Cardboard Children: DungeonQuest

By Robert Florence on September 18th, 2010 at 5:49 pm.


Hello. Every Saturday, from now until-

TEST YOUR READING SKILLS!

YOU ARE DEAD!

Let’s try that again.

Hello. Every Saturday, from now until the day you die, I’m going to be here to talk to you about board games. And card games. And pen and paper role-playing games. And stuff. My name’s Robert Florence, and I used to spend a lot of time talking about computer games, like the other fine fellows on this site. But these days I like to talk about games you can hold in your hand. Games you can touch and smell and flip right off the table in a rage if you should feel the need. Games that take up a ridiculous amount of space, and make you decide that you’ll be moving house in a couple of years just so you can have a dedicated games room. Which is ridiculous. So, you tell people you need to move because you want to have another child. Yes, a cardboard child. With statistics and an axe. Called OLAF THE DREAD.

I don’t want you to see this as a board game review column. One of the things I love about RPS is that there isn’t a massive reliance on that ugly, terrible thing: the formal review. I’m simply going to be talking to you about the games I love, and the new releases, and all the breaking news, and what works and what doesn’t. I’m going to try to get you excited about board games. I’m going to be helping you to find your way into the hobby, if you decide you want to join us at the table. I’m going to be encouraging a lot of chat about board games in the comments bit below. If you’ve ever wanted to bore someone about an amazing game of Heroquest you once played, this is your opportunity. I want to hear your stories. This is our little weekend board game club.

In this first column, I’m going to be talking a bit about where board games are right now. Some general stuff you need to get your head round, so you can confidently strut your stuff in any board games shop in the country. And then I’m going to get bored of talking about that and start telling you about one of my favourite games of all time: Dungeonquest.

TELL ME ABOUT THE SCENE

It’s easy to get yourself across the whole board game thing. There are two board games in board gaming. One of them is called Monopoly and the other one is called Cluedo. Oh, and there’s that other one, Risk. No, actually, that one’s too hard. Too long. Forget that one. There’s Monopoly and Cluedo. Stick them in the cupboard and lose all the bits and forget about them.

THAAAAAAAT’S BOARD GAMES!

You would think so, wouldn’t you? The reason why most people hate the thought of playing a board game is because they’ve had some terrible experiences with them. They’ve played Monopoly using the wrong rules, probably. They’ve distractedly watched the telly while taking a couldn’t-give-a-fuck guess at which bit of plastic committed a murder in Cluedo. And, God help them, they’ve spent five hours lost in that nightmarish world of boredom and Lovecraftian, maddening frustration I like to call “Fucking Risk”. I should tell you right up front how I feel about that Holy Trinity Of The Thoughtless Christmas Gift. I love Monopoly. I dislike Cluedo. And I detest Fucking Risk. We’ll talk about Fucking Risk again further down the line, because it’s a fascinating tale of a million attempts at fixing a terrible game. And of how some of the attempts worked.

Let’s talk about what’s actually out there, by using some of the stupid generalisations that exist. Let’s talk Eurogames, Ameritrash and Wargames.

LET ME AT THAT LANCASHIRE!

The games we call Eurogames usually have very little luck, and very little direct player interaction. Eurogamers react to dice like Damien reacts to that chapel visit in The Omen. These are games that will have you setting up efficient little economic or military engines on your table, like a right little Nazi. These are games that usually won’t allow any players to be eliminated, because BOO-HOO THAT’S NOT FAIR. These games will be gentle with you. Reiner Knizia is one of the best-known designers of this type of game. His games are often maths-based, and often shite. The Eurogame style is often pushed as the be-all and end-all of quality gaming. Ticket to Ride is a game that is known as a “gateway game” to other games. Yes. Other Eurogames, maybe. But building a fucking train track hardly prepares you for spewing bullets at an Ork. Eurogames are also commonly about farmers, camels, bits of fruit, planks of wood, koala bears and slaves. None of which are very easy to get passionate about. It often doesn’t matter what a Eurogame is about, though, because very rarely does a Eurogame’s mechanic express a game’s theme well. (Dr Knizia, please stand up.) Eurogames are the board games you can play in polite company, over a bowl of wine and cheese flavour Monster Munch. There are, however, some spectacularly brilliant games in the Eurogame style. And the definition itself is ridiculous anyway, so ignore everything I said.

