The Guild of Dungeoneering by Gambrinous, is a dungeon crawling game, with a difference.
Instead of controlling your explorer you control the layout of the dungeon, how it looks and the monster placement. For the most part, its construction is solely down to you!.
Whilst you have no direct control over the explorer, you can influence the direction he or she moves in by placing Gems and Money Bags in or near the rooms you wish them to visit and explore.
Visually the game reminds me of a student doodling into their notebook at school, pencil sketched creatures and backgrounds made while they should have been learning about photosynthesis in science class.
When you first enter a dungeon you start in an empty room, the game will then deal you 5 cards, these will be a mixture of corridors and rooms for the dungeon layout, monster cards of varying levels for you to fight, and gold cards representing treasure to collect. Of these 5 you can place down 3 before your turn is over and the explorer starts wandering off in the direction of the blue footsteps underneath him.
Combat is a simple affair, when your explorer enters a room with a creature inside you will enter the battle screen, from here can see the health and various abilities of both your adventurer and the creature. Combat is handled similarly to the dungeon building part of the game, in the beginning phase you will be dealt 3 cards, you will be able to see what card the enemy creature has chosen (unless they have a skill that keeps the cards hidden) normally you will have to work out which of the 3 cards you have been dealt will have the best effect against the attacking card of the monster, will the spider launch into a physical attack (red fist)? Will you use a card to block it (Red Shield)? Will you take the damage while launching a magical counter attack (Blue Fist)? Is the creature defending against magic (Blue Shield)? Or will you use an unblockable attack (Yellow Shield with Lightning Bolt)?
The skills used are quite varied and are influenced by the equipment and class of the adventurer.
When you first start out on your quest for gold, you are armed with only the default skills your adventurer starts with, so defeating a few level 1 monsters is essential for gathering equipment to open up a few more abilities.
Saying that, levelling up your character is handled slightly differently to what you may be used to, there is no Experience bar to fill. To level up your Dungeoneer you will have to fight an equal or slightly higher level creature. Each creature will drop level appropriate gear after each fight, many times I found myself fighting a boss character armed with nothing more than my trusty saucepan helmet and mighty dinner table fork before realising this.
After you have successfully beaten a dungeon you will return to your base, The Guild of Dungeoneering, with all the loot you acquired, this is then transferred to gold with which you can upgrade and expand the guild house, which in turn will attract more cannon fodder.. I mean adventurers and unlock new item drops for the next dungeon.
I’m quite partial to the Most Holy Grail Knight with his host of health replenishing skills, although after you have expanded the guild house for a while you will be overrun with Chumps, Cat-Burglars (who throw actual cats!) Bruisers, Rangers, Troubadors, Mime’s, Apprentices, Shape shifters, Alchemist’s, Cartomancer’s, and Mathemagician’s.
Each dungeon you visit will have an objective that needs to be completed to progress to the next level. These can be as simple as “Defeat 4 Skeletons” or get your adventurer to a specific tile or creature within a set number of turns.
At times the game is more about luck than skill, this is more noticeable in the dungeons where you have to get to a certain tile or defeat a certain creature within a set number of turns, these runs can get wrecked simply because of the tiles needed to get to the correct area simply not being drawn until it is too late.
I will wholeheartedly recommend Guild Of Dungeoneering, it is a fun little game with a good sense of humour, and quite possibly one of the most catchy theme tunes I’ve heard recently, several times this week I have caught myself singing about the guild at work to myself…
Can lose yourself for hours
Great character designs
Can rely too much on luck rather than skill at times.