Next, you are told to "Go Exploring" which brings up a map that is mostly covered in a fog-of-war. There is only one Adventure to select at this point, killing rats. Progressing through each quest introduces you to different and tougher enemies. Upon starting a quest, you are given a wonderful hand drawn map of the dungeon, which is left mostly blank with the exception of a few tiles with enemies, fountains, or runes. Once your first turn starts, you are handed five cards that can be a combination of enemies, loot, or rooms. You can play up to three cards in one turn, with the remaining discarded and new cards are given the next round.
This is where strategy enters the game, with the route you take to complete the dungeon entirely up to how you play the cards. With enough room cards, you can just keep expanding the size of the play area. Room tiles are broken into three types; Fountain, Rune, Empty. Fountain tiles can give you either a blessing or a curse; i.e. take burning damage every round or deal one extra physical damage per round. Runes tiles can give you Favor with the Gods, which has an effect on the gear you obtain from defeating monsters. Fountain tiles activate whenever you first step into it, while Runes can only be activated when you defeat a monster on the tile. Empty Room tiles can only have one monster card and one loot card at one time.
Monster cards are pretty self explanatory. These are placed by the player on any tile that does not already have a monster in it. By doing this in conjunction with Room Tiles, you can essentially farm dungeons for the right loot for the class you chose to bring. Loot cards are less common than the others, but they let you place gold, diamonds, or chests in a room and by passing through, collect these for a nice bonus to the amount of gold you take with you if you complete the dungeon.
At the beginning, each room will have clouds hovering over them, denoting that you have not ventured there yet. Once you go into a room, the clouds are removed and you are allowed to move two tiles each turn as long as the route you take is not blocked by clouds. Otherwise, you will move one tile at a time. Picking and choosing the right route can mean the difference between glorious victory, or bitter defeat.
Unfortunately, you must face the monsters and beasties of these dungeons to succeed and collect the full amount of gold you have collected. You cannot directly control your hero, but there are ways to guide him/her where you want them to go unless there is only one route to take. The hero will always head towards a monster that is the same level or higher than they are, assuming there is a clear path to them. Diamonds and chests also have a bigger draw for your hero and often times will ruin a carefully laid plan to get where you want to go. Some monsters are allowed to move each turn as well, but generally, they stay in the room they start/are put in.
When the hero walks into a room with a monster, battle begins and you are given your battle deck and dealt some cards. How many cards and the size of your battle deck is determined both by your class and your equipment. Starting out, you will have a very limited size due to not having any upgrades unlocked back at headquarters. There are many different types of cards in the game and some can pull from a few different disciplines; attack, defense, physical, magical, quick and status effect. As with any card game, luck and randomness can either save or spoil a run. Think you have an enemy on the ropes? One card can quickly turn the tide of battle and leave you weeping in sadness or rage. I don't know how many times I thought I had the fight in the bag only to not have the right counters at the end. Depending on the class you choose and equipment you obtain, play-styles can vary greatly between fights or even turns.
Upon defeating a foe, you will level up and get to choose some equipment cards, each geared toward a certain playstyle/class but could be just as useful in a pinch for anyone, or you can just take some gold. Each level gives you one extra heart, but you can only level up if you fight something that is your level or higher. Completing a quest will bring up a screen recapping your run and tell you how much gold was obtained then sending you back to HQ. Any gear or favor earned is lost and you start the next one with nothing but your base battle deck. Die during a run and you receive a fraction of the gold you obtained and you lose that Dungeoneer. Luckily a new Chump will arrive immediately if that is what you lost, but any others are lost for a couple "days" until another one answers the call for adventure.
Gain enough gold, which might take several runs, and you can expand your guild hall to include a great number of additional classes, bonuses, or stronger equipment. As a first time player, this could get a little frustrating as you progress through Adventures due to some monsters using attacks and defenses that you just can't deal with. Take a Barbarian in addition to your Chump, you will have a hard time dealing with magical attacks. Pick a Wizard and you won't have the defenses to keep a melee attacker at bay. The good news is that with enough deaths, you can afford any upgrade you might want. Whether or not you are willing to use an absurd amount of Chumps as cannon fodder vs. starting a new game is a tough call and one that I have had to make too many times.
Entering Beta in May, the Trophy Trials were a way for the elite players to flex their muscles and show the world how good they were with each class, and competing on the leaderboards. You are given the choice of tiers to choose from, one thru three, with each tier having four of the classes tied to its rating. The whole point is to defeat as many boss levels consecutively as possible without dying. After defeating a boss, you are given a trophy and asked if you would like to continue, which gives all future bosses a permanent one heart increase, or to walk away with the trophies you have earned. If you are defeated, you lose all progress and trophies and have to start over. Despite my best efforts, I could never get more than one trophy in any class, but then again, I am not a very good Guild Master compared to the pros. Each class can gain a maximum of twenty trophies for a theoretical high score of 240 trophies. As of this writing, the leaderboard is dominated by 'Inkie' with 184 trophies. The 2nd place Guild Master Igor.Malashkin has 106. So if you like the gameplay but want a more competitive scene, Trophy Trials is definitely to place for you.
Graphics and Sound
Probably the best and most annoying aspect is the game's sound. The clean, crisp strokes of a bard's lute fit perfectly with the events that unfold in front of you. Despite the sometimes rough deaths, the music always lifts you up and almost, almost, makes you forget that you failed to do your job. Which brings us to the Bard who sings to you throughout the game and at every death. As amusing as the bard is, which is very, after an hour of playing, you will have heard certain songs numerous times, especially if you have many deaths. Fortunately, you can turn the Bard's volume down or off if it starts getting too annoying.
With a game this simple in its execution, there are not many options to tweak, which works. Personally, I am a graphics snob and like everything to look super detailed and textured, but outside of a "High Quality Graphics" option, which I couldn't discern any noticeable difference, and resolution settings, Guild of Dungeoneering is right at home with its style and sound.
|+ Cute art style and fitting sound||– Bard can become annoying after long sessions|
|+ Engaging and Challenging||– No multiplayer|
|+ Wonderful Humor||– Can get stuck in a seemingly endless death cycle|
|+ Deep gameplay|
|+ Easy to learn; Hard to master|
|+ High Replayability|