torsdag 25 september 2014

Super Dungeon Explorer

Super Dungeon Explorer is a board game for 2-6 players above 10 years of age. The game is built so that one or two of the players will play as the dark consul and the rest will play as heroes.

Die rolls is the most prominent feature in this game as it determines everything that happens in the game. There are three different types of dice, blue ones, which are the weakest, red ones which are stronger and green ones which are the strongest. When we played, the only character that ever got to use the green dice was the boss (dragon).

Die rolls are used before starting each turn to decide which “team” initiates the round, this being dependent on the Will of the character on each team that has the most. They are also used to determine if an attack will do damage or not, if the character being struck has less points in armour than the attack is worth, they will take one damage. If the character has armour that is dependent on die roll they will roll to see if they are able to defend themselves.

When a hero player rolls a heart or a potion, they either gain a health point or a potion, both which they can choose to give away to other players.

Health System:
Each character (including enemies) has a heart on the character cards that state how many health points they have. Every time a character is successfully attacked, they receive one damage token, which means losing one health point.

Many consul characters have only one life which means that if they are successfully hit they will die. If the consul player(s) have spawning towers left, they can however spawn the character again.

Hero characters can use potions to heal themselves or sometimes each other; they can also use loot cards for regaining health points.

Board System:
The number of boards used, which decides how big an area the game will cover and in the end also for how long each game will take, is dependent on the amount of players. As we played with three heroes we decided to use three boards, which also meant that we could use the boss. The consul starts by choosing one board and connecting it to the “information board” (a board which shows the progress of the game, when heroes get loot and holds loot, treasure and adventure cards). Then the heroes get to choose another board and connect it to the first, leaving the third board decision up to the consul, again connecting the previously laid board.

There are some boards with narrow paths that will force the character close together, and small rooms that can make the players move across the boards a lot more, slowing their advance. There are also bigger rooms that have obstacles such as lava which can be used to protect or to slow down.

Once the boards are set, the consul decides where to place their spawning towers and treasure chests (one of each on each board), taking into consideration obstacles and range of the hero characters’ abilities.

Spawning System:
At the start of the game the consul has a certain number of spawning towers; in our case we had two players playing the consul and three players playing as heroes, which meant that we had three towers.

Before the start of each round the consul gets to spawn four skulls worth of characters around each tower. The skulls is a resource that is used to spawn characters, different character types cost either one, two or three skulls to spawn, depending on their strength. The amount of skulls that they cost to spawn is synonymous to the amount of health points that they have.

In addition to these four per tower, the consul can spawn an extra amount of skulls if they have been collected through the progression bar.

Progress bar:
Every time any player deals damage, a token is moved one step on the progression bar on the “information board”. On some of them there are skulls, the amount of skulls that has been passed each round is added to the number of skulls that the consul can spawn. Halfway through there is a special skull that states that a mini-boss will spawn and when the end of the progression bar is reached the boss will spawn.

Loot system:
Each time that a hero deals damage on an enemy character, a token is moved on the loot area of the board, which is made up by a series of squares. Once the token is moved to a square that has a loot symbol on it, the player who dealt the damage gets to pick a loot card. The player can then choose to take it for themselves and use it to level up their character, put it face down until the end of the round when the group will decide together who will receive it, or they can choose to discard it to give a health point back to any hero player.

Levelling up:
The hero characters can, as said, level up by picking up loot or treasure chests; this can give them additional stats, such as extra attack power or armour, or abilities such as flight and immunity to knockback, poison etc.

The loot cards can be power ups that increase damage, will, dexterity etc. by adding additional dice to roll. There are also some revive cards that can be used to resurrect a dead hero player. There are four colours of “power up cards” that corresponds to each side of the character card; a player can only hold one card of each colour at the same time.

This system is essential to give the hero players a chance as the game progresses towards the boss fight.
The consul has no possibility of levelling up their minions; this is balanced by them being allowed to spawn a mini-boss halfway through the game and a powerful boss monster at the end of the game.

