Thursday, April 12, 2007

Enter The Dungeon

My 5-year-old daughter, Maddie, and I played Dungeonquest today.

DungeonQuest is a fantasy boardgame in which you play a hero braving the terrors of Dragonfire Castle. There are four characters provided with the game, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The game may be played solo or with up to four players.

I have played it a total of three times previously; the first two games solo, and on the third occasion with Maddie. In our last game of Dungeonquest, Maddie's first, she was able to make her way to the Treasure Chamber, steal a staggering 4,490 gold pieces worth of treasure and escape from the dungeon with only 1 turn to spare before the sun set. According to the rules you have approximately a 15% chance of achieving such a feat. I perished in that particular game, as I have in all the games I've played so far.

I won the initial dice roll to see who was the 'first player' and was thus able to choose my character first. I decided to choose El-Adoran Sureshot, a character I had not played before. This is the only character to carry a missile weapon, a bow, which allows the opportunity of attacking a monster and killing it before it gets a chance to hit you. El-Adoran had high Agility and Luck scores but the lowest Life Points (11) of the four characters. Maddie chose Volrik the Brave, a roguish character with high Agility and Luck scores and reasonably good Life Points (15). Each character then gets to choose a magic ring to assist them in their quest for treasure. Maddie chose to take the Ring of Healing and I chose the Ring of Opening.

The game lasts for a maximum of 26 turns. Each turn represents a phase of time with the final turn meaning the sun has set. The rules state "it is better not to ask what happens to those characters who are still in the dungeon at nightfall..." The character who has exited with the most treasure from the dungeon before nightfall is the winner.

The initial board set up. Maddie started in the lower left tower and I started in the lower right tower.

Turn 1
[Me] Starting in the lower right tower the first room I draw is empty.
[Maddie] Starting in the lower left tower, the first room Maddie enters is a bottomless pit. Maddie must roll a D12; if she rolls her Agility score (which is 7) or lower she makes it across the pit; if not her character dies and she is out of the game. She rolls a 6 and just barely manages to jump across the chasm.

Maddie's character, Volrik the Brave.
Turn 2
[Me] I enter the next room to find an Orc standing guard. I choose to immediately Attack him. The corresponding Monster card shows that the result is that we enter Combat and he has 6 Life Points. We fight and I kill him but am sorely wounded, losing 4 of my own Life Points in the battle. I proceed on with only 7 Life Points remaining.
[Maddie] Maddie enters a corridor which allows her another immediate draw from the room tiles. She finds the corridor leads to an empty room.
Turn 3
[Me] The next room I enter is a crypt. I have the option of doing a free search and find a potion bottle. I keep it for later. When I drink it I will find out what it does. It could be a healing potion or it could be poison.
[Maddie] Maddie enters her next room only to find the roof caves in! On her next turn she must roll a D12 or retreat back the way she came.
Turn 4
[Me] I enter the next room only to find a portcullis slam down behind me cutting off my retreat. Luckily the room is empty. The exits continue to lead toward the heart of the dungeon - and the waiting Treasure Chamber.
[Maddie] Maddie decides to risk moving forward instead of retreating. She must roll a D12 and roll her Agility score (7) or lower. She rolls a 9 and is trapped by the cave-in and misses her turn.

Turn 5
[Me] I enter the next room and once again a portcullis slams down behind me. I'm starting to get the feeling that the Dragonfire Castle does not want me to escape alive. The room is empty.
[Maddie] Maddie tries to escape the cave-in. She rolls a 7 and manages to make it to the next room which is empty.

Turn 6
[Me] I enter the next room and suddenly a trapdoor opens below my feet revealing many sharp stakes below. I must roll my Agility (8) or less on a D12 to avoid the trap. I roll a 7 and jump back just in time.
[Maddie] Maddie continues on to find the next room is a dead end. However, before she can retreat she finds it is actually a Rotating Room and the room rotates 180 degrees thereby cutting off forever the way she has come. She continues on in the direction of the Treasure Chamber.

