Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hamburger Hole: "DungeonQuest" (Third Edition)

By all accounts, my obsessions are both cyclical and seasonal. In the summer I'm constantly outdoors so the only games I play are quick, lite strategic diversions but as soon as the weather turns cold, I find myself inexorably delving delve back into more time-consuming like Dungeons & Dragons. Faced with such a long, miserable hibernation, why not while away the hours killing orcs and exploring caverns?

Even between RPG sessions I have a hankering to play any board game with the words "dungeon" and / or "dragons" in the title. It's kind of a sickness. One game that can easily be defined as recreational sickness is DungeonQuest.

As I've lamented many times before, I went through a tragic period in my life when I thought that I was "too cool for board games". As such, I missed out on buying such thematic and adventurous fare as Wiz-War, Warhammer Quest, HeroQuest and Talisman. I also managed to telegraph the first edition of DungeonQuest, probably because I lived in a Podunk town where procuring such things was akin to buying enriched uranium on the Black Market. 

So, when Fantasy Flight reprinted DungeonQuest in 2010, I was all over it like orange on Donald Trump.   

So why was I so keen to pick this one up? Well, I'll just let the good folks at Fantasy Flight explain things by proxy:

"DungeonQuest is a re-imagining of the classic board game of dungeon exploration for 1-4 players. Set in the vibrant fantasy realm of Terrinoth (first popularized by Runebound), DungeonQuest retains the peril, tension, and brutality of the beloved original game while updating both mechanical and thematic elements. Players take on the roles of courageous (or foolish) heroes willing to brave the legendary dangers of Dragonfire Dungeon. Fortune awaits those able to venture into the dragon’s lair...

"Legends say that the doors of Dragonfire Dungeon open every sunrise, welcoming brave adventurers into its depths. But once the sun sets, the doors close and seal the fates of those who lingered too long. Only a few have ever returned from Dragonfire Dungeon, and those who have usually come back near death. But they return as heroes nonetheless.

DungeonQuest, players must guide their heroes through the twisting halls of Dragonfire Dungeon in pursuit of unimaginable riches hoarded by the Dragonlord Kalladra. Whoever can amass the most wealth and make it out of the dungeon before the closing of the doors seals their doom will emerge victorious. However, merely surviving the harrowing dungeon is a feat all its own...

"While many similar games rely on a player to control the machinations of the dungeon,
DungeonQuest is unique in that the dungeon essentially runs itself. No one at the table knows what lies around the corner, creating a new play experience every time. Additionally, DungeonQuest also includes rules for solo play, so you can even challenge Kalladra’s keep on your own!

"Great riches and everlasting glory await if you can survive Dragonfire Dungeon. The Dragonlord Kalladra has challenged all heroes of Terrinoth to test themselves against the most dangerous dungeon in all the realms.

"Dare you face the dragon’s challenge?"

Looking for a full map to the Catacombs? Then click on the following link and you'll know where all the secret doors are in Dragonfire dungeon!   

Now, when they say that "DungeonQuest retains the peril, tension, and brutality of the beloved original game", they ain't whistlin' Dixie. The game is notorious for its sadistic challenge level. The other day I decided to take up the gauntlet and lead four Characters into the dungeon to try and pick up a few scraps of treasure and then beat feet back to the exit before they were all squished like gnats.







Tatianna moves east into a Dungeon Chamber which turns out to be a dead end. She finds an equally-Dead Adventurer lying there and opts to loot the body by drawing one Corpse Card but, alas, it doesn't possess anything of value.

Challara decides to move south. She drops a Chasm Chamber down and then draws a Dungeon Card. It's a "Cave-In" which try to navigate across next turn.

Brother Gherinn ventures one space North. He places a Dungeon Chamber and then draws a "Secret Door" Dungeon Card. This allows him to move to any adjacent space so he decides to place another tile to the west as normal which turns out to be a Trap Chamber. The Trap Deck reveals another "Cave-In" which he'll have to contend with on his next turn.

Hugo the Glorious moves one space east into a Portcullis Chamber. He draws a Dungeon Card which reveals that the room is Empty. On his next turn he'll attempt to lift the Portcullis and move back to the Tower Room.

The sun token moves one space.

Tatianna moves back to the Tower Room.

