Thank you for checking review #102 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.
**Note: A review copy of the game was sent in exchange for an honest review.
An overview of D100 Dungeon
D100 Dungeon is a board game designed by Martin Knight that is self-published. The rules state it plays 1 players and has a playtime of 5-90 minutes.
Just a pencil, a few sheets of paper, 2 d10’s, a d6 and the manual are all you need to take a character on Dungeon Delving Adventure. Create a Characters and you are ready to start a new journey.
The game uses a series of tables and harks back to a cross over of a RPG and a choose your own adventure book. With quests and character development. You can pick this up and play as and when you have the free time.
Each quest is a trip to the dungeon, where you will have a specific goal. Whether you win or fail the quest your character is constantly developing and looting better equipment and more gold. AS you progress through the dungeon you map your progress and make notes so you can easily return back to a quest you have started next time you have some free time. This an ideal lunch break, train journey, flight filler that can help with any gamers withdraw.
Version 3 has updated rules and extra content, and you can find out how its changed here – http://martinknight39.wixsite.com/mk-games/d100dungeon and order here – https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/244214/D100-Dungeon
Version 1 and 2 are free to try out and can be downloaded from BGG here – https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/153784/d100-dungeon-game
—description from the designer
There is something deeply satisfying about taking a pencil to paper and mapping out the rooms as your adventure through a quest. I’m no great artist and never will be, but the rooms are easy enough to duplicate (closely enough). Fitting the information needed onto the map might be a challenge for those with large handwriting but I never found it to be a detraction to my experience. Being able to literally see the map grow as you explore reminds me of playing a game like the original Legend of Zelda where the screen shifts with each movement to a new area.
Three dice are all you need beyond the book and a pencil. Well, mostly. Unless you plan to erase maps and character information constantly you will probably also want extra copies of those sheets as well. But the bottom line is there is so little that goes into playing the game to make it portable, fast to pull out, and easy to put away when you are done. This could easily be played on just about any hard surface, making even an airplane tray a possibility for playing D100 Dungeon.
Within a few rounds of the game – definitely by the end of the first training quest – how a turn works, an encounter works, and what to reference when should all fall into place. There is a ton of information in the book, but most of it applies to providing an overview of the system, explaining special instances, etc. The vast majority of what you need is found on the helpful tables and references in the back of the book. I found myself having to dig for information a lot less the more I played the game, allowing me to settle into a comfortable groove that only would slow down if an exception popped up – or when an encounter lasted too long.
There is a TON of variety in the book because there are 50 different quests of varying difficulty. Which means even if you wanted to play everything in the book once it would take quite some time to accomplish everything. Some of the quests are the standard kill monsters or loot X item, but there is still an interesting variety to be found inside the book. The game is obviously limited to what it can do by the content in the book and, yes, some of the quests might get a little same-y after a while. But for the pricepoint on this, you’ll get plenty of fun before it hits that point.
Combat is relatively simple and straight-forward. One roll is made to see if you hit. If successful, a second roll is made to determine the hit location and damage. I love the use of location for the hit, as some areas reward with bonus damage and others suffer reduced damage. When the monster attacks they do the same pattern, and if they hit you then you can have equipment in the hit area absorb some of the damage – often at the cost of its durability. I really enjoy combat, even if it can draw out depending on dice rolls.
I really like the system for the equipment, how you use them, and their durability. It makes so much more sense than an overall boost to your natural defense, because if I go in wearing a helmet then it shouldn’t help me if I’m being hit on my legs, etc. And while it can be a bummer to see the enemy roll time and again on a slot where you have no armor (and thus no decision on absorbing some damage), that just means you should try and pick that area of armor upin the market…if you’re lucky.
Character creation and progression are some of the highlights of the game. You get to allocate stats and then, based on race and class, get boosts and penalties. There are ancillary skills that get boosts as well, which can help you succeed. Rolling a 10 or lower on a skill check lets you gain experience, working to boost that skill in the future. And as you get proficient, you’ll get to shade the star which essentially doubles your gains in that area going forward. All of this is outstanding and fun to do.
There are a lot of tables to reference in the game, and you’ll constantly be flipping to one of them as you go through the game. Moving to a new room requires a roll for the next room, which you refer to a table to draw the correct room. Depending on the type rolled, you may then either need to roll for an encounter or for a geographical event. Once in the room, you can search it to see if you find anything of interest. If you are successful at that, you may be rolling on yet another table, such as to find which weapon was present. It is all an elaborate yet simple process, but it does require a lot of flipping pages in the book.
