with the spell-track that is used at the end of the game "year", and also has the scoring track for end of game.

Game components
This description is based on playing a standard game with four players, there are some changes for different numbers of players, as well as more involved rules for an advanced game.

This game comes with a small mountain of cardboard. In addition to the player and communal boards described above, there are punched out bits that represent the tunnels the players dig on their dungeon boards, rooms which can be placed within the dungeon, cardboard cards for all of the adventurers that come exploring, cardboard cards for all the monsters players can "hire" to work in the dungeon, and a few other sundry cardboard bits. In addition to the individual player/dungeon boards, each player has a set of action cards in his or her color, and three wooden dungeon managers, which are used for selection actions during the turns. From the wood family, there are blocks which represent the food you must use to pay workers, gold which is used to pay for actions and for taxes. Finally, a colleciton of red plastic cubes are used to mark damage taken by adventurers as they seek to plunder your dungeon. Needless to say, this is not a box you want to accidentally spill on the floor.

How to play
The game is played over two years of four seasons each. During each season, players select actions and prepare for the upcoming dungeon invasion by a party of adventurers. Each player begins with a rudimentary dungeon comprised of a couple of tunnel tiles. This dungeon can be expanded over the course of play by directing the player's imps (workers) to dig further tunnels or by over-building tunnel tiles with room tiles. Players must be mindful that the adventurers have a unified plan of attack when entering a dungeon in that they conquer out from the entrance to the dungeon first, so this can be a critical issue in deciding where to dig out the dungeon and where to place rooms within the space. In addition to the already-dug dungeon space, each player begins with an amount of food, gold, imps, and a trap.

At the beginning of the first season (winter), three monsters and two rooms are added to the central board as the items that can be selected for the round. Additionally, four adventurers are added to the next season to show the dungeon-keepers what is coming. Adventurers, rooms, and monsters are laid out this way at the beginning of each turn, except that no adventurers come out in the fall turn (though players will divide the adventurers that are in the fall area at the end of the turn)

The players choose from among their available action cards (more on why some cards aren't available in a second) and place them face-down in the three card spaces on their boards. Beginning with the start player, each player reveals his or her first action card and selects that action on the center board in turn order. All of the available actions are printed on the center board, but each action only has three available spaces. This means that if you selected an action and all of the spaces are full, you cannot take that action (but you might be able to save that action to take it on the next turn if necessary). When you take an action, you take the lowest available action, which means there is a little planning in deciding where you put your action card in your selection, as you might want to be the last player to take that action due to various benefits. Most of the actions have a cost associated with them, and when it comes to taking those actions, a player must be able to pay those costs to take the action.

The actions are:

Get food
1. Pay 1 Gold and get 2 food
2. Take 1 evil and get 3 food
3. Take 2 evil and get 3 food and 1 gold

Get less evil
1. Lose 1 evil, and look at 1 of the spell cards for the round
2. Lose 2 evil
3. Pay 1 gold to lose 2 evil, and look at 1 of the spell cards for the round

Dig Tunnels
1. Devote 2 imps to dig 2 tunnels
2. Devote 3 imps to dig 3 tunnels
4. Devote 1 imp as overseer and 4 more imps to dig 4 tunnels
*You cannot dig tunnels in such a way that you have a 2x2 section of tunnels.

Get Gold
1. Devote 2 imps to 2 tunnels to get gold from those tunnels
2. Devote 3 imps to 3 tunnels to get gold from those tunnels
3. Devote 1 imp as overseer and 4 more imps to 4 tunnels to get gold from those tunnels.

Get more imps
1. Spend 1 food to get 1 imp
2. Spend 2 food to get 2 imps
3. Spend 1 food and 1 gold to get 2 imps

Get a trap
1. Spend 1 gold to get 1 trap (in 2d year, take two traps, and discard 1 from your total hand)
2. Get 1 trap (in 2d year, take two traps, and discard 1 from your total hand)
3. Spend 2 gold to get 2 traps (in 2d year, take three traps, and discard 1 from your total hand (I think?))

Get a monster
1. Get a monster, pay costs associated with taking that monster
2. Get a monster, pay costs associated with taking that monster
3. Spend a food to get a monster, pay costs associated with taking that monster
* Important, this queue is resolved from #3 to #1, so the first in this queue actually gets last choice.

