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Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King Review - Chibi Crawling Catastrophes

Jonathan Bolding | 7 May 2015 13:30
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Speaking of faster conclusions, that's one of the primary problems with the game. For all that it's a lighthearted crawler with cute art and minis, it's actually pretty slow at the table. Though the mechanics aren't complex by any stretch of the imagination, it just moves... slowly. Attacks and defense must usually be rolled, though some monsters have a (blessed, blessed) static defense value, you're rolling to attack and defend for every player, and to attack for every monster. While once everyone learns the rules it's quick, this is still a simple weight of time involved in playing the game. Over the average three to four hour game, there'll inevitably be a few down periods after each mini-boss where all the players celebrate and then realize they need to do the same thing two or three more times. For players, this can bear out as a process of having decided your general strategy in the first few turns, then not changing it too deeply over the course of hours of play. It wears on your nerves. At the same time, the moment-to-moment tactical situation is tense and tight. Players never have too much health at any time, so someone can die horribly over the course of just a few turns if they expose themselves and aren't careful.

The shakeups in the flow of the game tend to come from the eponymous Explore cards. Whenever players enter a new tile, they trigger an explore card draw. Explore cards trigger a diverse set of effects, from spawning little creep monsters or traps to giving the players bonuses or denying them their abilities. Some of the effects are good, so players can spend an action to explore further, drawing a bonus card for that particular dungeon tile. They're nice because they break up the flow of the game, making entering a new dungeon segment a more interesting experience than simply racing to crush spawn points and bosses as quickly as you can.

Despite the sections that drag, Forgotten King is a hell of an easy game to learn. Likewise, over the course of a game difficulty gradually ramps up alongside complexity as you gain new stuff. For example, the treasures you get from defeating bosses or opening chests are more complex than the basic loot from killing mobs. The loot is more like armor with a flat or single dice bonus, while the treasures can be multiple dice, situational bonuses, or even pets. Speaking of pets, they're really cute and come with tiny, precious figures. It is good.

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Learning to play Dark Consul, on the other hand, is a little harder. Spawining the minions that have died from a point drains that point of health over time, and balancing that with the heroes attacking the point can be quite difficult. Likewise, since during setup all the monsters are placed onto the board, balancing bringing monsters from another board as reinforcements with being able to defend that spawn point later can throw off the game if poorly managed.

Overall, Forgotten King is an enjoyable, thematic dungeon crawl experience. The main rulebook has a number of suggestions for making the game more or less difficult, and the game is actually much more enjoyable if you enable players to have multiple treasures per hero, boost up the monsters, and generally speed the game along by starting the heroes off stronger. I found that by shifting the starting situation a bit we could make the game no less challenging while cutting play time down to a more enjoyable two and a half hours from the three to four it usually takes. On the other hand, many players of dungeon crawls don't want to play multiple games in an evening - in which case this will be perfect.

Bottom Line: While it can be slow, Super Dungeon Explore: Forgoten King keeps the atmosphere light and the tension high.

Recommendation: It's hard to go wrong with a game where you can have a pet cat named Admiral Fuzzybottom.

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