Dragonvault – A Legends of Dysx Game review

DragonVault Cover Art
DragonVault Cover Art
Released 2018
Designer Robin Gibson
Publisher Button Shy Games (Website)
Players 1
Playing Time 5-10 minutes
Category Roll and Write
Solo
Push your luck
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

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.

Dragonvault Components
A lot of people might be turned off by the idea of a game being one piece of paper, but they are missing out!

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.

Playing Dragonvault

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.

Dragonvault Turn 1
Roll dice, look up options, write result. Nice and straightforward 🙂

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.

Dragonvault Unlock
You want to open new powers, especially as the new heroes come through!

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.

Dragonvault A hero comes
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

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.

Dragonvault Final Score
Like many Roll and Writes, you are just playing to beat your own score - but it's still satisfying!

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!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD
Dragonvault - A Legends of Dysx Game

Final Thoughts

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.

Overall
7/10
7/10

Pros

  •  Easy to learn
  •  Leaves you that challenge of ‘I can do better”
  •  It’s USD$3 from PNPArcade.com!

Cons

  •  Rules could be on a second page and fleshed out
  •  Play draw area is a bit small

Last Week’s Gaming – January 28th, 2019

20190128-Last-Weeks-Feature

Welcome to Dragonvault!

It was a very quiet run for gaming this week.  Between work and getting other things ready, I didn’t get much gaming in.  There wasn’t even my normal games night this week!

The long weekend will help fix that though 🙂

Welcome To

A few rounds of Welcome To helped passed a bit of time 🙂

I know there is a way I can beat my best score of 101 – both Alpal and Rabbit have done it!  But I keep persevering – I will do it!

That is a big part of the reason I love Welcome To so much – even though the core of the game always remains the same, no two games are exactly alike.  And the challenge is so nicely weighted even with the luck factor of the deck it’s always great to give another go.

20190128 Welcome To
My first solo run through this week - and wow. That score hurt!

Dragonvault

Part of The Legends of Dsyx series and available at PnPArcade.com, Dragonvault is a simple one page Roll and Write adventure.

Similar in theme to games like Boss Monster and Dungeon Master, you play a dragon guarding their hoard from the annoying heroes.

Roll three dice, and decide to lay a trap or work towards upgrading more areas and magical traps.

Dragonvault wasn’t anything to set the world on fire, but it was a bit of fun and worth a look – especially for USD$3 and a single page printout!

20190128 DragonVault
Not a bad first game! I don't know what I was expecting, but a bit of fun.

Super Mario Odyssey

Not too much progress this week.  I finished the Sand Kingdom last week, and now I have finished the Snow Kingdom.

The bounce race was interesting, but playing it late at night before sleep I feel I could be getting better times.

Honestly, the Snow Kingdom has been my biggest let down for areas to date.  I am hoping the rest of the areas pick back up but it might be a week or two before I come back to Mario, between the next entry and Kingdom Hearts 3…

20190128 Super Mario Odyssey
I finished this area last week, but the snow isn't really as fun to show off!

Resident Evil 2

So I finally got to start playing the full proper Resident Evil 2!  Just like my experiences with the 1 shot demo, so far everything I wanted in the remake has come true.

I have heard a lot of comments already about the darkness in the game.  Yes, it’s dark and you have a lot of trouble seeing in front of you.  But I am actually appreciating this more and more – it means I have to explore slowly and carefully.  This is how I had to play the original, trying to explore without triggering camera changes and the like!

If you are on the fence, play the demo – it’s available for a little while longer, and will help you make your decision one way or the other.

20190128 Resident Evil 2
Had to go through a bit more to get here this time. No uniform yet either. Leon is slacking :p

What about you?  I hope you got more gaming in than I did!

Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD