Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Work hard, play hard.

Having a good time can be hard work. This was the primary notion coursing through my mind as I negotiated through M4 traffic on the way home last night. After briefly fielding the first 32 of Ashton's questions I set out again to meet Paul at the station. Through all this my thoughts were going over half learnt rules to my recent acquisition Dungeon Lords. This game has been out since 2009 and I think the first and last time I played it was around then but when a friend from the RBGS posted his list of games to sell I felt I had to take advantage.

My memory of it was that it was an uncompromising worker placement game where, actually, to score above 0 was an achievement. Certainly digesting the rules just before play requires no small amount of patience and acceptance that you'll just have to work it out when you get to it.

In brief, the game sets you up as the aspiring Dungeon Lords of the title. You're given a 5x5 dungeon, three starter tunnels, a bunch of resources and action cards, one for each action you can take. The worker placement element of this game is muddied by the fact that you can be pushed out of your choice if too many people go for it or if you get in to early you may not get enough resource. The general idea is to build your dungeon up over the course of the year gaining monsters, traps and production rooms only to be met by a party of flipping heroes at the end of it.

Paul (yellow) stealing all the village's food and money!

At the point the tracker board is flipped over and a somewhat complicated but eventually understandable battle sequence takes place. The combat is brutal and very difficult to win. Almost everyone gets part of their dungeon invaded but the skill is preventing too much damage. After two game years points are awarded for how well you've done. Get over zero and you can call yourself a Dungeon Lord.
Imps. Useful. And tasty

So how did it go? Well not too bad. Understandably there was a lot of referencing and process clarifications going on but by the end of the first year we all felt we had a grip of things. Combat wasn't to painful either, except for me where I managed to lose three tunnels and my production room. It was then that Paul noticed the clock claiming we'd better hurry up if we wanted to finish on time.

This never happened. Try as we might to speed along there was just too much game to fit in. We finished before the final combat. James was adjudicated by pools panel to be the most like player to have won and I was definitely last after picking up minus 9 points in unpaid dungeon taxes!

There was palpable disappointment that we hadn't managed to achieve the payoff but at least each of us enjoyed the experience enough to try again next games night, even though it was hard work.


  1. More complicated than Terra Mystica?

  2. Games like this are all about the same to learn, this, tm, Agricola all seem to require an amount of learning. The resulting game has to be worth it. Tm didn't feel worth it. By far the most complex game I've had to learn and teach is netrunner.

    And in the end that wasn't worth it.

  3. It's a combination of heavy rules, plastic pieces and theme that put me off. But then I'm a bit of a lightweight.

    It's funny how I felt comfortable teaching Stanley Hyperborea but might baulk at something like Arkadia - a much simpler game, but one that requires more thought. I guess with Hyperborea and Lords of Waterdeep it's a simple do-this-to-get-this type of thing going on whereas with Arkadia (and similar) you need to work a bit harder.