I was really excited to get this game in. It came in on the heels of Pixel Lincoln, and having another pixelated game in shop, especially one that allowed you to play as the antagonist, really intrigued me.
When it arrived it was in a small box that looked extremely reminiscent of an old NES game: black, with the title stripe and pixelated characters above the name. This choice of a small box really pleases me in two major ways. Firstly, it’s an artistic nod back to the video games of yore. Secondly, it’s not much bigger than what the game actually requires. All that comes in the box is cards, four decks to be precise, and an instruction book. That doesn’t exactly take up a ton of space, and I think it was very good of them to go with a small, practically sized, box rather than a huge one to simply gain more shelf presence.
The rule book was a small chore to read through, but on the whole wasn’t too daunting. Although, now that I’ve had this game as part of my collection for a while, there are portions of this rule book I have to gripe about. Primarily the fact that there is no quick reference. What is the one thing that people often have to reference when pulling out a game they have played a few times? That’s right: the starting set up. I can never remember how many cards you have to draw, and instead of being on page one, it’s on approximately page eight or nine. This means it always takes me several minutes to re-find this information, which is something that could have been fixed quickly with a reference sheet.
The game is a tableau building game played over a series of rounds, each of which is comprised of three distinct segments. Firstly, new heroes wander into the town each turn, seeking adventure. It’s at this point that each of the bosses (players) build onto their dungeon by playing a card. This action is chosen simultaneously, and will help decide which dungeon each hero is attracted to. Once players have built on to their dungeon, the heroes are evaluated and go to the dungeon of their choice, and progress through the dungeon (hopefully) to their doom. If they die, you’ll receive their soul as a point. If they survive, they damage you, bringing you one step closer to defeat.
Dungeon rooms each do something special, in addition to applying damage to the heroes, allowing players to build dungeons that will be more evil and deadly. Some rooms will send heroes back to the start to do it all over again, other rooms will give you bonuses if a hero dies there. For this reason, the layout of the dungeon is crucial to your success.
In addition to dungeon rooms having abilities, each one has “loot” associated with it. This loot is what attracts the heroes to your dungeon rather than to your opponents. Each room shows a series of symbols. Ankhs attract clerics, books attract mages, swords attract fighters, and bags of money attract thieves. The person with the most of the given hero’s symbol will attract that hero to their dungeon. However, if there is a tie, the hero stays put in town as he doesn’t find either dungeon particularly tempting.