Challara wants to move one space west but has to get past the "Cave-In" in order to do so. She rolls two dice and gets a "10" which exceeds her Agility so she has to stay put. Since she failed the Attribute Test she receives a Determination Token, which improves her chances slightly on her next attempt.

Brother Gherinn finds himself in the exact same situation. He rolls two dice and gets a "4" which ties his Agility so he inches his way one space north. In a classic "out of the frying pan into the brazier" kinda deal, this also turns out to be a Cave-In Chamber! Gherinn draws a Dungeon Card, revealing an "Unstable Potion" which he decides to pocket. 

Hugo the Glorious attempts to lift the Portcullis and get out of the room. He rolls a "10" for his Attribute Test which is three higher than his Strength of 7 so he stays in place, receiving a Determination Token for his troubles.

The sun token moves one space.

Tatianna moves one space south. She draws a Dungeon Chamber and, in turn, a Dungeon Card, which reveals... a Troll! This results in...


Since I'm playing solo, I'm using the solitaire combat rules. As such, the Troll's Life Value is revealed as 4. Tatianna then uses her pre-battle special ability, revealing the top five cards from the Combat Deck to look for any Ranged cards. She gets a "Quick Shot" and adds this to the Troll's Damage Stack. 


Tatianna draws five Combat Cards and decides to play a three-point "Cleaving Blow" while the Troll gets a random two-point "Lightning Bolt". Since Tatianna's card value is higher, the "Cleaving Blow" is added to Troll's Damage Stack while the "Lightning Bolt stays in the Combat Stack.


Tatianna draws five more Combat Cards and decides to play a four-point "Soul Burn" while the Troll pulls a "Bolt of Agony". Since the latter is only worth one point, the "Soul Burn" goes into the Troll's Damage Stack. But this triggers a "Deathblow" since two cards in the Combat Stack share the Magic Icon of "Soul Burn". Those cards are also added into the Troll's Damage Stack and the creature is killed. Even better: Tatianna comes out of the battle completely unscathed!

Still trying to deal with the "Cave-In" Card, Challara tries another Attribute Test. She rolls a "9" which is still higher than her agility of 6 + 1 Determination Token. She banks one more Determination Token for next time.

Brother Gherinn is also dealing with his own Cave-In Chamber. His Attribute Test roll is "6" which is higher than his Agility of 4, so he also gets a good ol' Determination Token.

Once again Hugo the Compound Hernia Victim attempts to lift the Portcullis. He gets a "10" resulting in another failure and another Determination Token.

The sun marker movies one space.

Tatianna moves one space east and finds a Catacomb entrance. She draws from the Dungeon Deck and spots a Crypt which is revealed as Empty after a Search attempt. Next turn she must decide to stay on this level or venture into the subterranean bowels of the dungeon.

Challara attempts to maneuver her way through the "Cave-In" again. She rolls a "9" which is still higher than her Agility of 6 + 2 Determination Tokens so she picks up her third Determination Token.

Brother Gherinn is also mired in the same situation. This time he rolls a "6" which is still one higher than his Agility of 4 + 1 Determination Token. So, he gets a second Determination Token.

Once again, Hugo the (Not-So) Glorious attempts to lift the Portcullis. This time he gets a "9" which is equal to his Strength so he finally lifts the friggin' thing and moves back to the Tower Room.

The sun marker moves one space.

Tatianna decides to enter the Catacombs, moving one space in an easterly direction. She gets a "Shuffle" result which is just placed back into the deck. Her next pull is a "Torch Goes Out" card which she'll have to contend with at the start of her next turn.

By now Challara is really kicking herself for not using her special ability to discard and redraw a different Dungeon Card! She tries to find a way past the "Cave-In" and rolls a "6"...success! She moves one space west into a standard Dungeon Room and draws a Dungeon Card, encountering a "Sorcerer". This time she ops to discard this card and draw again. It's a "Crypt" which she Searches to finds 250 Gold Coins!

Brother Gherinn tries to get to the other side of the Cave-In Chamber. He rolls "9" which is still higher than his current Agility of 4 + 2 Determination Tokens, so he receives a third Determination Token.

Hugo the Glorious moves one space north. He draws a Dungeon Tile and a subsequent Dungeon Card which reveals a Dead Adventurer. He Searches the body and finds 50 Gold Coins!

