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Kickstarter Preview – Dungeon Drop

I’m known as one of the family gaming guys. So, naturally, I’m sent and shown a lot of games that purport to be family friendly and accessible to younger gamers.

A lot of the games we see attempt to take complex game types like dungeon crawlers, RPGs, dexterity games, etc and eschew some of the mechanics or components to simplify the experience. This approach works wonders because most kids love to play games and just need a few obstacles cleared out of their way in order to really enjoy themselves.

The Game!

Dungeon Drop achieves this simplicity in an elegant and clever way: it skips the entire concept of a game board.Look. I know what you’re saying. How, exactly, do they do that?

Honestly, the answer is so simple you are going to be embarrassed that you didn’t think of it on your own. (I know I am!) – They skip the board part entirely.

This is an animated gif illustrating the rules of the game.
This is literally the entire game.

The titular “Dungeon” in Dungeon Drop is created by dropping an assortment of colored cubes onto the play surface. Each colored cube represents a different object ranging from grey pillars (which help form the rooms) to orange keys, and green Boblins. (No. I didn’t spell that wrong.)

On their turn, each player sprinkles a few more cubes into the playing field to mix the dungeon up a bit, uses a player power based on their race or class, and “loots a room” by choosing three grey pillars in the play area and collecting all of the cubes inside the triangle that creates.

This simple gameplay loop can be taught in a few minutes and gameplay is fast. My first demo with a member of the Phase Shift Games staff took place between ordering our sandwiches at a restaurant and those sandwiches arriving. Experienced players will cruise through a game in ten minutes.

Don’t let that simplicity concern you though. The race/class combinations are enough to add variety to a game with a fixed board. The fact that the “board” changes every game based on how the cubes bounce is a bonus!

The Downside

Dungeon Drop was a fun game to play, but there is one unavoidable pitfall that you encounter when playing it with kids. Building the dungeon required dropping a bunch of tiny pieces onto the playing surface. One miscalculation when a younger player does the initial drop can lead to a HUGE dungeon, a big mess (as cubes go flying everywhere), and a challenging play experience without a yardstick.

The rules give you guidance on how to avoid it, but the risk is there regardless. I highly recommend that families add the additional house rule that oldest player at the table do the initial drop. (Trust me.)

The Bottom Line

Dungeon Drop’s asking price on Kickstarter is $16 (with a $22 deluxe edition). That’s a very good price when you take into account the amount of game in this tiny package. It’s definitely worth a look.

FCC Disclosure: A prototype copy of Dungeon Drop was provided for the purposes of this review.

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Kickstarter Preview: Alliance The Card Game

Card battling games have been a popular genre for decades (arguably as long as playing cards have existed). We have seen countless variations on similar themes. A handful of those variations succeed and others have fallen short. Alliance The Card Game is one of the few that rise above the rest.




When I first started writing reviews I was taught to frame my review as a comparison of execution vs. expectations. This way I would avoid comparing a game to others in the genre. In essence, I am looking to compare the game to an idealized version of itself. (Please forgive the navel-gazing. I promise I’m getting to the point.) Alliance the Card game succeeds because it does exactly what it promises that it should do. It is a straight forward card game that is easy to set up and tear down. It is also, most importantly, a game that is so simple to learn that young kids can take it out and teach each other to play with no outside intervention.

That last point is super critical for me. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have been pulled away from another game, or from another activity to have to walk my younger kids through games or to help them teach their friends how to play. Alliance solves for that problem by being simple enough to be taught by a kindergartener.

This ease of use doesn’t come at the expense of quality either. Players are treated to an interesting battle game with some strategic decisions to be made. The cards feature amazing art in a new, but familiar, sword and sorcery setting.

It is worth mentioning that this Kickstarter is for a Starter Kit that will only feature two armies. The intention is to design and sell more cards and card sets is expansions that will help deepen the strategy of the game.

Alliance The Card Game plays with two players ages 6+. Each player plays with a 35 card deck that includes a Leader, generals, and various warriors. Play begins by placing the leaders in their respective places on the game board. Players then take turns taking cards from the top of their deck and placing them in one of five spaces towards the center of the board.

The real action takes place once the front rows of each side of the board have been filled. Players take turns activating two of their five active creatures to attack creatures on the other side of the board. Activation is straight forward; you choose a character and then roll a metal die. If the number that comes up matches an attack number on the card, then damage is dealt to the target.

When cards are defeated they are moved to the slain pile. Each player can only replace one card per turn so the goal is to put the pressure on and get ahead. Once all five spaces have been cleared you have a chance to attack the enemy leader.

Conclusion

If you back Alliance the Card Game at $39 on Kickstarter, then you will get the base game. There is a $44 pledge level that includes the designer’s autograph.

If you and your family are looking for a straight forward card battling game set in a sword and sorcery setting, then I think this will be a great addition to your collection.


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