Lording it Up in a Dungeon

Photograph of part of a player's board in Dungeon Lords. The player has an expert Elderbeast, a Troll and a Vampire

This week Jobby got together with a few friends. The plan of playing a few games turned into playing one game of Dungeon Lords…

No FCM Tonight

A friend of mine, ‘M’, invited me and a couple of pals over to celebrate a couple of up-coming 40th birthdays. “Bring lots of games,” he said. “We’ll start early afternoon so we can play lots.”

So I turned up with a bag full of games (I ride a motorbike, remember!) at the appointed time at ‘M’s’ house. In the end, only one other guy, ‘P’, showed up. So we were three. We’ve been playing Food Chain Magnate a lot lately, but I had been asked to bring Dungeon Lords instead. So we set that up, complete with the Festival Season expansion, and got playing.

It’s Been A While

Dungeon Lords is a pretty complicated game about building a dungeon, hiring monsters and setting traps and then fending off the local heroes. It’s quite similar in theme to the old PC game Dungeon Keeper. The mainstay of it is a worker-placement type game where players vie for spots on a board to get stuff. Twice during the game there are fighting rounds where those heroes must be fought off with the monsters you’ve been hiring. It can burn brains.

To be honest, when presented with my empty player board at the start of the game and the main board in the middle, my mind goes blank. I don’t think I’ve ever really developed a strategy beyond “Get lotsa stuff!”. Frankly, I’m rubbish at this game and I’m happy if I end with a positive score. I still have a great time.

The other two did seem to be working with more of a purpose, though. ‘M’ was working on being the least evil so that he attracted the weakest heroes to his dungeon. He was also building up a huge army of imps to do his bidding. ‘P’ was developing a good collection of traps with a room that let him build them. I had plumped for taking vampires and other monsters that make you evil – I like vampires! 😉

Photograph of Dungeon Lords set up for three players with the Festival Season expansion
It sprawls across the table like some demonic cardboard thing!

The game is played over two years with a fighting round after each year. I managed to take care of the heroes assigned to me during the first fight, as did the other two guys. I also didn’t get too many dungeon tiles conquered by this point. I thought I was doing ok.

Year 2: Everything is Tougher

During year 2 things went downhill for me. My love of the evil monsters had attracted a Elf Paladin. These are super tough and super annoying gits that are OK if you’ve prepared yourself for them. So, to prepare I got myself an expert Elderbeast who is a really nasty monster. I felt prepared.

I had noticed that I was attracting thieves. These guys make traps less effective so I stopped getting traps and concentrated on monsters. ‘P’, who was building a strong trap strategy had managed to avoid any thieves. Plus, he’d got himself a nice Labyrinth that allows the player to use two traps and one monster in that room, instead of the normal two monsters and one trap in a room. Plus he still had the room that let his imps make traps! ‘P’ was unstoppable in the second year fight!

How did my expert Elderbeast do in the second year fight? Well, before the fight I had to pay wages. I needed a gold to pay for the ‘expert’ part of the Elderbeast. In typical fashion I forgot that and so I had to let him go! Nooo! My one hope at defeating the Paladin stormed out of my dungeon in disgust at my inability to manage my finances.

Photograph of part of a player's board in Dungeon Lords. The player has an expert Elderbeast, a Troll and a Vampire
See that expert Elderbeast? Yeah, he didn’t help much!

The monsters I had left were too weak to take on the might of the adventurers and the one trap I had was almost entirely nullified by the thieves. Consequently a lot of my dungeon was conquered by the party but the Paladin did succumb to fatigue!

For ‘M’ we realised we had a rule a bit wrong: Paladins arrive when your marker hits the Paladin bar on the Evilometer not when it goes past. So we happily gave ‘M’ the Dwarf Paladin which nobbled him a bit. He never managed to defeat the Paladin which protected the party and led some grand conquering of ‘M’s’ dungeon.

We tallied points at the end, the whole while being very aware that ‘P’ had won. It was fun to watch the score markers moving forward (and backwards!) on the point track. Final scores: ‘P’ 31, ‘M’ 11 and me – 1! That felt a lot of work for a single point!

Next time, I will pay more attention to my money! I promise! Come back, Mr Elderbeast, come back!

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