The sun token most one more space.

Tatianna spends her "Rune of Luck" to relight her torch. The next Catacomb Card she draws reveals an Empty Room. Yes, more progress made!

Challara and Brightblaze move one space south, encountering a Dungeon Room and drawing a matching Dungeon Card. There's a Dead Adventurer stinking up the joint so she decides to Search the body but it doesn't yield anything of value.

Increasingly determined, Brother Gherinn tries to get past this latest Cave-In. This time he rolls a "6" and succeeds, moving onto a Bridge Chamber. Before attempting to cross the Bridge he uses his special ability to voluntarily take one point of damage in order to gain three Determination Tokens. He rolls a "6" on his Agility Attribute Test and succeeds! He immediately moves one space North, encountering a new Dungeon Room which prompts a draw from the Dungeon Deck. Behind the door he bumps into an animated Skeleton!


 The Skeleton only has a Life Value of only 2 so Gherinn decides to stand his ground.


Gherinn draws five Combat Cards and out of this he plays a 4-point "Barrage" while the Skeleton randomly gets a 1-point "Bolt of Agony. This triggers a Counterattack since the Ranged icon on "Barrage" matches the Counterattack symbol on the "Bolt". The Skeleton reveals five new cards but only "Lightning Bolt" contributes to the Skeleton's attack. Gherinn still wins and the "Barrage" goes into the Skeleton's Damage Stack.


Gherinn draws another five cards. He selects a 4-point "Soul Burn" while the Skeleton reveals a 1-point "Slash". Once again the iconography matches up for a Counterattack and the Skeleton reveals five more cards. This time a 3-point "Cleaving Blow" is added to the Skeleton's effort which results in a tie, I.E. a Standoff.


Gherinn draws another five cards and this time he decides to play a "Fire Blast" while the Skeleton's random card is a 4-point "Heart Strike", which wins the exchange. Since Plus "Cleaving Blow" and "Slash" are matching Melee cards, this is considered a Deathblow and are added to Gherinn's Damage Stack.


Gherinn draws five more cards and then casts a 4-point "Soul Burn" while the Skeleton draws a 3-point "Cleaving Blow". Once again, this gives the Skelly a chance to Counterattack. He draws five more cards but, miraculously, none of them are Melee cards. Gherinn wins this exchange, and since "Soul Burn", "Fire Blast", "Lightning Bolt" and "Bolt of Agony" are all Magic-related, it's considered to be a Deathblow and all of them are added to the Skeleton's Damage Stack. As a result, the Skeleton is annihilated and Gherinn wins the fight, although he does suffer three points of damage, one for each card in his Damage Stack.

Hugo the Glorious cautiously creeps one space East. He moves into a Dungeon Chamber and draws a Dungeon Card. There's a "Crypt" in the room which he decides to search, finding 120 Gold Coins! Unfortunately, this room has no exits so next turn he must decide to either search for a way out or go back to the entrance yet again.

The sun marker moves one space.

Tatianna continues her trek in the Catacombs. She stumbles upon a "Hidden Trap" which turns out to be poisonous snakes! She rolls one die which inflicts four points of damage on her. Yikes!

Challara and Brightblaze move one space west arriving at a T-intersection Corridor Chamber. She then decides to move one space south, arriving at a four-way-intersection Dungeon Room, prompting a Dungeon Card draw. It's a dreaded "Torch Goes Out" card which she decides to turf thanks to her Special Ability. Her replacement card turns out to be a "Crypt" which she immediately Searches. She comes across some "Old Bones" which immediately spring to life and attack her.

This results in combat against a two point Skeleton which she can't Escape from. 


Challara draws five cards and decides to play a 3-point "Rapid Fire". The Skeleton draws a 2-point "Aimed Shot". Since Challara's card is higher, the "Rapid Fire" goes into the Skeleton's Damage Stack.


Challara plays a 3-point "Cleaving Blow" versus the Skeleton's 1-point "Slash". Once again Challara's attack strength is higher so the "Cleaving Blow" goes into the Skeleton's Damage Stack, killing it! Challara avoids all damage in the scrap! Yay!

At the beginning of Brother Gherinn's turn he attempts to go through the western Door. He draws a "Door Open" Door Card so he proceeds through to the Dungeon Room and draws from the Dungeon Deck. The room appears to be Empty.

Hugo the Glorious Searches the Chamber that he's in. He draws the top card from the Search deck and finds a passage down into the Catacombs!

The sun marker movies one space.

Tatianna continues her trek in the Catacombs by moving into an Empty room.

Challara and Brightblaze move one space west and stumble into a Spiderweb Chamber. She doggedly tries to cross through the web but rolls a "6" which is exceeds her Strength. She stays in place and receives one Determination Token as a consolation prize.

Brother Gherinn moves one space west, entering a Chasm Chamber. He draws a Dungeon Card, encountering a "Shade" which will relentlessly pursue him until he enters the Catacombs or exits the dungeon. Going forward he must roll two dice at the start of every turn and if he rolls "snake eyes" he's killed outright! Seems legit.
♪♫ "Spiderwebs to the left of me, Chasms to the right, here I am...stuck in the middle with yeeeeew!" ♪♫

Hugo the Glorious ventures down into the Catacombs, drawing a "Hole In The Roof" card which allows himself to exit. He decides to ignore this and press on.

The sun marker movies one space.

Tatianna continues her delve through the Catacombs, encountering a "Horde of Rats". Fun! This forces her to Test her Armor Attribute. She rolls a "9" and deducts this result from her Armor of "4" which inflicts five points of damage. Yikes!

Meanwhile Challara attempts to extricate herself from the Spiderweb Chamber. She rolls of "4" against her Strength so she tears free from the web and moves one space west encountering yet another falkin' Cave-In Chamber! She also has to pull a Dungeon Card but discovers that the room is Empty.

Brother Gherinn rolls for his Shade companion and gets an "8" so he's safe for the time being. He then moves one space south and encounters - guess what? - another Cave-In Chamber. How many of these friggin' things are there in this game? He also has to draw Dungeon Card and, on the surface at least, the room appears to be Empty.

Hugo the Glorious continues to explore the Catacombs. He also runs into a "Horde of Rats" but with an Armor Attribute Test roll of "3" he's unaffected by the rodental deluge.

The side marker movies one space.

Still deep underground, Tatianna draws one card from the Catacomb Deck and encounters a "Vampire" which forces her to test Agility or Armor, whatever's lower. Mercifully she rolls a "4" so she cleanly avoids a very deadly threat!

Challara attempts to cross the Cave-In Chamber. She rolls a "7" which is one point higher than her Agility so she receives a Determination Token. It's deja vu all over again!

Brother Gherinn tries to follow suit, Testing his Agility. He gets a "6" which is two points too high so he also draws a Determination Token. Side note: his Shade roll is also a "6".

Hugo the Glorious moves one more space East in the Catacombs and sees something sparkle in the darkness. It's a Gigantic Diamond worth a whopping 4000 Gold Pieces. His goal now is just to get the fuck out A.S.A.P.!

The sun marker moves one space.

Still underground in the Catacombs, Tatianna comes across a "Hidden Trap", which turns out to be *surprise, surprise* another fucking "Cave-In", which she'll have to contend with on her next turn.

Challara attempts to clear her own Cave-In Chamber. She rolls a "9" which is two points higher than her current Agility of 7 (6 + 1 Determination Token), so she gets a second Determination Token and her turn is done.

Brother Gherinn tries to rectify his own situation but his roll of "9" is considerably higher than his current Agility (4 + 1 Determination Token) so he receives another Determination Token. His Shade roll is "7", so he's okay there.

Hugo the Glorious continues his underground trek, drawing an "Exit" which he immediately decides to take. He re-appears top side four spaces east shifting one space north because of his die roll of "1". It's a Corridor Chamber which he'll encounter next turn.

"Flawless Sense of Direction Powers: ACTIVATE!!! I said...ACTIVATE!!! damn you!!! Aww, shit."

The sun marker moves one space.

Thanks to Tatianna's high Agility, her roll of "7" pays off and she easily scampers past the "Cave-In". She draws a new Catacombs Card which mercifully reveals an Empty room.

