Hello and welcome to another board game analysis by me. Today we are analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of Super Dungeon Explore!
To get directly to it, here it is!
Best of Super Dungeon Explore
The best thing with Super Dungeon Explore is the Dramatic tension and how it is able to keep the players invested to the very end; even it is going badly for one of the sides. The players are able to get invested quickly, because of the heavy focus on Player versus Player interactions.
The players are pitted against each other as an adventure group and a boss of a dungeon, leading to a simple but still interesting dramatic clause.
The game also keeps the tension through the use of spawns; the better it is going for the adventurers the more units the boss gets to spawn in, which leads to the game difficulty ramping itself up throughout the game.
After half the game has passed, the boss player can spawn in a mini-boss. That is as strong as or stronger than a single adventurer and ramps up the drama of the game, but players are still winning.
When we played, the players where always able to reach the boss fight, the climax, where the players spent all their resources to best the boss. But the boss in the end won, which lead to the players wanting to try again to defeat it. The drama is enhanced by the boss winning; it adds replay ability and increases the dramatic tension.
If the boss would’ve lost, the players would feel finished, as if they had defeated the boss and been finished with the game, but now they need to throw a new party into the evil consul’s dungeon.
Worst of Super Dungeon Explore
The worst of Super Dungeon Explore is how loot is handled by the game. The players who are playing adventurers are given loot when they inflict 3 wounds in a single round of the game.
This means that the more players you have the more loot you will be given, also, the more wounds your characters can inflict the more things you can get. This means that damage dealing characters automatically contribute more loot to the group.
As the loot is given out to the group, the group is empowered, meaning you can
inflict more damage which will give you more loot and so on.
This let the players get into a positive feedback loop if they are strong enough to start winning, but won’t be able to enter the positive feedback loop when they need it the most. This is bad design from the game designers’ side and will leave the players at the mercy of the consul if the game starts going badly.
Also how the loot is given out and that the loot is so random make so the loot feels out of place. I killed Kaelly, the Nether strider, an assassin from the nether. She drops the Sword of the Titans, Wait what?
Also you can open specific treasure chests, which costs action points. When you open these you are given a treasure card. The treasure card can be a card named Boo Booty, which spawns a monster where the treasure chest was and this monster is surprisingly hard to kill, especially when you planned to get buffed when picking it up.
The Core Gameplay Loop
The Core gameplay loop of Super Dungeon explore is based on alternating turns between the Consul (Dungeon master) and the Adventurers. The consul’s role is to kill all the adventurers, while the adventurers want to kill the dungeon boss.
The game progresses through several steps each round. The first step is the spawning step. This is where the Consul add new units to the board (I will go through this in the most interesting system more)
After this the players roll for initiative, the Consul rolls for his monster and the adventurers roll for their group. The player that get the most successes goes first on the game round, with the adventurers winning if they roll even.
During a round the players will activate all their units, but depending on if they are the consul or the adventurers they can only activate a certain amount at a time. For example, the adventurers can only activate one hero at a time, before having to pass the turn to the consul that in his turn activates four skulls of units. The consuls units each have their own skull value and a high skull value means that the unit is very powerful while a low skull value means that the unit is weak.
When a unit is activated, it can spend all of its movement points, each movement point means that a unit can move one square in any direction (even diagonally), and it can spend all it action points. A unit can do this in any order, it can for example, take two steps, spend an action point, move four steps, spend another two action points and then be finished with its turn.
Actions can be many things, but there are a few standard actions, such as attacking or opening a treasure chest.
When you attack an enemy, the unit uses it attack value and roll the corresponding dice. There are 3 kinds of dice in the game, Blue, Red and Green. Blue are the weakest dice, which has a 50% chance to not get any successes at all. Red are the middle ground, with 33% chance to not get any successes while the Green dice only got a 16% chance to not give any successes.
So if a unit has 2 blue and 1 red attack value, when the unit attacks, it will roll those 2 blue and 1 red dice. Let us say it get 3 successes on these dice.
A unit is given the chance to defend itself, this means that the unit that got attacked can roll their Armor dice. So if a unit got attacked and hit by 3 successes, it gets to roll its armor, which could be 3 blue dices. On these dices the unit needs 3 successes to avoid being wounded.
There are also special attacks, which got special attributes such as range, Area of effects, healing and such; these special attacks can cost several Action points because they are so powerful.
The Most Interesting System
The games most interesting system is the Consul’s spawning system. It creates the dramatic tension, keeps the game interesting at all turns and has the players preparing for the impossible.
The system works through spawning points, which are placed at the start of each game, one for each room. Than each spawn will keep spawning monsters each round, as the players kill more and more monster, the consul get to spawn more and more monsters.
Each spawn spawns 4 skulls worth of monsters every turn and the players need to destroy them to not be overrun. But as they are killing monsters, they are giving the consul more and more skull tokens to use.
This always keeps the tempo of the game up, which keeps players on their toes, focused and into the game.
Super Dungeon Explore seems to be an introduction game for the genre of Dungeon Crawling games. It allows younger players in their tweens to try the genre, learn how the genre works in a fast paced, dramatic game, where they are allowed to explore freely and learn the basics of grid combat.
It also seems to be aimed at explorers of the genre, since the game is very hard to actually win, the players need to explore the system and maximize how they play a lot.
The ages that it seems aimed towards seems to be 10-13 years and 18+.
Super Dungeon Explore is a tension based dungeon crawler that is very quick to play and allows players to experience different sides of the coin efficiently.
The players have to alternate their role as either the consul or the adventure group. As the different roles are very different in how they are played, what you do and what your goals are, the game is an asymmetrical game, where the players use different means to reach different ends.
The player is playing as the consul is using his spawning points to create monsters to stop the adventurers and waste their resources and as the game advances the consul gets more and more powerful monsters and more monsters from the spawning points that are still alive.
The consul will be given mini bosses to pit vs the adventurers, big monsters that have special attacks, lots of hit points and needs to be pinned down quickly so they do not kill adventurers.
The consul is also in charge of the boss fight, a multi-step mega monster that the players fight when they have either killed all the spawning points or become too bogged down with monsters.
The adventure group on the other hand needs to pick a group of heroes that work together against the dungeon they are facing. In the dungeon they need to focus on destroying spawning points so they do not get overrun by the monsters that are spawning, they also need to divide their attention to killing stronger monster or mini bosses so they do not get overrun by these and killed when the boss arrives.
Their goal in the end though, is to kill the mega powerful boss that they are hunting for.
All in all Super Dungeon Explore is a very interesting multisided dungeon crawler, with the focus in the right place, the drama. So that the players are always interested in it, so they never get bored of it and pack together the game.
If the drama would be weaker in the game, if it wouldn’t be so damn close every time you play, the game wouldn’t have the same wow factor.
So there is the analysis of Super Dungeon Explore, Have a good time from a Van and a Game designer!