PRIME AMERITRASH

Then we have Ameritrash. In typical American fashion, many of the greatest Ameritrash games are British in origin, but they call them “Ameritrash” anyway. Ameritrash games are all about theme, and player interaction, and lashings of delicious luck. Almost all of the great games you played as a young boy or girl will have been Ameritrash. Heroquest? Yes. Space Hulk? Yes. Thunder Road? Yes. If you’ve ever rolled a dice to hit the guy sitting to your left with a poisoned lance, causing him to storm out of the door and march back to his mum’s house with tears in his eyes, you’ve played some prime Ameritrash. Ameritrash games are looked down on by many Eurogamers, because it’s all just luck and stupid goblins and chain guns and toys and for God’s sake grow up and help me increase the workrate of these slaves in my plum orchard. Just so you know where I stand, I’m an Ameritrash man at heart. And I actually like the word “Ameritrash”. It’s full of tackiness and self-deprecation and humour, and it fits just fine. But it’s a ridiculous definition, so ignore everything I said.

Then we have Wargames. Played by grim-faced men in darkened basements. Millions of poorly illustrated counters laid across boards the size of a squash court. Games that take three months to play to completion. Games steeped in accurate historical representations of some of the most horrible times in mankind’s existence. Wargamers look on as Eurogamers and Ameritrashers squabble about “games”, and smirk at the folly of it all. Then, they turn up the collars of their coats, and walk into the wind, head bowed, fists clenched. The weight of the world on their shoulders. Fading into the distance. One look back. A smile at us. A nod. “Leave this to me.” A tear? Maybe just a trick of the light. And then gone, never to be seen again.

This is all rubbish, of course. But it’s kinda sorta the scene. You need to know the scene, the battle lines, if you want to be part of this whole mess. This whole expensive mess. And where we are right now is that Eurogames were running the show for a while there, but Ameritrash games are having a bit of a resurgence. And Wargames are still in the basement.

Now, let’s talk about-

YOU ARE DEAD

Let’s try that again.

Let’s talk about DUNGEONQUEST!

DUNGEONQUEST


THE NEW BOX ART

Dungeonquest has always been one of my favourite games of all time. It was first released in English by Games Workshop in 1985, and it’s just a total bastard. I laugh every time I take Dungeonquest off the shelf. The sound of a laugh actually comes out of my mouth. When you know you’re about to die, but willingly march onwards regardless, you have to laugh.

The 1985 rulebook boasts that the game has a 15% survival rate. I remember the first time I read that statistic. “Aye, right. Sure.” If anything, the figure’s been inflated. Dungeonquest will fuck you up. It will do it in the most cruel manner possible. It’s the type of game that wouldn’t be designed today. In this era of NO PLAYER ELIMINATION, why would you design a game that happily kills players on their first turn? Dungeonquest is a product of its time, and one of the most exciting games ever created.


AN UNEXPLORED DUNGEON OH GOD HELP

Here’s how it works. The board is a grid, with an entry space on each corner, and a big space in the middle. In the middle lies the dragon, asleep, atop a pile of lovely treasure. Your job is just to get in, get to the middle, grab a bit of treasure, and get out before sundown. Easy, right? OH GOD HELP NO. In your turn you can move into the dungeon and draw a random tile to place on the board, upon which will be an illustration of a room of some kind. It might be an empty dungeon space, or a corridor, or maybe even a BOTTOMLESS PIT TEST YOUR AGILITY YOU ARE DEAD OH GOD. If you manage to survive even going into the room, you can then search the room. You might find something that kills you, or find a secret door that leads into another room where a monster will kill you. Then, in your next turn, you can draw another tile, place it on the grid, and continue your journey to the centre of the board. (I don’t want you to think it’s all bad stuff in the game. You can also find things like Unstable Potions that will maybe heal your wounds! Or kill you.) Once you reach the middle of the board, you draw a card from a deck of seven cards. Six of these cards tell you that the dragon is sleeping. One of them tells you the dragon is awake. If you wake the dragon, you are dead. If you don’t, you draw some treasure! On your next turn, you can search for more treasure, but this time the dragon deck is down to six cards – more chance of YOU ARE DEAD. You can keep searching too. Pushing your luck. Then, if you survive that, all you have to do is get out of there. Find the way back to a board’s corner. Before time runs out. And you die.


A DEAD END OH GOD HELP

The game is hard. But hilarious. In my most recent game, just this week, I was still laughing at Kenny’s dwarf’s head being lopped off by a trap when I drew a Bottomless Pit tile that had me needing to roll a 3 or under with 2D6 to survive. I rolled an 11. The whole table exploded in laughter. Everyone was dead a turn later, because the dungeon hates laughter. When you get out of the dungeon, treasure in hand, you feel like a superhero. You remember it. You never forget it. I like to think that the treasure’s cursed, and that my hero dies in his sleep later that night. To me, Dragonfire Dungeon is the daddy of all dungeons. That’s why the game is never frustrating. The dungeon is the star. You’re just there to add another tale to its history, another bloodstain to its floor.