Challara tries to duplicate that feat. She rolls an "8" which ties her current Agility (6 + 2 Determination Tokens) so she hustles one space west revealing a Chamber of Darkness. On a roll of "2" she gets turned around and pops out again in the Cave-In Chamber! This forces her to pull a new Dungeon Card which turns out to be a Crypt. She searches the thing and finds an "Unstable Potion" which she "Yoinks!" and then moves on.

Gherinn's "Shade" roll is 5. He attempts to *Yawn* get across the Cave-In Chamber, rolling a "3"... success!  He moves one space east into a Dungeon Room and draws a Dungeon Card. It's a Golem. Wheeee!

Noting the previous triumphs of Tatianna and Challara, Gherinn decides to fight this five-point monstrosity, drawing five cards for a starting hand.


He decides to play a 4-point "Barrage" while the Golem gets a random 2-point "Double Strike". The "Barrage" goes into the Golem's Damage Stack while the "Double Strike" stays in the Combat Stack.


Gherinn tables a 4-point "Heart Strike" versus a random 2-point "Aimed Shot". This results in a Counterattack since the icons match up. The Golem pulls five more cards, adding a 3-point "Rapid Fire" which adds to his effort. Gherinn places these two cards in his Damage Stack. Ruh-roh.


This time it's Gherinn's 4-point "Barrage" versus the Golem's 3-point "Fire Blast". Once again there's a Counterattack and the Golem's resulting card pull includes two "Lightning Bolts" and a "Bolt of Agony"! All four of these cards go into Gherinn's Damage Stack! It's not looking good for our favorite wizard / Phantom of the Opera cosplayer!


Realizing all too late that he's hideously outmatched, Gherinn tries to Escape. He randomly draws a 3-point "Burning Hands" versus the Golem's 4-point "Hammer Smash"! This inflicts 3 more damage on Gherinn so between this, his previously-incurred wounds and everything currently in his Damage Stack, Gherinn is killed. Dragonfire Dungeon has claimed its first victim!

"I have erred."

Hugo The Glorious moves one space east, arriving in a Rotating Chamber that turns 180°. "Jane, stop this crazy thing!!!" 

The sun marker moves one space.

Tatianna's luck goes from bad to worse. Her next Catacomb Card draw is a "Sneak Attack" from a Demon! She's forced to Test her Luck, rolling "8" which deals two points of damage. Even scarier:  the now finds herself in combat with her abyssal assailant!

Tatianna is now staring down an eight-point Demon. As per the card's instructions she can't Escape so she takes advantage of her Special Ability, drawing five Combat Cards. Among these is a "Quick Shot" which she adds to the Demon's Damage Stack.

After drawing five new Combat Cards she plays a 4-point "Soul Burn" while the Demon gets a 3-point "Cleaving Blow". Unfortunately this opens the door for a Counterattack but by some miracle the Demon doesn't draw any more Melee Cards! So, the "Soul Burn" goes into the Demon's Damage Stack while the "Cleaving Blow" goes into the Combat Stack.

Another five cards are drawn for Tatianna. She decides to play a 3-point "Fire Blast" while the Demon gets a 2-point "Aimed Shot". Again Tatianna wins and the "Aimed Shot" goes into the Combat Stack while the "Fire Blast" goes into the Demon's Damage Stack. So far she's dealt three points of damage!

Tatianna plays a 3-point "Rapid Fire" and the Demon gets a 2-point "Aimed Shot". Once again, Tatiana wins this round outright, adding her "Rapid Fire" (as well as the "Aimed Shot" in the Combat Stack) to the Demon's Damage Stack. Meanwhile, the "Aimed Shot" that the Demon's just played gets added into the Combat Stack.

Tatianna drops a 2-point "Lightning Bolt" while the Demon gets a 1-point "Bolt of Agony". Tatiana handily wins again so the "Lightning Bolt" is added to the Demon's Damage Stack. So far he's taken six points of damage!

Tatianna rips off a 3-point "Rapid Fire" versus the Demon's paltry 1-point "Slash". Once again luck is on her side and she adds the "Rapid Fire" plus the "Aimed Shot" into the Demon's Damage Stack thanks to a Deathblow. Since this represents eight points of damage to the Demon, Tatianaa wins without taking a single wound! YAS!!!