Turn 7
[Me] I enter a corridor which allows me another room tile draw. I enter the next room and another portcullis slams down behind me. That's three portcullises barring the way I've come. To open a portcullis I need to roll my Strength (3) or lower on a D12. Fat chance of that!
[Maddie] Maddie's next room draw is another Rotating Room! She's definitely not going back the way she came in!
Turn 8
[Me] I am one room away from the Treasure Chamber! Unfortunately the room I draw has no exit matching the entrances to the Treasure Chamber. I must go back a room and try approaching the Treasure Chamber from another side.
[Maddie] Maddie enters her next room which at first appears empty. Then from the shadows a Death Warrior leaps out and does a Sneak Attack on her. She must roll a D12 and subtract her Luck (8) to see how much damage she takes. She rolls an 10 and loses 2 Life Points. She enters into combat with the Death Warrior who has 5 Life Points. Maddie defeats her enemy but loses 5 Life Points in the process. She is down to 10 Life Points.

Turn 9
[Me] I spend the turn moving back to the previous room.
[Maddie] Maddie uses her magical Ring of Healing to heal back the 5 Life Points she lost in the battle with the Death Warrior. She may not use the ring again as it only works once.
Turn 10
[Me] The room tile I draw has an exit leading directly to the Treasure Chamber! I enter the room only to find a Mountain Troll blocking my way. I decide to use the special feature of El-Adoran - his bow. I have one opportunity to shoot the monster before we enter combat. If I roll a 5 or a 6 I will kill him instantly. I roll a 5, the arrow piercing his brain - he falls dead at my feet. I am now free to enter the Treasure Chamber on my next turn. I can hear the heavy breathing of the sleeping dragon guarding the piles of gold and jewels only feet away. My destiny awaits...
[Maddie] Maddie is about to also enter a room adjoining the Treasure Chamber. She walks in and a trap door opens beneath her feet. She must roll her Agility (7) or lower on a D12 to avoid the trap. She rolls an 11 and falls through the trapdoor taking a D6 worth of damage. She rolls a 6 and loses 6 Life Points. She now has 9 Life Points remaining.

Maddie has drawn a trapdoor. Each of us is about to enter the Treasure Chamber.

Turn 11
[Me] I cautiously enter the Treasure Chamber being careful not to wake the sleeping dragon. I get to pick twice from the treasure tile cup. I draw a total of 2,390 gold pieces worth of treasure. What a haul! I am thrilled but then I go cold as I remember I must also draw from the dragon tile cup. There a 8 dragon tiles; 7 are sleeping dragons and 1 is the dragon awakened.

What a haul! El-Adoran will party tonight! If he gets out alive that is...

Thankfully I draw a sleeping dragon tile. Phew!

[Maddie] Maddie also enters the Treasure Chamber on the same turn as me. She draws twice from the treasure pile. She chooses well, receiving 3,700 gold pieces worth of treasure. She has the highest amount of treasure and is technically winning. But she must get out alive to win.

Maddie scores more treasure than me on this turn.

Maddie is stealthy and does not awaken the dragon.

Turn 12
[Me] I decide to leave and not take any more treasure. There are 6 dragon tiles remaining which means that I would have a 1-in-6 chance of waking the dragon. And if Maddie also stayed she would have a 1-in-5 chance of causing the dragon to awake. If she woke the dragon I'd take the brunt of his fiery breath as well as I'd also be in the room. The risk is too high and I've only got 13 turns left to get out, and my way is barred by three portcullises. I go out into the room I came through.
[Maddie] Maddie states she will take more treasure. I carefully explain to her that she has a 1-in-6 chance of waking the dragon. She understands and chooses to take the risk. Maddie draws two more treasure tiles adding a further 840 gold pieces worth of treasure to her total. She is now sitting on 4,540 gold pieces worth of treasure. This is 50 gold pieces more than the total she escaped with in her previous game. I marvel at her luck.