The characters:
There are several different types of characters, some are best with ranged attacks, some with melee and some with magic. This is shown in how many and what kind of dies the player can roll for each stat corresponding to each type of attack and the range that is stated on the character cards if applicable. This is true for both the hero and the consul characters.

How many times a character can move per round is also stated on the character cards. This is essential to strategize defences and attacks. How many actions per turn each character can perform is also stated, some special abilities might cost more than one action to perform while standard attacks only costs one action.

Each character activated can move the amount of squares stated on their card and attack any enemy player that is within their reach. Only one character can be activated at a time, they will choose one character to target and which attack to use.

The player will then roll the amount and type of dies that corresponds to the chosen attack. If the attacked player has armour that is decided upon die rolls, they will roll to see if they get equal or a higher number, which means they managed to defend themselves.

Most consul minions have a set armour value of one or zero, which means they automatically die if the hero player rolls one or higher.
Most interesting:
I find that the most interesting system is the levelling up system. In combination with the increased difficulty provided by the mini-boss and the boss it created a sense of progression in the game. It created a great build-up towards the big boss fight that inevitably would come.

The game designers managed to translate the standard RPG (role playing game) into a board game which takes you on a journey from quite easy to epic boss battle. In the beginning it is letting you get the hang of it, none of the characters are very powerful and it is looking good for the heroes. Then the game takes you through the levelling up, heroes gathering their strength and the consul rallying their forces, constantly building up tension, and finally the journey ends with a giant boss fight.

The best:
I find that the best part of the game is the build-up towards the boss fight in the end. Even though the game felt uneven a lot of the time, tension was increased throughout the game. This was aided by the social aspect of playing as teams instead of all players against each other. In the end of the game there was a lot of excitement, and even if the dragon we played with had very powerful attacks and a lot of health points, making it feel as if it would definitely win, we were on our toes and really excited to see who would actually come out alive.

The worst:
For me, the worst part of the game is how it is balanced. In the early part of the game it felt too easy for the heroes, playing as the consul we sometimes felt cheated as our minions were killed before we had a chance to use them at all, leaving us with little options.

The health system also felt very unfair as no matter how many times the heroes were damaged they would just heal themselves as they have so many ways in which to do so. It felt almost hopeless playing as the consul and it felt as if your actions were meaningless as they did not really have an impact. This was also apparent when the heroes started to level up their characters, getting stronger and gaining more abilities.

In the middle part of the game, especially when the mini-boss was spawned, it felt as if it was levelling out a bit. Even though all damage made was healed, the game felt more even. This could be considered a positive thing as it means that the players will play through the entire game; the heroes will be alive all the way through to the boss fight in the end. It did create a build-up towards the end that was interesting but I feel as if it could probably have been designed somewhat differently so that it would feel more even all the way.

Once the boss spawned, the table was turned on the heroes and it seemed inevitable that the giant dragon would win, which it did. One of our group members who have played this game before said that they had never experienced the heroes winning, so I believe there is room for improvement.

Target Group:
The age on the box says 10+; I think that this is pretty accurate, from 10 years up to younger teens. It is quite complex, many things to keep track of, but I believe that this agegroup could comprehend it and play it.

The cute, somewhat childish, chibi style is something that I believe could potentially scare away older teens and adult players which is a strong contributor to my opinions regarding the target group.

The type of game combined with the visual style of it makes me believe that it is not targeted at either a male or female audience. From my experience RPGs are usually targeted at boys, while cute art is targeted at girls, this is a combination of both, although probably more dominated by features that are generally targeted at boys.

In conclusion this was a very entertaining game; it made rolling dies interesting and feels important. Even if the balancing felt off and parts of the game felt really unfair it was enjoyable and had a great build up towards a climactic end.

The parts that feel unfair have their purpose though and I believe them to be necessary to make the players sit through the game from start to finish without feeling cheated. But I think that these parts should have been designed somewhat differently as they sometimes felt unfair, even though in the long run they were not.

Inga kommentarer:

Skicka en kommentar