Get a dungeon room
1. Get a room
2. Pay 1 gold to get a room
3. Pay 1 gold to get a room
* Important, this queue is resolved from #3 to #1, so the first in this queue actually gets last choice. Only two rooms come out per turn, so if someone is on #3, the person on #1 will not get a room.
**Rooms are built overtop of an existing tunnel, so that must be factored into your planning for where to put the room. Additionally, each room has a limitation on it as to where it can be played, so you must have an existing tunnel in that zone to play the room. As with tunnels, you cannot build a 2x2 section of rooms and tunnels on your dungeon map.

After processing through these actions for the round, players then move the cards they chose for their 2d and 3d actions up into the "locked" sections of their player boards. They will remain there until freed up after the next turn. Players then take the two cards that were previously in the locked space and the card that was in their 1st action space into their hand of action cards. If you took an action that was not available when your turn came around, you can move your manager to that card and may opt to take that card back into your hand at the end of the round rather than the card in your #1 slot (in which case the card in your #1 slot is locked into one of the lockdown spaces).

In the following interim short round, players can take actions granted to them by their rooms. Some rooms are passive and merely give effects when attacked or overall bonuses, but some rooms have actions that can be executed by devoting imps to that room, e.g. a room where three imps can work to decrease your evil by 1 point.

Following the rooms phase, the next turn begins, and the start player marker moves to the next player. In the Spring, Summer, and Fall turns, there is an event that comes before the end of the season. These are randomly distributed at the beginning of the year, and affect all players. One event is taxes, in which players must pay for all tunnels and rooms in their dungeon, to the tune of 1 gold for every two. For every gold the player cannot pay, the player takes a debt token which counts against his or her final score at the end of the game. The other major event is payday, in which players must pay all of their monsters. The monsters get their original hire cost again as payment. If a player cannot or will not meet the payment requirement, the monster runs amok and the player loses the monster and takes on one evil (presumably the monster has cut a swath through the local village, which is blamed on the dungeon-keeper). There is one final tile that can come up in the year; in the base game it is nothing, but in the more advanced game it is a special circumstance that affects all of the players or the incoming parties of adventurers.

The final phase of each turn in spring, summer, and fall will divide up the party of adventurers among the players based on their evil quotient. The most evil player will get the most powerful of the adventurers, down to the "easiest" of the adventurers going to the least evil player.

A word on Traps

When it comes to the combat phase, traps are the items that the adventure party encounters first, prior to any actions on their part. Each of the trap cards dictates what the trap does and what party members it affects. Players are limited to playing a single trap if the adventurers are in a tunnel, which is placed for free, and one trap if the adventurers are in a room, for which a player must pay 1 gold. The damage done by traps is lessened by the action of the rogues. Rogues have on their cards symbols which show how much trap damage they prevent. This damage prevention is applied to the first damage caused by the traps. Traps are discarded after they are used.

A word on Monsters

There are a variety of monsters (and ghosts) in the game. Each of the monsters shows a hiring cost, which is ultimately also their payday cost. These costs include gold, food, taking on evil, and discarding other monsters or traps. It is very important that players account for the hiring cost when getting a monster, as the player will likely have to pay that cost again when payday comes around or otherwise discard the monster. This can also mean that taking on the Vampire, which gains the player 2 evil, will rachet the player up another 2 evil on payday, or that the player must sacrifice another monster to the Demon on payday. Monsters are a permanent part of a player's dungeon until discarded by firing or by other means.

