Guild of Dungeoneering is a Charming, Munchkin-like RPG

By Published March 10, 2015 at 8:30 am
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For some background, I spent 8 years selling and playing board, miniature, and card games. That’s a whole lot of shuffling, rolling, measuring, and reading small text. So, upon meeting Colm Larkin of Gambrinous at GDC 2015, I was taken-in by the hand-drawn art-style of Guild of Dungeoneering. Its cartoonish style brought to my mind imagery of the popular Munchkins game, a tongue-in-cheek jab at D&D -- not far from Guild of Dungeoneering.

Larkin elaborated that our guild-chum would follow the path that we, as dungeon builders, laid out before him. This is done using three of the five cards we draw from the dungeon deck. These may be dungeon tile pieces, expanding the environment ever-outward, monsters, or treasure. We placed the dungeon tiles with the ultimate goal of guiding our little chum to the Dungeon’s Final Boss (something we never quite managed) or to bigger, shinier treasure (again, we never accomplished this). This method of building the dungeon as you go reminds me of my favorite board games, like Betrayal at House on the Hill, a great little game that pits a few unlucky saps against a haunted house and leads to one member betraying the rest of the gang. Another comparison to this style of dungeon building is the popular game Carcassone, but I’ll not linger on that.

A dungeon would be remiss without enemies. Players place critters in front of their brave adventurer to guide him toward goals, but they must also help him fight off the beasts. The combat in Guild of Dungeoneering is a simple and quick affair, but it’s kept interesting by using another deck of cards and turn-based action-reaction plays. Using turned-based, JRPG style combat, the player chooses one of the three cards in his hand to play against the monster, whose cards and plays are operated by AI. The character’s starting deck is determined by his or her class, of which we played the warrior and priest.

Wandering the dungeon yields drops of a few types. New cards are among the loot found in addition to the fan favorite, gold. At this point in development, Larkin told us that there are roughly 100 cards the player can acquire in the game, but that they are aiming for a few hundred at release.

The dungeons themselves seem to be fairly short, but so to were the lives of our ill-fated adventurers -- something that Larkin assured us to be expected (RIP, little warrior). This is because the game focuses more on the “Guild” part of its namesake than any single character. The money found along the way, is used to expand the guild hall -- the area visited between dungeons -- and also to bolster the ranks of the guild. This aspect reminded me of Final Fantasy Tactics or Pokemon.

Overall, I found the game to be charming and enjoyable, but not shocking or mind-blowing. It still feels early to be judging it too critically, as there were numerous features not yet in the game, but mentioned to be a future goal or idea. The charm is there, the art is stylistic but not overbearing, and the mechanics look promising. If the price is right on this little game in the future, it could turn out to be quite the gem.

- Keegan "HornetSting" Gallick.

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