It’s the simplicity of Dungeonquest that I love. It can be explained to a new player in a few minutes, and then they can be dead a minute later. Welcome to board gaming. You are dead.

The game plays four players, but it can also be played solo, something I’ve done many times. It’s good to face down the dungeon on your own. No distractions. It lets you concentrate better as your body is cleaved in two by a trap. The solo rules mean that there’s no excuse for you not to accept the dragon’s challenge. You don’t need anyone to play the game with. The dungeon will happily play with you, any time you want.


OH GOD HELP

The good news for you, if you want to be just another victim, is that you don’t have to scour ebay for Dungeonquest any more. Fantasy Flight Games has just released a brand new edition, with beautiful components, and the Catacombs expansion thrown in. (The Catacombs expansion lets you die underneath the dungeon too!) There’s been a fair bit of controversy over the new combat system that Fantasy Flight has introduced, so I need to stick my oar in. Forgive me.

In the original, combat with monsters was resolved using a simplistic system that was pretty much Scissors, Paper, Stone. It was quick, unfussy, but very bland. It let the player get back to exploring without too much delay. The new system is a card battle mechanic, and combat now takes a little longer. There are, however, more decisions and more flavour to the battles. Some old-school players are angry that the game has slowed down. They feel the card battle is an unnecessary complication. Personally, I like the card battling a lot. It speeds up a lot as you get used to how it works, and it brings an element of excitement to the fights. It’s pretty much a simple “play-high” mechanic, but with a nice counterattack system, and a thrilling “Deathblow” element that lets you stack already played cards of the same type into a super attack. My one issue is that if you buy the new edition, there is no option to play the old way. The old, basic rules should have been included.

I love Dungeonquest. It’s a laugh, which is one of the best things you can say about any game. It’s a game you will talk about the day after you played it, and the year after. There is nothing more human than wanting something awful to befall your friends.

This is the game for you, human.

GOODBYE

This was a long one, so thanks for your patience. I’ll be back next week with a look at something old, and something new. Please chat to me in the comments below. Consider this our Saturday Board Games Club, for fuck’s sake. Any questions about Dungeonquest or board games in general will be happily answered.

ZAA OOO ZAA!

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204 Comments »

  1. ErikM says:

    Grim-faced man reporting in! There’s nothing quite like moving hundreds of little cardboard markers over a maps of old battles in an old WWII bunker(Which was where our strategy club was conveniently located.)!

    Looking forward to the coming Saturdays!

  2. Sweedums says:

    ZAA OOO ZAA!

    I do want to get into board games, but I can’t for the life of me think of anyone I know who would be willing to play them lol…. oh well.

    • TimA says:

      Same problem here, sadly. I’ve never played anything like this.

      However I do enjoy reading about these things, great stuff, thanks!

    • Xercies says:

      Same. i really want to get Chaos of The old world and some others because of Rabs fantastic video reviews on them(you watch the whole chaos of the old world video and not be entranced by the game and be so close to buying it, i dare you) but i don’t really have anyone to play with, my family only likes the old favourites…and my friends aren’t into playing boardgames that much and if we are…there the old favourites lol.

    • dudekiller says:

      It’s less hard than you think. Get some friends round. Grab a few bottles of wine. Crack out Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride or something. Demand that they play it. DEMAND.

      Oh, they’ll be skeptical at first. I guarantee that wild dogs will not be able to tear them away from the game by the time you’ve finished the first bottle.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Same here. Also, board games tend to be rather expensive.

      Alright, back to Starcraft 2, then.

    • Robert says:

      Well it’s one thing to demand them to play Catan. I can do that. But Dungeon Quest…..

      In any case. WELCOME! I enjoyed the column, and look forward to more!

    • a says:

      Yeah, same problem here. But I did ENJOY THIS ARTICLE and I’m looking forward to more. But the Ameritrash title HURT MY FEELING A LITTLE. ;_;

    • Sweedums says:

      @Xercies

      hah yeah, Rob’s video about Space Hulk had me entranced… and the one about chaos of the old world just left me wanting it bad. Ever since seeing them I have been wanting to try them… maybe I’ll just have to invest in one of them at some point, and try bullying some friends into playing it to see what its like, but as pkt-zer0 said, they do tend to be rather expensive, unfortunately.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Rob’s video made me buy Space Hulk. Of course we only played it a few times over a week and have now stopped. It’s great fun, but sooo massive it barely fits in our house. It’s also pretty boring setting it up.

