One Deck Dungeon - Dastardly Review #133
One Deck Dungeon was designed by Chris Cieslik and published by Asmadi Games.
I picked this game up at Gen Con a number of years ago...and it sat on my shelf unplayed. Wow...huge mistake on my part. We dusted it off and it hasn't left our table.
So far, in the past month, it has seen about 30 plays: solo, two player and the app version. One Deck Dungeon rocks!
One Deck Dungeon's components are top notch.
Let's take a closer look at the main components.
Each player has a Hero Card which is a great example of the awesome art and design in One Deck Dungeon.
The top left shows the items the Hero can use. The Archer starts with one fighting die (yellow), two dexterity dice (pink), one magic die (blue) and 3 health.
Each Hero also has a Heroic Feat which is a built in special ability for that Hero class.
Also a Hero starts with a Skill.
Abilities and skills show whether or not it can be used in a Fight, Trap or Boss Monster encounter.
Encounter Cards come in two types: Fight (crossed swords) or Traps.
The colored squares show the color and value of the dice that you need to avoid damages. The small boxes are single die values and the large box allow multiple dice to be used.
The Encounter Cards also show the Loot that you can gain. On the left side are Items such as more dice and increased health. The top right are blue and yellow flame icons that indicate Experience gains. And finally you can gain the Skill shown at the bottom. However - you can only gain 1 of the 3 Loot. And here is one of the great things about One Deck Dungeon...it is full of decisions. Do you take the Items, Experience or Skill?
Setup takes a minute or two.
Players chose their Hero and which Dungeon/Boss they are going to explore.
Shuffle the Encounter Cards and put the Stairs Card underneath that stack.
Arrange the other bits and pieces and you are ready to go.
The Dungeon is represented by the stack of Encounter Cards (this is One Deck Dungeon!!!).
The Heroes start the game by Exploring which moves four Encounter Cards facedown to the table.
Heroes then choose a room to Enter which turns the Encounter Room face up. The Heroes then decide whether to Encounter (fight or avoid trap) the room or flee.
Time is your main enemy in One Deck Dungeon and is represented by the Deck of Encounter Cards. Remember...at the bottom of the Encounter Card Deck is the Stairs Card that takes you down a Level. So each time you go through a Deck you go down a Level. There are three Levels in the Dungeon. At the end of the third deck you must fight the Boss Monster.
Each Explore or Enter a Room action takes Time. Time is spent by moving the top 2 Encounter Cards from the Stack to a discard pile. The more time spent doing things or taking damage from Encounters causes the deck to be depleted faster. This results in less time to gain Skills, Items or Experience before you have to go down to the next tougher level of the dungeon or eventually fight the Boss Monster. This feeling of running out of time adds a nice bit of tension to One Deck Dungeon.
A central mechanic in One Deck Dungeon is tucking cards under other cards.
Encounter Cards are tucked under the Hero Cards to gain Skills or Items.
Or tucking Encounter Cards under the side of the Turn Reference Card to show Experienced gained. Or tucking a Dungeon/Encounter Card under the top of the Turn Reference card for which dungeon level is being explored.
Tucking not only keeps things nicely organized but it also gives feelings of your Hero evolving or the Dungeon getting tougher as you descend levels.
Each Encounter involves rolling dice.
Oddly enough, One Deck Dungeon did not feel like a dice rolling game instead it was more resource management.
There are many options and decisions before and during an Encounter that can offset "bad luck". We've groaned a couple times due to the dice but even then we were able to make choices to minimize damage. Also, you still get to Loot an Encounter even if you take some damage. Sometimes we chose to do an Encounter knowing we will take damage just to get the Loot instead of fleeing.
One Deck Dungeon is really a campaign style dungeon crawler both with the cardboard and app versions.
You level your Heroes up during the game by collecting Experience. Those levels allow you to use more Skills and Items which are key to winning over the Boss. These reset each dungeon.
At the end of a game you get Campaign Points that are used to permanently increase your Hero's abilities. This comes in very handy as the different dungeons steadily increase in difficulty.
You start to really understand your Hero's strengths and weaknesses.
There are a ton of things in that small box that make One Deck Dungeon a great game but for me it comes down to the choices.
Do we Encounter or Flee? Do we use our Heroic Feat or save it? Is the Loot worth the potential damages? How do we allocate Campaign Points?
Use a potion or save it?
None of the decisions or actions are complex so game play is very, very quick.
One Deck Dungeon's rule book is superb. The game is easy to learn but challenging to master.
The app is well done. It captures all of the play of the original game. Both have great art and design.
Replayability is high. You vary the heroes and monster used. Each monster provides different effects that modify the Encounters on the three floors. Since Encounter Cards are discarded due to time passing...you don't face the same Encounter Card each game. The Campaign Mode allows your Hero to increase their abilities from game to game.
One Deck Dungeon is easily in my top 5 for solo and also two player games.
The Good: The game is extremely fun. The balance is perfect. Tension ratchets up nicely. We love the campaign option also.
The Bad: This line intentionally left blank!!!!!
The Dastardly: Choices Choices Choices