If you are willing to give games not ‘On the Hotness’ a go, you can enjoy some great experiences
I have mentioned Print and Play (PnP) games before, as well as PnPArcade.com. There are many advantages to this format, as well as some disadvantages.
When you aren’t sure if you should be paying for a game, the PnP versions offered by many publishers are a small glimpse of the whole experience. For example, you can get a PnP version of World Championship Russian Roulette – just in case my review didn’t help make up your mind 😀
And then there are some complete stand-alone games that I could have problems paying full price for in a store. Welcome To… is a good example of a game that straddles this mark. Paying for the deck of cards and everything that came in the box and paying AUD$35 was a point I was OK with.
But sometimes the game is just a play pad. Dragonvault is an example of this. One sheet of paper with the rules and playing area combined, three standard 6 sided dice and a pen does not make me want to spend $25-30.
But USD$3? The designer gets a thank you, I print the scoresheet, and I don’t have to leave my house.
Yes, that’s right – the game cost me less than $5. I only print one sheet, as I have a laminator, but I am already set up for PnP if you look at it that way.
If you had a hankering for something new one afternoon, doesn’t that sound like a great way to try a new game?
Legends of Dysx
Not going to lie – I have no idea about the world of Dysx. Looking at PnPArcade.com and Board Game Geek, it’s obvious that Dragonvault is part of an ongoing series of different games. I am going to guess it is some kind of fantasy world though, as here we play a Dragon guarding their horde against the annoying heroes looking to make a name for themselves.
The concept is pretty simple, but it took me about half of my first game to really get my head around how to play.
On your turn, pick up your three dice and roll. You have one of three possible courses of action to choose from.
The first is the most common initially – Add Traps. You do this by adding devices to the grid representing the dungeon. Choose one die to represent the column in the dungeon, and one to represent the row, the last to represent the trap.
Assuming there is nothing built there already/previously (can’t build over old traps!), or the area is already blacked out, mark your trap and then knock off an hourglass. This round is complete.
Secondly, you can choose to unlock special abilities. These come in the form of either a sub-basement giving you more build area or magical traps.
To unlock an ability, you need to complete all the squares under what you wish to access. You can use any number of your die rolls, but the next number in the sequence must be one number higher or lower than the one before it.
Knowing when to sacrifice building traps or having the out if you are unable to build is key to effective dungeon management in Dragonvault.
The last thing you can choose to do is skip your turn completely. You mark this by circling an hourglass, with each circled hourglass giving you 3 points at games end.
However this isn’t the same as rolling and deciding you can’t do anything – if you decide to go for the bonus points, it must be before you roll for that turn. This is where the push your luck aspect of Dragonvault starts to come in. Is you your dungeon truly ready to defend against heroes?
Finally you will reach a door on the time tracker – this begins the defend stage of Dragonvault.
Roll one die and count that number on the list of living heroes. The idea is the more you defeat, the harder the future heroes become. They then begin their run through your dungeon.
As they follow the trail, you mark off the traps they activate along their path. Most traps have a number of uses or a condition that destroys the trap, but each use also hurts the hero.
If they run out of hearts from damage, the hero is defeated! However, if they make it through, you lose a chest and some points for the end of the game.
And that’s it! Keep going until you have marked all of the hourglasses and doors to mark the end of the game.
Even if you lose all of your treasure, you would have defeated some heroes so it’s very hard to get no score, but it is hard to get a high score.
After about 20 games, I don’t think I have ever gotten away with all of my treasure intact – one always seems to get through. I thought I was close in the game I have photographed for the review, but the last hero skipped past every second trap to their goal.
Some downsides to Dragonvault are if you want to play it safe, there isn’t much ‘game’ to it. Concentrating on placing only traps and unlocking the sub-basement is a solid strategy, if not overly fun in the long run.
If you are unlucky with your dice rolls, you won’t be able to build over previous traps or unlock abilities. This high luck component will put off some more strategic players.
But that is only the opinion of some – the fact that Dragonvault is so quick and highly luck based makes this an interesting diversion for me to chuck some dice with. And for a game that only needs three dice, how much depth did you truly expect?
I would like some more clarification in the rules though. For example, a magical trap is a teleport that returns the hero to the start. I am not sure if this is supposed to be to the start of the dungeon, or out of the dungeon where they start.
Assuming the simplest explanation was correct, I play as the start of the dungeon, but this can set infinite loops. When this happens, I just play it as the second time the hero avoids the teleport. Is that right? Not sure, but it works for me!
The ideas behind Dragonvault are interesting, and the game itself is a fine diversion when I want to play something with minimal setup.
But it’s not a game like Welcome To where I can see myself settling in for a few rounds back to back – I think two runs would be my limit. But I would come back for another go.
That said, for the cost of USD$3 and a couple of printouts, you aren’t exactly being asked to pony up a massive amount of cash. If you are even mildly interested, give it a go – it is fun 🙂 As for me, I will be checking out some more Legends of Dsyx games in the future.
Not sure what the score means? Check out my Review Scores explanation for more info!