Review: Masmorra Dungeons of Arcadia – caves full of spells
The desire for power is in each of us. That’s why we quickly got used to the fact that every month in Arcadia somebody tried to overthrow the present king and his cabinet. Once it was a dissatisfied knight, other times a crazy necromancer. They were all pretty reasonable, relegating current Royal Guard’s and getting their own, until the mad Malaphyas used black magic. His spell was so terrible that it transformed the current staff of the castle into monsters. But a lot of its power spilled into the cellars, where the creatures of the worst imagination began to emerge from animals and insects. When the sorcerer discovered, what he had done, he ran away. Now it is up to us to free our city!
All this fighting is waiting for us in new board game Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia, which has been prepared by three designers: Daniel Alves, Eurico Cunha and Patrick Matheus. The story is set into the same world as Arcadia Quest. And it also belongs to the publishing house Cool Mini or Not, which also tested this new baby on Kickstarter. And successfully, as confirmed by almost 11000 fans and one million dollars they contributed. The final version saw light of the world in 2017 and is distributed in Europe by Esdevium Games.
There is group of heroes waiting for players on the lid, providing players in the first place with various map tiles. One large tile has a company in the form of sixty smaller ones (two different dimensions) that together create a combat environment. At the beginning, players divide them by size, and the smallest ones create a drawing stack (depending on the number of players some pieces will be eliminated) and they should also be separated by the Roman numerals on the back.
First tile is flipped and revealed, placing it on top of first with smaller tiles, which makes the heroes know, what’s coming for them in the next room. Upper part of the second pile will be the staircase to second floor of the dungeon. Place the large starting room in the middle of the table. Sun-lit spot offers a quadruple of doors, that will lead the players to danger.
Each player chooses his own hero, receives his board and a pair of matching cards. But you will not be able to use them yet. Instead, they’re simply plugged under top of the board. Individual fighters also have their own miniature, which player put into a colored pedestal, that makes it easier to recognize and pinpoint its owner. Rivals will also get a free draw token, mark maximum number of lives (six) on hero board and get two random treasure cards. All the figurines start together in a single discovered room and also on zero scale of experience (where players place colored pointer) on a separate board. All other tokens and piles of pieces will lie next to the map ready to enter the game.
Opponents alternate in turn. Whenever a player comes to move, he must first roll a set of six dice. Result shows a set of action icons, that the player can use during his turn. But first, he can evaluate how much he is happy with his roll outcome, and if he does not want some dice, he can re-roll them. This may be done only once and the second result must be left regardless of its value.
And so each resulting footprint symbol can be used to move the hero two steps forward for each dice used. Step counts as movement from one room to the other. As soon as a player enters room, that has a door with unexplored emptiness behind, hero can explore instead of the classical motion. This means taking the top tile (already revealed and well-known) and attaching it to the current map of the underground. This creates new neighboring room(s) interconnected by the door. Revealing a small tile can also trigger adding larger map pieces (by replacing them). In addition, players may also encounter a trap, that they have to put in the neighborhood and it will attack all, who are going around.
As a result of dice, players can also heal with elixirs or část spells to change the outcome of the dice roll. The most important moment of each turn happens whenever a hero finds himself in a room with some monster. Players can spend symbols, that may represent melee, range or defensive skills (shield). With his dice, attacker always tries to equal or exceed defense value of the monster.
Attacker can answer with his blade, if he survives the initial onslaught. Retaliation value is specified by the enemy statistics and heroes can reduce number of injuries only by shield icons they rolled. It is also possible to use special treasure hunt capabilities during battle. Player gets points of experience for achieving victory and with it also one treasure card.
In addition to such anonymous use of dice, it is possible to use icons from dice to activate skills of hero (on the card), or alternatively, options of the specific room, where hero is currently in. On the other hand, whenever the hero’s lives fall to zero, he is temporarily eliminated, losing items and some experience, and returns back to the next round.
Any unused dice can be exchanged for one gold (for example to buy treasures later). In addition, at the end of each round, there is a monster phase. An active player can arbitrarily split two points of motion between all the monsters on the board and try to block opponents movements or even to attack them. All spiral symbols will then spawn a random new monster according to dice roll.
Whenever a hero reaches a certain level of experience, he achieves a new level and with it the chance to uncover one of the hidden ability cards. Thus players all collect victory points until one of them gathers sixteenth point. Then they all have one more round to score more points and then the match ends. Everyone compares their point earnings and most experienced hero wins.
Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia goes in the footsteps of our favorite Arcade Quest. Dice clearly determine what players can do in their turn. Most of the time, there is not much to choose from, but the symbols from the beginning clearly show player, how strong he is in this current turn for any possible actions. This is the heart of the whole game to decide well based on this knowledge, because a lot of monsters wander along the board and players get their points for slaughtering them. And they are your way to victory.
While players are moving miniatures, they plan with dice, but all their actions are influenced by an entirely random roll. This is, of course, driven by dice, but its results are not play-deciding. Instead, you can always adjust your actions to icons, that are rolled. In addition, they can attack each other and make every effort more difficult.
Rules do not offer any complicated mechanisms or details that you could overlook. Everything is a classical dungeon-crawl as has been here many times. Masmorra does not separates itself from them by being unique. It’s simply fun. And that is enough. Of course, you have to survive some unpredictable game events. Match can last for half an hour, but also twice as much.
Main motivation to play Masmorra for us, however, is exploration. Each match is different in this respect, although the hero and monster offer remains the same. And yet there are variants of the game, which you do not try at the beginning. First of all, there is the third level of the cave, which is provided in an epic variant. It has no limit of experience and legendary Malaphyas, which players must defeat, enters the game.
In competitive mode, all participant numbers provide good experience, but cooperative version is even better. Defeating the evil boss comes with a time limit. Each of the heroes then holds part of the artifact, which, as the only one, can drive him away after connecting it all together. For unpredictable elements, players use bad luck cards, that affect the events in the dungeon every round. Special prize cards will also be added into the match. Players can determine the difficulty by placing staircase on the lower floors.
Game looks beautiful. From the first colorful illustrations to all the other components. Everything is totally professional and feels like you really bought a diamond. Unfortunately, because the game has gone through the Kickstarter, buying a common version of the shelf will leave you with a number of exciting expansions to look out for. They enrich the game even more and make it a more enjoyable experience. So we have a little worry about replayability without them.
Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia is a game, that will not be enough for everyone. It is a pleasantly conflicting crazy mix, that relies on luck and planning and together creates an interesting mix. First of all, it looks beautiful and its miniatures can be used in Arcadia Quest as well. Below in the Dungeons of Arcadia, players will enjoy a lot of interesting battles with this game.
Review: Masmorra Dungeons of Arcadia – caves full of spells
Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia does not have a linking story line with its elder brother, Quest. Here's the source of rivalry. Players are moving on the map, but they must plan their activities with the help of dice, and then turn everything into reality. But they are also struggling to gain experience as quickly as possible. Game is a battle, and it does not last long. Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia is not definitely the best underground hero game you can get, but it's definitely fun. And it's often enough.