    • dadioflex says:

      “I do want to get into board games”

      They can help you: http://www.dignitas.ch/

  3. SomeGuy says:

    two questions, where is warhammer 40K in this spectrum, and where is diplomacy?.

    thats pretty much all my experence.

    • user@example.com says:

      40K’s a miniatures wargame, which are practically a separate hobby. Diplomacy has elements of all three, but the categories are generally made up and subjective anyway.

    • Arathain says:

      WH40K seems to sit comfortably enough in Ameritrash. British, chain guns, toys, loads of dice.

  4. Out Reach says:

    Bring on “War on Terror the Board Game”

    http://www.waronterrortheboardgame.com/

  5. Daniel Rivas says:

    Oof, that was good.
    I’m sort of more interested in the Lancashire boardgame than DungeonQuest, though. Is that weird? It’s probably weird.

  6. Spoon says:

    Rab on RPS?! Let me go change my pants real quick…

    Now that that’s sorted, I must also profess my love for DungeonQuest. The first game we played, the guy to my left fell into a bottomless pit on his first move, and I took a scything blade to the face a few turns later. AND IT WAS AMAZING.

  7. Jesus says:

    Damn RPS, I think my interest and your interests are exactly the same all the time.
    If RPS was a person I would marry it.

  8. Archonsod says:

    I still have the original Dungeon Quest floating around somewhere. Though as I recall, the nastiest thing wasn’t the traps or the monsters, it was the one way doors combined with dead ends that seemed to claim the vast majority of our adventurers.

  9. cypher says:

    …and with the addition of a regular boardgaming article RPS reaches the status of best blog *ever*.

  10. Dolphan says:

    Good stuff, looking forward to more of these.

  11. Antsy says:

    Pure dead brilliant!

  12. spinks says:

    Woah, someone who actually plays board games who likes Monopoly. That’s a first. (It has the most godforsaken awful endgame …. :P )

  13. user@example.com says:

    Yay, board games coverage on RPS! Warhammer Quest was the best GW game ever, Command & Colors [sic]: Ancients is the best light wargame and also one where used copies are worth more than new ones due to all the stickering you have to do, and I get to play Combat Commander again in a fortnight, glee.

    I’ve been playing Phantom Leader a bit lately. It’s a solitaire game, like one of those new-fangled computer whatsits only with cards and chits and so on. One of these days I’ll not screw up horribly on a 7-day campaign. It’s great, and I want to pick up the new edition of Hornet Leader at some point. There are reviews on BoardGameGeek, both games are highly recommended. There are also commercial VASSAL versions and a PC version of the last edition of Hornet Leader, if you want to play on a computer.

  14. Jambo says:

    Awesome! I really enjoyed reading that, and hope for a future post on arkham horror :)

  15. jackflash says:

    Great column, I look forward to trying this out. In future columns I’d love it if you touched on -

    1) Axis and Allies Miniatures – because I’ve recently become totally addicted and more people should know about it / play it, and

    2) Summoner Wars – because it looks pretty new and I’d like to know more about it.

    Cheers!

  16. Nick says:

    I didn’t think RPS could get any better and then a wild Rab appears.

    • Edgar the Peaceful says:

      Yep, I’ve been hoping that RPS would cover boardgames – you can tell from various asides in articles that they (all?) play them. Excellent direction. Board games are PC games’ tacticle and social cousin.

    • Edgar the Peaceful says:

      *tactile* doh

  17. Norskov says:

    I’m not sure I like this RPS expansion. More stuff to read and less time for me to do proper work. At some point I have to stop working and just spend my time reading.

  18. Freud says:

    Even though me and my friends don’t really have to time to play board games when we get together these days, I enjoyed reading it. I think computer games designers could learn a lot from the best board games. The constraints of the format forces design economy.

  19. Bas says:

    Awesome! You are obviously going to keep posting these regardless of what others say, but keep it up! Great read, looking into Dungeonquest now.

  20. mandrill says:

    Now I want to play this game and die horribly. Where can I get it if I’m in Iceland?

  21. Alexander Norris says:

    This is pretty good.

    Let me repeat the entreaty I twat (seat, sat; tweet, twat) you earlier: please never, ever cover D&D, or at the very least, if you intend to do so, only cover things up to AD&D2 and only for their historical relevance, pretty please. Otherwise, if you point out how rubbish 3.x was and how gloriously awesome 4E is, there’s just going to be silly arguments that already exist everywhere else on the Internet (like the pure, distilled idiocy of those calling 4E “a video game” or “a WoW boardgame” or everything else the grogs like to be horrendously wrong about).

