Type: RPG / Co-Op

Time to play: < 180 minutes (Teaching: 20 minutes)

Best played with: 2-4 players (Best with 3)

Just closing out their expansion Kickstarter campaign and Chip Theory Games have another big shipping ahead. If you missed out on all that though, this is one of the rare games that you can actually download the entire game FOR FREE!

I did exactly that, as well as playing other people’s copies and this is a smart little campaign game. Like many new dungeon style games this is all control by automation and every player takes the role of the heroes – fighting through the bad guys to the final boss monster! Okay, the theme and story suffers and as exciting as reading from a card is, there will be D&D players who do not see this as a substitute. However, if you have a social gaming group and enjoy a longer / campaign game then this still has much to offer.

From the smart way the characters and bad guys have health chips (stacked below the character tiles), to the use of “bones” to build a back up plan, there are lots of innovative instances built into this game. However to focus on where the core of this game is – it’s about the character development. Who strikes the final blow and which character collapses in the fight is interesting, but this game goes further with vastly asymmetrical custom dice to describe your character.

Each game gives you the chance to expand that dice pool and add actions – healing others, summoning monsters and creating piercing or poisonous attacks. These unique features drive you to change your movements on the board, target different opponents. This changes how you play as you go through a campaign and you make choices along the way to get the right dice for the final battle.

However, all that is part of the downside of a game – a little less theme and limited play between battles and a constant focus on one final fight. The journey cards played between fights have a limited story and a very closed set of choices. The final battle is the goal for the game – defeating that specific boss. The way that boss plays is vastly different (because of those incredible custom dice) but it’s all about the win or loss of that final fight. What’s more, it’s really all about beating or not beating that individual character! Do that and the game ends instantly (unless you choose to complete the fight).

So is this a clever game with a few limitations, or is it custom dice hiding a simpler game? Well, I would end up on the first of these. The choices you make have real impact and you can play the same character in vastly different ways – partly on who else is in the party and partly on your own choices. Build a shield wall to protect your character, through caution to the wind with a lot of attacks, or use your special dice to boost the party’s chances of victory. Also, like any good co-op games there is so much going on in front of you that it is hard to have an alpha player – someone controlling everyone’s actions.

Unfortunately this can make the game quite long a quite difficult for new players. Some early guidance on the first dice to add is helpful (and I will mention a few in the strategy tips!).

So I would put aside the way you unlock treasure, the slightly weak journey cards, and turn your focus to your character and the diverse range of enemies.

Last notes:

  • If you like character development and very distinct ways of completing the same missions – you will really enjoy the options built into this clever game.
  • If you want a story or a bit of map movement, then perhaps this is not the story for you.
  • If you win at this game, take the next boss along and take a new group of heroes on the journey!