You must become a doom of darkness, a powerful mage Velkan the White ordered us. Mysterious and powerful magic wove through trickle of light into our bodies. Thanks to it, we can not die by mortal hands. Our body dies, but the soul remains and finds a new body. This gift can only be possessed by warriors of light.
We have asked ourselves, why did he do it all, when Dark Ranger appeared. He leads his bloodthirsty shadow sheep and is endowed with powers, that do not belong to our world. We know, what our mission is. Stop his destructive journey or die trying, because this by his hand, we can really die. Not all guardians of light have the courage to confront him and give up their immortality. But I fear, that those, who obey Velkan’s wish awaits fate even worse, than death..
Before he became a powerful white mage named Velkan, his ordinary name was Mario Barbati and he created an interesting adventure game Dungeon Venture for the world of humans of things to come, full of heroes and monsters. The game was released back in 2010 by company Øone Games. But only in 2013 it was finished into final form by Giochi Uniti (Stratelibri). Illustrations were in both cases processed by Roberto Pitturru.
Originally produced by Øone Games, Dungeon Venture was a print and play game. You had to use your printer at home and assemble (cut out, laminated and wrap) for your own resources. A few years later, concept caught eyes of Giochi Uniti and released the game in a rigid cardboard box. So it did finally arrived to us, and we can see, what is inside.
On the box, you’ll find a scene from underground, where the fearless warriors of good are standing in the face of a flood of monsters. These are flocking from all corners, but brave heroes will not back down an inch. Fortunately, when you lift the lid and let light penetrate into this square box, all the monsters will return to his comic shape and you end up in safety.
Beams of light wrap immediately around a pair of brochures. First one is here to explain, how to actually play whole Dungeon Venture, while the second is a list of adventures, you can experience as protecters of light and darkness.
The most important on the inside is ten punch-out sheets, which replace printable papers in PnP version. In addition, of course, they have significantly higher quality and rigidity, than any homemade version. Among them are primarily six double-sided boards, which will represent the cave, where you will roam. With them are also more than 150 tokens with a different purpose in the sheets – there are traps, doors, furniture (with blocking purpose), but also four heroes and 52 monsters.
But this is of course not all. Another more than a hundred specimens include two sizes of cards – with 31 major events and initiatives, but also 77 smaller ones. They have spells and equipment on them, but some of them are also destined for evil. The list must be extended also with another 19 dice and thirty three color plastic stand, that will not support only heroes, but also other tokens (for example door).
At the beginning of the game, players must agree on the division of roles. One of them must become a dark lord – boss, whose death will be seeked by others. Other players choose a hero, get his/her big card, cardboard piece in a stand, token of essence and initiative card. Magician can now also select three spells, that will be at his disposal during the game. In the battle, there must always be exactly four heroes. It may so happen, that some players will have to controle more than one figure.
Each of the heroes is equipped with one big card with a portrait. But you will find lots of useful information on it and places, where you put equipment cards, spells and wounds. Most important table for each fighter is in the upper left corner, showing his/her statistics for attack and defense, but also speed, hit points and mana (needed to cast a spell).
Player on the side of evil takes player screen, that will keep all his devilish efforts in the darkness. Then he selects one adventure from the guide with the voyages and gets monsters and possibly other cards specified for it. The story also clearly states, who is the final boss, but players do not know any of this. At the top of page, dungeon master finds a cave appearance in full. But on the table appears for now only starting board with its near neighbourhood and without any equipment. Its all hidden behind closed doors, which have to be put in a stand an placed on all ways out of the starting tile.
Players then prepare together decks with events, but also chest contents and especially deck with monsters lurking in the shadows. Also dice and skull tokens representing your injury must stay aside for now. But it would be for a long time, because the battle between good and evil is about to begin.
Round is very simple and is started by random order determination. One player (usually dungeon master) takes cards representing all the heroes and active monsters, put them in one deck and shuffles it. Evil player then reveals card after card. Either a hero or all of the monsters of one kind will move during as result of each initiative card.
In his turn, hero and monster have about the same options – either moves on the board or commence with some action. Characters can only move in four directions and always only for as many fields as their speed allows them. When moving, you must avoid furniture and other characters and must not pass through their square.
After the move, one action follows. Warriors can switch items with each other, search chests and their surroundings (due to traps or concealed doors!), rest, handle door, pick up objects, move again or re-activate the cards from hand of its owner. All these events work exactly as you imagined. But there is one important, without which you get nowhere: attack.
Both opponents must now deal with statistics, that tell them, how many dice of what color can they roll. Color is important here, because while green dice have only two hits on its six sides, blue has three and red even four, which significantly increases your chances of successfull hitting.