    But also: Dungeonquest! While I generally don’t think that eliminating a player from the game (entirely or practically – if he’s place in a position where he can do nothing either to influence the game or to get back into winning place, he’s effectively eliminated) is kosher, Dungeonquest is something else entirely. It’s a bit like running Tomb of Horrors with pregen’d characters — it’s something you do for laughs with friends and copious amounts of booze, and the race to see who dies first/best/most incongruously is what makes it so great. I wish I’d had access to it as a kid, but aside from some sort of weird knock-off clone of HeroQuest all I really had was Fucking Risk.

    • Vinraith says:

      You realize, of course, that you just did exactly what you told him not to do?

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Oh! Also!

      Curious absence of what’s more commonly called wargames by the layperson, i.e. the rubbishness of 40k/FB and the excellence of other things not made by GW’s main branch like BloodBowl/Warmaster/Epic/Necormunda/Mordheim or things not remotely made by GW like Infinity and Helldorado, even though you mention what should rightfully be called wargames by the layperson. Intentional because you’re not going to cover any miniature wargames, or did you just not feel the need to distinguish between Warmachine and Advanced Squad Leader?

      Although, I’d actually really like a product review of Little Wars. Pretty please with a cherry on top, Rab?

    • Alexander Norris says:

      @Vinraith — no, I’m entirely blind to the irony intentionally inserted in my own posts. ;)

      The point is, the RPS I hold in my head is a place of intelligent persons with impeccable tastes, and I don’t want real, actual people ruining that mental image by being wrong about D&D.

    • Vinraith says:

      But you’ve already shattered that image for me, by being wrong about D&D. ;)

      Actually I don’t really care, I got off the train at 3.5 and had pretty much stopped paying attention even before then. All my fondest memories of D&D are from the 2E and 2.5E eras, and those days are long gone. (Un)fortunately, the great RPG’s of my teenage years (Millenium’s End, Sun and Storm, Mythos, Twilight 2000) have all had the decency to become extinct, so their memory can’t be so easily sullied.

    • Nick says:

      Well, the great thing about P&P RPGs is you can play whatever edition you want.

    • user@example.com says:

      “Original D&D(1974) is the one true game. All the other editions are just poor imitations of the real thing.”

      It’s actually pretty good. OD&D (not the basic set, or basic/expert, or becmi, or rules cyclopedia) is my second-favourite edition after 4e. The supplements are OK, but I prefer the original set without them. One of these days I have to get my head around the original combat system, which uses the old Chainmail man-to-man and fantastic combat rules, but the alternate system which became the core D&D combat system works well enough.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Nick

      Very true. It’s funny, really, that the current D&D rules set has more impact on PC gaming (where one is forced to use the newest set by new games) than on PnP gaming (where, as you say, you’re always free to use whatever set you like as long as you can find the supplements you want).

    • Alexander Norris says:

      @Vinraith — have you ever wondered why 80s-style RPGs are dying? :P

    • Vinraith says:

      @Alexander

      Because every subsequent generation of kids is dumber? :)

      Nah, it’s just simple demographics, like any type or genre of game. As gaming gains a broader and broader audience, the popular franchises are forced to either cater to said broader audience or become niche. Catering to an audience from a non-gamer background means becoming more accessible, more streamlined, less math-heavy, and less complex, or what your average angry internet person refers to as “dumbing down.” This can result in a product that’s genuinely better for having cast off unnecessary complexity or a product that loses all depth in scrambling to be accessible, or something inbetween. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, because the core audience that enjoyed the complex, math intensive, generally groggy stuff is still around, and there are still niche games that will cater to them no matter what the mainstream stuff becomes. So rather than get angry about it, I simply move on, recognizing (as always) that the mainstream and my own opinions and tastes are rarely on the same planet, let alone the same ballpark. In the case of PnP games its even easier, as it’s not like I have a group anymore anyway, so the whole subject is purely academic.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      @Vinraith — you assume you can’t streamline without losing complexity, which is wrong. All systems have needlessly clunky or badly-worded mechanics that can benefit from streamlining. Streamlining is good; streamlining makes games simpler, not more simplistic. Plus, 4E is just as complex and rules-heavy as all the previous editions of D&D; it’s just lost the stupid reliance on rolling on random table for a more narrativist approach to roleplaying.

      There was more to this post but I’m exhausted and can’t think straight, so I’ll try to piece it together tomorrow.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Alexander

      Streamlining, by definition, is losing complexity. Sometimes that complexity is needless, awkward, and unproductive, and in those cases streamlining is certainly good. I think we’re running into a problem of definitions, here. I tried to make it clear that streamlining is not always bad, in many cases losing complexity does not mean losing depth, and in those cases it’s very much a good thing. I’m not convinced one way or another with regards to 4E, nor do I need to be since (as I mentioned) I doubt I’ll ever ave a chance to play it.

