Dungeoneer: Tomb of the Lich Lord
List Price: $19.95
Your Price: $15.95
(Worth 1,595 Funagain Points!)
from 2 customer reviews
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The Lich Lord has returned! And he has released the dead from their wormy graves. Now these undead hordes are stalking the land. The call has gone out for great heroes to stop this evil plague... are you brave enough to enter the deadly Tomb of the Lich Lord?
Each Dungeoneer set is a stand-alone card game for 2 to 4 players that may be combined with other sets for more dungeon-delving fun! You take on the role of a hero attempting to complete a series of quests, while the other players act as the Dungeonlord on their turns, directing perils against you. Dungeoneer also features a campaign mode that lets one player take the role of the Dungeonlord and the other players participate as heroes, much like a traditional roleplaying game.
Purchased this game after I kept seeing it at the store and wondering if it would fit the bill as a fairly quick & easy Fantasy game that may have the basic elements of D&D type games. Turns out the answer is yes.
If you have played 'Hack: Knights of the Dinner Table', you'll feel comfortable with this system. Just with a more serious tone to it.
It can be played by the younger audience. And it will be the first game I break out on gaming night for the 'rookie' gaming comrades at work.
It gives you the Fantasy, D&D type adventure with 4 types of Heroes to choose from, each of whom have varying skills and can 'level up', weapons, items, magic, monsters, traps, locked doors, etc...
I haven't played the Lord of the Rings game as mentioned by the previous reviewer, but the Glory/Peril tokens method for playing cards is a unique and easy process that works well.
As a couterpoint to the previous reviewer, there are rules for customizing a deck and the idea would be to build it with your hero in mind. For example, you would do this by taking the two identical decks you receive and taking cards from both that are beneficial to your hero. (you can have 4 copies of any card). So for your Sorceress, you would not have cards that involve Melee combat but instead would focus on Magic. Or, you may stack the cards to give you more Melee bonuses.
After getting through our first game, the turns went by very quickly. If you don't count set-up time and such, 30-40 minutes for two players is reasonable.
The only drawback this kind of game usually has is that a lot of questions can come up which can become tedious and frustrating. The good news is that the questions for this game were limited and were just ones you had to think through a moment. (Hopefully an FAQ will be out to clarify)
It will be interesting to see where the expansions will take the game. I think they may have limited themselves with the type of heroes they can have due to the low range of skill ratings they used. (and you only use a 6 sided die. Of course it would be the setting that would be the biggest expectation to change.
A recommended purchase for those who want a quick and painless fantasy adventure
It's tempting to give this game a three-star as a role player, or even a two-star as a strategy card game lover. However, to be fair, this one should probably be judged as an intro to fantasy role playing. On that level it will probably succeed among novice adventurers and casual gamers.
It has always puzzled me why this popular genre (dungeon crawling) has never been developed into a collectible card game. Dungeoneer is not collectible (and that's becoming more and more of a plus to those who are tired of being financially drained by Magic:The Gathering and its ilk), though its designer suggests you buy multiple sets to create customizable tournament decks. Until further expansions are released Dungeoneer certainly does not have much promise in that arena.
Players have a unique character with statistics for movement, magic, and melee and are assigned three quest cards each. There are two decks, a dungeon map deck and and an adventure deck. On a typical turn players play evil encounter cards against opponents (e.g. traps, monsters, curses, etc.), draw and add one map tile to the dungeon, move their character along the maze, and play down special cards to assist them on their quest (such as treasures, spells and weapons). The winner is the first to complete all three quests.
The game draws on an idea from the Lord of the Rings collectible card game; each time a player advances on his path to victory he collects 'glory' points (to be spent on laying down treasure cards, weapons, etc.), along with 'peril points' (that opponents use to play their nasty encounter cards against you). If you sit idle in one room you collect only peril points, a real incentive to stay on the move instead of sitting around hoping the other players will kill each other off.
Dungeoneer fails for me in a couple of key areas. One, the quests create extremely unfair victory conditions. Granted, quests should be of varying degrees of complexity as long as players are compensated for the difficulty of the challenge. However, in Dungeoneer players not only are poorly compensated but the luck of the draw plays a critical role in how qiuckly you will complete your quests before the others. If you draw map quest rooms that are needed to meet your goals you will most likely line them up near your character. If an opponent draws your quest rooms he naturally places them on the far end of the dungeon and you'll spend the rest of your adventuring days plodding through countless hazards to get to your goals.
Dungeoneer's second big weakness is its complete lack of a workable and interesting magic system, which in my opinion is generally the big draw to any fantasy/dungeon game worth its salt. Instead, all players are capable of casting spells; some (like the elf) are just more adept at it simply by receiving a +1 or +2 to the die roll. Woopee.
Rarely is there any real tough decision-making in Dungeoneer, the obvious choices are to play down prime boon cards, attack the player with the most peril chips (or whoever is winning), and continue to plod towards your quest rooms while your opponents throw down road blocks.
Still, I wouldn't bother writing such a lengthy review or suggest a four-star rating if I didn't think the game had potential. There are supposedly several expansions in the making and perhaps they will be able to enhance and spice up the basic system. And, as mentioned earlier, I do believe that newbies to the role playing world will find Dungeoneer quite entertaining.
By the way, don't be fooled by the back of the box that suggests a 20-minute playing time; expect the first game to take two hours and a one-hour game is typical for experienced players.