Seeing that there are few palatable options on the other side of the Chamber of Darkness, Challara tries to cross the Cave-In Chamber once again. She rolls "7" which is one higher than her Agility of 6 so she gets one Determination Token.

Hugo the Glorious strikes out east, drawing a T-intersection Corridor Chamber. He decides to keep truckin' one space south, drawing yet another goddamned, motherfucking, cock-a-doodie Cave-In Chamber. Just as he enters the room he draws a Dungeon Card which reveals a "Swinging Blade Trap". He decides to use his one-shot "Rune of Warning", discarding the trap without resolving its effect.

The Sun Marker moves one space.

Tatianna draws yet another Catacombs Card and finally comes across a "Hole in the Roof". She tests Agility and rolls a "4"! With a song in her heart she exits the oppressive Catacombs, popping out ten spaces east, shifted one space south thanks to her die roll of "1". Next turn she'll encounter this space!

"Cool! I'm soooo close to the exit. All I need to do now is pick up a single friggin' dime and I got this by the ass!"

Challara tries to cross the Cave-In Chamber. Again. She rolls a "10" and gets a Determination Token.

Hugo the Glorious travels north to the T-intersection Corridor and keeps on going one space north. It's a Dungeon Room leading west, so Hugo draws one Dungeon Card and finds 40 Gold Coins.

The sun marker moves one space.

Tatianna moves into the T-junction Corridor and then moves again south into the Dungeon Room, drawing one Dungeon Card. At face value, the room appears to be Empty.

Challara tries to move past the Cave-In. She rolls a "6" and finally picks her way through the rubble, moving one space south, locating a Catacomb Chamber. She then draws one Dungeon Card and spies the body of a "Dead Adventurer" which she Searches to find a "Rope".

Hugo the Hopelessly Lost moves one space west and enters a Dungeon Room with no exits. He draws a Dungeon Card and finds a "Bottle Imp" which he quickly scoops up.

The Sun Marker moves one space.

Tatianna Searches the room and finds a "Secret Door". She picks up a Dungeon Room tile and places it off to the east and immediately moves into that space, drawing a card from the Dungeon Deck. There's a Crypt in the room containing "Old Bones" but she finds nothing of value among the detritus.

Challara searches the room she's in and finds an entirely superfluous entrance to the Catacombs. Fate seems to be screaming in her ear!

Hugo the "Glorious" Searches the room he's in and finds a "Secret Door" which he places off to the north. This lets him move into the Treasure Chamber so he randomly draws one card from the Dragon Deck...and pulls "Dragon Rage"! Kalladra wakes up and scorches Hugo for five points of damage! Mercifully he didn't pick up any Treasure Cards so he doesn't have to discard anything. Hugo runs screaming out of the Treasure Room, exiting through the north west Chamber. This turns out to be a Corridor which he'll encounter next turn.

Drakon on loan courtesy of Fantasy Flight.

The sun marker moves one space.

Tatianna moves one space west back to the Dungeon Room. She draws a Dungeon Card and assumes that the room is Empty.

Now desperate to find a way out, Challara enters the Catacombs moving due south. Her very first card draw is a very promising "Treasure Chest"! Noice!

Hugo the Dumbass encounters the Corridor and moves one space west. He attempts to cross the Web Chamber, testing Strength. He rolls a "5", easily clearing the room. He moves again, placing a Catacomb Chamber with an exit leading North. He then draws a Dungeon Card called "Curse of the Wizard". On a random roll of "5" all of the Corridor Chambers rotate 90 degrees counter-clockwise! This means that Tatianna is now trapped! Way to go, dipshit!

The Sun Token moves one space.

Desperately looking for a way out, Tatianna Searches the room and finds 70 Gold Coins. Now that she's finally found something of value, she's allowed to exit and go for the win. But is it too little, too late? 

Challara continues to pick her way through the Catacombs. This turn she encounters a dreaded "Bane Spider". At the start of all of her future turns she must roll one die. If she rolls a "1" or "2" she suffers one Wound and her turn immediately ends. If she rolls "3" to "6" she kills the icky thing, discards the card and proceeds on with her turn.

Still running and screaming bloody murder, Hugo charges one space north. Just as he moves into the next Chamber the floor suddenly gives away, forcing him to Test his Luck. He rolls "7" which is considerably higher than his luck of "3" and he tumbles into a Bottomless Pit.

