Are you looking for glory and fame? Pools of gold and chambermaids? Then join up with The Guild of Dungeoneering and if you survive, it’s all yours…if you survive…not likely…just saying…
Genre(s): Strategy | RPG
Publisher: Versus Evil
Release Date: July 2015
Played Main Story
Guild of Dungeoneering puts you in the shoes of the Guild’s leader, recently scorned by the Ivory League and looking for payback. His plan is to form his own guild and take the League’s treasures from under their noses. But for that he needs recruits and none describe what he considers his subordinates better than the first class you have at your disposal: The Chump. It’s not much of a plot, more a premise but it sets the frame nicely for how disposable your heroes are…and they are truly replaceable and forgettable. If you feel bad about sending a league of potato-heads to their deaths this is not your game. For the rest of you monsters—my people—read on.
Guild of Dungeoneering plays very much like a board game: simple to understand and follow but with nuance to the rules and plenty there to master. If you printed out the tiles and cards you could play this game on your table instantly. When exploring dungeons, you set down your tiles for your character to move to, place monsters in their path and some loot. You can put down three cards per turn in any combination of the previous elements. The AI then decides which path is the most convenient and will move there (you can predict where it’s going by the little blue footprints next to the dungeoneer). If it encounters monster the game shifts to battle mode, where you have the cards for your character and enemy and each of their decks. While before you were building the dungeon and guiding your little guy into peril, now you play as him and must use all cards at your disposal to survive and defeat the monster. It’s a fantastic inversion of the Dungeon Keeper model, where you build the dungeon to kill adventurers. Here you also have to make sure he survives and clears the place. There is a lot of strategy involved in deciding how and when you’ll fight tougher enemies. You can fight level 1 monsters all you like and you’ll get basic level 1 loot, but your character won’t level up at all, as they need monsters of equal or greater level to do so.
Sometimes you’ll see enemies on the map already but most of the time, it’s you who sets the dungeon’s difficulty and rewards and I found that fascinating…and deadly. I tend to take big risks in games and so I kept having my little potato heads die one after the other.
Once you clear a dungeon’s quest—each has two or three of them—you return to the guild with the spoils of your victory. You can use the money to expand the guild to get new classes and add more quality enemy drops. Adding classes is what I did the most, completing the Apprentice ‘tree’ to get my favourite classes throughout the rest of the game: The Alchemist and the Mathemagician. Each time you unlock a class, it’s followed by a nice song describing them.
Each class has its own starting deck—and each dungeoneer starts a dungeon at level 1—but they could have used a bit more tuning. The Alchemist’s +1 healing made my defensive play almost unbeatable, while I couldn’t get a single dungeon cleared with the suicidal barbarian. Each class has its own style of play but they are wildly different, unpredictable and most starting classes become useless as you advance. The game could’ve also benefitted from a Deck View, so you could see what the classes’ basic cards are and learn how to play them.
The game is divided into acts, with several minor dungeons and a major opponent, such as a Dragon in the 2nd one, and while the last dungeon gives out a substantial reward, the rest of them give out paltry sums of money. It’s almost impossible to upgrade anything with the rewards from the basic dungeons.
Because of the previous points, as you progress and the monsters get tougher, it becomes a punishingly difficult game, where you have to refine and revise your strategy over and over and still get killed because of a bad hand and die over and over to scrap enough to unlock something more powerful. Thankfully, the game’s inherent humour helps keep it from becoming too frustrating. On the flip-side, it’s also part of what makes the game so addictive. Much like every other hardcore-difficult game out there and most card games, you’ll want to have “just one more round.”
Guild of Dungeoneering not only plays like a board game but looks like one as well. Everything has a beautiful and charming papercraft look, and when you set down a tile, it’s hand-sketched on the board. It adds to the game’s fun atmosphere and board game theme. This is Dungeon Master the board game and it feels like it. Characters are, as I’ve mentioned before, Potato-heads. All big heads, no hair and dressed in their class uniforms to make them distinct from one another. They have speech bubbles and slide on the tiles like player tokens. It made me feel as if I were playing Munchkin or Dungeons & Dragons every time.
The music is amazing and adds a lot to the game’s charm. From the title song to the one that plays when you finish a dungeon, get killed or get a new class, each piece just makes you smile. One thing I kept repeating on stream while playing this game, before my review, was “this narrator is such a ****,” because the songs when you die are mean, hilariously so. Accompanying the music are the character grumbles that pass for voice acting. They all sound cartoony and fill the world with a child-like innocence that I found irresistible. The tune variety is a bit limited and you will most likely go through all the ‘death’ pieces before the game is done and you’ll start skipping them, but you’ll die so much it’s inevitable I suppose.
Guild of Dungeoneering is a fun and charming adventure, and it made me wish for a board game version to play with my friends. It has its flaws and could’ve used some tuning on the decks, but it’s extremely fun and addictive. I can’t get the “This is the Guild of Dungeoneering” theme out of my head.
4.5/5 – Amazing!