Monsters:
Goblins - Goblins are hired for 1 food. Goblins to 1 2 damage to the lead adventurer, and if that adventurer is defeated the goblin also does 1 point of damage to the next adventurer.
Trolls - Trolls cost 2 food. Trolls do 3 points of damage to the lead adventurer, but you have the option of feeding an troll 1 food during the battle to increase this to 4. Additionally, when you hire an troll, you receive a troll chit, which can be used like the imps to dig for gold and to dig tunnels, though not and in the production rooms. Trolls cannot be used to dig tunnels or mine gold. The troll does not help with digging tunnels or mining gold, and does not count as an imp during scoring. - Rules
Vampires - Vampires are hired for 2 evil. Vampires have a choice of doing 3 damage to any adventurer and retiring, or doing 2 damage to any adventurer and returning to still be available. Vampires cannot attack priests.
Witches - Witches are hired for 1 food and 1 evil. A witch can attack the lead adventurer for 4 points, or can attack twice anywhere in the adventurer party for 1 point apiece.
Slime - Slime costs 1 food. Slime does 1 damage to all party members. Alternately, Slime can be retired to prevent the clean-up phase from happening for a turn, so the room does not get conquered, and party members do not take fatigue.
Ghosts - Ghosts are actually not monsters, so they fall a little outside of some of the rules for monsters. Ghosts are hired for 1 evil. Ghosts do 2 points of damage to any member of the party except for the lead person. Because ghosts are not monsters, they can be added to an attack group even if that would overload the maximum number of creatures that could be used in that space. They are also unaffected by the spells that target monsters, and they cannot be sacrificed to pay the costs of a demon.
Golems - Golems are hired by paying a gold and discarding a trap. Golems are relentless attacking machines, and do 4 points of damage per turn and then remain available to attack on the following turn.
Demons - Demons are hired by sacrificing another monster and taking an evil point. Demons do 7 points of damage to the a character of your choice before retiring, but an attack with a demon also prevents the clean-up phase of the turn, so an occupied tile does not get conquered, and no party members take fatigue.
Dragons - Dragons are hired for 2 food and 2 evil. Dragons do 2 damage to all party members, and there is no heal step on a turn when a dragon has attacked.

A word on Adventurers

Adventurers come in four (five) types. The types are
Warrior, always moves to the front of the battle
Rogue, prevents trap damage (see 'A word on Traps')
Mage, casts the spells in the round
Priest, heals the party
Paladin, a combination of each of the other four types, and an additional adversary to face if invoked.

All of the adventurer types have an amount of damage they must take before they are eliminated, expressed by the number on the upper-right of the chits. This is also the number of victory points a player gains for eliminating the fighter. The symbols across the bottom of the chit show the relative strengths of that character -- the number of symbols of the rogue is how many trap damage is prevented, the number of crystals on the mage is how powerful of a spell that mage can cast, and the number of hearts on the priest shows how much damage is healed at the end of the turn if there was combat. Defeating adventurers nets a player 2 victory points per adventurer defeated, and 5 for defeating a paladin.

The play of the battle
After all of the plans have been made for the year and the adventurer party has entered the dungeon, the combat begins. The combat is sequenced as follows, whenever an adventurer takes enough damage to be destroyed, that chit is removed from the battle-area and placed in the dungeon hold.

0. The party moves into the first available room in the dungeon. In the second year, if tunnels or rooms were conquered in the first year, the party moves into the first non-conquered room or tunnel, following the rules of getting to the one closest to the entrance to the dungeon. Players set up their combat sequence with the resources they have available, and once all players are set, each player follows through the combat sequence.

1. Traps -- Players may play traps in tunnels for no additional cost, or may play a trap in a room for 1 gold. Traps are resolved first, and are described on the trap card. Rogues prevent trap damage, though any trap damage beyond what is prevented by the rogue is applied. The trap is discarded after use.

2. Fast Spells -- If there are magic users in the group, the fast spells are resolved. The spell card will show how what the spell does, and the position on the spell track will show how powerful the mage needs to be to cast that spell. If the mage does not have that many crystals, the spell is not cast in that dungeon. Fast spells are differentiated from slow spells by the lightning bolt (as opposed to the green roots).

3. Monster attacks -- Players may place one monster in a tunnel, or two monsters in a room (unless otherwise dictated by the room card). Monsters do their damage as shown on their cards. Most monsters retire after doing damage and return to the monster cave face-down, but some monsters are relentless and are available to attack again in the next turn. Finally, ghosts are not monsters in the usual sense and can be added to attacks in tunnels and rooms beyond the normal imposed limits.

4. Slow spells -- Same as with fast spells, except these are delineated by the green root symbols.

5. Healing -- If the party has any priests, the priests heal the characters in the front by the number of heart symbols shown on the priest card. One word of note -- if there was no monster combat in the round, the priests do not do any healing. This can be important in calculating what damage can be done to the party in a round.