    • Nick says:

      I thought it was because they had to change enough things to justify a new release of a new edition, thus earn more money.

    • Nick says:

      And yeah, it is funny that it effects PC gaming more, especially as I felt the 2nd edition was well suited to PC games as all the rolling and whatnot was done quickly behind the scenes, letting you enjoy the more rigid character classes and definitions between them. If thats your thing of course (it is mine, I dislike the 3rd edition class system).

  22. Vinraith says:

    Ah sweet, nourishing nostalgia. I hardly get a chance to play board games and PnP RPG’s anymore, but quite a few of my fondest gaming memories involve them. I’m glad to see PC gaming’s immediate forebears getting some weekly attention on the sight, well played RPS!

  23. leeder_krenon says:

    a perfect addition to the RPS crew.

    • leeder_krenon says:

      eurogames: i have trouble playing many games with people that like to play these. the games are ok. it’s just the people they attract that cause me strife.

      ameritrash: i only know a few people who a) like boardgames and b) are fun – i play ameritrash with these people

      wargames: this is pretty much the only kind of game i own, but lately the only one i seem to play is twilight struggle (this game is not about vampires)

      boardgames, with the right people, fucking rule.

  24. Nick says:

    I used to play Hero Quest every Easter and Christmas at my Grandmothers house, my uncle would be staying there those holidays and he was the Evil Wizard, I was the barbarian (my uncle insisted on calling him Arnie) and the wizard, my dad the Dwarf (or shortarse, as he was known) and my sister the Elf. We made our way through the various expansions, slow but surely (there were other games to play too.. like an old 1958 edition of Careers, Cluedo and Flutter) until we reached the Ogre Horde. Which killed us all on the first map.

    Somehow, we never played it again and since my Grandmothers dead last year I doubt I will ever even play a boardgame again unless I can find someone to play with, as those were the only occasions when I still did.

    Thinking about it makes me very sad. It also makes me want to play Careers again cause that was a damn good game, but it won’t be the same if I can’t go uranium prospecting.

  25. Trollface says:

    I jizzed my pants in excitement.

  26. Fede says:

    You love Monopoly? How could/dare you? I cannot think of anything closer than Monopoly to Fucking Ludo (as Kieron would call it)!

    Anyway, I love board games, thanks Rab and RPS for this awesome weekly column :)

    • Malagate says:

      @Fede, I would take Monopoly any day over FUCKING LUDO. I watched some twats I would otherwise call “friends” play sodding ludo for over 3 hours before anyone managed to win anything. Whilst a little bit hungover on new years day.
      THREE. FUCKING. HOURS.
      Monopoly on the year after was a comparative godsend, mainly because we didn’t care much about the rules.

      However, I would accept Ludo over the usual middle-class fuckwittery of a “board game” that usually gets paraded around in our group, the kind of shit that is descended from an unholy union of Pictionary and Charades. I don’t even know their names, suffice to say it’s the kind that come with lumps of putty, purple felt marrionettes, stacks of cards with words like “obsfucate” written on them, hourglasses and echa-sketch-ish things that we draw cocks on.

      These kinds of games are always brought out by either the busy-bodies or the single children, anyone who had any decency in their soul or sibilings would intrinsicly know that such abominations against humanity should not be unleashed from their purple and blue boxes.

  27. Scroll says:

    Dungeon Quest certainly sounds quite interesting. Seems right up my alley.

    I used to play a bit of Space hulk and 40k later on back in the day. I’ve recently dabbled in Table Top games over the last few years, there’s just something great about rolling dice.

    • Chris D says:

      Dice are a cruel and fickle mistress but somehow I just can’t stay away. In other news: Board games are awesome, Rab is awesome, RPS is awesome and this is an epic win. But you knew that already.

    • Scroll says:

      In fact I even enjoy the sound of rolling dice, it’s almost better then knowing the result of dice roll.

  28. Dreamhacker says:

    I approve of this “column” or what it’s called in Web 2.0! PnP RPG’s for everyone! :)

  29. misterk says:

    prefering monopoly to risk? Bah, risk is much better at doing what its trying to do than monopoly is. They’re both bloody awful. And dissing eurogames, the world of Puero Rico, el Grande, Dominion and chicago express is just plain heresy. HERESY

  30. Grandstone says:

    @Out Reach

    If you really insist on playing War on Terror, make sure you know all of the rules back-to-front and that you play with more than two other people, or else the other two will use all the paper in the “secret message” notepad making fun of how dead you are in their nonsensical alliance against you.