More loot for Maddie.

She takes a deep breath and draws from the dragon tile cup and...

Oh no!

...she wakes the dragon! I see the tile a split-second before she does and I yell out. This sudden shout gives her a fright and she jumps in her seat. She looks at the dragon in shock and then she looks at me and says "You really scared me when you said that!" I smile to myself and think how the fright was a cool role-playing experience. Not that I did it on purpose, mind you, I was upset to see she'd pulled the woken dragon tile and couldn't help my exclamation.

Maddie immediately loses all her treasures. The dragon's breath causes D12 damage to her. She only has 9 Life Points left. She rolls an 8 on the D12 leaving her with only 1 Life Point remaining! She runs northwards out of the Treasure Chamber, with no treasure and badly burnt.

Turn 13
[Me] I go back the way I came in. I enter the first of the rooms blocked by a portcullis.
[Maddie] Maddie's luck is running out. The room she enters suffers a cave-in, obviously caused by the terrific energy blast of the dragon's breath. I know she is dead. First she must pick a number between 1 and 6 and say it out loud. If the number she picks is rolled she is dead, if not, she rolls a D6 and takes that many Life Points of damage. She is only on 1 Life Point so she is dead either way. She bravely plays it out. She chooses a 2 and rolls a 5 thus surviving the first part of the cave-in. She then rolls the D6 and takes 3 Life Points of damage. Poor Volrik the Brave dies in the cave-in.

Alas, poor Volrik the Brave!

Turn 14
[Me] I can still make it out alive with my 2,390 gold pieces worth of treasure. I spend the turn to use my one-shot magical Ring of Opening to open the portcullis blocking my way. I move into a corridor which then leads into an empty room. I plan to keep moving south until I pass the two remaining rooms blocked by portcullises and then join back on to my existing route to exit the way I came in.

Turn 15
[Me] The next room I enter contains a Champion of Chaos. I take a shot at him with my bow but the arrow misses. I choose to Wait and See what he will do. The Monster card reveals that he has 4 Life Points and will Combat me. We fight and I kill him but take 3 Life Points of damage in the battle. I now only have 3 Life Points remaining.

Turn 16
[Me] The next room is a Dead End! No! Thankfully it is empty but the only way for me to continue on is to do a Search on my next turn and hope I locate a Secret Door.

Turn 17
I search the room for a secret door. As I'm searching a Giant Centipede leaps out and bites me. I must take D12 worth of damage. I only have 3 Life Points remaining. It is too late to take a swig from the potion bottle I've been carrying around since Turn 3.

Ack! A Giant Centipede!

I need to roll a 1 or 2 on the D12 to survive. I roll a 5 and the poison kills me.

El-Adoran Sureshot dies, so close, yet so far, from the exit.

Even though our characters died we both had a great time. Maddie handled her character's death quite well. I'd like to try HeroQuest when she's a little older and a few years down the track introduce her to Dungeons & Dragons.


SodakLady said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the heroic adventures of you and Maddie. I've never played Dungeonquest but your story-telling style kept me right with you both in the heart of the dragon's lair. I hope Maddie has learned a little bit about being greedy! ;)

Fraser Anderson said...

I loved this game, I had a nice copy for years that I just sold on ebay since I no longer have anyone to play it with.

My wife has no interest in wargames or dungeon crawls, so it was ebay or wait until my one year old can get it.

I know I could have sat on it in the closet, but I used the ebay cash to buy "Samurai" which is a fun game I can get more action with over here.

Ozvortex said...

Sodaklady - Yes, let's hope she learns from her experience.

Fraser - Yeah, I sold my copy of Dungeonquest several years ago (pre-kids) for the same reason. I was lucky enough to find another copy a few years ago at a local garage sale for AU$5.00.

Anonymous said...

I find it absurd that your post has made me desire a game where a player can be eliminated on turn one.

Ozvortex said...

Yes, being eliminated on the first turn is part of the charm of Dungeonquest. :)