6. Conquering and fatigue -- If there are any party members left over at this step, and there is nothing that prevents this step, the tile is conquered and flipped over to its light side. That space is no longer usable by the player, and it will not be re-visited by adventurers. Additionally, the player will take negative points for conquered tiles at the end of the game. Finally, the lead character of the party takes fatigue, based on the symbols on the most-recent spell card. Fatigue can be a life-saver for the poor dungeon planner because it may mean that the party finally drops dead from exhaustion after looting your dungeon for several turns. If adventurers remain and there are still tunnels or rooms left to be conquered, the combat sequence begins again at 0.

After the first dungeon-raid by the adventurers, the second year begins just like the first, except that the adventurers and paladin are tougher, the monsters are somewhat better (demon, dragon, and golem are included in the year 2 mix), the rooms are improved and include some that grant victory points, the spells are more powerful, and the card-draw on traps is better.

Following the second fight
After the second battle, there is a final scoring phase where players get points based on how many tunnels and rooms they had in their dungeons, losing points for conquered tiles and unpaid taxes, and gaining points for adventurers and paladins defeated. Finally, there are a series of titles that are awarded for being the most of certain things, including an award for most evil, having the most tunnels, having the most imps, et c. Winner is the player with the highest score.

My opinion
Dungeon Lords is pretty entertaining. Though the game uses comical graphics throughout, the game is anything but cutesy. There are a lot of factors for players to manage throughout the game, including ensuring there are enough resources to make the dungeon run, to keeping the relative levels of evil low enough not to incur the wrath of the paladins, to merely keeping enough cash on hand to pay taxes. The game is not difficult, but it is somewhat complex to keep up on several factors that will impact your dungeon, which is ultimately where you get your score.

After playing through once and becoming somewhat familiar with what I could expect from the creature, trap, and spell decks, I think I would approach another game with a little more strategy about what I would accomplish. It is worth noting that among the actions, you will ultimately only get to take 24 of them (and you will only get that number if you are lucky and don't get snaked out of one), and you will need to strike a balance between gathering resources, hiring monsters, and keeping your evil in-check.

Dungeon Lords is complex enough that it is not something that I could bring to the casual players that I play with, but it is an interesting and fulfilling game that I could play with my weekly group of gamers.
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B C Z
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Reston
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A nice review.

Some corrections from memory:


skelebone wrote:

Monsters:
Goblins - Goblins are hired for 1 food. Goblins to 1 damage to the lead adventurer, and if that adventurer is defeated the goblin also does 1 point of damage to the next adventurer.

Goblins do 2 base damage to the lead adventurer.

Quote:

Ogres - Ogres cost 2 food. Ogres do 3 points of damage to the lead adventurer, but you have the option of feeding an ogre 1 food during the battle to increase this to 4. Additionally, when you hire an ogre, you receive an ogre chit, which can be used like the imps to dig for gold and to dig tunnels, though not in the rooms that call for imps to create something.

Ogre tokens can be used anywhere an imp can be used, even if the rooms call for the imps to create something.

Quote:

All of the adventurer types have an amount of damage they must take before they are eliminated, expressed by the number on the upper-right of the chits. This is also the number of victory points a player gains for eliminating the fighter.

Normal adventurers are worth 2 VP each.
Paladins are worth 5.
It has nothing to do with their HP value.

Quote:

the number of hearts on the priest shows how much damage is healed at the end of the turn.

If there was combat with a monster! So very important.
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Asher D.
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byronczimmer wrote:
A nice review.

Some corrections from memory:


skelebone wrote:


Ogres - Ogres cost 2 food. Ogres do 3 points of damage to the lead adventurer, but you have the option of feeding an ogre 1 food during the battle to increase this to 4. Additionally, when you hire an ogre, you receive an ogre chit, which can be used like the imps to dig for gold and to dig tunnels, though not in the rooms that call for imps to create something.

Ogre tokens can be used anywhere an imp can be used, even if the rooms call for the imps to create something.


Two things. Those are trolls, and yes, they can be used in any place an imp can be used, including the magic room. They just love imps
 
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Juraj Sulik
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One more thing. Trolls can not be used for digging tunnels or mining gold, they only work in rooms.
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