Sometimes I wonder if the gods of Fate/Luck hate me. I have a bad track record when it comes to games that rely on RNG, frequently getting absolutely destroyed no matter how hard I try. And yet, at the same time, I keep coming back to games that use RNG as a determining factor / gameplay element time and time again.
Perhaps I am a glutton for punishment.
Guild of Dungeoneering is such a game. A Strategy Roguelike with a card based battle system and adventure system, this is a game where you can lose a run on the first turn if you are that unlucky. I have had it happen to me often. And yet, its charm and personality and style keep dragging me back to it.
Lets get into the Pillars, and see what treasures these dungeons hold.
This game uses a hand drawn style, where literally everything looks like it was done in colored pencils on graph paper. It makes it feel like I am playing an old school tabletop RPG, where the dungeon tiles are high detailed, the monsters each look distinct, and even your little minions with their gear look unique.
There is even a little fog of war that hides bits of your dungeon that your minion has not explored. It looks fantastic and gives the game a very unique feel. And thankfully everything is easy to read as well.
The music is pretty solid. I enjoy listening to it, and thankfully at the start of each level it lists what song that is playing at the start of each dungeon. The sound effects are nothing special but they do exactly what you need them to do.
Also the opening theme is hilarious. And the voice acting that plays each time you fail or complete a dungeon, where the narrator makes fun of you or acts astonished is pretty good… the first few times you hear it. It does get repetitive after a couple of hours as there are not a lot of options for these moments.
You are the leader of a guild after failing to get into the Ivory League. You are attempting to prove that your “Guild of Dungeoneering” is the better adventurers guild, by completing quests and taking down dungeons for glory. That’s about it honestly. It’s less about the story and more about the strategy with this game.
This is where the meat and potatoes of the game takes place. You start with a small guild, and one Chump. You send your adventurers into dungeons to complete quests and earn Glory, which you use to construct new buildings in your guild. These buildings unlock new Classes and Adventurers, as well as new items to locate in dungeons and new boons to activate prior to entering a dungeon.
Now, when you access a dungeon your goal is to literally build the dungeon for your minion to explore, placing new rooms and hallways, treasure, and monsters. You draw from a deck which you have no control over, and you can play three cards a turn. This is both good and bad. You have control over the layout of the dungeon, sure, but you have zero control over where your minion goes. Usually you can entice them by placing monsters and treasure in the direction you want them to go, but sometimes they decide on their own where to go. What’s bad is when the Quest you are doing has a time constraint or something where you have to escape a monster. I have had numerous runs end because I never drew a room I could use or a monster I could place, thus ensuring my inability to get anywhere.
Your adventurer can gain levels by fighting monsters whose level are equal to theirs. Early on, as far as I can tell your minion will only ever reach level 4. There are no monster cards in the early quest decks that go above that so you cannot get any higher.
You also gain a piece of loot from each fight, so fighting any enemies can help, even weak ones. The treasure you place during this part is generally just glory.
Combat is card based, and again you have limited control over what cards are available. Your minions’ gear will give them new cards, based on Weapon, Offhand, Helmet, and Body. Their class and traits also add cards. You draw 3 cards to start, and one new card a turn. Enemies only ever draw one card, and have set decks based on type. So if you fight an Imp, its deck will be the same as every other Imp. There is Physical and Magic damage, Physical and Magic Blocks, healing cards, and Damage Buffs. The classes are where the real power comes from. A chump is the weakest class and is generally useless. Each Tier of class is visibly better then the last.
The random nature of this game is real. I have gotten into fights where I lost in seconds because my draws were horrible, or the enemy drew their best cards in quick succession. I have gotten into fights that I beat in two to three turns because of the exact opposite. Strategy only goes so far here.
Here is a video showing the game off.
Two Hour Rule: Passed!
I will admit I have played this game quite a bit, and I enjoy it. But I also only enjoy it in small bursts. It’s very easy to get angry at the game, with its reliance on RNG and instances where no matter how good your strategy is, you can get wrecked quickly. Thankfully, losing a run is not the end of the world and you can just try again with another character.
Just be ready for your graveyard to fill up quickly, and remember: Those Adventurers are completely replaceable.