Depending on the quest you are on, there may be a +/- to encounter rolls. Which is great in that it helps you to get level-appropriate encounters most of the time. However, when you need to Loot 3 Weapons, for instance, and those HAVE to come from killing monsters, then rolling at a -30 to your encounter kinda sucks. Why? Because the lowest encounters, which you will get the most often with that -30 penalty, do not have any chance at giving a weapon when you kill them. All this does is greatly increase the odds of rolling into an encounter that does nothing to assist your progress on the quest.
You get a single character sheet in the book, along with one encounters sheet and a double-sided map to draw on. Obviously the intent would be to make copies of your own from this, but it would have been nice to have a few dozen blank ones to pull out of the book for those getting started. The good news is that even if you don’t have a copier, you can print these out on BGG. Which you will need to do if you want to play this game more than once session (or erase things a LOT).
Let’s be honest: luck is a pretty big factor in the game. Everything is done with die rolls, and you as the player are trying to make the best decisions you can based upon the situation. Boosting stats can certainly help a lot toward getting more successes, but it isn’t a foolproof method. I’ve suffered tons of damage from low-level enemies that kept rolling 5-6 on their damage while I couldn’t get above a 2. Those things can and will happen. And they’ll suck. I still enjoy the experience, but there is a chance that a session will go south just from sheer random chance. They do sell some decks to replace dice rolls, emulating more of a board game feel, and that might make things feel a little better. But know that things can and will be swingy at times.
My first impression, upon receiving the D100 books and flipping through them, was that I was in for an experience that was going to be challenging to keep track of as I went. It looked like a ton of things to remember as you go in there, not to mention tables upon tables to reference. It honestly intimidated me for far too long, being something I’d look at and say “some day I’ll try that one”. Then my printer was out of ink, and so I used that as a reason to not try it because I couldn’t print out pages to use for the character sheet and map, etc. Finally I just sucked it up and tried it during an evening where I had plenty of time to give it my full attention, and instantly regretted my hesitation.
Yes, there is a lot of information in the book, but most of it is used in small chunks and it is laid out well enough to be able to reference what you need. And the game is relatively simple in its progression of turns. In spite of the constant flipping through the book to reference various charts (something you could just print out to have loose if desired), it was really fun and had me hooked. Enough so that I stayed up far too late the first night playing it, and then had to do the next training mission on the following morning. It is easy to pull out and start playing, and functions well even if you play in 10-15 minute blocks of time. Because it has almost no table presence, it is the perfect “grab and play” style of game for when you don’t have the time (or motivation) to go through setting up and tearing down a game.
The starter quests are fun enough, and I understand the importance of taking a character through them when you first begin because they do help you learn the ropes of the game with a slow ramp in difficulty. However, the requirement to loot a specific treasure type off enemies means you not only need to find said enemies, but that they also need to be ones that drop the loot type you need. And if you are taking -30 off your roll for encounters, and everything dropping a Weapon is 30+ on the Encounter table, that means you need to roll 60+ in order to avoid an energy-sapping battle against a weakling enemy that will likely only give you something worth a handful of Gold. Sure, it progresses you along the experience track – and I’d rather kill a horde of weaklings to boost my character than to face down the tougher battles – but ultimately having 5-6 encounters in a row that are not helping you finish the quest can suck.
Ultimately, if it was mandatory to do those five quests every time you needed to roll up a new character – whether from death, retirement, or to try something new, this would be a game that would get played frequently when I had a character beyond those quests but might sit for months if I needed to churn through the intro-level quests again. However, there is a viable solution in the Player’s Handbook that you can purchase (which I will review separately at some point, when I’ve had time to explore that portion in more depth) because it has a method of creating a character who has already completed those quests. Now that I’ve been through those first five, I don’t intend to run that gauntlet unless the quest is rolled for selection. With 50 different quests out there (45 of the non-introductory type) in the base book, this game has some pretty nice replay value. The maps will generate differently each time, and even when you repeat a room you may discover something completely different in there. The game has a solid system that is easy to use and, in spite of navigating dozens of tables, it never feels overwhelming because you usually flip to 1-2 at any given time during the play. Even the encounters are done well enough, with the I-go, you-go approach to combat and the chance the monster could flee. Sometimes it is fun pushing around cardboard, but taking a pencil to the paper provides something completely different for an experience, and I never knew how much I enjoyed drawing out a map until I started exploring the D100 Dungeon…a place where I’ll be returning many times in the future because this is going to be a staple in my collection for a long time.