Whelp, it's all up to the ladies now!

 "I regret nothiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!!!"

The Sun Token moves one space.

One last time, Tatiana frantically Searches the room for an escape hatch but comes up Empty.

Challara rolls a "1" and suffers a wound from the "Bane Spider". She then moves one more space through the Catacombs into an Empty room. (Error: if you fail to kill the Bane Spider, you can't move)

The Sun Token moves one space.

Tatianna moves into the Spiderweb Chamber and Tests Strength to try and tear her way through it. Unfortunately she rolls of "5" which is one higher than her Strength so she gets one Determination Token. I'm sure that'll help loads.

Challara kills the Bane Spider with a "4" and then draws her next Catacomb card, revealing an Empty room. Ah, man...time's gettin' short! 

The Sun Token moves one space.

Tatianna once again tries to free herself from the Spiderweb Chamber. She gets a "7", I.E. another failure which means that she picks up another highly useful Determination Token.

Challara's next Catacomb Card draw is a "Sneak Attack" from a Skeleton. Her roll is "8", which is higher than her Luck of 7 so she takes one point to damage and must now fight the Skeleton.

It's Challara versus a two-point Skeleton!


Challara plays a 4-point "Heart Strike" and the Skelly draws a random 1-point "Slash". Her card goes into the Skeleton's Damage Stack while the "Slash" is left in the Combat Stack.


Our heroine plays a 2-point "Aimed Shot" versus the Skeleton's random 4-point "Barrage", so the undead fiend wins that round. The "Barrage" is placed in Challara's Damage Stack and the "Aimed Shot" goes into the Combat Stack.


She then plays a 4-point "Soul Burn" against the Skeleton's weak-sauce "Bolt of Agony". This is enough to kill the Skeleton!

The Sun Marker moves one space.

Tatianna hacks away at the webbing which holds her fast, but she rolls a "12" and is stuck there for another turn. She gets one more Determination Token but his is about as useless as a pup tent versus Jason Vorhees.

Things continue to go sour for Challara. She runs smack-dab into a feasome "Naga" in the next space of the Catacombs which forces her to turn around!

The card might as well read: "You Soil Your Pantaloons. Move Back Five Spaces."

The Sun Marker moves one space.

Once again Tatianna tries to rip her way through the Spiderweb Chamber. She rolls a "7" which ties her current Strength of 4 + 3 Determination Tokens, so she hustles on to the next room. It's a Dungeon Chamber that mercifully slots in perfectly with the Corridor off to the east! Things are looking good until she draws a Dungeon Card which turns out to be a "Crossfire Trap". She Tests Armor, rolling a "9" versus her armor of "4". The difference between the two results in 5 points of damage. Unfortunately Tatianna had already incurred 11 damage so the plucky adventurer inadvertently ends up doing her dead-on Satipo impersonation from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

 "It''s just a flesh wound. I'll be awrite. Imma walk this off..."

On the start of Challara's turn she draws another freakin' "Bane Spider". This x 100.

The Sun Marker movies one space.

Challara fights the Bane Spider and rolls a "2" so it causes a wound and her turn immediately ends.

The Sun Marker removes one space.

Still locked in a death battle with the Bane Spider, Challara rolls a "1" and takes yet another point of damage, ending her turn. 

The Sun Marker moves one space. In addition, Challara must now roll to see if the doors of the dungeon seal up. She rolls a "1" and the maze locks down like a bank vault. Even worse: Kalladra wakes up and stalks through catacombs, hunting down and killing our last remaining hero. 