Most monsters have only one life and one hit is everything needed to get them out of the way. But at the same time, you can also receive a wound. For every scar you take a skull token and place it on your hero card. For successfully kill of enemy, you get one card from the reward deck, helping you in future encounters.
In contrast, monsters can only choose from three options: motion, door handling and attack of nearby character. Their abilities cannot be found one their figurine or evil player screen, but on cards. Deck contains six special cards indicating speed, attack and defense each monster.
This way gets and performs his turn everyone, who is in the cave. The task of the heroes in most cases is obvious: to kill the bad guy. On the contrary evil prevails, when adventurers fail to do so. Until then, its primarily aim is to weaken them before final battle.
There is nothing else really to Dungeon Venture at first glance. It’s very easy walk through caves full of monsters. Easy and relaxing. But Dungeon Venture still includes several handy tweaks. First one is reaction to death of your hero, who is immediately replaced by essence token. Its owner continues to move with it and tries to get to the nearest chapel, where Velkan brings him back to life, in order to continue his fate. This is not true, when players encounter final boss. At that moment, death is inevitable and permanent.
However, these are all mere trifles compared with last one specialty. A single adventures can be connected the campaign, among whose levels can you keep some equipment cards. Their number increases with length of the campaign – you get one card from each quest. But besides that it may seem, you are starting each quest, as if you were playing it independently. Until you notice, you can can buy any number of expendables (goods) for accumulated gold, which are usually some rejuvenation potions.
There must be dice in every true hero adventure and this game is no exception. It determines success of small battles. Each scar counts, as it can cost you much more in the final settlement. When a wounded hero fights the boss, it does not turn out always as planned.
Against a group of heroes stands another player, who has total control of the movement of all his creatures. It’s up to him, how they will move. But they can move only after they are revealed by opening doors. Monsters come into play at predetermined locations, that are clearly specified in the book adventures.
The game is fun and above all really fast. In a smaller number of players, you have to take more characters from the good side under your wing, but it is not so essential. Even controlling all four (in two player game), it is not so onerous as in Dorn (review in Czech), because of the random distribution of moves. Players do not make all the moves consecutively. This has a really positive impact on the dynamics of the game.
Biggest enemy of Dungeon Venture is a lack of variability in enemies and later also in adventures. Only five different species seem to be too few. But you can buy expansion for the original „print and play“ version. Its called Of Heroes and Monsters and introduces not only new monsters, but also other specialties. Hopefully Giochi Uniti will bring it to full version, if this game turns out to be a success.
What will you all be longing for are new adventures and there are ten of them in the manual. And hopefully more of them are coming on the website in the future. The game was published just recently, so we have to wait for it. Because when you stand at the start of the same adventure, you already know layout of monsters and traps and nothing can surprise you. This is especially important for traps, that you otherwise must reveal through searching. But you can simply let the Dark Lord put them elsewhere, as well as monsters. He will use the same number, but sketches their new position on a paper at the beginning of adventure. This way you can enhance the variability a little.
For evil players is a bit discouraging, that heroes are actually immortal until the game enters the final battle. The Dark Lord’s only reward for the death of a hero is an event card. In contrast, he has a limited number of monsters, excluding the effect of certain events.
Graphics of this board game is very simple, only squares with stone structure with lines to specify the room. This make probably most clear, that this is really only professionally printed PnP version with original graphics. Its completely sufficient and it surprisingly does not affect the atmosphere of the experience.
Dungeon Venture is great entertainment for all, who are looking for a simple game, where they can spend an hour of their time (sometimes less, sometimes a little more) by raiding a cave full of monsters. The game contains all the basic things, we expect from the heroic epic (including a lot of dice usage), and also allows you to experience a campaign. It is drawn back to the ground only by lacking variability and not completely perfect two player game. Yet Dungeon Venture is still fresh simple adventure for all.
Dungeon Venture offers tense view of fight between good and evil, brought to life by players. Almost every players will find his role as one of precisely four heroes. The other one player will stand on the evil side, controlling all the monsters. Thanks to this strictly set count, game can be balanced in very good way. You live through one adventure selected by dungeon master, but they can be connected into a larger adventure, among which you can transfer some items in your possession. Heroes walk in caves filled with closed doors, chests, traps and mostly monsters. But all this has a given location, when you discover it, for each story. And this limits replayability in a large way. Game looks nice, although graphic remained the same as in print and play version. Game scores with really nice playing time, simple rules and good atmosphere. You will find everything you demand in here, including dice driven combat. Dungeon Venture is primarily an interconnected series of adventures. This is, what makes it unique and is not offered by many other games. And even though its not perfect in here, its still fun.
Reader Rating0 Votes
one against all
stands even for doors
balanced game (always for four heroes)
illustrations are completely from print and play version