    Not that I took it personally or anything.

  31. Lilliput King says:

    Great column.

  32. Skippy says:

    Although Robert’s taste in boardgames appears to be almost the polar opposite of mine, I am incredibly glad to see this feature.

  33. Zinic says:

    I spot HeroQuest.

    You sir, have my respect.

  34. Radiant says:

    But… but where do I plug in the keyboard and mouse?

    Ok I want to get into these board games so I need one that fits these criteria:

    1) Entry level.
    2) Fun
    3) PRETTY AS FUCK
    4) I don’t have to do any god damn painting.

    Tom Clancy based all his early books on boardgames [like Gillen did with Thor; don't think I didn't notice that!] and I, unfortunately, read the hell out of those books so I don’t mind war games but anything good would do!

    recommendations?

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      Well, it’s not Clancy, but Harold Coyle’s Team Yankee had a pretty decent and very accessible Yanks vs Soviets tanker wargame ‘inspired’ by it. Unlike Clancy, Coyle’s ‘good’ Ivans weren’t traitors. Plenty of heroes and fuck-wads on both sides in his books.

  35. blunders says:

    I was excited to read this until I arrived at the portion where Mr. Florence dismissively wrote off most of Reiner Knizia’s games and claimed that it’s hard to be passionate about German-style board games. Sorry, I don’t think this column will be for me, but I appreciate RPS expanding its coverage.

  36. Mike B. says:

    “Everyone was dead a turn later, because the dungeon hates laughter.”

    That sums up Dungeonquest beautifully!

    Just when you thought RPS couldn’t get any better, along comes Rob (ZAA OOH ZAA!). Board games are awesome and I’m glad to see they are getting time here at RPS now. Everyone needs to know of the awesomeness of board games.

    To those that think they have nobody to play games with, I encourage you to find a local gaming store or poke around on BoardGameGeek. I can almost promise you’ll find a local community of gamers you had no idea existed. I’m constantly amazed at how many people I meet actually are into board games, including more modern stuff.

    Get some cardboard on the table, people!

  37. Frozenbyte says:

    Rab! You are most welcome here.

  38. JoeX111 says:

    God I have to buy this now. Thank goodness I just got paid.

  39. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    Thanks.

    Just thanks.

  40. President Weasel says:

    I heartily approve of this new boardGaiden column.

    Things I have played eurogames of:

    Setting up a metro system in Paris
    Being a tribe of paleolithic hunter/farmers
    Becoming a Sultan (I think)
    Various different railway games about railways
    Being a farmer and expanding my shack
    Being a prohibition gangster
    Becoming rich in a goldrush town, a bit like Deadwood with less swearing or Lovejoy.
    Being an Inca (or was it a mayan, I can’t remember)
    Something about being a Roman and trying to make money before Rome fell, or something

    And many, many, many more.

    A game I played recently and really enjoyed was Tales of the Arabian Nights; while it doesn’t have the “economic engine” component of most of the German-style games it doesn’t have bolters or lots of little markers representing hussars or panzer regiments either, so it’s probably closest to a Eurogame.
    Where do stuff like Formula De and Powerboats, and that sled dog racing game, and stuff like Hey That’s My Fish fall? Casual games? Are casual games despised by serious boardgamers the same way many video gamers affect to despise casual games?

    I once played Twilight Imperium for eleven hours. That and those train games should really just be on the PC, so all that messing about with dice and counting bits of track (and tech trees, in twilight imperium, tech trees for gods sake) can be avoided.

    • ohnoabear says:

      The best example of eurogame synergy between game mechanics and theme is the German game Die Macher, about German electoral politics. Mostly because I’m pretty sure actually running for office in Germany is less complex and more enjoyable than playing Die Macher.

  41. Brendan Caldwell says:

    I don’t really play a lot of board games (I played Agricola t’other week against my housemates – farming! Dark Ages! Sheep!) but blimey if that wasn’t a good column.

  42. bigredrock says:

    Great article, and a welcome addition to RPS.

    Me and my son are enjoying Castle Ravenloft a lot at the moment – are you going to cover it at some point?

  43. Pantsman says:

    All my friends at Uni are in the computer science or math departments and are into boardgames of all three flavours, so of course I’ve been dragged into the hobby as well. Which is not to say I’m not happy about it. All I’d really played before was Fucking Risk, so discovering that there’s a whole world of actually really good boardgames has been a delight, especially since I’ve no shortage of people to play with. I look forward to reading this column regularly.

