By Jaime Lawrence, Brand Manager
The worst thing in the world, I believe, is the inability to attend one’s scheduled Roleplaying session. It was thus that I found myself last week, having taken ill with a cold and being the kind of person who didn’t want to spread it to anyone else. Glumly, I cast about for something I could do whilst covered in Vicks Vaporub and drinking enough water to irrigate a desert. Suddenly, my eye alighted on a big square box on my review pile – I had been waiting for the chance to play Dungeon of the Mad Mage with some of my friends, but it said ‘For 1 – 5 Players’, so why not give it a go?
I’m not kidding about this being a big box. I play a lot of boardgames, but there is a lot packed into this one. If you enjoy punching out tokens (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), you don’t need to read the rest of the review, this game is for you.
So, my first step was to pick some intrepid adventurers to brave the Dungeons. There’s a bunch of cool characters in the game, but I wanted to be a Sorcerer – if I’m going to play a fantasy game, I’m going to use some magic! The game recommended that I have two adventurers, so I also took a Rogue – I had to punch out a lot of trap tokens, so I figured they could be trouble.
The first mission of the game is a traditional D&D setup – there’s a gang of thugs that have been causing trouble for the town, so they send you, the brave adventurers, down into their hideout to clear them out. We win if we can defeat four human enemies.
Each character comes with a range of options and you can create some interesting variations with their Daily Powers, At-Will abilities and passive Utility powers. I took the suggested starting combos, set up the Dungeon entrance and steeled myself for battle.
The rules are pretty straightforward – on a turn, a character can move, then either move again, attack, disarm a trap or take another action from a component in the game. After doing your hero stuff, you either discover a new room in the dungeon (if you’re standing on an edge) or draw an encounter card. Then, you take responsibility for any enemies you’ve spawned, sending them after your friends – or yourself.
Our first room seems ok – we discovered a couple of easily dispatched Intellect Devourers. Then Trosper decided that wandering off alone seemed like a good idea. It wasn’t. He got an encounter card that forced him to reveal three rooms, and all of the associated monsters.
This lead to me using Marcon’s ‘Thunder Step’ Daily Power. On turn two. Thanks, Trosper. Still, we cleared out a few bad guys, including a human.
Things progressed. We beat down some more baddies, but had to use a ‘healing surge’ to keep Marcon upright. Turns out Trosper is great with traps, but terrible with almost everything else. Finally, a bit of luck – Marcon spotted a treasure chest!
In an instant, Trosper turned it all around, using his Daily power to remove all of the traps in the room.
Of course, victory was fleeting, as Trosper then had an encounter, since he hadn’t revealed any new tiles. Turns out that Trosper and encounter cards don’t mix well.
Marcon rolled his eyes, walked over to the treasure chest and prepared for the worst… Then drew two non-items! Miraculous! Unfortunately, that meant drawing an unkind encounter card…
We survived. Just. By this point, we had three humans down, one to go. The scenario had a special ability that allowed us to spend 5 experience points (defeated monsters) to track a human down and fetch him from the deck. We did so, dispatching him with one hit point remaining each. Toight.
After finishing the scenario, we got some rewards, altered the monster, encounter and treasure decks (taking out some cards and putting in tougher/better ones) and had an opportunity to buy and sell treasures and, if we had enough cash, level up our characters. These guys didn’t quite make it on their first go, but weren’t too far off.
The game was good fun. It had the feeling of a dungeon crawl, including the story and character, as described above. I was definitely compelled to play more and against my better judgement, I brought Trosper along for the ride. How did it go? Well, I don’t want to give you spoilers, but…
Dungeon of the Mad Mage is a great way to pass the time while sick, and probably also a lot of fun when you’re feeling well. It’s available now at your local Good Games store, or at our Online Store. There’s also a premium edition with prepainted miniatures!