  • Dying Miserably Never Looked So Good. DungeonQuest clearly showcases Fantasy Flight's typically-gorgeous production values. I.E. the cards, the board, the tokens and the figures are all top-notch. I just love the way the board looks at the end of the game: kinda like the world's most lethal game of Dig Dug
  • Quick Start. At its heart the game is as simple as Carcassonne meets Drakon: just pick a direction, select a face-down tile, place the tile on the board, move your figure in and then deal with the horrible, horrible things that are about to happen.  
  • It's Thematic. The game really does feel like an olde-skool dungeon crawl, complete with bad-and-even-worse choices, fleeting hope cruelly being ripped away, insta-death and perpetual feelings of inevitable doom. In fact, the danger is so palpable, the twists are so terrible and the kills are so so arbitrarily inhumane that I often find myself chuckling out loud.
  • It's Exhilarating. You're constantly rooting for your poor little character to survive. Since the game is so ridiculously challenging you feel like cheering whenever you overcome even the simplest of obstacles.  
  • It's Tense. Re-reading this session report had me biting my nails in suspense. Sorry but it's downright terrifying when your escape route suddenly vanishes half way through the game and you now have to figure out a completely different way to get out before the resident wyrm wakes up.
  • It's Slightly More Strategic Than You Think. Looking back on the game I know I could have leveraged some of the character powers a bit better and not wasted so much time. For example, I know I didn't take full advantage of Challara's ability to turf and re-draw tiles. And she probably shouldn't have given up on the Room of Darkness so quickly.
  • Luck Be A Lady Tonite. A lot of your fortune (or misfortune, more accurately) is predicated on what tile you pull. You can mitigate this somewhat by playing a very conservative game, I.E. beating feet right back to the Tower Room just as soon as you pick up so much as a single coin. But, hey, where's the fun in that?
  • Terrinoth Sucks.  I've said this before but I'm really not a fan of Fantasy Flight's bland, generic, puerile fantasy world. At least things were starting to improve by the time this version of DungeonQuest came out five years ago, but it still had a long way to go. I mean, Challara and Brightblaze. "Brightblaze"? L-a-a-a-a-a-m-e. Just think of how much cooler the game would be with a creepy, Gothic Warhammer-y / Games Workshop vibe than this generic crap. 
  • Combat Is Atrocious. Actually the combat system isn't terrible; in fact, there's a kernel of a decent mini-game buried in there somehwere. But within the confines of a quick n' dirty game like DungeonQuest, it brings the whole thing to a screeching halt. Besides, it's thematically wonky. Why would a brick like Hugo cast spells like "Fire Blast" n' shit? And why are Sorcerers trying to bury a battleaxe in my skull?  
  • The Frustration Factor Is Off The Charts. Just read the report: my game had more "Cave-In's" than a Chinese coal mine. When you're running out of time and you're desperately scrambling for an exit, it feels as if you're trying to run in hip-deep mud. 
  • Surprise! You're Dead! Hey, I really don't mind a challenge, but just look at poor ol' Hugo in the example above. He's doin' well, he's collected a nice l'il nest egg o' loot, he's bookin' it to the closest exit and then, all of a sudden, he's falling like Palpatine down the Death Star reactor shaft

The thing to remember about DungeonQuest is that it's product of a time when dungeons were deathtraps, monsters were legitimately terrifying, traps were deadly, poison killed outright and undead fiends sucked levels outta you like bubble tea through a straw. Back then Dungeon Masters were sadistic cuntnuggets who cooked up the cruelest, most creatively-evil ways to murder their way through reams of Character Sheets. Don't believe me? Then check out the The Tomb of Horrors.

Back then DM's didn't give a shit about your character's extensive background story or your skills synergies or your optimized builds. You didn't live long enough to need any of that shit!

Which is why DungeonQuest is a game slightly out of time. In the first edition the Character survival rate was estimated to be around 15% which has supposedly increased to a downright generous 21% in the version I own. So if you're one of those people who'll pout, bitch and whine whenever your character gets randomly squished like the invasive insect that he or she is, then you really need to give this one a very wide berth. 

But for the rest of us it's a gloriously nostalgic romp through Blackhumor Dungeon.

DungeonQuest scores three pips out of six with a dragon-horde-sized tilt up to the top of Kalladra's horns!

Wanna lead your friends through the fantasy equivalent of Saw: The Board Game? Then click on the following image to learn more about DungeonQuest and help this blog get back to the Tower Room!
Please note, the third edition which I own is currently out of print. The Revised Edition, pictured above, is described thusly by Fantasy Flight:

"This new edition of DungeonQuest features a streamlined combat system (thank fux) that harkens back to the classic editions of the game, and a deadlier (!!!) dungeon than ever before. A brand new Torchlight Variant offers you a new way to explore the dungeon's depths, while building an even more complex and sprawling dungeon throughout the game." 

No comments:

Post a Comment