  44. Burc says:

    Tsk.
    The only REAL fans are the ones that play the original.

    By which I mean the Swedish game “Drakborgen” [the dragoncastle] from 1985 that GW licensed to release in english in 1987. Me and my friends regularly play on a board from the eighties that is so worn down it has to be handled like the dead sea scrolls.
    We revere it like its the arc of the fucking covenant.

    By this point, the High-score list we keep is impossibly epic.

    By the way, I heard rumors that there is some synergy going on with this and the megahuge coop-game Descent. Truth?

  45. mod the world says:

    YESSSSSSSSSSSS!
    I was about to suggest to give some attention to boardgames too, and what happens? WHAT? THIS!

    Kids, boardgames are awesome. You invite friends and play together, let me explain: it is like a LAN-party, but without PCs!

  46. Thristhart says:

    I like the column, but I have a question.

    Why are you fine with doing articles on board games but not console games? I understand saying that board games represent the predecessors of PC gaming, but there’s a much less tenuous connection between consoles and PC gaming than to board games.

    Not that I want RPS to do articles on consoles. Just wondering aloud.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Board games are basically PC games.

      Basically.

      KG

    • leeder_krenon says:

      console gamers can’t read.

    • MarkSide says:

      Yeah, and you can totally play board games on your PC. Though, admittedly, I had to turn my case on it’s side to do this.

    • President Weasel says:

      I spent most of my day playing Blood Bowl on my PC.

    • DrGonzo says:

      You can play Risk on your Xbox.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      I always read the RPS “PC-only” mandate as a sort of following the niche stuff. That is, on general game sites that follow all systems, PC games tend to get less and less coverage these days. When they do get coverage, it’s mostly just multiplatform titles. Since it would seem that a lot of interesting PC games weren’t getting covered by multiplatform sites, RPS was created to fill a need that wasn’t being met by the current game-journo marketplace.

      As such, boardgames, being niche themselves, sort of fill the PC spiritual place as an area where interesting things are going on, but that aren’t covered very well. You can’t shake a stick on the gaming internet without running into console coverage.

      That’s my interpretation anyway. Adding console coverage to RPS would dilute its focus, while boardgames are already within its remit (spiritually, at least)

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Hidden7: Basically, yeah. That Rab wanted to do a column on them is the other part of the equation. Who can say no to Rab?

      KG

  47. Mort says:

    Oh man, oh man, board games on RPS? My life has become complete. I will throw myself onto the internets and die impaled upon a sheaf of fibre, the glowing cables thrust through my heart.
    Eurogames=fantastic, even this close to the land of Ameritrash (Canada doesn’t produce many board games, sadly). As are some American games, such as the epic and spectacularly poorly ruled Twilight Imperium. It took my friends and I a good five days of reading to understand the basic rules with an early edition rule book, and even then it took two or three games before we fully understood how it worked. One thing the Europeans (read: Germans) do well is writing rules. And simplicity, in the pure form of Dominion.
    Race for the Galaxy is my current obsession. Each new expansion makes it a more complete and perfect game, although they also complicate it further and make it ever harder to introduce new people to its beauty. A good trainer for playing in real life can be found in the, which now supports multiplayer. Yee-haw! Board games with virtual friends!

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I’ve had that downloaded for a week and want to actually read the manuals to work out how to actually play. Man!

      KG

    • Mort says:

      So worth it. The game is relatively simple (the production/consumption mechanisms are the most complicated, really), but the cards take a fair bit of time to get all used to. I recommend playing first with all the expansions off, otherwise you’ll be overwhelmed with a bajillion cards and things like planetary takeovers. But really, playing it over and over again is the only way to learn – it takes many games to start to get a feel for what different combinations of cards work as a strategy.
      If you need a person to play multiplayer against (I haven’t used the AI in a long time, since way before there was multiplayer, so I will be learning the computerized version as well), I’m down whenever the time difference allows. That goes for anyone wanting to learn the game – adam dot gilg roundabouts gmail dot com.

    • TimA says:

      Looks really interesting (and complicated!). I’d be up for a game if more people want to learn to play as well, great. I’ll send you an email.

  48. Dozer says:

    Rab, great first column! Shame it’s also your last column.

    “Hello. Every Saturday, from now until the day you die, I’m going to be here to talk to you about board games.”

    +

    “YOU ARE DEAD!” about a bazillion times

    =

    today we died, today is the last column you write

    :-(

  49. Tom Davidson says:

    Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Tsuro, and Pillars of the Earth are all pretty, entry-level games.

  50. pupsikaso says:

    I’d have gotten into board games more if only I had friends that played them. Why must the best fun sometimes be so exclusive?

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