Game Review: Dungeon Allies

Game Review: Dungeon Allies

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Time: 60-90 Mins

Number of Players: 2-5

Difficulty: 5 (Gateway)

Game Type: Dungeon Crawler/Dice Chucker

Gamer Type: Casual

It has been a while since we have reviewed a good dungeon crawler game here at NRN. The truth is the field is so crowded that it is hard for new games to stand out. As a result, many companies try to go the dying comedian route of making something more shocking or offensive to sell copies. This leads to games that are light on the gaming and high on the bad jokes, a tabletop cartoon network, if you will. Joe Magic Games bucked this trend with some high fantasy in an easy package with their game, Dungeon Allies.

Story

Dungeon Allies is a classic dice driven dungeon crawler game. Gamers are exploring the environment through different actions to get the loot, and getting loot has not been so much fun since classic ’90s games like “Munchkin” and “Kobolds Ate My Baby.” You are out for loot and you are not letting the other players stand in your way. While there is not direct combat with other players, dice placement can really put the screws to other players plans. 8 of 10

Artwork

There are two places you find great fantasy artwork, van conventions, and well- planned games. Luckily, Joe Magic Games allows you to explore the fantasy art world without a trip to the former. The game pieces clearly depict what they do and the fantasy feel of the game permeates the whole system. The box itself is a work of art. Besides being a standard medium long box, which fits easily on the shelf, all 6 faces of the box have great art and information on them. One thing I particularly liked was the inclusive number of player and age boxes. 7.5 of 10.

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Mechanics

If you read the column, you know that I like dice chuckers with a story. Dungeon Allies fits the bill. The randomizers in the game are the dice and cards that are drawn for the game. This allows each game to be different. The turn order, placement cards, and ability to upgrade your dice enable the game to move differently each time the game is played, so even if you draw the 1 in a million same card game, the players and their styles make it different. The randomization is balanced because strategy and luck are both part of the game – sorry, eurogamers. This makes it a fun game for casual gamers around the world. 6 of 10.

Strategy

As always, we are looking at the big four here for strategy. When it comes to offense, we kind of see the lines blur between offense and rush. Players can race to get gems, beat monsters and claim relics to try to outpace other players. This leaves players with few followers (if any) and a low number of dice, so if you do not make major moves at the beginning, you are out of luck.

Defense allows you to outbid other players with higher dice. This is kind of a “dick move” strategy, but it was effective in the playtests. This does work better with larger groups, as if you are doing the same thing to the same person over and over again, they will either figure it out or get mad. Engine building is lightly represented in the overall strategy of the game. You can set up for big moves at the end; just hope others are not doing the same thing. 7.5 of 10.

Novelty

Is it easy to create anything new in the dungeon crawler or dice chucker genre? No. What it comes down to is how the pieces go together and how it feels as a game. Joe Magic does an amazing job of bringing together classic pieces into something wonderful. Add to that a nostalgic feel to the game and you have a classic game at heart. Hopefully this game could shepherd in a new era of classic style games, not remakes, reboots, or redos, but honest to goodness new games with that classic family fun feel that you can still play with your friends. 8 of 10.

Overall

This is a great game that reminds me of the games that got me into gaming. Sometimes I think gaming companies reach a fork in the road where they have to choose to make a game too complicated for families and casual gamers, which caters to the “Comic Book Guy” type of crowd, or they go for the “Wal-Mart Gamer” crowd to sell out for big bucks. Joe Magic Games went down their own path, creating a game that takes intelligence, but does not make your brain want to saw its way out of your head while reading the rule book. This is a game that should be on every gamers shelf, because it is something that you can play with friends who have been gaming for decades, but also with new gamers, even teen family members. I highly recommend it 37 of 50.

Christopher W Smithmyer
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