Monday, 11 August 2014

Dungeon Saga: A Quest Fit For Heroes

My search for a simple out-of-the-box dungeon-bash board game is well-documented, and after a few missteps (always check for traps!) I think I've settled on one...

Dungeon Saga: The Dwarf King's Quest
Behold your quest!

Entitled Dungeon Saga: The Dwarf King's Quest, it's envisioned by those plucky underdogs at Mantic. A spiritual successor to HeroQuest, it's being touted as a game simple enough to play with the kids (after all, who ever heard of a six-year-old playing Warhammer?), but with enough scope for advanced play. There will be expansion sets, no doubt, but you get everything to play in the box: heroes, villains, cards, boards and dice (and it's so hard to find dice).

As we speak (and until 31 August), this project is being funding on Kickstarter. For the uninitiated, like me, it's a crowdfunding platform. You pledge to support them - essentially getting the box game, plus a few exclusives, as your reward, should they reach their target. When the target is met and then exceeded, certain milestones are marked with 'Stretch Goals' (adding more stuff to the original offer) and 'Add Ons' (so you can spend more money). When the campaign ends, you pays your money and patiently wait while they go away and manufacture the goods.

Mantic are experienced at running Kickstarters, having begun a number of their product lines that way, and they seem to be running this one well: adding stretch goals and add-ons, as well as regular updates to keep the pledgers engaged (one worrying aspect - for the company at least - is that you can decrease or withdraw your pledge at any time in the campaign. So if folks lose interest, see something better come along, the total can actually go backwards).

They met with funding target in the first 4 minutes, have already passed 12 stretch goals, and are about to break their record for number of pledgers (which comes with another bonus miniature - who appears to be a fantasy Predator). Their current funding is over $300,000 and I wouldn't put it past them to get near $1,000,000 before its conclusion.

Dungeon Saga heroes
"Hands up who's not wearing armour!"

I've never tried crowdfunding before, and I must say, I'm finding it a hoot. I backed the campaign on the first day, still wearing my 'retail-purchase head'. i.e Whereas more experienced crowdfunders would have pledged based on its potential to meet certain stretch goals (and therefore get a true sense of the retail box). I saw the game and mentally set its value at that pledge amount.

While that may have been a slightly-expensive first pledge, it means that every subsequent update feels like a bonus, a little present from the Kickstarter. And since the stretch goals are being met on a daily basis, I'm essentially getting a free miniature every day in August, which is lovely.

From what I can see, the stretch goals have now brought the game to its 'true' retail value (£60 isn't bad for a board game with 40+ miniatures, postage included) They've also kept the pledge level at a fixed $100, which helps for beginners like me (I was put off previous Kickstarters because all the really good stuff seemed to be at the wallet-busting pledge levels).

The Kickstarter page will better illustrate what's on offer, but some of the things that have caught my eye are:

  • The classic quartet of Barbarian, Dwarf, Elf and Wizard (with 'powered-up' versions available)
  • The villains get to have characters too (rather than a single necromancer and his minions), including a Dwarf King Skeleton, Elf Queen Ghost and also...
  • ...a Zombie Troll Shaman. How awesome is that? A Zombie Shaman sounds neat, a Troll Shaman sounds interesting, a Zombie Troll sounds cracking, but a Zombie Troll Shaman... does it come with cybernetic implants? I'd love a Zombie Troll Robot Shaman.
  • One of the exclusive miniatures is a retired-hero Dwarven barkeep, which is excellent. He also has a mastiff, which he throws at people as a weapon.
  • The floor tiles look cracking, with more added per villain (for extra missions, I guess).
  • The alpha rules (already previewed) look nice and simple - and there is also the possibility for an 'AI' card deck (which controls the necromancer, so you can all collaborate as the heroes; or the heroes, so you can play by yourself as the necromancer, squashing heroes for jollies).

Dungeon Saga Zombie Troll Shaman
Let's just savour those words one more time:
Zombie. Troll. Shaman.

An additional bonus of this is, being a kickstarter, I won't receive the goods until next August. That may not seem an advantage, but when you've got a painting 'to-do' list as big a s Zombie Troll Shaman, a bit of breathing space is a handy thing.

My own personal pledge is to get these painted up in time for WoffBoot X.


  1. Yes. Yes, I am in for this. Goodbye next year's budget in advance.

  2. Orcs and Goblins players may be particularly interested in the cheap deal on plastic goblinoids unlocked to supplement their goblin-themed expansion pack. There's some cracking goblin warrior and archer models, two lovely characters and some great war machine proxies (pump wagon and bolt thrower, I'd reckon) for the low low price of about twenty quid.

    1. Funny - that's one of the add-ons that excited me the least. I'm looking at this as a standalone boardgame, with the chance to get some nice minis and a new type of villain - I've never painted undead before, whereas I'm up to my pointy ears with greenskins.

      That said, it is a bargain bundle - it would cost almost £50 retail (you forgot to mention the three additional trolls!), and that might be enough to turn my head.